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Assassin's Creed Valhalla Review: Strong Like A Viking, Thin Like An Assassin

Assassin's Creed Valhalla Review: Strong Like A Viking, Thin Like An Assassin

It took 13 years and a slew of episodes for the Assassin’s Creed series for this brand new installment and then return to the Middle Ages. Valhalla, the new title, takes us back to the first years of the Golden Age of the Vikings and has chosen to forge its own path compared to its two predecessors, Origins and Odyssey. A colony to manage, from infiltration based on crowd concealment, the more extensive use of environmental puzzles, all grafted onto the modern Action-RPG approach of the license: anxious to offer a “best” approach. -of ”of the series, has Assassin's Creed Valhalla succeeded? Before we get started, a quick word is needed on the options at the start of the game: on this point, Assassin's Creed Valhalla is adorned with some good ideas offering better customization of the experience: it is for example possible to configure the difficulty of combat, that of exploration (offering more or fewer indications) and infiltration (determining the ability of enemies to detect you). You can also choose the gender of our hero or heroine who will keep the name of Eivor whatever happens, a third option letting the game choose for you: in this case, you will play the female version of Eivor, except for a single very precise narrative arc. Finally, accessibility options have been extended, providing more flexibility in captions or order settings than in the past.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla video game characters

A GREAT SCENARIO?

Eivor is a warrior from a Norwegian clan named Raven. But Eivor, tired like his fellows by the bitter cold of his native land, chose to make his way to England, hoping to find more hospitable lands there. A starting point that lays the foundations for a more serious and down-to-earth scenario than that of its predecessor. Under the pretext of developing his colony and obtaining the favors of the local rulers, Eivor will make a series of trips to different regions and kingdoms, each being the pretext for a unique narrative arc centered around characters as varied as they are interesting. This system has the merit of leaving you a little freedom in the sequence of missions, which can also have an influence on the characters crossed in certain sequences, and on some outcomes of narrative arcs which can be richer in twists and turns than one would have imagined. Despite a somewhat lacking in consistency, the adventure turns out to be hearty and pleasant enough to provide an immersive and successful portrayal of late 9th century England. I mainly regret the still timid presence of the present narrative arc, which however has the merit of offering a little more daring and winks in its current approach, but still lacks a hint of clarity for players less familiar with this part of the series.

Coming back to the colony, it is not a simple scenario tool, but a real gameplay tool: you must manage it by spending goods collected during your raids and your exploration of the country to unlock new buildings. While some are more basic (increase stat bonuses when you trigger a banquet, make a new stall available), others can be the source of new quests that will bring a little life to the community. of the colony. The most interesting thing is that this colony brings real moments of transition between two narrative arcs while integrating perfectly into the rhythm of the plot, even offering some rather funny bonus ideas: a conflict to be resolved between two inhabitants, a potential relationship with one of its occupants ...

Assassin's Creed Valhalla gameplay

THE BEST IN THE SERIES EXPLORATION SYSTEM

More generally, Valhalla has a quality that we did not necessarily expect, that of breaking down the boundaries between main and secondary content. Thus, the quest log never overflows since the majority of side quests appear in the form of small fairly short events, which will also not distract you from your main objective but will offer an interlude of a few minutes on your journey, it might as well prove to be futile or forgettable. The exploration surely adopts the best model of the whole series not only by this approach to events but also by a map that is more airy and interesting to browse, without forgetting to be rich in quality panoramas. The question marks and places of interest to “clean” are here replaced by a multitude of small colored dots appearing as you explore the places: blue signifies a mystery, which can be mixed up in a mini-quest. annex, a cairn to climb, a stone circle whose secret must be discovered, or a less benevolent encounter which will lead to a boss fight generally difficult to forget. Yellow signifies a wealth to be recovered, and white an artifact that will enrich your collection or that of the whimsical collector of Roman objects in your colony. We will not go so far as to discuss all the possible activities as Valhalla is full of them, but there are also mini-games such as Flyting - a kind of verbal joust based on rhythm and rhymes - and Orlog - based on dice and a token system - which come to brighten up your games if you want to take a step back from the battlefield, and members of the Order of the Ancients to hunt down, a great idea from Odyssey that we are happy here to find.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla other gameplay

