Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Why Are Reviewers Lying?

I’ve played every major Assassin’s Creed (AC) release, and none have annoyed and disappointed me more than the newest release, Valhalla. Nope, not even the infamous Unity was as bad in my opinion.

For the record, at the time of writing, I’ve logged 46 hours of playtime at the easiest setting on my PlayStation 4. Everything that follows is based on that experience.

My biggest disappointment, and anger inducing issue, is the crashing problem. Valhalla has crashed 8 times so far. That’s less than 6 hours of gameplay per crash. And based on comments on Reddit, I’m one of the lucky ones that isn’t experiencing much crashing. Keep in mind, people paid a minimum of $60 for this game.

Lazy Graphics

My first disappointment, however, was the graphics downgrade in comparison to Odyssey (the last release). I feel that this looks more like an early PlayStation 4 game. I don’t know if all of Ubisoft’s effort went into the PlayStation 5 version, but I would think, at the very least, it would look as good as Odyssey. The poor graphics, to me, are just part of what feels like a general laziness on Ubisoft’s part with regards to the game as a whole.

Comparison of protagonists Eivor (left) and Kassandra (right).
Let’s start with a comparison of protagonists Eivor (left) from Valhalla and Kassandra (right) from Odyssey. In my opinion, Kassandra’s model and textures look significantly better.
Cloth comparison between Valhalla (left) and Odyssey (right)
In this comparison, take a good look at Eivor’s blue tunic sleeve on the left, and Herodotos’ hood and shirt on the right (from Odyssey). Herodotos’ certainly has better texturing.
Comparison between a background character in Valhalla (left) and the protagonist of Assassin's Creed II (right)
This background character model in Valhalla (left), reminds me an awful lot of the protagonist Ezio model from Assassin’s Creed II (left) released in 2010.

Hati

Continuing on the theme of laziness, a prime example is Eivor’s wolf mount, Hati. Ubisoft provided us with a wolf skin for Eivor’s mount, but that’s all it is, a skin. They didn’t even bother to adjust the walk and run cycles. Hati runs like a horse, not a wolf.

Glitches

I also classify the horrible glitchiness under laziness. A game should be subjected to intensive testing. Even basic testing would have found many of the glitches I’ve come across.

Now, visual glitches don’t bother me. Random floating and magically appearing things, etc. are funny, and in my opinion, part of the gaming experience. I’ve certainly shared plenty of funny visual glitches from games I’ve loved (notably, Syndicate and Odyssey).

Ravensthorpe

However, Valhalla is full of gameplay glitches. The biggest issue at the moment (that I’ve found), is the inability to interact with “shop owners” in Ravensthorpe (Eivor’s settlement in England). These include:

  • The Quartermaster, who lets you change your longship crew and collect jomsviking tributes
  • The Shipmaker, who lets you customize your longship (and some of these customizations are purchased with real-world money, not game coin)
  • The Tattoo Artists, who let you customize Eivor’s appearance (according to Reddit)
  • Reda, who runs a secondary marketplace with extremely rare items (also according to Reddit)

Considering that upgrading Ravensthorpe is a main story quest, I would expect it to be glitch-free. But, sadly, that’s not the case.

Falling Through Things

A close second in annoying glitches is Eivor falling through the ground and walls. In past AC games, I don’t recall experiencing this phenomenon more than 1-2 times in the entire course of the game, even playing through multiple times, averaging over 150 hours. So far, Eivor has fallen through the ground once when dismounting from Hati, and has been thrown through a wall twice during castle assaults. The annoying part is that there’s no way to get back out. You have to quit and restart from wherever the game last saved, or with falling through the ground, wait until Eivor dies and respawns to the last save.

Eivor’s Cloak

I honestly don’t know if this is a glitch, but it seems, based on in-game clues, as though having Eivor wear her/his cloak is supposed to make people ignore her/him. However, I’ve yet to have it work for me. It doesn’t matter how slow I have Eivor walk. It doesn’t matter how far away Eivor is from the guard(s). Of course, even uncloaked, if Eivor is far enough away from the guard(s) they’ll ignore her/him anyway.

