I was quite hesitant going into Assassins Creed Valhalla, I absolutely adore Assassins Creed Odyssey and I was worried that due to me believing Odyssey is one of the top 3 games on PS4 that Valhalla simply wouldn’t live up to the hype and after about 25 hours on the game… I have some thoughts.
Let’s begin with what is essentially the same as the previous two Assassins Creed Titles: The Combat. The Combat of Valhalla leans heavily into the Action RPG genre, the same as the previous two games. Its R1/RB for light hits, R2/RT for heavy hits and then a slew of in depth combat mechanics that are best played to be understood
How you loadout your character in Valhalla can seriously change the combat, I personally went with a Shield and Axe combo which allowed me to parry my way through the game and defeat the majority of my enemies with big flashy finishers such as decapitations. There are a bunch of new weapons, including the Flail, in Valhalla but I will leave this up to you to find and see how each of these play out.
The skill tree is quite interesting and large as well, Offering huge variations or stats with branching paths that lead to even more unique stats and abilities such as chain assassinations or heavy guard assassinations, making it totally worthwhile to look at branches you may have ignored. Every point you upgrade gives you a new power level allowing you to take on and hunt down the games hardest foes.
If you do accidentally go down a path of Skills you couldn’t care less about – Valhalla does allow you to remap your skills at any time – So go wild and check everything out. Worst case scenario is you get some skills you don’t really use but your power level will still skyrocket quickly!
Unique abilities are done by finding books of knowledge throughout the world, these are found by simple exploration of the games world or going on one of the games various raids, the big new mechanic in Valhalla.
Raiding is alot of fun. Storming encampments with a group of Vikings is the best way to play Assassins Creed Valhalla… In fact it’s really the only way given that Eivor cannot open a gold chest or storm a heavy door by himself. Not a problem in the slightest but this does lose the “Assassins” part of Assassins Creed somewhat by being forced to basically go loud at all times – but I loved it.
The map, or should I say maps, in Valhalla are absolutely huge. I am around the 25 hour mark of the game so far and yet to explore the majority of either Norway OR England. At first, I did have a minor gripe and was unsure how I felt about the maps. There is a lot of looting and things to do, as is Standard for Ubisoft titles, but it’s almost always hidden by colour coded dots as opposed to just straight up telling me what I am heading towards.
Again, this is a minor gripe that eventually flourished into a love because this new way of showing me the map did it’s job admirably and forced me to explore and discover things far more organically than I would have in previous games.
Speaking of the maps: Norway and England both look stunning. My PS4 has been in a constant state of hyper fan mode which has made me REALLY excited to see how this runs on the PS5 and I plan to update my review accordingly once I have got my hands on the next generation of consoles.
So far The story reminds me of The Last Kingdom and Vikings. Right down to including a legend of a now dead Ragnar Lothbrok and his, still alive, sons. The story is phenomenal though easily matching or surpassing the quality of the aforementioned award winning tv shows.
I won’t talk about the story past getting to England however, in Norway you play through a classic power struggle, allied with your brother from another mother against his father who is relinquishing his King status in order to unite all of Norway. You and your boys don’t like this so you piss off to England in order to become “Englands Landlord” as the trailer says.
Obviously one thing that every good story needs is a good leading person and I absolutely love Eivor. I’ve changed between their gender at will quite a few times at this stage and that’s made me really happy to see how the story unfolds from both perspectives.
One thing to note, Norway and England are both islands so you will do a lot of exploring from the helm of your longboat. Luckily for us – Vikings are beefy as all hell and the countries are both windy so I can safely say that thanks to this the longboat is the quickest ship i have ever sailed on, Zipping it’s way up and down the countries quicker than I could drive from Hackney to Buckingham palace on Watch Dogs. This really works in Valhalla’s favour as I haven’t once got open world fatigue from feeling any of the maps are too large.
The settlement building that has been added for Valhalla allows you to upgrade Eivor and Sigurd’s raiding camp. By investing in new buildings such as a barracks, a fishing hut or a Seers tent, Eivor and the gang gain a wealth of new abilities and quests that change the tides of battle in huge ways.
For example, by building a barracks – Eivor can recruit a Jomsviking who works as your second in command on your longboat and follows you into every raid you have but with much higher stats and customisable armour than the usual viking on the roster.
The future stuff is still there but contrary to most, I actually like Layla’s story though so seeing it a bit more fleshed out has been nice. She’s so much better than Desmond. The apocalypse almost being on us is actually interesting. Also SHAUNS BACK!!! But so is William, Who I ranked on my list as joint worst assassin with Ol’ Desmond.
I have absolutely loved my time with Valhalla. I want to do every raid, explore every piece of world building side quest and just climb every mountain – just to look at the sights. It is with absolute certainty that am happy to rank Valhalla as one of the best games on PS4 – Giving it a 9/10…
Now leave me alone… I want to go play more.