Buffet Approach

The last post was more of a negative light on AC: Valhalla, which I realize may be too large a brush to pain on the game. Taking a small step back, Ubisoft games (or any icon-map-palooza game) are effectively gaming buffets.

I am not enamoured with buffets. The health issues are reasons #1 through #5, with “other people” in that mix too. The next time you do go to a buffet, take some time just look at how people behave. It’s atrocious.

And yet, buffets do has some perks. Clients pay a base fee, with the promise that there’s something available to suit their needs. Maybe they family like Asian and Italian cuisine. A buffet offers both would likely please both, rather than compromises. The top quality of a bufferTwill never be at the same level as a dedicated restaurant. Buffet sushi is a WHOLE lot different than an authentic restaurant.

If I look at AC as a whole, there’s a very wide slot of activities. Most of the items are found a dozen times or more in game, hence the “too much game” from before.

  • Main story – This starts well for the first couple zones (as long as Ivarr and Sigurd are involved), then just goes nowhere for quite a few hours, before quickly tying loose ends that you’ve completely forgotten about.
  • Side quests – By and large, these are less than 2 minutes to complete, and add some neat backstory. This isn’t killing 5 boars, which is great!
  • Settlement – all the important bits are resolved within the first couple zones. Valka is cool, and opens up some interesting storylines.
  • Asgard/Jotunheim – These are cool zones if you completely avoid treasure hunting. The Jotunheim arc in particular is very enjoyable.
  • Vinland – This place looks amazing and the native population is
  • Cursed Idols – useless
  • Roman Artefact – useless
  • Stone stacking – this is a neat mini game that’s quite calming. Stack stones to a specific level. Very zen.
  • Standing stones – move around until stones are lined up to present a design. There aren’t a lot, so it’s not too bad. The voice overs while doing it are cool
  • Layla – These platforming puzzles are quite poorly built, where the poor controls are more limiting than the actual puzzles. You know what to do, the game won’t let you. It does provide some alternate storyline though, and there’s only 10 of them.
  • Tattoos – sort of like chasing shanties in AC4, but requires you to not show any armor to actually see the tattoos. I miss shanties.
  • Boat / settlement cosmetics – You spend less than 1% of your gameplay using these, even less actually LOOKING at them.
  • Flyting – Rhyme combat. They say something, you retort with a rhyme that’s insulting. It’s a neat idea, and the execution isn’t too shabby. Higher levels increases dialogue options.
  • Drinking games – pure mini-game, and I find it hilarious. Good way to make some money too.
  • Dice games – this is a cool game with some minor strategy elements. Not much depth, but it’s a solid bit of fun.
  • Fishing – The concept here is cool, but the act of reeling in is not fun. Used in a couple quests, and should be ignored otherwise.
  • Hunting – Please, avoid this completely. It’s a mind boggling grind with no purpose.
  • Elite hunts – if you want the challenge, then that’s neat. There are no real rewards, except settlement cosmetics that you can barely see.
  • Treasure hunts – You only need a few ingots for the totality of the game. Armor…some of it is worth it, if you find a perk you like. The armor looks like you would imagine a Viking to look. Helmets are horrible (few games have nice helmets).
  • Treasure caves – I’d like to say these are neat puzzles, and there is one. Otherwise, just consider it a chest that’s 5 minutes into a cave. A chest with no use.
  • Ragnar’s rangers – 6 tough opponents that drop some unique weapons. These were really a lot of fun.
  • Raids – Since then rewards are all tied to the settlement, and they are pretty much the same thing as entering any other large scale combat, it gets old quick.
  • Assaults – every zone has at least one. Long battles with a bunch of mini-objectives. I think this does a great job of reflecting the concept of viking battles. Really well done.
  • Zealots – Unless you’re overpowered, these are walking murder machines.
  • Order of Ancients – You wouldn’t notice if this system didn’t exist. It serves as much purpose as your appendix.

I mean, just look at the size of that list. How in the world can all of it be good, let alone great? And that’s the kicker, half of it I would consider “good”, and the rest I would just consider padding. Cut half of that stuff out and the game would both be more focused, and the devs would be able to spend more quality on less, and most likely deliver a better end product. Like take out animal hunts completely… and have them instead put more resources into combat being responsive.

So like a real buffet, it’s important to be selective. If you do play AC, I would recommend sticking entirely to the main quests, and the side quests that are on your route between the main quest steps. If you focus solely on the immediate proximity of tasks, you’re going to have an amazing time.

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