I don’t know if this is necessarily the praise you are looking for, but in terms of engagement… I have finally beaten this game after ten months and I couldn't have done it without the seasonal events. They brought me back in every couple months to get the rewards (being a completionist is a bizarre thing), and afterwards I’d have enough left in me to complete a few more zones before my will drained anew. Rinse and repeat four times and I've done it at last.
I just… I don’t know. Sometime didn’t click here for me. You did fine darn work. I’m not trying to disparage your achievements here. If I had to put a finger on it though, the game launched pretty buggy (not blaming you at all, by the way. Senior leadership leaving due to scandals and COVID disruptions are not conducive to AAA game development). It crashed too much, had performance issues, and it gave me a lot of downtime to see the proverbial trees in the forest… which in aggregate irked me.
Why are the Anglo-Saxon fighters historically accurate but the Viking soldiers are even-split between male and female? What Yankee Puritans on your teams decided to censure the breasts on every single statue but add a dozen new dismemberment animations? Since when were Vikings a pro-LGBTQIA society in which half of all relationships were openly gay? What kind of revisionist bandwagon did you jump on? When did you decide to smooth out history’s blemishes for your favored causes / factions?
These are the most sugar-coated, Batman-esque Vikings that I have ever seen. “I’m going to raid your village with my multiethnic, diverse, inclusive war band that even includes a non-binary Iranian. SKAL! We’ll steal all your valuables, murder all your fathers/husbands/brothers/sons who try to defend your town, blow up your grain silos (?!?!), burn down your cottages, and leave you to die of exposure when winter comes… but we won’t ever stab an unarmed civilian lest we desync… cause we don’t roll THAT WAY. Remember, the real bad guys are Aelfred Rex and his intolerant Christianity. Be better!”
Does any of the above stuff really matter? Not really, but when my game crashed for the sixth time in an hour and I had seen the same scene one too many times, I noticed… and I sighed. Then I noticed that I couldn’t preview any of the Helix shop armors on Male Eivor, because I’m apparently non-canonical scrub tier. I noticed that even Eivor’s beard selections were modeled on female Eivor face.
I went to read the Wikia to see what I couldn’t see for myself, and every article made an overt point to emphasize Vannirsdottir. I realized that once again I was playing a what-if scenario that had no bearing on anything whatsoever… oh, and thanks to the Ubisoft reps who expressed open disappointment to the media regarding how many players picked the male option yet again (you expressed the same sentiment about Alexios getting 68% of all players). Very sweet of you. We feel so supported.
I’ve been a fan of this franchise since 2007. Heck, my first international travel was to Canada to see an Assassin’s Creed symphony (got rescheduled from October 2019 to March 2020 and then Covid did it in. Oh well, I still had my fun celebrating Diwali in Brampton). I own most of these games on multiple systems and I have put over 1,200 hours into all of them. This game made me realize that OVER 50% OF MY TIME with the franchise has been spent on Odyssey and Valhalla alone, and in both cases my playthroughs were MEANINGLESS. Utterly meaningless what-if scenarios. What was the point of any of it? Just killing for killing’s sake to see some numbers go up on a virtual avatar?
Just broke my motivation to continue, really. I honestly wasn’t going to bother beating this game, but again… your strategists are pretty shrewd. The fear of missing out on timed events, when paired with the completionist zeal engrained in me by too many open world games, dragged me back in.
Each time, the game was a little less buggy and I was able to ignore your revisionist politics and subtle disdain for just a bit longer. I managed to do six zones in a one-week fell swoop after the pre-Siege of Paris festival and hit the finish line (with only about 12 crashes total. 2 per zone is a lot better than it used to be). You even got an additional $29.99 in micro-currency transactions out of me and Magnus Bruun Nielsen’s moving performances in some of the final zones actually touched me emotionally. He's darned good.
So yeah… I rambled too much but such it is. Your events worked on me. I’ve gone from a pretty negative opinion of this game to a “well… their politics and historical revisionist fever-dreams drive me up the wall, and I feel like I’ve wasted yet another 200 hours of my life on nothing but pointless, vapid slaughter… but try it in mid-2022 when they’ve ironed out the lingering bugs and its on sale for %50 off, Steve.”
That’s better than “buy AC: Origins, the Ezio Trilogy, or Black Flag, get the AC Valhalla soundtrack for a glorious achievement in musical composition, and pretend the actual game doesn’t exist.” Victory for you, I suppose.
Also: to the whole “Boo hoo. Don’t like being a what-if scenario? Pick the female character, you patriarch cisgender! Be Better!!!” crowd… I tried. Kassandra’s voice actress channeled too much Gal Gadot seriousness into what was effectively a campy Charles Heston game (I murdered your mater and slept with your pater, Estupido!) and Female Eivor sounds like a chain-smoker and tries too hard to be butch and tough at the expense of nuance. Not the voice actresses’ faults, by the way; both ladies have great range and talent… but voice direction DOES matter. I have limits. Loved female Fenyx. Eh. Events = Thumbs up. Identity Politics in 9th century England = Thumbs down.