Assassin’s Creed is one of the most shameless, beloved video game franchises of its time. With a release seemingly every year since its debut in 2007, the series has had some huge highs and what should have been franchise-ending lows but has always been resurrected from the brink by Ubisoft.
But, despite the same formulas being rinsed and repeated plenty of times over the years, these games are still topping the selling charts, so don’t expect to see them off the upcoming release news boards any time soon. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was the twelfth major entry to the series and was released with the biggest marketing budget of any entry in the franchise. However, despite some encouraging elements, Gameranx are here to tell you why this was still a big step back for the Assassin’s Creed series.
Hitting The Reset Button
By the time it came to the release of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate in 2015, it was clear that the series was reaching a potential breaking point in terms of not only its historical settings (with the game bringing the series to within just a hundred years or so to the present day), but also its commercial viability.
The lukewarm receptions to games like Assassin’s Creed III and Assassin’s Creed Unity had contributed to more than a few in the community wondering whether a game every year was feasible anymore and whether the game’s samey-feeling formula could still produce a high-quality title.
But, that’s when Ubisoft decided to hit the reset button and start the whole series back from scratch with Assassin’s Creed Origins (2017) and Odyssey (2018). The games reset the timeline going all the way back to ancient times with a whole new present-day protagonist which, coupled with the reasonably strong upturn in reception for the games, enabled Ubisoft to push on with their twelfth major installment.
The Good Stuff
Valhalla was the first Assassin’s Creed game released for the eighth generation of consoles and, for the most part, it stands the test as a genuine title developed on superior hardware compared to the rest of the series. The game was launched with the biggest marketing budget the series had ever seen behind it and has since become the second-highest selling Ubisoft title in history, with plenty of critics and fans purring at the strong performances from the cast, and the tweaks to the overall gameplay mechanics (most notably the combat system).
However, for all the good Valhalla serenades itself with, there are a number of shortcomings that we just can’t look past.
The Bad Stuff
The truth is, the game is just too gosh darn big.
In total, the game takes about 52.5 hours to complete for those only focusing on the main story, with that number rising up to a whopping 135 on average for those looking for the completionist experience. For reference, Assassin’s Creed Origins’ main story and full completion only took 30 and 83.5 hours respectively, with Odyssey (which also felt like a huge game at the time) raising things slightly to 43.5 and 138 hours on average.
For even more reference, here are some of the most successful open-world games of the past few years and their average times to complete:
– Grand Theft Auto V: Main Story: 32.5 hours / Full Completion: 79 hours
– Red Dead Redemption 2: Main Story: 49 hours / Full Completion: 172 hours
– Horizon Zero Dawn (Complete Edition): Main Story: 30 hours / Full Completion: 76.5 hours
– Ghost of Tsushima: Main Story: 24.5 hours / Full Completion: 60.5 hours
– Far Cry 6: Main Story: 22.5 hours / Full Completion: 56.5 hours
Now, it may seem like a strange thing to be criticizing a game for having too much content, but for Valhalla, the whole entry feels a little too ‘quantity over quality. For players who had just sunk over 200 hours into Origins and Odyssey, burnout is a huge problem with Valhalla, and having a gorgeous open-world is all well and good until half of it is locked away on the second half of a bloated singleplayer campaign.
Couple this with a few obvious attempts at microtransaction cash-grabbing with the game’s online mode, and you have yourself a recipe for Valhalla being a beautiful infuriating entry, but almost certainly not one we’re likely to remember in the years ahead.