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I've just finished my playthrough of Valhalla, and all in all it was an enjoyable experience, but there are a few things that just hamper this game so much for me, and I'm curious what other people think.
First off, the game feels much to long for its own good in my opinion. I played the game according to the "recommended" level of the different regions even though I was able to do in any order basically halfway in. After a certain point in the story about 2/3rds in, the regions that are "left" before being able to trigger the finale have basically no impact on anything and contain mostly uninteresting stories in my opinion except Eurvicscire perhaps. It ruins much of the momentum I felt, I'd rather those things were cut to flesh out more of the others.
That leads me to the second big thing for me which is that they have built this amazing looking game world which feels exciting when starting out but is eventually revealed to be way to formulaic to stay interesting. The excitement to explore was swapped out for a to do list about halfway through when you realize that anything you will come across will be one of a handful of things you've already seen before in every other region. There is one or two exceptions which are more interesting but 99% of the artifacts and mysteries are the same with tiny varience. What's the point of exploring if I know it'll either be a fly agaric, a roman relic, a stonehenge etc etc. I believe it's a mistake to include "checklists" for these things in the regions too. I understand that some players enjoy the feeling of having "completed an area and seeing that displayed in such a way but that's at the detriment of exploration and mystery which they try to emphasize anyway in the game. I played on pathfinder exploration setting, and I didn't feel like I had to explore more than I would have otherwise really. I mean all locations are pointed out to me anyway. I really don't understand the point of the cartographer when the game already points out where everything is, the only thing he does is specify what type of reward it is. But with the way the game presents you with a "checklist" of things to fulfill in each region and showing where everything is I end up doing it anyway.
That brings me to my third thing which is how the game is so "gamified" in certain aspects while trying to be so immersive in others. The biggest issue there for me is that almost every single chest is this little mini puzzle that isn't hard, it's just busywork. So that you have to climb around every house, exploding walls with oil jars and shooting thin wooden planks with arrows like an idiot in the middle of cities making people flee all over the place or even worse, if you're on a quest involving any type of sneaking and there's chests you can grab while you're there - but they are hidden behind walls you need to explode. Then you gotta interrupt your sneaky assassin immersion to explode some barrels because chests have been put there for no human to ever realistically reach. It works much better when there's an elite with a key that you need to open a locked chest,that is placed in a reasonable spot.
All these things amount to breaking the immersion at a very frequent rate. I play AC games to feel like a badass assassin and I know there is a history with collectibles and such but I think here it's ruining much of the experience. I don't think open world games such as Valhalla should feel like they're designed around the player. You want to feel like you're person exploring a world that operates with or without you. I don't think there's a single well in the game that doesn't have a chest at the bottom. I basically started carrying around oil jars as soon as I saw one becuase you can bet you'd need it to break some wall in 8/10 cases. Breaking the barred door from the inside is also a tiny thing but why can't I do that silently? Do i have to bash around every time I wanna unlock those doors. I know many people probably don't care about these small chests being like that but for me it's just so immersion breaking to constantly have them placed at odd places that makes you feel like you're playing crash bandicoot instead of valhalla every 10 minutes. It's overdesigned when it comes to the chests.
Valhalla could have kept the magic alive if it removed the "checklists" in each region and focused on just presenting an immersive place. They could've cut 3 of the shires and focused on making 10 more fleshed out side quests that you as a player could stumble across while exploring, knowing that there are stories to discover in the world would have gone such a long way to keeping the excitment of exploration alive. Same thing goes for treasure. Why tell me something is an armor or an ingot? On top of showing me where something is from far away. If I see a castle or big bandit camp or mysterious cave in the woods I myself will probably think that there is a good chance for finding useful stuff in their, you don't have to point it out to me and make it a soft requirment for "completion". Half of the magic of games such as skyrim is that it's fun to ditch the main road to discover what's on the other side of the hill, might be big, might be small, you don't know. I also think RDR2 has amazing confidence in it's game world which I so wanted Valhalla to have aswell. RDR2 doesn't try and shove Points of Interest in your face around every bend either and that game is a joy to explore and just for hunting on it's own.
Valhalla tries to do so much and ends up doing itself a big disservice which holds it back from being brilliant in my mind. Hunting and gathering doesn't feel needed or fleshed out enough to be interesting, i don't really need it for any purpose, same goes for fishing. Sure there's runes but that's not really interesting enough to get involved in for that reason. I felt like arriving in Vinland was the only time that felt cool and had a sliver of what it could be when it came to being rewarded with gear for pelts and so on.
