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Critics call the open world of Assassin's Creed Valhalla one of the franchise's best

By Matthew Jackson
Assassins Creed Valhalla protagonist Eivor

This week marks the launch of Assassin's Creed Valhalla, one of the most-anticipated games of 2020 and the 12th major installment (out of nearly two dozen releases overall) in the Assassin's Creed franchise. As the title suggests, after allowing you to be everything from a pirate to a Medieval assassin to a Grecian warrior, this installment in the franchise puts you in the shoes of the Viking warrior Eivor (who can be either male, female, or both as decided by the Animus at various points in the game) during the Invasion of Britain in the ninth century. 

Like every other Assassins Creed game before it, the game aims to plunge you into the immersive mythology of the centuries-old struggle between Assassins and Templars that's been unspooling since the very first entry in the franchise, while also adding something new. In this case, that means a new open-world setup, a vast selection of quests, and a story that aims to dig deep into Norse mythology to deliver what no other Assassin's Creed game has given us so far. So, does it succeed? As reviews for Valhalla come in this week, it seems pretty clear that Ubisoft has another winner on their hands, as critics found themselves happily lost in the world of the game, and some even found themselves more enamored with this installment than with any previous Assassin's Creed entry.

Let's check out what the critics had to say:

"Valhalla’s most intriguing story is one about faith, honor, and family, but it’s buried inside this massive, massive world stuffed with combat and side quests," Nicole Carpenter of Polygon wrote. "That balance is not always ideal, but I’m glad, at least, that it forces me to spend more time seeking out interesting things in the game’s world."

"Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is a big, bold, and ridiculously beautiful entry to the series that finally delivers on the much-requested era of the Viking and the messy, political melting pot of England’s Dark Ages," Brandin Tyrrel of IGN wrote. "It walks a fine line between historical tourism, top-shelf conspiracy theory, and veiled mysticism against the backdrop of a grounded and focused story. Fresh takes on several of the series’ established loot and quest systems help to keep the things fluid and nuanced, though progression could use refinement. There’s also a bigger than usual horde of bugs and blemishes to contend with from start to finish. But while it may not be the most stylish or polished, its rugged and brutal look at the muddy business of Scandanavian expansion is as memorable and dense as an Assassin’s Creed has ever been, and it makes great use of the new consoles."

"The changes Valhalla brings to the franchise feel as great as a warm hearthfire during a cold winter night," Zack Zwiezen of Kotaku wrote. "The game’s developers have crafted a world that is wonderful to explore, that soaked up hours and hours of my day before I noticed It. The changes to how the game handles loot and questing, for example, make it a nicer experience to play. Overall, it feels a lot of care and thought went into making Valahalla feel less like a checklist of things to do and more like a world to organically experience."

"I loved 2018’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (especially after its post-release support), but that love was always tempered by a desire for improvements," Joe Juba of Game Informer wrote. "I wished the content felt more carefully curated. I hated grinding to progress the story. I got sick of managing an inventory bloated with loot. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla addresses all of those issues and more, creating a rewarding experience at every turn, whether you’re pursuing the main narrative or hunting down treasure. I'm sure Valhalla is not the perfect Assassin’s Creed game for all players, but it is certainly my new favorite entry."

"Assassin's Creed Valhalla is my favorite Assassin's Creed, which is saying something considering it's a series that spans 23 games. It builds on the already excellent RPG foundations laid by Origins and Odyssey, but with meaningful improvements that iron out many of the frustrations I had with both games," Steven Messner of PC Gamer wrote. "Case in point: Not once during the 60-hour story was I told to stop and level up a bunch before I could take on the next quest. That also means Ubisoft isn't selling optional experience boosts, either. Thank god."

Assassin's Creed Valhalla is set to be released Tuesday for Windows, Playstation 4, Stadia, and XBox One, Series X, and Series S. The Playstation 5 edition of the game follows on Friday.