Wanted to share some UX related feedback on certain elements of the gameplay, mostly menus, but thing got out of hand and now I have several pages on google doc, so here we go. Before that, I want to say that this is my favorite game out of 3 AC-RPGs and this is the first game I am really enjoying since Unity.
1 - Stores
I don’t know what type of bow I can purchase. But this is touching a much bigger issue of distinguishing weapon types available in the stores. What if we had various swords (which we do not), how would I distinguish them, if icons would be similar given the very plain and fairly low fidelity style of them? It is inconsistent, because I can rely on icons only for certain things, but not all of them. It is generally a nice thing to supplement visuals with the text, but text is almost entirely a flavor and not helpful. On the screenshot - I am aware that this item is gear, but what type of bow is it?
Why are there only keyboard controls for switching between selling and purchasing? It is also related to other multipage screens of similar function like stables, tattoo shops, ... .We have previews for horses, but we don’t have previews for weapons, tattoos and hair styles?I need to reach arrow keys to select the amount of ore or other items in mass quantities and wait until I max it. Why not use a classic amount slider that can be used with the mouse and keyboard and controller?
2 - Quest tracking and markers and in-world UI
Why is the selected point of interest obstructed by the geometry of the landscape? This issue is mostly noticeable in the urban areas. If I select some wealth point, I cannot see it in the world, unless I get high enough or there is a clear view of the area vertically. It is clearly by design and for better immersion, but I find it kinda useless since I have to consult with Synin for directions way more often that I want to.
Scan pulse aka Odinn’s vision creates a classic issue of overuse fatigue (like in many other games). And lack of any skill upgrades for it is a bit of a bummer, I would like to have some control over it. Even though it is nice that we now have a bigger radius.I find that it is a smoother experience to play without a compass, but I could still use the basic direction information (north, west, ...), so maybe there could be some minimized mode form compass? And if the markers were not culled by the landscape, disabled compass would be my primary way of navigation.It is never a great idea to differentiate something by the form or color only, this information needs to be supplemented with something else. Thus, there is a question: during the raid or quest, quest related allies are marked by the diamond icon, my raiders are marked as circles, and enemies, or at least killing targets for the quest, are marked with downward arrows. But why then all of those icons are of the same barely distinguishable cyan-green color? Distinguishing enemies for allies is already complicated enough because of the outfits.
3 - Inventory
We have leather and iron amounts right when we open the screen, but frankly I find supplies and raw mats to be the primary resources to keep track of. Settlement is much more sensitive to the amount of materials you have at the moment thus making those resources a bigger priority or at least the same as iron and stuff. I would be happy to see the amounts of those without diving into the bag and without doing more than 1 button press. We have more than enough indicators to keep tabs on the required amount of gear upgrade materials (shiny arrow on the icon, upgrade check by right click), plus we can always buy some from traders to resolve any deficit.No arrow count is present on this screen. I don’t want to pull out a bow every time I want to check my ammo.Quiver and rations upgrade indicators don’t really make sense for me, because they are not consistent with the gear slot design. I could easily be mistaken by thinking that those indicators show me the available amount of each and not their progression level. Gear upgrade occurs much more often than quiver or ration ones, so the progression status of those two is not that important, and the upgrade bar of the gear can be more prioritized and shown upfront. I would suggest putting some numbers on both rations and quiver to indicate the amount and make an upgrade the same way it is for the gear items. Tooltip for rations and quiver could be the same as gear item UI widget and it could explain from what sources you can loot those. I was also expecting to be able to craft arrows like in Odyssey.
Quest items could be at the top of the bag instead of down below, I have no practical use of seeing how much trade goods or trash trinkets or runes I have at the top of the screen, those are fairly low priority information. Runes view is more useful when I am installing them anyway. Trade goods could the second important since we have somewhat hunting system with trophies and people might want to check it faster as well.Item comparison UI is kinda outdated if we compare similar stuff from other games these days, I already got used to comparison widget showing me the difference between stats, but it is not present in Valhalla. Item widget in general lacks some proper color coding like separate color for the stat that is boosted by the runes or, again, comparison with other items (green for better, red for worse). Runes bonuses are not applied to the text of the stats of the weapon or other piece, so you have to do the calculations.Virtually no filtering/sorting present for the weapon selection screen. And off-hand slot could use some disabled state for icons of items you cannot put in that slot.
4 - List of random stuff and a lot of wishful thinking:
I really hope that Unity-era parkour will finally go away in the next game. It has been 6 years and there is still quite problematic pathfinding, weird prioritization of certain elements of environment (jumping to the ground instead of to the next roof), generally overly-automated traversal that allows very little room for mistakes and basically no option to recover from said mistake like grappling mid-air or forcing character to jump when and to whatever direction player wants it. I really prefer puppet/doll type of controls from the old games.In addition to previous point, tattoo sheet chasing also showed that current traversal method is not meant for free-form chases, or any sort of freedom of movement, current parkour capability really works in a very specific and very pre-defined set of obstacles, but not when it comes to any deviation from developers’ intended uses, it is getting very awkward. The same feeling of the traversal I have in the both Shadow of Mordor games that approaches the level design quite similarly as well as to its traversal options that are very limiting to what you can do with it, basically allowing to parkour only in right angles.I never liked games with overly contextualized buttons to do anything. It strips away the feel of control over your own actions and makes your character rather decorative than functional. What I mean is that since Origins (and partially Unity) it is not up to the players to select a weapon and kill by using the same controls as ones they use in combat, for example. Instead, the game gives you one single option to kill an enemy by pressing one specific button regardless of anything - your agency, style, gear. There is a very big disconnection between the tool you are using and whatever action game offers you to do. Bow on the other hand is a nice utility tool that can directly interact with the environment by shooting which is a more manual action.To be honest I don’t really understand the trade-off of having an extensive weapon customization, but then disregard it when it comes to combat and finishers (aside from dev time and resources). Most of the time Eivor uses his hatchet or enemy’s weaponry to finish them off instead of highlighting the awesomeness of the upgraded axe that player has spent time customizing. It is also kind of hilarious in Vinland when Eivor has a totally functional hatchet, but you need to farm stuff to get the real weapon.Settlement building cost scaling kind of a "no" from me, I want to raid monasteries, but I don’t want to raid them all.Raiders customization. There is a clear desire to enable players to share their vikings, but it is lacking about 70% of what probably should be there. Ideally you should be able to customize every one of them and even give them names. But the other problem is that this customization is pointless outside of those rare moments of raiding some church when you can see them in action.I would like to use my raiders on land and attack forts with my brother-sisterhood of Danes.Wolf and chickens are incredibly annoying.Way too much stealth mission where some NPC is joining us as a burden, completely screwing over enemy’s AI since quest companions can attract enemy attention.English archers and crossbowmen are no joke, historically they were one of the best, but in the game their ability to snipe me from a mile away is somewhat unfun.Detection time in stealth is very inadequate, especially when using the hood. Walking speed while hooded is very detrimental to the social stealth gameplay since there is practically no room to recover from accidental detection that is incredibly fast and Eivor walks way too slow to do anything.I want to start speaking to NPC across the table or from his back, I don’t want to spend time running around in search for their face.While sitting in inventory or other screens, I can use M to switch straight to the map tab. But I cannot use other keyboard shortcuts for other tabs similarly?