Assassin's Creed Valhalla will split the community like an ax a bowler hat: that should be a pretty accurate prophecy. The game is both better and worse than the two predecessors in the series, has brilliant highlights, but also disappoints, entertains great, but also bores - and then there is the atmosphere, setting and fights that tear everything out again in the end and make Assassin Creed Valhalla a worthy successor to the Open World series, which is now around 13 years old. Our test of Assassin's Creed Valhalla, as always spoiler-free in text and image:
Assassin's Creed Valhalla starts where similar more or less historically precise concepts start: Dad is chopped off the turnip, mom has the ax behind her neck - and the little offshoot, whether Vikings, peasants or Martians, survives the slaughter, grows up, comes free and seeking revenge. Ubisoft is now in the twelfth round with the latest part from the assassin series. The game takes on the great legacy of Origins and Odyssey, both large open-world titles that fans have entertained for tens of hours. Will the new offshoot also succeed? Yes, because Assassin's Creed Valhalla is a gigantic playground for Viking fans - and, as always, everyone who wants to become one.
Berserker (male / female) is looking for a sharp two-handed ax
Assassin's Creed Valhalla starts promisingly, throws the player right into the Revenge drama about Eivor (male / female), either a Viking or a Viking - both versions are impressive on the battlefield. The male version: at least 1,85 m tall, 130 kilograms in weight, a mountain of muscles and accordingly. The female version: at least 1,85 m tall, 130 kilograms in weight, a mountain of muscles. In both cases, it corresponds exactly to the prototype of Nordic battle-tested people who have been presented as a prototype of a Viking from film and series productions for decades. We opted for the male variant, although deciding is basically not the right word: You can switch between Eivor (w) and Eivor (m) if you want.
Long hair, shaggy beard or shaggy hairstyle, recognizable Nordic, not necessarily the model for a graceful assassin. It should be noted that the Assassin's Creed series has temporarily left the classic path of a stealth game, which is now changing again with Valhalla. You don't have to do without "Assassinism" completely, because with Valhalla sneaking returns to the focus of the series: There is a hidden forearm blade, you can hide in crowds of people. Luckily, there is no must behind it, because somehow it doesn't quite fit in with the brutal performance of the Norse men and women. But it fits into the story, as does a contemporary story thread, which is traditionally experienced through an excursion into the animus.
Fans benefit from this because it also means playful freedom: fans choose whether they want to focus on sneaking, long-range combat or brutal hand-to-hand combat. In hand-to-hand combat, the emphasis is actually on "brutal": When Eivor starts chopping, arms, legs and heads fly because opponents rush towards the protagonist and his marauding horde in droves after the alarm has been triggered, the battles usually resemble a slaughter. This is not absurd, on the contrary: If you can brutally hit opponents with a two-handed ax, then please use a damage model that is worthy of a two-handed weapon. The faint of heart can of course switch off the gore effects.
Regardless of whether you like such brutality in games or not, Assassin's Creed Valhalla adds to the atmosphere. In any case, the following applies at all times: Wherever Eivor goes, you get appropriate feedback that points to the elemental force of the attacks. The attacks just feel massive. That Assassin's Creed Valhalla was rated 18+ is no surprise given what is happening on the battlefield. In addition to violence, it is also about drugs and sex, including romances in multiple variations.
Otherwise, the setting keeps what it promises: the player shivers when he runs with the heroes through the icy landscapes, leaving traces in the snow, climbing bare rock. Thanks Ubisoft, that's how you imagine a Nordic game world - and if the optics are not enough to create Viking flair, the grandiose soundtrack will do it. And the English lands keep up, even without any problems. You can feel the mud under your rock boots, run through autumn forests, roll battering rams against the gates of enemy fortresses.
It all sounds like a woolly milk sow laying eggs and it is. Ubisoft Montreal has used the Viking surprise box with full hands, but in return there is also the full Nordic broadside - with everything that belongs to Viking life or what players would even remotely attribute to the topic. At the same time, this hodgepodge of content is also one of the game's weaknesses. You can't get rid of the feeling that the developers could have done more with the topic. This is particularly clear because the basic setting - in contrast to Egypt or Greece - is much more present and tangible for players in various media reports. You quickly get to miss a little more depth, a little more character drawing, even more cool stories, of which there are some, but by no means enough for an open world game.
Alfred - the king, not the butler
The story center is in ninth century England and the reign of Alfred the Great. The developers are thus making use of one of the historical climaxes in the conflict between Vikings and Anglo-Saxons. Alfred ruled from 871 and then until 886, annoying for him: Right at the beginning of his term in office, the defense of the Northmen was on his royal to-do list. Ultimately, he united the country. Players roam through Norway, but also England of the early Middle Ages, always looking for adventures and settlements that can be plundered.
Even if it sounds like it at first, Eivor (male / female) is not the stupid Viking archetype who is just looking for revenge, marauding through the country and collecting treasures as much as he can carry. Assassin's Creed Valhalla unravels an interesting story that one likes to follow and that actually gives the Eivor character, but without being as captivating as in most of its predecessors.
