Review cover Assassin's Creed: Valhalla (Xbox One)
Official GBAtemp Review

Product Information:

  • Release Date (NA): November 10, 2020
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Genres: Action-RPG
  • Also For: Computer, PlayStation 4

Game Features:

Single player
Local Multiplayer
Online Multiplayer
Co-operative
Assassin's Creed: Valhalla tries to change up the Assassin's Creed formula, but was it worth it, or was the franchise best left as it's always been?

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The moment that Assassin’s Creed II was released, and the millions of gamers had been introduced to Ezio Auditore, Ubisoft knew that it had struck gold. New game after new game would follow rapidly on a yearly basis, until people had felt that the quality of the series had taken a nosedive, and Assassin’s Creed became everyone’s go-to joke when it came to unfinished, rushed out, recycled video games. Since then, Ubisoft has tried to take the series in new directions, whether it was meant adding pirates and ship sailing, online co-op, or, most recently, RPG-style narrative choices. When it comes to Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, the latest entry into the long-running franchise, this time I would go so far as to say it’s hardly Assassin’s Creed anymore. 

Yes, it does still tell the age-old tale of Templars vs. Assassins, and you get to climb large towers and take giant leaps of faith off of them, but the newest Assassin’s Creed game feels more like another company’s spiritual successor to Assassin’s Creed, rather than anything else. And that’s not a bad thing at all. While Valhalla has taken some drastic evolutionary steps that clearly differentiate it from prior games, these same changes are hugely appreciated to see, given how the series had stagnated over the years.

It starts off with you being thrown right into the start of the story which plays out in Ubisoft's typical "walk here, watch cutscene, walk here, watch cutscene" style. I expected to jump in and start wandering around a quaint starting city, getting to know the world and it’s people, much like Florence or Versailles that had come before. Instead, the story played out much differently, with the main character being taken as prisoner, escaping during some ensuing chaos, and being left to wander in the snowy mountainous landscape (no, I didn’t accidentally start playing Skyrim instead). Even the pacing is different from the classic Assassin's Creed titles, in a way. You won't really get to know where you are or have much reason to care about the world right off the bat, though it also means the game doesn't waste time with tutorials; once you're out of the first main cutscene, you're free to start actually exploring and doing whatever you please. The world-building comes later, when you're ready to appreciate it.

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Combat has previously been one of the worst aspects of the Assassin's Creed games. At best, they're button mashers, and at worst, they're wait for your enemy to attack and press counter to win simulators. Valhalla has entirely changed that. The battle systems have evolved since the major changes introduced in Origins, and thanks to the variety of weapons you can wield--swords, axes, spears--it actually feels like your attacks matter. Not only do they feel drastically different to use, but each of the weapons in Valhalla have stats and secondary effects, whether it's a great axe that's incredibly slow, super strong, and has critical damage boosts, or a spear, which is fast, has good range, and increases your dodge speed. You're given the complete freedom to walk into battle wearing two shields for weapons, if you feel like it.  Finding new gear or coming across better versions of your current equipment is exciting, and it ties in with all the exploration you'll be doing. Perhaps a raid will lead to you finding a new weapon, or maybe it'll make it worth venturing into the dangerous snowscape in order to see what you'll discover. 

Weapons aren't the only aspect of combat that have been overhauled; since you're a viking, you're going to be spending dozens upon dozens of hours hacking and slashing at anyone who dares challenge you. The actual mechanics of battle, from enemy types to your own controls matter a lot, and thankfully, Ubisoft seems to have handled both quite well. Valhalla has many different mooks and grunts to throw your way, from your everyday archers or bandits, to stronger, more terrifying "berserkrs" and men-at-arms. These encounters are varied, since each of these enemies wield different weapons, have special weaknesses, and even have unique attack patterns--a great addition to keep the game from feeling mindless, and offer some challenge that'll keep you paying attention to who you're about to take on. 

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As you make your way across Norway and England, you'll run into all sorts of things to do--a genuinely staggering amount of side-quests, random events, and mini-games, not to mention all the time you'll spend fiddling with your intricate skill tree and abilities, changing out your gear, building up your settlements; you're never left bored in Valhalla. Ubisoft has crammed in activities for you to do at every turn, and while it may feel a little overwhelming, you're also given the freedom to take things at your own pace. If you're not in the mood to progress the story, then you can go back to your main settlement and play a round of Orlog--a dice-based strategy game--against your fellow vikings. Having all these little activities scattered throughout the world helps to balance out what would otherwise be monotonous pillaging and constant gory fights for glory. 

Assassin's Creed and narrative have a tendency to be a bit of an explosive mix. With the earlier entries attempting to balance a side-story about the present-day adventures of the latest magical artifact and the modern Assassins and Templars attempting to take it for themselves, recent titles have tried to carry on that story only for it to meander awkwardly throughout each subsequent game. Just as it always has, any whispers of the Animus and potentially being yanked out of it distract heavily from the main story of Eivor and the Raven Clan of vikings. It's especially jarring, because Valhalla's narrative is actually quite good. At the very least, the game doesn't have many instances where it actively forces you out and makes you go back to the present day story, but it still feels irksome when it does happen. Since you have a main settlement to come back to and build upon, you'll be returning to it frequently throughout the story, and when you do, it has this familiarity of coming home after a long journey. There's reoccurring characters that you can catch up with, play mini-games with, and just see wandering about; it's Assassin's Creed II's Monteriggioni, but majorly improved upon.