The great things about Valhalla to me are:
- The games modern day story is finally very interesting again, and the core story itself is very intelligently woven and compelling. I hope they do more with it, as between AC1 and AC2.
- They toned back combat from Odessey to not feel so overly fantastical, and abilities and combat is looking and feeling more grounded like Origins.
- The world itself is fantastic looking as always.
- The book of knowledge concept was good, in not knowing what abilities you might learn.
- Good amount of enemy variety.
- Ditching the overbearing Odyssey loot system where you get loot in an overdone rate where you end up inventory managing half the time, in saying that though, Valhalla could use more loot as rewards for hunting for example or such.
The things holding it back:
- Listing all POI's in each region
- Making 90% of the chests in the game be placed in some small busywork "puzzle" that doesn't do anything but be annoying.
- Having a set formula for everything you may encounter in the game basically. Even making it ovbvious in categorizing it by "mysteries, artifacts and wealth" which is essentially breaking exploration in my opinion.
- Dragging out the game longer than it needs to.
- Not offering any substantial side quests.
I'm wondering what other people think. These last 2 games in particular are just to massive I feel like, they don't need to take 130 hours to complete, i'd rather have a shorter more compelling time than these gargantuan worlds that don't really have the depth to match.
If you wanna go for immersion you should go all the way, and keep the mystery and wonder of the world more alive. Not make it a list of tasks to complete.
XX-Artorias-XX 92 posts
I think that if cut 4 region from the game, and put all the loot / rune/ ability/ material in the remaining( some in a boss fight, some like zelot drop ecc ecc) valhalla would be more "intense", and his open world, exploration,would felt more dense.
Withouth 4/5 location they should have give some weapon or armouy like drop, rewarding player for a fight or a challenging puzzle.
I agree at all on locked door, most boring and stupid thing.
@xx-artorias-xx Yes, and besides, many of the most praised games in AC history are the more "directed" and linear ones, so I don't see why there's such a need to makes insanely big worlds. That was never the main attraction although it's certianly part of the charm and impressive.
Carch 14 posts
@bobbiloff I don't agree with all those negatives at all. Sure, there are a fixed number of event classes, but each of them plays out differently. Particularly in the case of the stone circles, the solutions have a good amount of variety. And the world quests have some of the best writing I've seen in an AC game.
The puzzles for getting to chests were a welcome addition to me as well. These sorts of things were in the Ezio games, but were pretty much dropped for every game since. I enjoy them a lot, and like the other classes of world events, there is a good variety of solutions so it's not the same thing every time.
Players are not forced to pick up every collectible. If you're playing as a sneaky assassin and you come across a wall that has to be blown up, eliminate everyone in the area and come back to it. Nearly all the stuff that gets highlighted on the map is optional, and you can turn off the region info checklists so you don't feel like you're just filling out forms.
Valhalla is one of the most flexible AC games in that it has numerous valid approaches to doing pretty much everything. Even little things like scaling towers are this way. You can choose to climb straight up the side of the tower, or you can use the parkour props that have been added by the environment designers to make your climb more interesting.
More than most AC games, Valhalla rewards the player for what they put into it.
@carch The point isn't that the events themselves are bad, it's that by making every region have the same type of happenings the exploration is diluted. I really don't understand what you mean by world quests are the best writing? You mean those super short mysteries of things you solve in 40 seconds? I don't mind having a few puzzles but coming across a cursed place for the 14th time isn't engaging. First time I did I scoured the environment trying to find out what happened being intrigued but when you realize it's only set dressing to find the symbol to break it the effect is lost.
If the game is designed around getting "100%" sync to get all the chests and events I wouldn't turn that off, if they truly wanted people to play it any way they want they wouldn't include something like that, it removes any incentive to return to a region after you've been there anyway because you know there's nothing you missed. I'm saying these things because the game wants to make the exploration a big deal but it's shooting itself in the foot in that aspect.
The game could have benefitted a lot by being a bit slimmed down and not so bloated with repeated activities, and opting for something more memorable from each region instead I think.
AlphaGoose46219 158 posts
What we get as "extra" adventure like; the way of the berserker (for ultimate/season pass) is actually what a side quest must be!
Those world events doesn't replace side quests, there are no side quests!
So this Valhalla world needs about extra 100 side quests (real adventures) and will be much better filled.
100 isn't much for a game from this size it's about the minimum you find in other RPG open world games.
