1 Likes/1 Replies/38 ViewsOriginal poster ModMuseum 1 posts
I just finished the last story arc the other day, and as I was riding away from Aelfred through the swamps and hills, and an ambient rendition of the castle storming theme played, I felt a sense of awe at the beautiful world ACV presents.
I've been playing AC games since the first game, and while none quite recaptured the magic of renaissance Italy, I would probably rate ACV as the most fulfilling experience with the Series I had since Brotherhood. As a history and mythology buff, I love how Eivor's story mixes both actual history (Ragnar's Sons, Vikings deposing of King Burgred of Mercia and installing a puppet king, Guthrum's conversion to Christianity) with legend (Ivar the Boneless carving a blood eagle into someone, the legend of Ragnar) and mythology (Eivor and Sigurd being molded afte Odin and Tyr). The writers got so many things thematically right, from Eivor's raven to the scar from almost being killed by a wolf to Sigurd losing an arm. Most times, stories fall apart when you think about them, but AC Valhalla's plot is actually quite rewarding and beautiful, though an opportunity was missed in linking the end of Viking dominance with Ragnarok. Ideally, maybe Eivor could have helped broker a peace between Guthrum and Alfred to stave off a great catastrophy, thereby letting the player's actions lead to an emancipation from Odin's, Asgard's and Sigurd's fate.
After Odyssey's weird Atlantis DLC, which threw Greek mythology right out the window, the Asgard and Jotunheim arcs here treated norse mythology with respect.
However, in some regards a little more historical accuracy would have been nice. The Romans never built giant Aqueducts through Britain (not like Britain has a lack of rain) or giant colosseums. Certainly not through snow covered alpine mountains. The later levels of Eivor's gear also look nothing like Viking clothing anymore. Might be nitpicking, but for a game that gets so much else right, these are weird oversights.
As beautiful as the game's narrative is, the experience buckles under some odd design choices. As usual with AC, the game is too big for its own good, with the narrative flow being fractured, not helped by a myriad of filler side activities required to level up (though not as bad as Odyssey).
Then once you do level up, the game becomes laughably easy, though at least one can no longer constantly dodge forever until the healing power recharges. Combat has improved a lot, though the healing and scaling systems are still broken, and the RPG elements actually harm the game's progression. Beating a stage is mostly dependent on grinding to a certain level or picking up good gear in the world, and not so much about actual skill. The best 3D action / fighting games like God of War or Ninja Gaiden always find a way to crank up the difficulty without needing to grind or level up. The skill tree in GOW gives the player extended combos or new moves, which allows the player to take on new and harder enemies. This makes the fighting feel fresh throughout the runtime. In AC games, combat is reduced to dodging in the right moment, then abusing the time slowdown to get a few hits in. Rinse and repeat until the enemy goes down.
The boss fights against the daughters of Lerion where a great reprieve from the mindlessly easy grind, and actually required some real thought and strategy. Very rewarding.
A pity that the fights can only be done once.
And this leads into probably the easiest way to keep the game fresh (while also addressing some of the no progression bugs): Why not allow the player to reset story arcs or activities after completion?
The story missions and world bosses are without a doubt the highlight of the game, and after you finish everything, you basically have to restart the game to enjoy them again. But then you have to grind for gear and xp again, and it turns into a slog all over.
So why not just let the player replay the best parts? Experiment with different choices, try to get better at beating a boss, or simply enjoying a good story and time spent with particular characters again?
Sometimes less is more. I'd rather replay a fun part of a game than play 5 filler missions once.
A New Game + mode could be fun, too, but I think selectively resetting chapters or activities would be best.
Despite the criticism, congratulations on and thank you for a beautiful game and my favorite AC since ACII.