Well received by critics
After forays into ancient Egypt and Greece, the latest Assassin’s Creed is set in several parts of Europe. The protagonist, Eivor, is a Viking in the ninth century who goes to war in a divided England. The story unfolds as it does in a television series. At the start of the game, Eivor only wants to avenge the death of his father, but once he has, the goals shift slightly. There is no great evil or final boss: this game simply tells the story of Viking life. Eivor can be either a man or a woman. Players can switch between the two in the middle of the game, or a special mode can be activated that highlights each character individually. That way, for example, you don’t miss out on a special fight that only the female Eivor takes part in. The story is slow to develop and feels more thoughtful than previous titles, but the characters are simultaneously more superficial. Whereas Assassin’s Creed Odyssey drew on multiple sides of Greek history, the Vikings of Valhalla are mostly killing machines with little nuance. They mostly shout about how much fun war is, which makes it difficult to form a bond.
Valhalla, like previous Assassin’s Creed titles, is an open-world game. You can play the main missions to follow the story, but it is also possible to leave the beaten track and complete optional missions. Once again, the game is full of treasures to find or optional enemies to defeat. Scattered throughout the game you will also find special mini-games. In taverns, a drinking game requires you to chug as much beer as possible without your drunken character falling over. Poetry contests involve creative rhyming to humiliate opponents. It gives the game colour and variety alongside the violent main missions.
So, what’s the problem?
A group of Assassin’s Creed fans have expressed their dissatisfaction with the micro-transactions in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. There are now as many armour sets in the in-game Premium shop as in the regular game itself. So half of the garments in the game are now only available to people who want to spend money. Combined with the fact that fans feel they have received little additional free content since release, this is causing dissatisfaction. A large Reddit thread shows how many fans can’t appreciate this distribution – especially during a pandemic. “Even many of us who spent over a hundred dollars on the collector’s edition have received very little new content in recent months. All we’ve received is a nice event that left something to be desired, and some bug fixes.” Ubisoft has not yet responded publicly to the players’ complaints.
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Difference from former titles
The differences from previous instalments are in the details. For example, Eivor can hold any weapon or even shields in both hands, which allows for more variety in fighting styles. While sneaking, it is again possible to hide in groups of people, as was possible in previous games. But by and large, this is simply a new Assassin’s Creed game. The French Ubisoft is not making any great strides here. With Odyssey, the basis of the game series has already been largely refined, and Valhalla can now build on this.