Assassins Creed: Valhalla Brings Glory to Odin
I haven't had the best relationship with the Assassin's Creed series over the last 10 years. As time went on, I felt like the series was losing touch with its roots, making the game more about the action and location compared to the overall sprawling story. When Assassin's Creed III was released I felt like the story was truly at the top of its game, but when the main character died, I felt the series turn away from the interconnected story it’d been telling.
At that point I gave up on the series, but then AC Origins and Odyssey were released and the story came back to the forefront...I had hope for the series once again. Even now in 2020, we still can't stop talking about the amazing job Ubisoft did with Assassins Creed Origins and Odyssey, but will this tale of Viking Glory live up to the last two games? Will we feast with Odin in Valhalla or Will we suffer through this journey with Hel? Let's dive in…
GREAT ODIN’S RAVEN! THIEN GAME IS GOOD!
When Ubi announced the next Assassins Creed game would be set in Nordic times, my Podcast co-hosts and I freaked out...I mean literally! I'm almost certain we were all in tears because this is something we had wanted for the longest time (since the rumors first circulated).
Valhalla starts in Norway in the year 873 AD as we take control of Eivor as a child. After your clan is attacked by a rivaling clan you lose everything and run for your life. While on the run, you fall and are attacked by wolves before passing out. We then fast forward years later to find a much older Eivor in a very sticky situation. With the addition of the Hidden Ones and Order of the Ancients storyline connection, I have to say the series' really feels like it's back on the right path that the original game set. It was at this point I knew I would become completely obsessed with the game and its world. As I played AC Valhalla I couldn't help but feel the culminating work, love, and just overall genius put into the creation of this title.
As you play through the story, Eivor starts out a little rough around the edges. During the Norway missions at the beginning of the game, it felt like Eivor was somewhat of a dry character. When I played Assassins Creed Odyssey as Kassandra I had an automatic connection with her. She was very strong-willed and the type of protagonist who didn't put up with nonsense.
Being in a Viking setting, you would think the character you are playing as would be very brash and just an overall badass, but at the beginning of the game, it didn't feel that way. Once you move on from Norway and head to England this is when Eivor really felt like he opened up as a character and started truly feeling like he became the Viking badass he was meant to be.
I really do like Eivor as a lead character in this game, especially after leaving Norway, I just felt it took a little longer for his character arch to grow on me and that is possibly because Kassandra in AC Odyssey was just so damn good.
Traveling to England not only opened up Eivor, but it also opened up the overall game. You and your clan head to England to start your own legacy and with that comes new enemies and challenges you must face to protect your clan's stake in this new land. When you get to England, you now have the ability to Raid camps and churches to take what you need to start your homestead.
This is probably one of my favorite things added to the series and really comes in handy for upgrading your camp, gear, and character. In these Raids, you find vital supplies needed to upgrade shops that further your character's weapon power, abilities, visual aspects, and story. Most of the time when games have upgradable HQ’s I get pretty bored doing side quests just to make my headquarters larger. In Valhalla, however, I have yet to have that happen.
These raids are high-octane and engaging. As you begin your raid, you and your crew storm the camp/church from the riverbed taking down all the foes in your way. As you move through the area, you find loot, secrets, and more to add to your inventory. You can also throw torches on top of the building setting them ablaze, as this is done by you and your crew smoke fills the air making the area covered by fiery haze. This small feature really made me feel like I was in the middle of a crazy raid and pulled me into the game that much more. Once all of the wealth is accumulated in the area, the raid is complete and your crew heads back to the ship.
There is also a feature in your D-Pad menu that lets you call your crew to a town to raid. I didn't realize this feature was even available until I came upon a town that had resources I could use, I was then prompted by the game that by pushing down on the D-Pad I could call my crew with my horn to the town to help me complete a raid. This was really cool as well, especially since it was a random town I came upon while traversing the land.
As your HQ grows, you have the ability to make Alliances with other clans and kingdoms in England. These alliances are vital to your clan and make your clan that more powerful when taking on other foes. I don't want to spoil some of the people you get to make alliances with, but let me just say the list of badass historical characters is awesome and I was pretty shocked to see some of the characters I was able to make Alliances with.
A BEAUTIFUL WORLD THAT LETS YOU BE YOU.
With the last two games in the series, we all knew that Valhalla would be a beautiful and vast map. . .but I had no clue it would be this gorgeous. Running through the world of AC Origins and Odyssey was wonderful, especially since they were set in some of the most popular areas of the world that pretty much molded our civilization. Moving to the setting of Norway, I think we all knew what to expect with sprawling mountain skylines, beautiful oceans, and more. Ubisoft's Anvil game engine does an amazing job making this game look as realistic as possible and really gets me excited for the next generation of consoles.