A MORE “ROLEPLAY” PROGRESSION

As mentioned above, the progress of the colony also depends on another activity offered in the open world: raids. This is quite simply a place (usually a monastery) that can be looted to collect resources that cannot be found elsewhere, but essential for building new buildings in your hamlet. For the occasion, you will necessarily have to call on members of your clan since the chests in question and certain doors of the premises cannot open on their own, so do not hope to complete these sequences discreetly, brutality is essential. in this situation. A point that may seem regrettable given the freedom generally allowed by the series, but which finds its meaning in the coherence of the sequences targeted and in no way prevents the privilege of infiltration the rest of the time. Valhalla wants to be more “roleplay” in its approach, which is felt not only in these raids but also in the collection and the opening of the chests since a large part of them are not accessible as easily as in the past. It is not uncommon to have to find a key, a difficult path, a wall to destroy, or a board to break to access these precious relics. The more your game progresses, the more these mechanics will stack up, going so far as to offer little environmental puzzles that are certainly quite accessible, but relevant enough to make collecting treasure fun and believable. Very generous in its proposal, Valhalla manages to offer a copious, interesting, and even more varied ancillary content than that of its two predecessors.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla from UbiSoft Montreal

RETURN TO OLD INFILTRATION MECHANICS

Travel is a small bonus since, despite the lack of real sea passages, you do have a langskip that you can use at your leisure to navigate the rivers of England. This one does not come with naval battles which are absent from this episode, but it has on the other hand an important use in your epic since it carries up to 8 members of your clan that you can call for help in if necessary, as long as you are near a water point that can accommodate your boat. For the more earthy of you, Ubisoft Montreal had the rich idea of ​​also taking care of the rest of its gameplay by trying to offer a mix between the approaches of the first episodes of the saga and its recent episode. So, the Secret Blade once again allows you to assassinate any enemy in one hit, but its effectiveness still depends on your killing stats and the enemy's power. For the toughest of them, you'll also need to successfully complete a mini-game of skill-based on timing, the difficulty of which depends on the effectiveness of the move. A good choice, which brings to the fore a crucial element of the series while fitting it into the current Action-RPG system. To this, we must also add the return of an approach also reminiscent of the beginnings of the license: during several narrative arcs, you will have to infiltrate the cities using a cape and a hood allowing you to blend in with one. group of monks, on a nearby bench or pretend to indulge in a local activity. A detail that will delight fans of the saga, especially since it is integrated with a lot of common sense and measure, offering diversity in the gameplay possibilities while proving suitable for sequences taking place in cities hostile to what the locals call the Danes.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla snapshot from UbiSoft

