Games: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Review; Wrath of the Druids

Assassin’s Creed is such a strange series. The games have always looked great but from the start, there has always been something missing. Everyone knew that there was potential for the series but other than the second game there have always been issues. Assassin’s Creed 2, was a total peach, the story was great and the gameplay was even better.

3 was a good game, but the story was hated by many. The series took sidewards steps after getting it so right in the second. Then we had Unity, and Syndicate (which is very well regarded, but often forgotten). Unity had some of the best/worst bugs ever seen in a high profile title at launch… those eyes will haunt my dreams forevermore.

The last three games have visited Egypt, Greece and now, most recently England. Having played every game in the series (without completing most), they do vary in quality.

Assassin’s Creed has always looked great but can lean on the repetitive side. The last few games all feel quite similar. The story in the second and third games are well done and are the only games that I have managed to complete the main story for. However, since Origins the games have got longer and bigger but with that, has brought an element of padding.

However, with the recent launch of the Wrath of the Druids DLC, I decided to revisit the game and try out the new expansion.

Vahalla launched at the same time as the new generation of consoles in November 2020. Being a launch title for a new generation brings with it lofty expectations. The game doesn’t disappoint when it comes to visuals and I’ve had to take a few breaks while on high peaks in the game to drink in the environment on show.

Available on most platforms (sorry Switch), the game follows the path of the Viking clan Raven and their journey out of Norway and their following invasion of England. You have the option of playing as either a male or female main character called Eivor. The main story sees you take on several different quests, ranging from epic battles for land, random encounters and diplomatic queries. There are also there are optional side quests that can be completed to dive deeper into the story and get more experience points to improve your character stats.

Combat in the game is enjoyable and extremely violent. You can have different weapon layouts, ranging from one-handed weapons and a shield to heavy and slower two-handed weapons. As mentioned earlier, both your character and weapons are stat-based and can be upgraded as you progress thru the story.

The executions are downright gory. A personal favourite is when enemies with staffs are impaled on their weapons after they have been defeated, Mortal Kombat finish them style.

In the last game, weapons had a point value and even if you loved the weapon, once you got something with a better value, you had to move on or risk making the game more difficult. Here the game lets you keep both clothing and weapons you like and improve them over time by upgrading. This is something the game gets right, as I hated losing out on a weapon that cooled cool in Odyssey.

You can change your characters outfit, with mine currently rocking a fantastic looking version of Altaïr’s outfit from the first game. As part of the ultimate edition, I also gained horse skin which changed my trusty steed to an oversized wolf, not sure why but my goodness does it look great.

The voice acting in the game is great, and I’m looking forward to learning more about Eivor’s story. However approaching nearly 20 hours in, the game is becoming slightly repetitive. This is something that has plagued Assassin’sCreed for a while, and I can’t help but feel that the game would be better suited to a tight 25-hour or so narrative. Playtime can vary depending on the side quests taken on, from around 50 hours for the main story to up to 120 hours or more for 100% completion.

So far the game has taken me thru a few English counties, and the map is HUGE. Considering I haven’t explored the whole world, the game already feels massive. With both forest sections and also snow-covered mountain tops, the world can vary quite a lot but seems to be missing the massive structures to climb which have featured in previous entries. Travelling by horse to mission objectives can take some time but you can set your horse to follow the road to your next objective, this is a nice touch and lets you admire the locations on offer.

For anyone not looking to murder thousands, the game is due to have the same Discovery mode which has featured in the last two titles in the series, later this year. This is an educationally-focused mode, which allows the player to fully explore the vision of England on offer here. Great to see that games can be used like this, and give people a look (game version or not), at history.

The game has already received a handful of post-launch content, with more slated to arrive later this year. The first big drop came on the 13th of May in the form of the Wrath of the Druids DLC and later in 2021 The Siege of Paris will follow, unfortunately, a solid release has yet to be confirmed.

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