Assassin’s Creed Valhalla preview. It could be worse
This year, the French at Ubisoft took an unprecedented risk. For the first time in the company’s recent history, they have released two most similar games in virtually one season.We already covered Watch Dogs: Legion in detail a few weeks ago. Now next in lineAssassin’s Creed Valhalla . Have the developers managed to fix the shortcomings of the last two parts of the franchise? Spoiler alert: you’ll be surprised.
But first, a little warning. This text is by no means a review. I spent about fifteen hours in Valhalla, and the storyline campaign of the new Assassin’s Creed doesn’t even think of ending. Therefore, take this material as a first look at the game. The final grade will be given later – don’t worry, you will be the first to know about the verdict.
Long ago in faraway Norway
For a long time, Ubisoft walked between two fires. On the one hand, the company understood that Assassin’s Creed is the flagship series loved by millions of gamers around the world. On the other hand, the game needed to be changed, since the concept was already beginning to become outdated. The result was the emergence of a compromiseSyndicate , in which the authors moved away from a rigid plot structure towards a more free sandbox. Later – already inOrigins andOdyssey – “Assassins” finally moved to the camp of full-fledged Action / RPG, based on the conceptThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt .
The consequence was the emergence of a level system, slow progression and an incredible amount of grinding – well, you yourself must remember these wonderful stories. For example, that the first quest for hunting a minotaur began at the conditional 15th level, and the direct continuation of the quest required, say, the 30th. Needless to say, how annoying was this design decision? So, the main intrigue of Valhalla was not the setting and its implementation at all, but whether the developers were ready to reconsider their experience and, if possible, return to the roots. In numerous interviews, the Valhalla authors have promised just that. In practice, everything turned out to be not at all so rosy.
As befits a good epic, “Valhalla” starts with a revelry scene. The main character helps his parent to fraternize with one very important Viking. Word for word, magnificent speech … and now the whole village is engulfed in fire, all around the massacre, the enemies do not spare anyone – a classic of the genre. Many years later, the hero (or heroine) grows up, takes revenge on the offender and sets off on a long journey to the shores of England.
Upon arrival, the main character remains in charge of the newly organized camp. This is where the story starts in full. The young Viking Eyvor (let me call him a masculine hero) finds himself forced to dig deep into local political strife, not forgetting about the development of his new home and the implementation of all kinds of personal quests of his comrades.
A step away from the set – and it becomes clear that Assassin’s Creed again does not offer gamers a complex story. In fact, the so-called alliance map becomes the central pivot of the story for many hours. The hero is forced to ride like a grasshopper in the arms of the local nobility. Need to help track down the traitor? Please, Eyvor is right there. The king of the Saxons – a slobber who spread the hegemony of barbarian goofs on his lands? Here is my ax. Need to kidnap the local queen? You have figured out who to send news with the mark “on demand”.
On the one hand, it is somehow sinful to complain about this approach. The stories that Ubisoft tells the player are really entertaining for some time. The characters are interesting to watch – the conflicts are written convincingly. Another thing is that this position of the “outside observer”, which is described in more detail below, actually just screams about the fraud on the part of Ubisoft.
Have you not yet understood where the Sharik is buried here? Dividing the game into large, formally unrelated story segments unties the hands of game designers: they can wind up an arbitrarily evil progression system. Say, here you complete this and that, and then go there, upgrade and then only – into battle. Formally, Ubisoft has managed to avoid repeating the mistakes of Origins and Odyssey. But this is only at first glance.
In fact, the system of dividing locations and opponents into levels has not gone anywhere – it just became more cunning. Remember how the hero could not do almost anything with the enemy, which was behind in development by several levels? Congratulations, you won’t run into this at Valhalla. That is how: enemies in the game are divided into “strong”, “weak” and “average”, but you can kill anyone if you try very hard.
The difference between a frail swordsman and an advanced warrior or boss is the amount of damage that he can inflict on the main character. Therefore, yes, from now on you will not have to make legs, barely seeing an enemy whose level is significantly higher than yours. Another thing is that there may be several such enemies per location – in this case, the battlefield turns into a dance floor with the only correct tactic “struck a few blows – ran away – started anew”. The rule is simple: the more capable the hero is, the easier it is to fight.
The choice of occupations is built in proportion to this system. Agree, it’s pretty silly to try to arrange an alliance with that kingdom over there, if the quest requires at least 90 power units with 50 available. Of course, no one forbids rushing headlong into the whirlpool of adventure, but it will be hard – in some places even very much. Another thing is that the pumping itself does not cause any inconvenience. On average, for one completed quest, the game gives out two skill points. Accordingly, for the first ten hours you will not experience any difficulties – the character will have enough strength for everything.
But this is where the key difference between Watch Dogs: Legion and Valhalla lies. Ubisoft’s hacking story allows you to walk from start to finish without bothering with side quests at all. Valhalla, on the other hand, seems to say at some point: “Have you seen a little history? Now let’s swing, otherwise he’s too weak to follow the plot ”. And it begins: hit the road, collect resources, build a settlement. Then do not forget to walk the girl out of the camp, open a hunt for the Order of the Ancients and collect so many more blankets for the refugees … or is it already fromDragon Age: Inquisition ?