From a purely visual point of view, Assassin's Creed Valhalla is somewhere between “That looks like Odyssey” and “Cool details!”. The graphics are not really next-gen, which is ultimately also due to the fact that the new offshoot appears in a kind of transitional period, where compatibility is more important than pure graphic splendor. But: Assassin's Creed Valhalla doesn't even look bad: The game world is bursting with small and big wow moments, manages to suck players into the mythological setting.
Especially when the virtual sunlight shines in your eyes, the landscapes blur in the twilight or you look over the water from the icy summit of a mountain, that magic, rough magic, unfolds that you are used to from Nordic scenes. The world is big - most comparable to Valhalla with its direct predecessor Odyssey, but the content is a bit condensed. Variance comes into play by moving from the ice to medieval England, the main setting for Eivor's story. Regardless of whether it is snow-covered, muddy, wet or green: the surroundings always look wonderfully dirty, just as you know it in knight and / or Viking films.
By longboat straight to the battlefield
The Viking's horse is his longboat. At Assassin's Creed Valhalla you travel quickly from coast to coast in the war boat, listen to the chants of the crew on the way and loot a few villages or fortresses on the side. If the message "Loot" pops up on the screen near the island, then that is not meant as a question: The motto is, dock and knock, always looking for the next treasure - and the next opponent to break the skull of. The loot system drives, motivates players to make additional stops apart from the main story. This also applies to the secondary jobs, which in terms of quality range from “stretched playing time” to “Húh!”. The world events are sometimes catastrophic.
Most of the quests are entertaining, not least because they often result in gripping fights. When you see one - or even better, several - opponents standing in the distance, your fingers start tingling. You sprint off, use evasive maneuvers, parry attacks, counterattacks or perform one of the special attacks - everything is excellently staged and mostly implemented with buttery-smooth animations. Apart from that, there is sometimes the feeling that Eivor and his friends have frozen their limbs in the Norwegian cold, the virtual fighters move so stiffly over the snow and mud.
During the battles, one notices this Assassin's Creed's Viking theme again: Eivor leaps bravely towards the enemy, fights at the opponents with two one-handed axes in berserk mode - or uses strategies that are significantly more assassinate than the rough blow with a two-handed ax that can be equipped as well as one-handed weapon plus shield or "dual wield".
The endurance system paired with the new weak points is particularly exciting. So you hack your opponent in the flank or weaken him with a targeted arrow shot, but always pay attention to the remaining stamina, which decides whether you are still defensive or as good as dead.
The same applies to the enemy types, by the way, so that you can also take advantage of the system yourself. This allows the player to react cleverly to enemy attacks instead of blunt force. Because the combat system is very close to Assassin's Creed Odyssey overall, the basics work just as well, but thanks to the detailed improvements in the Viking offshoot, they are even more interactive and exciting. The latter is also due to the fact that there are some new types of opponents; In addition, there is a move away from the strong focus on equipment: Eivor is defensive from the start. How well you do in combat is actually largely down to the skill of the player.
Also cool: the bosses take up topics, mostly based on Nordic mythology. It is about lightning thunderstorms, teleportations, sometimes also about solid distance fights in which the opponent throws barrels around them that explode. This not only ensures visual variety, but also requires different approaches. This is important because Eivor quickly bites into the grade if you go too carelessly into the field against opponents.
Loot and Skills? Present and somehow not - yet good
When it comes to equipment, the developers take a fundamentally different approach - one that makes collecting estimates much more attractive. Instead of letting tons of stuff rain down on the player, you constantly improve yourself with your few finds and adapt your equipment so that you can continue to use it in the future. As little motivating as less loot may seem at first, Ubisoft Montreal gets the curve with recourse to the Viking Village, which serves the player as a kind of central hub in which a lot can be done - including upgrading items. So you somehow cling to your collected stuff, because it can now be used for the long term and not only accompanies the player for two to three levels.
This becomes exciting in combination with small puzzles that are always waiting for players around the world. This is how you smash interiors in the hope of discovering secret passages; looks for alternative routes into seemingly inaccessible buildings or solves puzzles to get into houses and barracks. When you've found a new piece of equipment inside, not only is it great fun, but you also want to keep the new piece for a longer period of time - and that's exactly what Assassin's Creed Valhalla can do.
Playful skills and loot are two of the pillars of Eivor's strength, the third is the skill system, in which Ubisoft relies on innumerable passive bonuses this time and sprinkles in a few strong perks. Not everyone likes that by a long way, also because the three-part system loses some of its distinguishing features as a result. You can specialize in close combat, long-range combat or sneaking, but the characteristics are not really clear in virtual practice.
You can always be on the move on quiet feet. Kill opponents from behind whenever you want, however, by no means. This is also due to the design of the game world, which is not designed in every situation in such a way that assassination is possible without being seen. Real opportunities for a surprise attack are rare: there is little vegetation, in other words, bushes that invite you to hide; Buildings are also far less often placed in the open world.