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For the last few iterations of Assassin's Creed, Ubisoft seems to have been focused on learning from their previous mistakes, while also shifting the series into less of a pure action game and more of an action-RPG. There were many instances during my time with Valhalla that I forgot I was playing an Assassin's Creed game, and had instead felt as if I'd just picked up a AAA open world RPG. After so many years of the same game being repackaged as something new, Assassin's CreedValhalla is a revitalizing entry that proves that these games can improve, can evolve, and can still be great. 

Verdict

What We Liked ...
  • Manages to freshen up the dated Assassin's Creed experience
  • Combat has a lot of variety
  • The Nordic and English landscapes are wondrously beautiful
  • Tons of activities to keep you entertained
What We Didn't Like ...
  • Ubisoft-typical bugs and glitches
  • Enemies can feel like damage sponges sometimes
  • The open world can feel a little bit like an expanse of nothingness in places
9
Gameplay
Compared to other Assassin's Creed titles, exploration is less of a tightened experience that it once was. However, Valhalla more than makes up for it by turning the often-boring AC combat into something interesting, weighty, engaging, and most importantly, fun.
8
Presentation
It's almost expected for a Ubisoft title to ship with some weird quirks and bugs to it, but for the most part, Assassin's Creed Valhalla runs surprisingly well on last-gen hardware, while still looking graphically impressive, from its sweeping vistas, to its bustling cities.
8
Lasting Appeal
Most of your time will be spent trekking across England and the sweeping landscapes of the open-world, but there is a lot to do, whether it's building up your villages, taking care of sidequests, or just completing the rather lengthy main quest.
8.7
out of 10

Overall

Assassin's Creed: Valhalla is a departure from what one might expect from the series, but it proves that those changes make for an overall fantastic "next-gen" game.
It's a great game but only an alright assassin's creed. It would've been better as just a viking game with an assassin's creed cameo.

It at least lets you choose stealth as an option for a lot of things, and you can build specifically into it. But it really gimps you when you get forced into a boss fight where stealth is absolutely never an option and most of your specc'd skillpoints are useless.
 
Thank you for your Review.:)
(I wonder you did not mentioned the "Prices" from the different Packages as "What we didn´t like.....)

Assassin´s Creed is like all Game Series - you like or not.
(For me - I love it.)

Yes,of course,on the first Impression it is "Odyssey" in Norway.:D
Is that really bad ?
I have already started until the Intro/Opening is over.I will wait until my new Graphics Card arrive in the next Week.
Maybe I will come back here then.:)
 
I’ve never given thought to assassins creed’s prices outside of the extra DLC that was with II or Brotherhood honestly. It slips my mind that “premium” editions exist. ...which probably is indicative of their quality.

I have very little experience with Odyssey. I’m a lapsed fan, I think the last AC I cared about was Syndicate. Buuuut it seems like it is very similar to Odyssey, with a few improvements.
 
I wish they'd just drop the AC naming, just consider them separate IPs
I miss the mingling of real word history into the fiction of the AC games in Altair and Ezio Sagas, everything after that was just some glorified (yet fun) open-world collectathon that barely related to the core AC games/lore.
 
is it Over Easy Again>? that's the problem with AC Games ........ too easy too samey ... i doubt i'd buy this but when it pops up on Fatgirl repacks i will try it out ....
 
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is it Over Easy Again>? that's the problem with AC Games ........ too easy too samey ... i doubt i'd buy this but when it pops up on Fatgirl repacks i will try it out ....
This one has a ton of different difficulty levels you change right at the start. It's not just easy/med/hard. You can toggle stuff like enemy AI detection, HUD and minimap icons, etc. It's really great. I didn't try the hard-tier stuff, since I kept it at normal, but I think this AC is much more difficult than the others since they've changed so much.
 
I liked most the other AC games played em all mostly i really liked Origins .. but it was like i said to easy too samey if only they had a hardcore mode so its semi demons like ( that's how im playing Star Wars Jedi - Fallen Order again ATM ) and its way more fun .. i will play this one day for sure i was sold on Viking's in the 1st place ,,.. i just thought it would be AC Origins ... in a Viking Skin ....
 
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If you played Odyssey, you can tell a large chunk of the inspiration is from the Witcher 3, the ubi devs seem to be big fans of the game, there are direct references in the game even. I assume this game to be the same or better, will wait for a sale.
 
Hello.:)

As "promised",back for a little Update.:P
After over 5 Hours of playing,I can say One for sure:
Valhalla is definitely NO "Odyssey" in Norway.

It is different (sadly the german Speech/Voice Localisation is not nearly as awesome as in "Odyssey"....).
For Example the Ship/Sailing.And maybe the Northern Location with Snow.:rofl2:

A very "delicate" Topic is maybe the "Raid/Assault" Option when you land on a Beach....
Personal I do not like it....why ? A absolute terrible Mess...thank God you can not kill your Comrades...
The CPU Crew runs like....headless Chicken sometimes....
Maybe the Vikings are these Kind of Attackers ? I am not sure...

If you remember that awesome Teaser/Trailer..? Nope,not really like that...
But ok,this is a matter of personal Preference please.:)

Maybe then in England you "can" compare it a little with "Odyssey".

Is it still worth the "Price" ?
For me,yes I got the "Standard Version" from the UBI Store with -20% Rabatt (with this UPoint Thing...).

Thank you.:)
 
Review cover
Product Information:
  • Release Date (NA): November 10, 2020
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Genres: Action-RPG
  • Also For: Computer, PlayStation 4
Game Features:
Single player
Local Multiplayer
Online Multiplayer
Co-operative

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