I am currently obsessed with Valhalla. Not the video game, but the concept of Valhalla. My fiance can attest to this. It happens from time to time. It’ll pass. But, at the moment, it’s not unusual for me to say “See you in Valhalla” or “Valhalla awaits” or something similar as a way of goodbye every morning. Don’t pity her, she knew what she was getting in to.
With my recently renewed interest in Valhalla, I needed to find some healthy and creative ways of expressing it, unless I want to get divorced. So we started watching Vikings on Netflix and Arielle purchased me a copy of Assassin’s Creed : Valhalla. We knew it would be a gamble. I had strong opinions of the game long before I ever played it. Unfortunately, most of my opinions were only reinforced after my time with AC, which will have clocked in at about 20-25 hours. About the same length of time I could stand Odyssey.
I guess I should attach a disclaimer. I used to really enjoy Assassin’s Creed games. Up until about Brotherhood. Now I despise them. I really wish that Ubisoft had the balls to make Valhalla a stand alone RPG, not an Assassin’s Creed title. Also, stuff Ubisoft. As you can see, I came into this with low expectations and negative opinion already mostly formed. To be fair though, I’m always unbiased and coming in with such low expectations, it should have been easy for Ubisoft to exceed them. They failed. Anyway, without further ado, let’s discuss the good (if any), the bad (or at least some of it) and the Valhalla.
The Animus sucks, just like the story
The Animus sucks. It was so jarring to be pulled from being a cool Viking warrior and suddenly thrust into the body of some nerd that I gave approximately zero crap about.
I heard every single word that my “real world” character said and what her companions said and understood almost none of it. It was non sensical gibberish and I fail to see how reliving the memories of a Viking ancestor has the keys to save the world.
The world is apparently in imminent danger and only the Animus can save it, again. I guess I’ll never find out how or why because I don’t care.
The Combat System
The combat got old pretty quickly. I played on the hardest difficulty and it was a walk in the park, right from the beginning. With that being said, it wasn’t bad. I still enjoyed it, it was just very repetitive and involved no challenge or strategy. Hit, block, kill. Hit, block, kill.
The only challenges came from “boss fights” but they were still very repetitive, just longer.
I liked how you could equip weapons in both hands, as a primary or secondary role. You could have a sword and shield, dual wield axes, use a lance as a 2 handed weapon or even equip your shield as your primary weapon and put a sword in your off hand.
I loved the idea of using a shield primarily as a weapon. I could be a great shieldmaiden, like my new crush, Lagertha from Vikings. Unfortunately though, it was poorly executed. You could barely get a good shield bashing in and if you tried to swing the axe you had in your off hand, you would just block with the axe. Lame! I thought I was sacrificing defense for offense, but I was just sacrificing logic and reality.
Speaking of sacrificing logic, attacking people replenishes your stamina instead of draining it?
It’s the same as every other AC title.
The illusion of choice
In one of the early quests, I was asked by the Earl what punishment should be handed out to a man who wronged me and my family. The Earl said it was my decision entirely. I could choose to kill him, banish him or something else, possibly spare him. Obviously, I chose to kill him. I was excited to make a blood eagle of him, but my dreams were quickly dashed when the Earl said that banishment was a more fitting punishment and banished the man. I felt like John Travolta in Pulp Fiction – then what did you ask me about it for, asshole?
It seemed to happen every time I was presented with a choice. They would ask me for orders, I would give one and then some NPC would passively-aggressively change my selection so I made the right call. Bah!
The God damned store
Stop making us spend money to get items within a game. We’ve already spent money to buy the game. We shouldn’t have to spend more money to unlock in game features, such as map locations. Ugh.
Lack of direction
I don’t think I should be so bored 10 hours into a game. I wanted to power through and at least finish the main story, but I keep getting stuck because I need to grind for supplies in order to advance. There is, of course, an easier option. It involves spending your hard earned money on the supplies. Then you can skip right ahead. It’s almost like they designed it with that in mind…
In The Witcher 3 I was heavily addicted to Gwent. I loved Gwent. I played it all the time. Orlog was no different. It was easily the most fun I had within the game. Not to brag, but I am undefeated at Orlog.
It is such a chore to traverse the world. Riding a horse is dull. Thanks to the never ending parkour, walking is a drag. Even sailing quickly gets dull. Unfortunately, you don’t have a choice though. The map is enormous and oftentimes your objective is a long way away. Fast travel is an option, but only to areas you have already visited.
Most of the time, you just hold the joystick in the up direction and mindlessly follow the roads or rivers until you reach your destination. You can even set your ship to just follow the river, but you are still locked into your standing position at the helm. It’s not like you can use this time to play with your inventory or check your map.
You might be able to forgive all of this, if only the map was less bland. Yes, it’s very pretty and nice to look at it. But it is enormous and there is almost no variety between areas. Everything looks the same. Yawn.
The mysteries are one of the few enjoyable things within the game, but they are few and far between. They are usually just some form of mini quest that have nothing to do with the main storyline.
One of my favourites was when I found a merchant, selling all of my old family heirlooms. When I called him out on it, he tried to flee and I cut him down with my axe. Hahahahaha!
Why can’t I kill whoever I want?
Every time I kill an innocent bystander, I receive a warning that if I do it again, the game will reload to the last checkpoint.
Ummm, hello? I am a Viking and I am raiding a monastery to steal all the riches for myself and my kin. I don’t care about these people or their laws or gods. I am above it all. I have my own gods.
It literally makes no sense that I can’t kill an innocent person, but I can rob them and set their house and belongings on fire. I hate it when games try and maintain the illusion that your character is a good guy.
I don’t mind being bad. In fact, I prefer it. It really didn’t sit right with me that I couldn’t hurt innocent people when I was raiding their villages.
Also, on that note, looting was really dissatisfying. And I’m usually all about looting. I will collect absolutely everything that can be found. It wasn’t fun in this.
The Menu/Skill Tree
I really hate it when console games have a PC menu. I think it’s so silly that it has a cursor that operates the way a mouse would. I’m not using a mouse, I’m using a controller. Make the menu appropriate to the system!
Also, is the skill tree confusing enough? It’s like the world tree. It has that many branches. There is no good way to see what skills lead to what paths. You just pick a direction and keep following the maze. The good news is, all the skills suck and you don’t need them.
The inventory system is far from ideal as well.
I love the idea of building a settlement in a video game. However, just like in Fallout 4 the settlement system is heavily flawed. Mainly because it is a never ending grind to get the supplies you need to build.
I really, really wanted to like this game. I just wish it wasn’t an Assassin’s Creed title. I don’t understand why Ubisoft didn’t just make an RPG about Vikings and called it Valhalla? Just completely cut the ties to AC.
As it is, it just felt like it was forced to be a part of the AC franchise for no good reason. I cannot believe that people wouldn’t of been interested in that kind of game unless it was a part of a franchise. Start a new franchise.
For me, Valhalla was a disappointment and a let down. Maybe I’ll make my own Viking game. Vikings are cool.
I give it 2 Skols out of 10. It does not deserve an honourable death and Valhalla does not await. Odin is ashamed. It only gets 2 Skols because of Orlog.