I could tell from the beginning this was built for next-gen consoles in mind. The gorgeous backdrops, unbelievable skylines, and amazing graphical character enhancements are truly something stunning. I'm not saying this just because the game is set during the Dark Ages, but this game is now my new Skyrim. I have caught myself just walking around and exploring the amazingly vast world just to look at the scenery! As you move to a new location, the visuals just keep getting better in the huge world. The scenery constantly changes and makes the game feel like you're not just traveling the land, but traveling to different worlds.
As you travel through the beautiful scenery, you will of course find a ton of new locations with new weapons, runes, tattoos and hairstyles for your character, and more. This right here really made me feel like I could play this huge world exactly how I wanted to. Customization has been a big focal point in the series for the past three games.
While playing Odyssey I don't think there was ever a time I saw my friends' characters look like my version of Kassandra, but Valhalla pushes this to the next level when it comes to character, gear, ship, and HQ customization. There is always the opportunity to find items in the world that can make your character look more exotic as you go along. If that is going to a shop and buying tattoos and hairstyles or following a wind gust across the top of a building to receive a unique design, the game pushes you to make Eivor your own.
This goes as well with your gear, ship, and headquarters as you can customize them just as much. New paint jobs for your ships, upgrading your gear changes the look of most items, or even buying items like totems and decor for your headquarters. Though this was something in the past two games, you can even have more customized mounts, companions, and Jomsviking(lieutenant’s) in the game than ever before. Having this huge customization in the game really made it feel like what you did mattered and that what you did would reward you with more ways of customizing your experience.
Another featured that just added more glory to the customization of the game was the huge Skill Tree in the game. In Odyssey, you had the abilities tree that was fairly large, this time you have an Ability menu and Skills menu that is vastly larger. At the time of me posting this review, my character is now a level 90 with a ton of abilities and skills unlocked.
The Ability system has its own menu now and you can unlock them by collecting Books of Knowledge in the world, but you have to look for them, they are hiding throughout the world and it makes it that more satisfying when you do find them. These abilities are really cool and are set up exactly as they were in Odyssey, as you unlock them you can assign them to your that button you wish. They come in hand a lot of times and really turn the tide in some battle. For instance, I was raiding a large church to find out the area had a suggested power level of 90 and at that time I was only a level 70.
Since I was already in the middle of the battle, I tried to push through as hard as I could but man was it tough...but with the abilities I had, it was a bit easier. Guards were shooting arrows left and right, my crew was being attacked by high agility soldiers and a few larger/powerful soldiers. I ran into the middle of the battle and just started swinging my ax. To no one's surprise, I was killed and had to strategize my attack.
The second go-around I decided to take out the archers with my triple arrow ability, once they were all down I moved to the battlefield and used my ax-throwing ability. When surrounded by enemies this ability is amazing, Eivor doesn't just throw one ax, he pulls multiple axes throwing them towards at least five enemies in a quick fury of anger. This really helped me a lot and made me want to invest more time into the abilities to better my battle and chances of winning. I also must add that the combat was so smooth and felt like it has been even more improved upon since the last two games were released
The Skill Tree is set up somewhat like Skyrim, it is very large, displayed in the stars, and doesn't just add to your already acquired abilities. It takes a life of its own and rewards you with percentages towards your skill sets. For me, I feel I'm an all-around player and have a mixed playstyle, so sometimes I would use my acquired skill points to unlock more power for my melee attacks, and other times I would focus on more stealth or health skills.
This vastly changed my gameplay and gave me the advantage a lot of times during my battles. I really don't think I have seen a game go this far when it comes to player choice. Everything about Assassin's Creed Valhalla feels like it was made to tend to the fans. When I say that, I really do mean, everything feels like it was made by people who just love this series. Just looking at the grand scope of this game and everything you can do, I feel this is the best Assassin's Creed title in over 10 years.
Assassin's Creed has made a lot of changes over these last 13 to 14 years since it was first created. Though I had my doubts about the series, Ubisoft has worked very hard to bring the game back to its roots and make it one of the best action-RPGs on store shelves. Assassin's Creed Valhalla is by far the best game I have played in the series. Every aspect of this game has made me completely obsessed with this amazing world. With next-gen consoles coming out this week, this is a game YOU MUST PLAY on these next-gen consoles and is a MUST BUY for the holiday season!