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Game review: Assassin’s Creed Vahalla

09 Dec 2020

The Assassin’s Creed franchise started way back in 2007 and it was a fresh series that introduced very fun stealth mechanics at the time. Due to the huge popularity of the series, Ubisoft encouraged its developers to release the franchise on an annual basis. 

Releasing games annually can become a gamble because you risk franchise fatigue which could lead to lower sales. Due to this, the way Assassin’s Creed games play now vastly differ from what they were like back in the late ‘00s and early ‘10s. 

Rather than focusing on stealth kills, Assassin’s Creed games are now action RPGs where enemies have health bars and there are even boss fights. This year’s release of Assassin’s Creed Vahalla is no different as it too features many of the recent game changes that may displease a portion of its original audience. 

Before I begin talking about gameplay, let’s first discuss the graphics. Assassin’s Creed Vahalla is the first in the series to be released on next-gen hardware such as the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S consoles. We reviewed the game on Xbox Series X, and the game looks decent running in 4K at 60fps. 

That being said, I still don’t think the graphics are as impressive as I wished they were. Sure it looks nice, but it doesn’t have the next-gen shine compared to other Xbox Series X and PS5 games I have played in the past month. Maybe future Assassin’s Creed games will look better once developers are able to fully push the boundaries of the new consoles. 

Anyway, the basic gist of the plot is that Eivor and his/her clan leave Norway to start a new life in England. Along the way, they make many allies and also enemies as they try to settle and end up facing off against some of the leaders that want to rule all of England. Eivor also is introduced to what is known as the Hidden Ones and their fight against the Order of the Ancients, which are the precursors to the Assassins and Templars that come later and were previously introduced in Origins and Odyssey.

At the beginning of the game, you can choose to be either a male or female Eivor to play throughout the entire campaign. There is also a third option where the Animus chooses which gender you will be for specific missions. This third option is quite cool if you feel like playing as both genders if you wish to. 

A big part of the game is the settlement within England, which is your main hub. Your goal is to build this up throughout the game by obtaining supplies and raw materials via raids, allowing you to upgrade things like stores and such from tents to fully-fledged stores with more capabilities. 

Raids are done by boat when you see a red marker on the map indicating that you can raid a village. The goal here is to basically take everyone out or sometimes burn down the area, with you getting all of the treasures left behind after taking over. You can't just go complete all the raids early though, as they have level recommendations and you will likely get destroyed if you try to beat some at too much lower than recommended levels.

Unlike in Odyssey, Vahalla finally sees the return of the much-requested 'hidden blade'. It's not a normal weapon like it was before as you can only use it exclusively for stealth kills only. It's also a bit annoying it doesn't kill 100% of your enemies as some people survive thanks to having large armour traits. You can, however, improve the combat thanks to the large skill tree.

When starting the game, combat can kind of be boring and stale because Evior doesn’t have access to a lot of his/her moves yet. Thanks to the aforementioned skill tree, their repertoire increases making the combat more exciting than it is at the start of the game. You will need to level up constantly because your enemies get tougher and tougher the further you play it. 

Much like many other Assassin’s Creed games, the map in Vahalla is very HUGE. England is a large place and you will have to traverse a lot of different terrain in your journey. Thankfully, you can use mounts such as horses and even wolves to help you travel around too. You can also use sail ships to get across the large bodies of water that is in this game as well. 

Even though Vahalla is a game that has been released in 2020, I still don’t think Ubisoft has fully kept up with modernised combat systems. I feel the combat in Vahalla to feel slow and unrefined when compared to the smoothness of Ghost of Tsushima. I also didn’t like the game’s lack of focus on stealth like older AC titles. 

Another thing that may annoy some people is that Vahalla can feel like a very long and repetitive game too. It will take you around 50 hours or more in order to finish the main story by itself. I don’t mind playing long games, but Vahalla feels too long because most of the missions feel the same after a while…

If you loved Assassin’s Creed games from 2017 onward, you’ll love what Assassin’s Creed Vahalla has to offer. The more action-orientated gameplay will appeal to RPG fans, but it will still alienate fans of the older games of the series. If you love AC games in general, you will still love playing this game despite it not being the best the series has to offer. 

Verdict: 7.5/10