Assassin's Creed Valhalla

Rap battles are very good to get to at least level 3 so you can have more dialog options.

Drinking games are basically indirect measures of your input latency (if playing on a console/TV).

Well, either way, it’s not something to lose sleep over!

Played a bunch more over the weekend, I’m getting seriously sucked into this. I love so many little things in the game, it gets so many details right. One thing I really enjoy is doing a raid and manning the battering ram. It’s so satisfying backing up, rushing forward and hearing the crunch of the gate before it falls. I’ve seen this done in countless movies and TV shows and it’s never really registered with me before. It’s so cool!

But I also got pulled into two weird side quests last night, and I’m beginning to get seriously tired of my seer because she dragged me into both. I’m not sure if this is really spoiler material, but I’ll play it safe: first, I got dragged off to the Isle of Man with one of Valka’s friends to cure the island’s sleeplessness problem? Which sounded boring as hell, except I got to team up with Kassandra, so it was awesome! Seeing she and Eivor face off in their headstrong, grumpy way was a lot of fun. But then once I resolved that, Valka had a potion for me that made me dream I was Odin I guess? Anyway I was in Asgard, dealing with gods and blue bad guys. That one was boring - I was just ready to get back to pillaging in England at that point.

But it’s all very satisfying. There’s so much to do - I don’t yet know how this compares in size to Origins and Odyssey but it feels massive - there’s so much more map to uncover. I may have to take a break at some point just so I don’t burn out, like I sometimes do with Bethesda games. Still, having a ton of fun so far.

Yay :) Yeah I could probably have done without the Asgard stuff. I have a feeling it’s largely optional but it’s been so long I can’t remember. The Kassandra crossover was a recent addition.

The Asgard stuff is my least favorite part of the game. To get all of the story beats though I think you have to do it, IIRC. At least the rogue-like Asgard thing they added is pretty decent.

Flyting was by far my favorite part of AC:V. I wish there was about 5x as much, and there were some more difficult fights. I explored most of the map just to find new people to insult.

AC:Odyssey was my favorite game out of the RPG-like stretch of the series, where it felt like choices were actually meaningful and the ending around the dinner table was satisfying. But the castle sequences and monastery raids were head-and-shoulders better than the silly two armies fighting stuff in Odyssey. I think the loot all sucking was kind of a good thing - I gave up on trying to find every bit of loot in the game and just played the main story line before I burned out entirely.

AC:V is fun, though after the first 20 hours you’ve basically seen the mechanics of the game, so if you start feeling burned out give up the icon chase and crank out the story. If you keep enjoying finding every secret, then more power to you. I played for 73hr, and I’m sure I could have doubled that time easily if I wanted to really scour the map.

I can confirm that estimate as correct for Odyssey. I appreciated the different take on loot in Valhalla, where I didn’t feel as inundated with junk and detail hunting for marginal upgrades as in Odyssey.

Valhalla ended as my interest peaked (perfect), so I never got far in the side-realm stuff. I tried going back some weeks later. It seems perfectly fine to skip. Though, I didn’t know that one of the side bits is a cross-over sequence with Odyssey. Maybe that one will get a chance to impress me…some…year?

The part with Cassandra was a late addition, released simultaneously with a similar free expansion for Odyssey.
Also what you’ve listed is probably the best part of the game because it’s a little different from the rest. Apart from one episode with travel to a faraway place I’d say you’ve seen everything in the game. Other regional storylines will basically be all the same.

It is massive and looks good. It’s probably great fun if it doesn’t feel pointless to you.

I’d say that expansions you can buy are perfectly fine to skip. They’re not that bad, but they’re just more of the same, and they have exactly the same structure as the other regional quests. What I recommend is Forgotten Saga, which is a free addition and a confession from the developers that they wish they’ve made Hades. It has interesting gameplay choices, real character progression, diverse envrionments. It’s as long as you wanted to be, I think people usually beat the main part of it on their 5th try or something like that.

I am now getting back into AC Origins because there’s stuff to finish and I just need an excuse to walk around those environments. I appreciate it has a lot of optional challenges, some tied to quests and some not. I don’t like fights with gods cause they’re timed, but you have interesting things in the arena, you have those damned Pharaohs in the expansions, and the elephants too. There are some goals to work for in this game which usually had optional content that feels like busywork. Valhalla only got something like this with mastery challenges, but it’s intriguing. It’s not just boss fights but all kinds of challenges, reminds me of VR missions in Metal Gear games. The rest of the games feels so effortless that this switch to actual challenges feels dramatic, but that game still has something for me to get around to eventually when I feel like it. I think Valhalla is a lesser game than two previous ones but I appreciate it having stuff like this.