Historically, this may actually have been the case in East Anglia, but from a purely assassinate point of view, the often sparsely built-up scenes sometimes offer little incentive for sneaking passages. So you usually save yourself that directly, unpack the big club and choreograph yourself from opponent group to opponent group - that is no less fun, but at least takes some of the original idea of the Assassin series, even if you don't have to do without the stealthy inserts entirely. Some locations already use significantly more masonry. And as a stopgap measure, Eivor still has his coat on: without further ado, you can gain access to areas without being discovered.
Formula open world
It almost seems as if the "kings of the open world" did not manage to fill the surroundings with motivating content. Too often one wanders around, not aimlessly, but for no reason. Some interludes seem so insignificant that one wonders why a tough Viking should get involved in them at all. Instead of loot, you look for resources that you invest in your village - a game element in which Assassin's Creed Valhalla can boast and prove its independence.
There are several features that make Assassin's Creed Valhalla so valuable as an open world game:
- Viking settlement: Your own settlement is the linchpin for Eivor's adventures.
- The crew": Eivor can assemble his men.
- Longboat: The boat makes the journey easier, ensures relaxation and can be adapted. But battles take place on land.
- Skills: Ubisoft Montreal continues to rely on RPG, but in a somewhat weaker form. What is more important is how players deal with their characters and not where they invest what points and when.
- Mini games: Is there to provide some variety.
- Fortress battles: Looting and attacks play a major role, plus battles of conquest at castles.
- Loot: Here, too, the developers are focusing on change. Equipment should now be more stable and accompany the player longer.
- Playful freedom: The open world is actually more open to the player's interest. Not a level system decides when to go on an adventure.
But there are also these passages apart from the main story, where you as a player are too responsible for providing entertainment. Here the game should have taken the player closer by the hand, open world or not. But it never gets really boring: Assassin's Creed Valhalla manages - like its predecessors - to conjure up fun moments on the screen. In return, one is happy to accept one or the other length.
This is all the more true because the main story and many side quests are quite convincing, even if the Viking trappings turn out to be quite a classic, the content of which has already been seen in more than one film. Anyone who dismisses the rock solid story can stick to the great fights - against individual bosses or masses of windfalls. Because that's a lot of fun.
The developers at Ubisoft Montreal have created a multi-faceted open-world playground that is not perfect on every corner, but scores with durability. There are lots of little storylines to follow, lots of characters to get to know, even if some of them end up being pale. Assassin's Creed Valhalla invites players to write their own story, supported by more flexibility in the sequence of the chosen challenges. In contrast to Origins or Odyssey, you are not bound to approach opponents of your own level accordingly. You can definitely try to oversink in regions that are not yet recommended by the game, you just have to act better than the respective AI opponent.
Number of players: 1
Age: USK 18
Long-term motivation: medium to high
Genre: Action RPG
Sub-genre: open world action
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2020
platforms: PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Google Stadia, Xbox Series X | S, Playstation 5
Costs: from 69,99 euros
You can go up as a Viking (male / female) in Eivor's fur boots, plunge into a rough world, have fun, be a Nordic war hero (male / female) - and at the same time be faced with many questions: mini-games? Quest Reduction? Less hot loot? A modification of the skill system? Why? In a playful way, the direct predecessor Assassin's Creed Odyssey offered so many grandiose approaches that one could simply have taken over and dressed in a Nordic garb. So not every experiment that Ubisoft tries with Assassin's Creed Valhalla works by far.
The latest offshoot from the assassin series draws significantly from its great atmosphere, the story, the Viking village and the exciting staged battles. If there's one thing you can't blame Assassin's Creed Valhalla for, it's dreary button smashing. On the many battlefields - the name says it all - the progress of the series is particularly clear, apart from that, a different picture emerges. Even so, the Viking Open World works wonderfully for the most part, tells stories and motivates people to create their own epic adventure. The settlement is always present, from which you start your missions, but also follow the enemy and his tactical maneuvers - everything connected with the advancement of the expansion. In the course of the game, there are always new options that are initially enjoyable for a short time and remain useful in the long term.
As a fan on the gamepad, you are usually challenged on a solid level, but real "challenges" are few and far between. The hardest task for players is to deal with the content so selectively that one can always draw real entertainment value from Assassin's Creed Valhalla. Sometimes boring passages alternate with small highlights. Without all the trappings, with a focus on "fights" and "stealth", the latest offshoot would only be an essence of what is otherwise presented in Assassin's Creed, but it would have been the more entertaining alternative - namely the one without idle.
Due to fundamental changes, Assassin's Creed Valhalla is played significantly differently than its predecessor, which on the one hand is refreshing, but on the other hand is also a shame, because Origins and Odyssey had many highlights to offer, which are now partly regretted. So: you have to be able to get involved with Ubisoft's new open world formula, then you will have at least as much fun with Assassin's Creed Valhalla as in previous series parts. With its own Viking village, the exciting battles, the many raids and looting and the overall grandiose atmosphere of medieval England, the current offshoot has more than enough charms to spend many hours with Eivor and his battle buddies - perhaps hundreds again during the course of the season .
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Last updated on 8.03.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API