Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Assassin's Creed: Valhalla - The Singleplayer MMORPG

 

130 hours or so later and I've finished Assassin's Creed: Valhalla. It's a good, but not quite great game that contains too much padding and some inexplicable bugs. It contains a fair amount of character customization; of both the cosmetic and gameplay type. It has a bunch of gear choices that don't matter overly much. The open-world map is split into different zones with their own quest line. Each zone is gated by a gear score of dubious effectiveness. It's a gorgeous game with beautiful zones, a nice soundtrack, and a serviceable enough story line. There's some minor crafting. Technically, there are raids, albeit the pillaging kind and not the wasting your Wednesday because people can't stop standing in the fire kind.

I think I just played a single player MMORPG.

Which is how I play MMOs nowadays anyhow. Questing around without forced grouping for the inevitable dungeon quest feels great. Not worrying about competing for spawns, bad behavior in general chat, or inevitable server maintenance feels liberating.

I get that "single player RPGs" aren't some sudden innovation in the gaming industry. But I've never played a single player game that is so derivative of the modern MMO experience. Just about every game under the sun has stolen something from World of Warcraft. But AC: Valhalla is more brazen about it than most.

I suspect the appeal of AC: Valhalla is improved in an environment where it's basically illegal to leave my house. Where dealing with strangers feels more overwhelming when I don't have my own actual friends to fall back to. But I've been a lot about the idea of the right game at the right time. AC: Valhalla has a lot of flaws and the reviews around it's release cut into it dearly for that.

But, a big expansive, beautiful world begging to be explored. Clear objectives. Problems that can be overcome directly and with force? 

I'm in the mood for that right now.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Assassin's Creed: Valhalla - Pretty Pictures


For the past two weeks I've been playing Assassin's Creed: Valhalla. This was mostly spurred on by purchasing a Xbox Series X and then deciding what I was going to play on it. So I looked at the titles it had on launch day and sorted alphabetically. And frankly it worked out.

Admittedly, Valhalla isn't a revelation of a game. It's a bog standard late 2010s/early 2020s open world RPG. But I think it's quite competent at it and it's kept me entertain as I wait for the Minnesota winter to break.

I've nearly completed a 100% playthrough. Once I finish that up I'll write up more of my thoughts on the game. But I wanted to do something I often don't and make a screenshot post. I haven't been able to travel during the pandemic and I've needed virtual worlds to fill in that void for me. Valhalla's 873 AD England and Norway have scratched that itch for me; the game is beautiful.

 

The game is multiplatform and has been out for a couple of months now. It wasn't strictly necessary to play this on the Xbox versus my PC. At this point I'm not sure which is more powerful: my gaming PC with a RTX 2080 or my Xbox Series X. I suspect things are pretty close right now. But I figured this would be a nice game to get a feel for the graphics I can expect from the new consoles.

 


You can choose between some preset graphical options on the XSX version of AC: Valhalla. I run the performance mode which tries to keep things as close 4K and 60fps as possible. The other mode focuses on graphical fidelity and allows some framerate dips here or there. Smoother FPS always looks better to my eye.

 


The draw distance really impresses me. I suspect there is some graphical trickery happening at certain points to add in some environmental details that you can't actually get to the in game, but it's not really noticeable.

 


As with most Ubisoft games I play, the actual animations tend to be a step behind the environment. Not a huge deal graphically, but it does break the immersion.

Other graphic aspects are also lacking. In the picture below, the main character's hair would have looked bad in the original Toy Story. Let alone a AAA title in 2020. 



But I've sunk nearly 110 hours into the game thus far. I'm clearly enjoying myself. I look forward to talking about it more in the next couple of days.