The latter, as you know, was made using MMORPG templates . The new Assassin’s Creed sometimes feels exactly the same. There is no need to shove crocodiles with a stick and hunt for evil in the face of a traitor-priest, but in all other respects the similarities are obvious. Do you know what separates a good story-driven open-world action movie from an action game modeled after multiplayer games? That’s right, a set of activities. And at this moment we smoothly move on to what exactly Valhalla offers to do.
Among tusks and skulls
Over the long years of Assassin’s Creed existence, the title franchise Ubisoft managed to turn into a real burial ground of game mechanics: from dressing up in different costumes, to creating your own fraternity with contracts around the world. With all the features of the conveyor production, one thing was impossible to take away from the series: until recently, it did not feel like a set of dissimilar mechanics that were attached to each other with the help of Moment glue and such and such a mother.
Beginning with Assassin’s Creed 2 , Ubisoft took a very responsible approach to what exactly gamers did in its games. As a result, surveillance missions alternated with secret infiltrations and brightly staged action sequences, and one talented artist and inventor suggested that Ezio try his own gadgets. And what investigations were in the Syndicate! It’s a miracle! Remember the awesome stealth mission fromBlack Flag ? Well, the one where you had to swim past the Dutch in the misty waters?
Literally every “big” Assassin’s Creed left behind similar memories. Even a tiny episode with hide and seek from the third part – and that was, like a glove, embedded in the plot outline. What can we say about more important tasks. Unfortunately, Valhalla cannot boast of anything like that. For fifteen hours spent in the game, I noticed that 95% of the tasks come down to filigree shredding enemies with axes, a hidden blade and a bow.
Only the entourage differs. Either we are looking for the Vikings in trouble among the swamps, simultaneously cutting out the crowds of opponents, then we storm a small village in which the enemies have dug in or liberate the castle from the enemies who have settled there. Really non-trivial episodes will be typed just for these 5%. For example, the mystery with the light in Asgard or the grandiose drinking party on the occasion of the wedding and coronation. Most of the time “Valhalla” insolently tries to ride on entourage and frostbitten cruelty. You must admit that games are not released very often where the main method of obtaining building materials is to plunder Christian monasteries. And I am still modestly silent about the naturalistic scenes of torture and punitive cleansing of English villages with their subsequent arson.
Unfortunately, if we throw away all the tin to the side, the output is only a mindless chopper, which would be quite compatible with some kind of multiplayer project. Valhalla simply cannot offer episodes comparable to the infiltration of the anatomical theater from Syndicate or the Venetian carnival from the second part. And this is even the worst thing.
Let’s talk about the plot
Sadly, the developers have completely failed to create any good story. All these political squabbles, dialogues between the main character and the settlers – all this does not work, since the authors violated one of the most important laws of narrative. There is simply no conflict in the game – that is, the hero’s confrontation with the environment, an external enemy or himself.
Let’s just quickly go over the previous parts of the series. Assassin’s Creed 2 began with the death of the protagonist’s family. Conor from the third part got involved in the war between the orders over personal drama. Altair – tried to restore the outraged honor. Even Edward from Black Flag did not become a pirate because of a good life. Do you understand? Absolutely in all the main parts of the series, minus, perhaps, “Odyssey” and “Syndicate”, the heroes were driven by personal interest. And now the scriptwriters intertwined all the dramatic and comic events into this external plot arc.
“Valhalla” seems to start correctly, but pretty soon our Viking deals with his offender and … the very saga of the colonization of England begins. Of course, you can remember the moment with the visions, Odin looming in the background, and that’s all, but let’s be honest: this is too little for a really good story. We just don’t have to play – in the new Assassin’s Creed there is no bright character that could give meaning to everything that happens. Even Watch Dogs: Legion, with its abandonment of the protagonist, managed to catch on with the search for “Zero Day”, thanks to which the story did not fall into fragments.
The new Assassin’s Creed is similar in its tie to some Mass Effect: Andromeda . “Hey, look, we have a full ship of colonists here, let’s open new lands for life!” Well, this approach does not work without a normal conflict! Alas and ah, but this aspect the developers of Valhalla simply missed – probably due to the reluctance to make a classic historical adventure sandbox for 20 hours of pure gameplay.
All of this can give the impression that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is a very bad game. Exhale! This is not true. Ubisoft has created a normal open-world action game. Its gameplay base works, the Jarl lines are good – and this is the main thing. Another thing is that, passing “Valhalla”, from time to time you want to create a time machine and go back in time to slap a ruler on the foreheads of all those who whined that the “Assassins” are not the same now. It is corny that it is a shame that, against the background of the former, Ubisoft has released a completely passable game, which is in many ways inferior to everything that came out in the series before Origins was born.
Of course, everything can still change. It is likely that at the thirty o’clock “Valhalla” will finally reveal its best side. But so far, the new Assassin’s Creed feels much worse than Legion. To be honest, a few months ago it was difficult even to imagine such a thing. Well, it happened. The final verdict, as they say, will follow. Keep for updates.
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