As a franchise, Assassin's Creed is no longer the new kid on the block. It is one of the biggest stalwart game series that has turned an enormous profit for Ubisoft.
However, regardless of the series' financial success or its prominence in the gaming industry, the franchise has garnered plenty of criticism from fans and media outlets.
Whether it was Ubisoft's decision to release Assassin's Creed games annually, resulting in perhaps a series of underwhelming titles, or the ever-present microtransactions and "Time Savers," something or the other has seen the publisher get slated from time to time.
However, 2020 saw Assassin's Creed Valhalla's release, and to many, it signaled that Ubisoft had finally cracked the code.
Since Origins, Assassin's Creed has transformed into an open-world action RPG, akin to games like The Witcher 3. While there are still traces of the stealth-action roots of the franchise, those days are long gone.
Here is a look at five things that Assassin's Creed Valhalla does exceptionally well and why it is one of the better games in the series.
Top five things that Assassin's Creed Valhalla does extremely well
#1 - A compelling cast of characters
For the longest time, despite having received all sorts of critique regarding its games, Ubisoft has managed to introduce players to well-written characters who are compelling. Assassin's Creed Valhalla is no different as the player is always surrounded by a colorful and captivating cast of characters.
Every character in Ravensthorpe and beyond is very well-written with their own set of motivations, fears, tendencies, and unique personalities. Throughout its extremely lengthy campaign, Assassin's Creed Valhalla manages to introduce interesting characters.
The player is tasked with forming alliances over various parts of England through the game, and each area presents its sub-plot. Each story is wrought with interesting themes and, most importantly, exciting characters.
Almost everyone the player meets has something to offer, and a conversation with them will reveal a lot of depth to the game's writing. Assassin's Creed Valhalla manages to avoid the trappings of a formulaic action RPG and fleshes the world out with compelling characters.
#2 - Raids
True to Viking history, Valhalla had to include a Raid mechanic, if not for anything else, then for historical accuracy. Apart from that, Raids are perhaps the most exciting parts of Assassin's Creed Valhalla.
Essentially, a Raid involves Eivor and the Raven Clan attacking an Anglo-Saxon stronghold and looting every piece of valuable item they can get their hands on. Before the looting, dozens of soldiers are laid to waste in brutal Viking fashion, making for enjoyable gameplay sections.
Raids are far more challenging on higher difficulties and require players to use dubious methods to get ahead. Tactics such as infiltrating the location and silently assassinating high-level enemies, and then calling upon the Raven clan become much more appealing than attacking headfirst.
Raids become the most efficient way to gather resources and money and, frankly, a large part of what makes Assassin's Creed Valhalla so fun.
#3 - Combat
The combat in Assassin's Creed Valhalla is the best version of the action-RPG formula that the series adopted post-Syndicate. While Odyssey had great combat, it was perhaps a bit too superhero-ish, given the many feats of supernatural trickery Alexios/Kassandra were capable of.
However, even though Eivor isn't exactly an accurate representation of a human being, the combat in Valhalla is hugely satisfying. Each bone-crunching blow of the player's ax or any of the numerous weapons available feels as gratifying as it should, and it simply never gets old.
There are enough weapons to satisfy both history buffs and fans of great combat. The inventory system also works quite well as players can switch between their off-hand weapon and primary, making room for experimentation and weird combinations. For example, gamers being able to dual-wield shields.
The combat perfectly relates to the Vikings' brutality and is challenging enough to keep players on their toes, especially on higher-difficulties.
#4 - Balancing stealth with action
While not precisely the most fleshed-out stealth mechanics in the series, Assassin's Creed Valhalla manages to introduce stealth yet keep it action-heavy. The player has enough room to mess around with stealth and seamlessly transition to action should things go wrong.
The game brings back abilities such as being able to blend in with a group of missionaries, which is a nice nod to the original game. More than that, stealth feels like a viable option in several sections of the game, which is more than what players can say about some of the franchise's older games.
While far from a deep stealth game, Assassin's Creed Valhalla lurks closer to its roots than many previous entries from the series.
#5 - Side missions
Side missions are truly the star of Assassin's Creed Valhalla, as across their journey, players will encounter several interesting side quests. While each section of the game's story is broken up into several sub-plots, there are dozens of side missions in each part of the map.
These missions can range from downright hilarious to extremely challenging, and they all contribute towards making the game world feel a bit more alive. Completing these side missions might result in better loot or resources and perhaps even uncover legendary items.
Ubisoft's approach to the game design still isn't quite there with making the game world feel fulfilling, but it's slowly getting there. Assassin's Creed Valhalla is several steps in the positive direction and an excellent foundation for the French company to build on with future releases.
Note: This article reflects the writer's personal opinions.