As empty this game is, filled with so many bugs it will never happen.
My pre ordered ultimate game isn't a complete empty bag but contains many unwanted items.
Kirk-Punch 6 posts
Agree with many of your points OP
— Listing all the POI’s detracts somewhat from the exploration element IMO. At a minimum... felt like World Events shouldn’t be tagged on the map. This would give players some motivation to explore something that seems unusual or interesting.
— The chest thing lost it’s appeal for me pretty early in the game, and I generally appreciate puzzles. But man...the puzzles get more complicated the longer you stick with the game and the payoffs aren’t worth it IMO. I basically quit looting around midway through the game.
— Felt like the world in general needs more randomization. Like maybe spawn the armor sets and tomes in different locations each play through to keep it fresh. Have more than just Saxon and Dane patrols on the roads. Like, shouldn’t there be farmers, pilgrims, refugees going between the settlements? Maybe make it possible for the wildlife or bandits to attack them?
Like if you ran into a bear mauling a group of monks on the way to Lundun it would be this quick random segue that makes the world seem more alive. Right now, it’s very “gamey”...you go to the checkpoints, follow the story and solve the puzzles to get loot and there not a lot going on outside those boundaries.
— Game seemed like it was too long, agree. Basically feel that a lot of the burden was on the narration and story to carry the game. The gameplay in the open world should be interesting enough to carry the game w/o relying on the story...but I don’t feel that’s the case right now w/ Valhalla.
@kirk-punch Yes totally agree about the world events should just be random unmapped. I also stopped looting the smaller chests like 2/3rds in for the most part. Your "gamey" mention is another good example of what I mean when I say it feels like it's designed around me as a player and not the other way around, as in the world doesn't seem to move without my intervening or something. Those aspects are so intrusive for a game that in other ways does so much for immersion. I find a wall that needs breaking and need to climb atop a roman pillar where no human would ever go to fetch the oil jar happens to be and balance and hop around and entire bandit camp on the adequitly spaced drops and barrels to carry it all the way down - times a thousand.
Yeah I struggle with the thought of replaying it even though I really liked the core story - but it's not like you need to try a different build since I was basically fully kitted skill wise halfway through, sure I could do other choices in the story but it's just not engaging enough to sink the time into it with how big it is. I like to compare with movies you love, even if you've seen a great movie before you can enjoy it many times more even though you know everything by heart because it's that solid. On a second playthrough here I know for a fact from the very beginning that there will only be little puzzles awaiting me in the same categories once again, and I will know which regions were interesting while some stretches will feel like more of a slog to get through to the ending. I spent a lot of time the first time around in Norway in the beginning and really savoured that unknown feeling when the illusion of exploration was still alive and it felt great. That won't fly a second time for me I think, at least for quite a long while.
martygod12 247 posts
@carch Eeeh no Sorry everyone has its own opinion I respect that ... but for me its the least rewarding AC game ever and one of the worst open world games I have ever played.
As mentioned above game feels ok when you are focusing on the main story, but if just completely fails if you try to do anything else. It should have been linear story focused game, that way it would bee good, but as an open world its terrible.
Hwanah 67 posts
@bobbiloff Mystery seems like a word they used to justify their laziness. Developers didn't want to make all those activities in a way that they have to put them in quest tab,they didn't want to make simplified objectives for them, they didn't want to make each individual map marks. They even forgot to make quest giving npcs re-interact-able, so players can't hear what they need to do in case they missed the dialogue. The only way I know is: Players have to go far away and come back or something. Then, only then, the npcs say what they want. I mean, if that's possible then why not just make them re-interact-able? That doesn't make any sense to me. Only reason I see is they just didn't want to make that stuff; They didn't want to spend time on that.
The game would've been better if it just had more raiding places. If not, more semi-raiding places. So many open fields just lying around.
@karlin Sure the interaction can be a bit iffy sometimes. I thought the amount of raiding was fine for my taste but yeah - more wished it was more quality over quantity for what's there to do.
Hwanah 67 posts
Of course I do think quality needs to be improved as well. As in, like AlphaGoose said, mysteries, otherwise side quests, should've been all like 'The way of the berserker' or should've had similar amount of drama. Unfortunately, I believe this isn't something that will change. Ever.
procadman 76 posts
...They even forgot to make quest giving npcs re-interact-able, so players can't hear what they need to do in case they missed the dialogue. The only way I know is: Players have to go far away and come back or something. .."
Unfortunately, this rarely works.
More than once I have had to access the net for the answer.