Assassin’s Creed : Valhalla

Normally I wait for AC games until they get a kitchen sink patch. I don’t mean a day 1 patch, I mean kitchen sink where the game is retooled based on a large list of issues. I did not follow that advice, and decided to get it on sale (well, a coupon). I will flatly say, that it is better to wait. Why?

I have encountered at least a dozen game breaking bugs. The kind where you need to reload. Some where I needed to reload before a quest started, so it’s created a behavior where I manually save before starting any quest step. That is RPG save scum behaviour, argh!

The combat mechanics also need a retune. It attempts to replicate the parry/dodge mechanics seen in other AAA games, like Ghost of Tsushima. It doesn’t work because the indicators are orange/red, which make them difficult to differentiate. And there’s some very odd input lag, or rather, resulting lag that can cause some elastic behavior. Hell, I had one where I dodged and ended up halfway across the map in a tree.

Fix those though, and there’s a dramatic systematic improvement here compared to Odyssey. Questing is much better. Side quests are a joy, and entirely worth undertaking. Inventory management is MILES better. The skill tree is a bit-iffy, if only because of the “fog” preventing you from seeing where you’ll go. Ironically you can explore it all, reset all your points, and then make choices. The home base model from AC2 is back, and it makes for a much more consistent experience than you flitting around the map.

The storyline is so-so. I think I’m done on the “ancient civilization” model, where AC is drawing blood from a stone. I’m sure that they can make the AC model work in another game, just like AC replaced Prince of Persia. You’re effectively an invasive force, and the historical setting (rather than fantasy), makes some parts of this a challenge to work through. There are attempts to focus on the “king making” aspect where you’re working with the local population, but then you go raiding a monastery, and go “hmm”.

So let’s say you get this after the kitchen sink patch. The mechanical parts are going to be a solid improvement over previous games, but the storyline is significantly worse. I do want to take time to highlight that this game went through the final dev/QA during a pandemic. That it met its release date and frankly isn’t any buggier than previous releases is an amazing achievement. The logistics for this to have happened… I know from experience that mountains were moved to make this happen.

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