Minor Glitches

Other, less important, but still somewhat annoying glitches include a missing treasure hoard and a missing key, both of which you should be able to collect. The key makes it impossible to finish a quest mission in a timely manner. You have to complete an entire story arc before the mission will reset and allow you to choose a different option for completion.

There are also multiple instances of a treasure indicator on the map when the treasure is (supposedly) not available until later in the game. I can’t confirm if this is true, as I haven’t finished the main story yet. And in one mission, when someone was supposed to follow Eivor, he didn’t, and I had to quit and restart in order to finish that mission.

Some other, ultimately unimportant glitches include odd delays in cutscenes. Either the people just stare at each other for a few moments or the audio and video desynchronize. And there are certainly some odd visual glitches, but, as I said before, I don’t find that all that bothersome.

Annoyances

And so we come to minor issues that, if not for the major issues, likely wouldn’t bother me much. But, with the major issues Valhalla has, these smaller ones just add to my displeasure.

Overpowered Challenges

It’s been very annoying coming across the legendary animals, lost drengrs, and daughters of Lerion. All three challenge types are ranked (via power level required) much higher than the map segments they’re located within. This means you can’t beat them as you find them while exploring. At least, not if you like clearing the map as you go, like I do.

But you don’t know what challenge type you’re approaching until you’re basically at it. So, you can travel hundreds of meters out of your way, only to find you’ve wasted your time because you can’t beat the challenge yet.

And the first time you come across each challenge type? There’s no warning that these challenges are unbeatable early on. So my poor 30, 55, and 88 power level Eivor was attempting to take on 160+ power level challenges. Not gonna happen, even on easy. A little warning would have been nice. I could have kept myself from wasting time getting killed and having to respawn.

Quick Action Wheel

The quick action wheel feels clunky. I don’t like it. It’s a personal preference, but it takes me out of the gameplay. It doesn’t feel natural to use.

Weaponry and Armor

I also dislike the lack of weaponry and armor. In the past several AC games, you’re constantly changing both to use the newest, best thing you’ve pick up or purchased. And you could sell the extra for more money. So far, I’ve picked up a small handful (3-5) of any given weapon or armor type. I picked up more than that in heated battles in Odyssey.

The drastic reduction leaves that entire facet of gameplay feeling lackluster and one-dimensional. And I miss the easy money.

And while we’re on the topic of weapons and armor, I was sorely disappointed to see that Ubisoft had done away with one of the best parts of Odyssey: the ability to mask appearance. I could wear the best gear I had, but still set it to appear like my favorite items. To be honest, this feels like another “lazy” thing.

Fishing

And finally, while silly, it really annoys me that there isn’t a good tutorial for fishing. The “control”…erm… control (the left joystick) doesn’t seem to actually control where the fish swims once it’s hooked, so I don’t know what it’s supposed to do. And — side note — the fish are all in the “dead” position the moment you hook them. Some even “swim” in that position. Possibly a funny visual glitch. Possibly another “lazy” thing.

Rating

All of these issues together leave me with little option but to rate Valhalla low. Maybe a 2.75? Valhalla is a bad game. And it hurts to say that. I wanted to like Valhalla. I wanted to love it. It looked so cool!

I’ve been enjoying the story so far, but there’s so much wrong with Valhalla, I can’t bring myself to give it an “OK”. And there’s no sign that Ubisoft will fix anything soon. The first two updates didn’t fix any of these issues, after all.

So Why The Lies?

And that brings me to my big question, and the title of this post. Why have reviewers lied? I’ve seen so many articles and videos praising Valhalla as an amazing game and worthy successor to Odyssey, and it’s not. That claim is a lie. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. A quick look at the comments sections will show that many people disagree.

The only reason I can think of for so many people to lie is that they were paid (either via money or “free” items with major strings attached) to do so. Otherwise, why bother? But if Ubisoft paid off that many reviewers, surely it would have been cheaper, and easier, to just make a good game.

Assuming the crashes don’t get more frequent, I’ll likely finish Valhalla, if only to know the story. But it’s the only game so far that I’ve considered returning, and I think that says a lot.

I have one other bone to pick with Ubisoft about Valhalla, but I’ll write a separate post for that, as this is long enough already. If you’ve played other Assassin’s Creed games and/or Valhalla, let me know your thoughts.

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