Is Assassin’s Creed Valhalla worth playing?
Since the end of October 2020, the AAA release calendar kicked into overdrive and suddenly we had to make some tough choices regarding the games we play. Ubisoft is one of the primary culprits as they released 3 new AAA games between October and December, and each of these are tempting to play in their own right. One of the biggest releases during this time was AC Valhalla, and in this article we discuss whether it is worth playing Assassin’s Creed Valhalla or if your time is better spent elsewhere.
Short Answer – yes Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is certainly worth playing with some excellent writing, specifically the regional areas, satisfying and brutal combat, and more things to do than you realistically need to.
That is our quick answer to the question whether AC Valhalla is worth playing. If you are interested in our reasons for saying so, read on!
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla can take you anywhere from 50 to more than a 100 hours to complete, so having decent writing in terms of characters and plot is quite important. We are happy to report that AC Valhalla really surprised us in terms of the high quality of writing we experienced in the game. Of course there are some areas where the writing falters, but for the most part it intrigued us.
The best writing according to our experience is each region’s story arc. Each region presents you with a new challenge and there is good variety between politics and war, keeping the experience fresh and engaging through its long campaign. Each region is filled with twists and turns in the story, and the atmosphere ranges from some lighthearted and wholesome arcs, to arc filled with loss, grit, and despair.
A close second in terms of the writing in AC Valhalla is the myriad of side quests. The designers certainly took a page from CDPR’s Witcher 3 world, and the sidequests are varied and many of them are truly interesting brief stories. These sidequests are also very quick to complete, which is welcome in an already long game. As we neared the end of our playthroughs, we were still completing sidequests as they are interesting little stabs as you work your way through the main story arc.
Unfortunately, the overarching main story is average at best. Eivor’s journey with Sigurd had the potential to be something special but ends falling flat on its face. Our time with AC Valhalla ended on a bit of an anti-climax as the story fizzles out toward the end. Similar to the main story arc, we found the narrative concerning the mysterious Order of the Ancients lacking.
Uncovering new members of the Order was not rewarding, as either they are irrelevant to everything happening in England, or their identity is so obvious there is no surprise or intrigue.
In determining if Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is worth playing, the writing was important and luckily the writing for the vast majority of the game is superb, with the average areas only contributing to a small part of the experience.
Other than reading and listening to dialogue or travelling around the world, you spend most of your time killing Danes, Saxons and Britons alike. Therefore, it is important that combat feels good and rewards your character build. To put it in perspective, I killed over 4500 enemies during my playthrough. That is a lot of people to kill if combat is not fun.
Combat revolves around light and heavy attacks, dodges and parries. Nothing special here, but it feels superb to do. Landing a perfect parry (it’s not very difficult) is satisfying, and the finisher animations are brutal enough to make you feel like the viking animal you are. Hacking your way through an entire garrison of enemies is a god-like feeling and storming a monastery with your crew is just as glorious. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla nails the feeling of being a viking, fighting on new and unknown shores.
There is a good variety of weapons that each feel distinct in the way they play. I played with Seax and shield, relying on parrying and moving in for a few rapid stabs. This is a vanilla setup, if are more adventurous you can duel wield two two-handed axes or even do combat with a shield in each hand. In the expansive ability tree, there are enough abilities and skills to keep combat interesting right to the end.
If we had to find a negative with the combat, we would say that combat is a bit too easy. Sure there are bosses such as Cordelia and Fenrir which are tough on the highest difficulty, but for the most part combat is not very challenging. Poison and fire are still as strong as it was in Oddysey, but not as overpowered. Bows also add unique playstyles and can serve as your main weapon just as well as any melee weapon in the game.
Stuff to do
We already touched on the amount of side quests in the game, but there is still more you can do to make your time in England unforgettable. You can hunt down gear and collect all the pieces of the unique sets. There are quite a few, and many of them are viable to use in combat. You can also hunt down all the weapons and shields. They have a wide variety of effects that enhance combat, keeping things interesting as you move through the game.
One of the other standout activities of the game is the growth of your settlement Ravensthorpe. You can grow your settlement through six different levels, and as you build and upgrade different buildings, you unlock new things to do in your village. Some of these include quests, other offer you a shot at romance, and others buff you because of the food your settlement produces. Upgrading your settlement means you gain access to the ability to customise your ship and crew, even allowing you to customise and recruit your very own viking warrior.
There is also some depth to crew customisation where you can recruit the viking warriors that other players create. These include those of your friends, so keep an eye out for their recruits!
One of the most interesting additions to your AC Valhalla village is the witch’s hut. Drinking the brews she prepares grants you access to Asgard, where you play as Odin in his quest to avert his fate. The Asgard story arc is brilliant and breaks up the England conquest for some mythological musings. We would highly recommend you check this part of the game out as it provides some of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s best moments.
So is AC Valhalla really worth your time?
These are the primary reasons we feel that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is worth playing. We could go on about the great graphics which are really breathtaking in certain areas of the game, or the variety of characters you meet. But we think these reasons are enough to tell you that AC Valhalla is certainly worth your time, as the moment to moment gameplay is simply fun. As we mentioned earlier, AC Valhalla does an outstanding job at making you experience something of the viking life, however brutal or merciful you choose to be. The game may be on the long side of things, but the journey is filled with some truly memorable moments of Assassin’s Creed series.