ABILITY, COMBAT, AND EQUIPMENT

For combat, Valhalla uses Odyssey's model of feel and grip but adapts as he progresses. Abilities can now be found in the field or can be obtained through side events or even quests, while you can regularly obtain new ability points to spend in a huge talent tree in the form of constellations linked to each other, a distant visual cousin of the fire spherical system of Final Fantasy X. Not really ergonomic at first glance, it has the merit of being well built by forcing you to go through certain paths on your way to guarantee a minimum of balance in the construction of your character. Less free than Odyssey's, it nevertheless offers enough possibilities to define our character's style to a minimum. When it comes to gear, Valhalla has a good idea to move away from the constant loot of its predecessors and focus on the possibilities of upgrading armor and weapons: with materials usually found in safe custody in the open world. , you will be able to improve the rarity of the equipment concerned, which increases the ceiling level of the weapon in question, each level being climbed with materials that are easier to access (leather, iron ore). Most gear has a good idea of ​​changing its appearance with each upgrade, offering a constant visual renewal that once again brings more credibility to the game world. It is also possible to freely choose which equipment to wear in each hand, which gives rise to several types of combos: double ax, ax, and shield, flail and dagger, even… double shield for the most original and original of you. . If each combo turns out to be perfectly playable, the main weapon still remains the trigger for most of the proposed animations and the result is also a little less flashy than hoped for, but the freedom offered by this system is more than enough. 'appreciate, especially as the fights have lost none of their quality and dynamism. The types of enemies are also much more varied, despite an AI with sometimes very strange behaviors that sometimes spoils the immersion. On the other hand, my main regret lies in the finish moves, which offer a real effort of realization and prove to be as bloody as they are successful, but unfortunately have a bad idea of ​​not replacing the camera exactly where you had it placed before. It may seem like a detail, but in a more subdued place or surrounded by a crowd of enemies, it's just the kind of detail that can save you from taking a hit because of the lost second of systematically replacing the camera. after each finish.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla other character snapshot

REALIZATION IN PROGRESS, CONSTANT BUGS

A final word is in order on a few details that would not necessarily have a place elsewhere. Well executed overall, Valhalla does not escape a few pitfalls in the series, however, with many bugs in the first place. If we did not encounter any blocking bug or requiring to relaunch the console, these, unfortunately, prove to be too recurrent and we will have to wait for a few updates to enjoy a version with a more correct finish: we will thus note regular pathfinding problems, quest scripts having difficulty triggering, collision bugs as well. Nothing serious, but put together, these bugs can still annoy and spoil the whole experience. On PS4 and Xbox One, we may also find that the title seems a little more cramped. If it turns out to be visually magnificent and rather stable in terms of framerate, it is especially the very long loading times that can cause a problem, especially since micro-loading times also occur from time to time. when part of the map is not yet loaded or you will be chatting directly with a merchant shortly after a quick trip. A concern that also affects the fluidity of the production during several sequences between cutscenes and gameplay, and breaks the rhythm of the whole thing. However, we should salute the great effort of Ubisoft Montreal on this point, since in addition to a very nice introductory sequence shot, there are other cinematics or camera effects going beyond the simple frame of the field / reverse shot and bringing a little more life to the whole thing. Assassinations of members of the Order of the Ancients can also be accompanied by a finishing move showing the path of the secret blade through the body, and the more realistic style of combos and combat skills is very often accompanied by some changes. cameras certainly not always happy, but which have the merit of constantly renewing the impression of dynamism in your confrontations. A definite step in the right direction, which we hope to see even more sustained with the arrival of a new generation of machines. Maybe from the next episode?

Assassin's Creed Valhalla Review snapshot

Assassin's Creed Valhalla Review Conclusion

The bet seemed risky, but it was successful. Assassin's Creed Valhalla offers an astonishing mix of all the formulas of the saga, managing to juggle phases of savage raids on one side and infiltration into the heart of the crowd on the other, without one of its sub-systems do not seem to really suffer from this multifaceted approach. A beautiful feat that is accompanied by an adventure rich in fascinating sub-stories, also driven by immersive and particularly well-integrated exploration and progression systems. On the other hand, beyond the untimely loads on the current console generation, the title still lacks finishing and accumulates small bugs (pathfinding, script, collisions) certainly never really problematic, but which can temporarily take you out of the experience. by their recurrence and that we hope to see disappear or at least be reduced with the next updates. In summary, if it sufficiently renews the experience of the saga thanks to a rich and functional overall design and an approach that should delight fans of the first hour, Assassin's Creed Valhalla also retains some stigmas of its predecessors that prevent it from aim a little higher.

For more information and wish to learn more about the game, please make sure you visit the Assassin's Creed Valhalla website for all details. I hope you liked my review, if you wish to comment, please feel free to do so in the form below this post.

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