So I gotta say, while I do enjoy Valhalla, I'm honestly also disappointed with Valhalla after 150 something hours. I'll put my thoughts in a numbered format to better explain each one.As a massive fan of the Viking Era, I was super excited to "play my own Viking Saga" as was hyped up. And while this is partially true, I feel that it missed the mark in some areas. One of Three things that really stick out for me are the inability to kill civilians even though we have option toggles for things like nudity, guaranteed assassinations, and dismemberment. Vikings killed civilians, it's honestly that simple. I can understand it from a story perspective that Eivor was traumatized after their village/clan was pretty much wiped out, and they don't like the idea of killing innocents. However, with so many options and toggles, I cannot for the life of me figure out why this was not one of them. I understand folks didn't like that civilians would pick up brooms or other implements in Odyssey, however for me it felt like it removed one of the things that I felt hampered the AC Series (yes I know all about the Creed about no killing innocents, but keep in mind, we are not Assassins in game, Eivor and the Hidden Ones just have mutual goals). I cannot for the life of me say how many times I came dangerously close to desync because of explosive arrow shots, or dropping a net full of materials on a passing patrol only for civilians to go waltzing into the area. Then there's the frenetic pace of combat where my wide swings would smack into civilians who decided not to run the other way when there was a fight going down. I honestly hate it, it's antithesis to the Viking experience. So at the very least a switchable option would have been amazing, so those who wanted to literally burn and pillage everything could do so, while those who wanted to keep things clean could do so as well.The second thing that stands out is the absolute lack of 1 Handed Swords. Why, in the name of Thor's hairy balls was probably the most iconic Viking weapon not included into a game about Vikings? It's just like Odyssey with the lack of a shield for your Spartan Mercenary, even though tons of other Mercenaries use shields. It's not as big as my issue with Odyssey and shields, however it's still a glaring issue. We can use one handed swords in only two functions, picking up an enemies sword off the ground and throwing them, or for a stun execution. Not to mention a lot of NPCs carry swords, why can't you? Literal second to the Jarl for your clan and an amazing warrior who would be more than worthy of a one handed sword as a gift. Did Gunnar the Blacksmith forget how to forge one handed swords?. I'm glad we have various weapon options, though I honestly wish there were more one handed hammers and even two handed hammers/mauls. However, I cannot place as to why we have these huge greatswords when it was literally a massive drain on resources to have a giant sword, compared to a bunch of smaller ones, not to mention the smithing techniques at the time, if I recall correctly, weren't very greatsword friendly. The fact that you get an "Ulfberht" appearance for the Mythical Carolingian Longsword bothers me to no end. If I could replace two handed swords and flails (don't get me started on those) with two handed hammers and one handed swords, I would do that in a heartbeat. Personally I just want to know why the design team decided to never put one handed swords into the game in the first place.I am a massive fan of the amount of content that Odyssey had to offer, with tons of weapon and armor options, I could sit there all day looking for a great build and fiddle with transmog options. I get that not everyone liked "too much of a good thing", but I looked at it like this, I had multiple builds using various armors and their attached perks. If I didn't like something I dismantled it for easy resource gain or sold it for money in a pinch (which would be really handy for Valhalla because I struggle with Titanium and Silver). That was totally fine with me. At some point I had all the stuff I wanted so I simply never bothered looting, or sold/dismantled if I had loot I didn't need. What I really dislike about Valhalla, is the lack of armor and their appearance upgrades. I don't know why we have Brigandines, but they weren't around for another few centuries if my history is right. The Galloglach stuff looks alright, but I dislike the mythical look of tinted green metal and the weird floating pauldron just sitting there on the fur portion of the cloak. I typically use the Brigandine because of the perks, but I hate how it looks. The recent Helix Store Einherjar Set is a great looking and semi-period correct armor set with a nice mix of chainmail, leather, and tunic, though it's got blood smeared all over it which is a downside. The Raven Clan armor set is pretty nice so long as I don't upgrade the torso past its initial tier, since then it (as with most of the upgraded armor) has those little Assassin tail things which I dislike so much (it's fine in proper Assassin's Creed games, i.e. 1 - Revelations and even Black Flag to some degree, but not here in Danelaw England). I honestly hope we get a transmog system for weapons and armor soon, and a lot more in terms of armor sets because I dislike pretty much all of them at some point, for one reason or another. Compared to Odyssey I spent a lot of time changing out transmog appearances because I had the variety of options to do that with. Anyway, Gods I hope we get more armor sets in the future, and I mean A LOT more, and not just stuff thrown into the store either. I think it would have been better if Ingots were things we picked up off of patrols of enemies, raided from locations, or picked up from harder enemies like Zealots (since we'd have a reason to actually kill them aside from the three stones you collect to eventually find a weapon and the Order of Ancients quest arc). That would have at least doubled the amount of lootable chests for more armor pieces. Then there's the issue of looting the same gear piece twice, thank my lucky stars I found two Huntsman Torso's 🙄
Those are honestly my biggest three gripes with the game. Those three things aside, I absolutely enjoy the game, I just wish it had as much content as Odyssey and no I won't go back to playing it if I like it so much. I've put more than 1360 something hours into it, I'm done with the Odyssey experience. I just miss the sheer amount of everything there was to do and collect and I feel it was a massive step backward in terms of developing this game. That being said, the atmosphere, music, visceral combat, raids, landscapes, just about everything for Valhalla really shines and I'm glad I picked it up. The story was pretty solid, and as someone who hates the modern day stuff, I was actually pleasantly surprised by the twist regarding the modern day arc. I loved how the various story arcs all patterned together to form the ending for the modern day and it was really well done. 10/10 for that. I'm glad the choices we make actually matter in the long run, though I honestly wish I could change one aspect of the Sciropscire arc and not fight a certain character whom I had come to respect and really like, I would have had it where the story evolved to where he and I were fighting side by side against overwhelming odds, only for him to fall, and for you to go full berserker mode and clear a path for reinforcements. Some of the World Events were nice, and some even hilarious, but I don't think there were enough of them.
I really enjoy most of the character customization, with various hairstyles, tattoos, the ability to hide gear, longship hulls, sails, etc. I'm sad about the lack of armor as I previously stated, so I'm hopefully waiting for transmog to be a thing soon. The combat is very satisfying, and I've found dual hammers to be an absolute wrecking machine for a combo, with the Blacksmith hammer in the main hand, and either the war hammer or Mjolnir in the off hand. I like how I'm not really restricted in terms of combat, and I often find myself using bows and even assassinations even though I play as a hack and smash kind of Viking 99% of the time. I would change or remove some abilities myself, like Parry Damage, Assassin's Cantrip, and Predator Bow Combo since I dislike or never use them. The raids are fantastic, and hopefully will be more engaging when the Raid mechanics are expanded upon. As of right now there's no real reason to repeat them since you don't get anything out of it after you completed a particular spot previously, but I like to go raid every now and then to see the huts on fire and fight Saxons. I'm not really a huge fan of the fishing in this, since I always seem to get the fish I don't want even though I'm in the right areas. And while the hunting is very nice, RNG just absolutely hates me, I still can't find dogs teeth, antlers or seal tails even though I've hunted them numerous times. Hopefully that gets fixed or something.
All in all, I enjoy AC Valhalla even though I wish it was as large as Odyssey was in terms of content. And despite those main three gripes against AC: Valhalla, I look forward to the expansions and events for the next few seasons.