My adoration of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, especially since its shift to RPG territory is well documented, and so the fact Valhalla is my most anticipated game of the year will come as no surprise. That is to say, it was.
I had heard ahead of playing the game that it was riddled with bugs ranging from minor trifles all the way through to totally game breaking. ‘Never mind’ I thought, this franchise can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned and I’m sure I’ll power through. How wrong I was.
This game is broken, unfinished, unplayable and a total embarrassment.
The only part I have enjoyed thus far is the opening section in the Raven clan longhouse in Norway, and similarly to Ghost of Tsushima, the game doesn’t hesitate to have what will likely be one of its greatest scenes take place in the very first moments. This section was also miraculously free of any of the bugs I had been forewarned about, luring me into a false sense of security that somehow my Valhalla experience would go with a hitch.
When my issues were limited to occasional lines of dialogue dropping out randomly, with characters either interrupting each other or falling into a sudden sombre silence, I found it irritating but not enough to stop playing the game. It didn’t take long for the issues to progress to the camera, with it misbehaving and erratically shooting off in different directions away from what I wanted to be looking at. Following this, animated takedowns of enemies decided they’d prefer it if Eivor and those being killed suddenly drifted away from each other, so Eivor winds up frantically hacking away at thin air while his opponent spurts blood out their chest twenty feet away.
Little design issues have annoyed me as well, such as the fact that it seems literally every door with treasure behind it in England is locked. This may sound petty, but Eivor is quite happy to break down bigger doors at the start of the game, but suddenly is overwhelmed by the British tradition of not wishing to cause a fuss, only at the most inconvenient times.
Clay pots full of oil infest every area that combat takes place in, and it appears Eivor isn’t bothered when they catch fire as when I try to extinguish the flames by rolling they only skip around the arena setting fire to more things. I’m told that normally Eivor is capable of rolling but it seems that memo hasn’t reached my game so I’m just resigned to the fact that when Eivor catches fire it’s just an extra level of difficulty I’m going to have to live with.
My final decision to stop playing the game came when I set a destination in the longboat but instead of drifting along the river as I had previously done, instead the boat angled itself so it was facing the shore and bounced along the rivers edge. This wasn’t as funny as it sounds, but salt was poured onto this wound when it transpired the longboat had been travelling in the wrong direction the entire time I had left it to bounce along.
Having said all that, I don’t regret purchasing the Gold edition of this title, as I’m sure eventually it will resemble the series where I’ve spent 400 hours on its previous pair of titles alone. The two planned expansions, set in Ireland and Paris sound truly spectacular and even considering how my disappointment is immeasurable and my day is ruined I am still really looking forward to playing them, against my better judgement.
Hidden somewhere in this absolute mess is the potential for a great Viking roleplaying game, but in its current form it is profoundly broken and a thoroughly unenjoyable experience. I’m going to wait until I have a PlayStation 5 to try again and will restart the whole game as I’m writing this save off completely. When Valhalla has been fixed and brought up to the basic standard a game should ship with I will review it again, but for now Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla receives a woeful
2 / 10
Thanks for reading and I look forward to revisiting Valhalla in a couple of months. Once it has been fixed I will write a new review to judge it solely on the experience I was supposed to have had at launch.
Odin isn’t truly with this game yet..