2020 was a huge year in gaming for developers and consumers alike. Not only were the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X released, Ubisoft released THREE large sandbox games; Immortals Fenyx Rising, Watch Dogs: Legion and Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.
As I only managed to get hold of a PS5 in June, I was thrust into the current generation of consoles with a significant backlog to get through, not to mention all the games releasing as well. It is only now, nearly a year on, that I’ve had an opportunity to take stock of my shelved games and begin to make a dent in the ‘to play’ pile. Having played Watch Dogs: Legion in June, Valhalla in December and starting Immortals in May this year, I am finally in a position to construct a first impressions ranking of the three games. You read that correctly! Despite investing close to 40 hours across the three games, I am still in a position where my opinion could wildly change at any moment for any reason!
Today I’ll be ranking them from least to most favourite, but keep in mind that my currently projected score could and quite possibly will change the more time I spend with each. I will redo this ranking in a few months to compare my views then compared to now!
3) Watch Dogs: Legion
There’s a lot to commend the vision and scope of the third Watch Dogs experience, but the moment to moment gameplay is packed with tedious commutes, boring busywork and lacking game design. I am a huge fan of how almost every NPC can become a protagonist, but I truly despise how long it takes to bring some of them over to your side.
A lot of effort has clearly been put into making the characters and environment of alt-present London feel like a really lived in city, and most of the comedy in the game did manage to make me laugh. The downside to this is the second I am given control again, I almost wish the game would wrest the controller from my hands and just play itself so I can see how these interesting characters go about their day.
Watch Dogs: Legion makes me feel like I’m the weak link of its game, frequently throwing me some shiny jangly keys to keep myself amused so it can do all the serious stuff while I’m not looking. It’s definitely a game I wish I could sink another few hours into to see if it improves but with a list as long as mine to get through, as well as to get BACK to, Legion is severely lacking in incentive to keep me in its world.
Current score – 5 / 10
2) Immortals Fenyx Rising
Leaving aside the stupidest name in modern gaming, Immortals starts off with a massive advantage even before I begin playing. Developed by the same team who made Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, a formidable contender for my favourite game of all time, as a more cartoon and comedy orientated game, Immortals felt immediately familiar from the moment I started it.
Almost identical combat animations from Odyssey mean that playing as Fenyx, who I designed in the character creator to look as similar to Kassandra as possible, feels like I could be playing as her younger sibling. No, not that one.
The game looks exceptional, its graphics popping with sparkling colours, with the similar Odyssey fighting style (though lacking the blood) making every encounter feel spectacular and entertaining throughout. The near constant narration by Zeus and Prometheus was a questionable design detail, and while the comedy usually lands and I am yet to find it annoying, I get the impression that at any moment it could start to grate. That wouldn’t be great..
I have had minor issues in the form of irritating puzzles which arbitrarily decide Fenyx can’t climb surfaces she usually would be able to, made worse by the fact this segment was on the critical story path so I can’t just avoid them as I progress. I won’t be too perturbed if I start having to use a guide to bypass puzzles later, but I’m a little annoyed that I had no idea until one appeared that puzzles and platforming even featured in this game.
Current score: 7 / 10
1) Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
The indirect sequel to my aforementioned favourite game of all time (maybe), I played Valhalla on release day originally on my PS4 and was as heartbroken as I can be at a game for how unplayable it was when released. Fast forward twelve months where I could play it on the console I was apparently supposed to and, similarly to Origins and Odyssey when I first played them, I was completely hooked.
I’m not a fan of how you must commit to upgrading a particular weapon for a while as it takes a significant amount of time grinding resource gathering to upgrade them, but provided you are happy with and enjoy the play style of your choice it isn’t much of a problem. I went for a two-handed axe and the animation of Eivor cleaving off both an enemy’s legs in a single swing never gets old.
Eivor as a protagonist pales in comparison to how much I loved playing as Bayek and Kassandra, but I do find myself warming to him the more I play so it’s perhaps too early to tell how well he compares to his predecessors. One thing I can say with certainty at this point is that the story of Valhalla is easily the weakest of the three Assassin’s Creed RPG’s, though the massive gorgeous world and satisfying exploration more than make up for that so far. I don’t think I am even halfway through the main story yet, let alone the expansions, but I am confident I will be able to comfortably sink another 100 hours into Valhalla by this time next year!
Current score – 8 / 10
What is your favourite of these three games? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @MaliceVER and I’ll be back next week so will catch you then. Thanks for reading!