Live like a Viking in the new Assassin’s Creed action-adventure
₹3,999; PS4, PS5, Xbox One, PC, Xbox Series X|S (reviewed)
The Assassin’s Creed Origins and Odyssey breathed a new life in the 13-year-old franchise. The games not only gave us beautiful regions to explore with a meaningful story but also strengthened its RPG foundation. It is clear in the all-new Assassin’s Creed Valhalla where you explore the vast lands of Norway and England and take decisions that matter.
Set in the Viking Age, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla lets you assume the role of Eivor, a Viking from Norway. Although we don’t have Alexios or Kassandra, like in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the new game lets the player choose between a male or a female Eivor. If you are unsure, the game will even decide it for you. I started with female Eivor since Kassandra was better in Odyssey but changed to the male counterpart a few hours in, realising he feels apt for the story. However, since the storyline remains the same, and character’s abilities, it all comes down to preference.
The prologue set in Norway shows Eivor’s parents getting killed and how he avenges them before setting sail for England for fame and riches along with his Viking clan and adoptive brother Sigurd. The initial Norwegian arc feels like a mishmash of how we are introduced to the ancient order, assassins and the events before reaching the English shores but the storytelling is vastly improved after that. Once in England, Eivor is tasked with pledging alliances with other leaders in the region for clan’s safer and a prosperous future, and this is when the game opens up allowing to explore the world as you want to. Finish various region arcs to gain their alliance or just roam around trying to find the hidden treasure, artefacts and mysteries. Ubisoft has done a stellar job to bind everything together as you progress and also make you feel responsible for the actions. The dialogue choices have an impact on how the story advances. For instance, finding a traitor based on the clues you have gathered can separate a real traitor’s head from the body or kill someone innocent. Involved in a forbidden romance? Well, you should be ready for repercussions with other NPCs in the future. The decision-making in the game makes the narrative more immersive and also gives you, as a player, a moment or two to think if we have made the right choice.
An assassin is someone who works stealthily picking off enemies in the shadows, and while Assassin’s Creed Valhalla lets you do it, it just doesn’t feel right. A Viking is known for face-to-face battles, and this is where the game shines. Melee combat is excellent along with the gory animations. Raids and castle sieges have been introduced where you and your clan use the collective might to kill and loot the wealth.
Gameplay-wise, the combat has been refined where one needs to take into consideration the different weapons and outfits. Wielding a heavy weapon or armour will make the bulky Viking less agile compared to someone wielding an axe and a light shield. If that’s not enough, there are abilities to gain or special powers that can be put to use during combat and can be acquired by finding “books of knowledge” spread across the map. The skill tree, on the other hand, does not feel as useful. Earning XP lets you earn skill points but except for the key skill that unlocks after adding some random skill like “3.1 melee resistance” or “5.2 health”, the constellation-like skill tree structure looks like a way to increase Eivor’s power level.
If bloodshed is too much to handle, the game also helps to scale back by sparring in flyting (poem battles) or revel in drinking and dice games. Furthermore, one can indulge in the beautiful English landscape. Ubisoft has outdone themselves and playing on the Xbox Series X shows off the detailed visuals and lighting. Playing on the latest console also shortens the load time and even lets you enjoy the game in 60fps with the performance mode. However, the game is not without its share of quirks. The game is buggy, even on the recently released 1.0.4 title update. Sure, it’s less than what it used to be, but it’s still far from being perfect. Most of the glitches I experienced were graphical, but there were a couple of them that didn’t let me progress an ongoing raid by not allowing to loot the wealth chest or an NPC not moving, thus not allowing me to finish the mission. Luckily, the issues were fixed after re-loading the game again.
Despite these hindrances, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is still an enjoyable game. The main story is engaging, but it’s the combat, raids, massive open-world and innumerable things to do that keeps you entertained for hours, irrespective if you’re a seasoned Assassin’s Creed fan or a newcomer.
WE’RE IMPRESSED Story, gameplay, visuals
WE’D IMPROVE Bugs
THE LAST WORD Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is yet another strong entry in the AC franchise with an immersive story, massive open-world, and combat.