Dear Ubisoft, regarding Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Last week, Ubisoft announced and revealed a new trailer for the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, which is set during the conflicts between the Vikings and Ango Saxon world during 873 AD. You will take on the role of Eivor, a Viking raider during this time and will see them get involved in the conflict between the Assassins and the Templars.

Pretty awesome looking stuff, and something we can all get excited for later in the year. But, seeing as this is a massive franchise that has seen some changes over the years. The recent change in direction for the series with Origins and most recently Odyssey, was a very welcome one, but it is still not perfect and there are a few things I hope to see when Valhalla launches by the end of the year.

Please no hub world

One thing that Ubisoft loves doing is making all their games exactly the same. It’s one of the problems that come with multiple studios and thousands of people working on a game. The games can become very generic and cookie-cutter at times. One of the biggest and contentious issues for me personally is the hubs they started using in The Division. While I don’t have any problem with The Division, or The Division 2 using them, it was the shoehorning of the system into something else that didn’t need it that really pissed me off. *cough* Breakpoint *cough*.

The problem is the system works fine enough, but it doesn’t work for everything. In Ghost Recon Breakpoint you’re playing as an elite operative named Nomad that’s stuck behind enemy lines. But when you go to the hub of the game, you find a 100 other Nomads running around, breaking all sense of immersion it could have had.

So please don’t have a bunch of custom made Eivors running around a hub location. Nobody wants that, nobody asked for that.

Also no character creator

In fact, leave anything from The Division completely out of this. Which means no custom character creator of some weird generic looking protagonist that’s essentially mute. When the announcement came that you will be able to choose between a male and female character, my biggest concern was that a customisable character could be on the cards. The Assassin’s Creed protagonist has always had some sort of personality, and unless they keep them fully voiced, the charm of the series could go down the drain very very quickly.

Improvements to combat please

Let’s be perfectly honest here, combat in the Assasin’s Creed series hasn’t always been that great. The developers tried to add some form of realism to it, but it’s always felt rather clunky. Sure, it has come a long way since the bugger up that was combat in Assassin’s Creed 1, but it’s never really kept up with the rest of the industry.

Origins arguably has the best combat in the series, borrowing a lot from the Dark Souls formula and giving it, it’s own flavour, with Odyssey taking a slight step backwards again with the dodge parry system that later devolves into a series of impressive manoeuvres that decimates your foes while you look on after a button press. It looks impressive and is a lot better than what I describe, but once you reach a certain level in the game, combat becomes a lot less engaging unless you fight a tougher opponent or boss.

Ubisoft also needs to find some sort of balance when it comes to hits an enemy can take or not. I always find it strange that some priest can suddenly pull out a sword and take a ton of hits and kill you, a ruthless assassin out of nowhere. A great place to learn will be from Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, which is not about a health bar, but wearing an enemy down to open them up for a quick kill.

I know this is a problem a lot of games have, but it does feel that Ubisoft struggles to get the balance right on this one a bit more than others, and it is something I hope they manage to work on going forward.

Less grinding, thank you

I’m always a little behind on the Assassin’s Creed games as I seldom buy it at launch. So when I started playing Odyssey last year, it wasn’t too long after completing Origins. I wanted to play it for the story, but I soon realised that the game wanted me to grind the side missions and everything else it has to offer in order to proceed, and it annoyed me. It probably was fatigue on the series setting in at the time, so I gave up on it for the time being.

Now, having gone back to it after more than a year, I realise it is part of the game and story to do these “side” missions, and I don’t really have a problem with it, but oh boy is some of the stuff in this game still a grind. Assassin’s Creed has always been about the busy work, but with Odyssey it feels a bit excessive, forcing you to do stuff that you don’t really want to, in order to progress the story. Even the story can be a bit of a grind, but I’m honestly fine with that.

Ubisoft has since confirmed that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will be less of a grind, but will maintain the same RPG elements from recent entries, which makes me very optimistic for the game.

Keep on teaching us history Ubisoft

Ubisoft has been teaching us history since 2007 without us even realising it. Since we took our first steps into the 12th century Crusades, we have been learning more about events and people that had an impact on our world. Sure, the Assassin’s Creed franchise has been taking a lot of liberties on the history, but it certainly encouraged many of us to go and learn more about the era and the people being mentioned and interacted with.

Today, we get the Discovery Tours, which is an amazing add-on into the recent games that takes us on a learning experience of the ancient Egyptian and Greek worlds. It is one of the best additions that Ubisoft has made to the series and I really hope they keep doing that going forward.

So, those are some of my musings and hopes for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, a game I pretty much look forward to playing. Anything else you wish and hope for the series? Share your thoughts.

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