All three recent AC games–Origins, Odyssey, Valhalla–are sprawling, massive, beautiful, and packed with stuff. How much stuff you can take before you get tired of it depends on your own personal stuff tolerance I think. I find the worlds in these games great places to roam, and the combat mechanics are generally solid and engaging. I soon reach a point where progression as such is sort of meaningless, but as long as I don’t binge on the games they remain pretty entertaining.

The ideal AC game for me would combine naval combat (Black Flag and Odyssey do it well), the combat system and tight control of Valhalla, some sort of composite loot/gear system blending Valhalla’s freedom from constant churn and Odyssey’s sense of finding new things, Odyssey’s coherent and well-executed “real place” feel, and Origin’s sense of the exotic.

One detail I thought was kind of interesting about the Isle of Skye missions is that neither Eivor nor Kassandra consider themselves to be assassins, or members of that particular club at all. Both seem a little hesitant or distrustful of them, though they both recognize that their goals align and they can be useful allies at times. Of the recent games, I guess only really Bayak would have considered himself a full Assassin. Which is kind of funny considering the games are ostensibly about that organization, though I suppose the Hidden Ones probably don’t really care what you think about them or yourself as long as you’re doing their work.

Not like it’s something new. Almost half of the series’ PCs were not assassins (4, Rogue, Odyssey, Valhalla).

That’s why those three recent games haven’t grabbed me like the older games - they’re just too sprawling. They’re beautiful to look at, sure; I am always in awe of the environments and art design, but after a while, it feels too daunting and I feel I will never get even close to finishing with my limited play time. Sure, I can just stick to the main quest, but part of the fun in these games is roaming around and coming across new quests or treasures to loot, and because they place these activities so close together, you cannot go to one waypoint without distraction.

It would be nice if side quests were more dynamic, maybe randomly timed or conditional, so that it isn’t just some map pre-filled with 1,000 quests. For example, maybe you walk through a town several times on your way to finish part of the main quest and maybe certain side-quest givers or points of interest only pop up on your 3rd or 5th time in that area, or after you finish a certain task.

Well, I was specifically talking about Eivor and Kassandra, the protagonists of Odyssey and Valhalla, so it’s kind of overkill to just list those games again. And Rogue’s main character was a Templar, so naturally enough he wouldn’t have considered himself an assassin. You have a point about Kenway, but he was always more interested in pirating and plunder anyway.

This is how Odyssey works. But it’s for random quests, probably not what you meant.

Also it’s not like there are that many quests in the game. A lot of question marks on the map, a lot of collectibles - true. But the issue with, say, Origins is that it has a linear path through the game, and some of the more interesting locations like Alexandria are only visited in passing so you don’t have anything to do in the biggest city of the game, it’s here as part of the tutorial. Apart from Discovery Mode, I guess.

What I mean is starting with 3 the games became more of a historical world theme park loosely related to the whole Ancient Aliens/Assassins/Templars thing. And I like it. Devs knew that they were making a first big pirate game since Sid Meier’s Pirates and for some unfathomable reason this was the last pirate game for a long while, so it’s great they made a game about pirate who is involved with assassins rather than the other way around.

OK, I follow you. I was just musing on the fact that several of the most recent protagonists of a game series called Assassin’s Creed aren’t really even members of the organization or followers of the creed. Which may be because, as you say, they’re more interested in the historical tourism angle than the “sekrit history they don’t tell you about” angle. But as someone who has always found the more batshit side of the AC games very amusing, I’m glad that they haven’t totally dumped it in Valhalla - I’m still fairly early on but I’ve seen plenty of mention of Isu and ancient artifacts, and they’ve still got Layla hanging around the edges with whatever the heck she’s still doing (I kinda forgot, actually).

That would be nice, yeah.

The real problem with Valhalla is that England in the year 900 was mostly just dirt and some broke-down ass buildings leftover by the Romans. Odyssey and Origins had fantastic architecture to look at, which added a lot to my enjoyment of the game - as did some of the older AC games like AC2 in Florence. Valhalla was nicely rendered, but I didn’t stop to look around or randomly climb buildings just to see them.

Though the actual climbing on those crumbling forts was cool in Valhalla, and the old Roman ruins were kind of cool. But yes, no comparison with Greece in the Peloponnesian War or Egypt in the time of the last Ptolemies (though it would have been even cooler if it had been during, say, the Middle Kingdom).

I would love to see an AC in late Republican Rome, around the time of Origins but, well, in Rome. Or during the Japanese Shogunate period–AC: Nobunaga!