Review: Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla

About this Game

Publisher

Ubisoft Entertainment

Developer

Ubisoft Montreal

Release Date

November 10, 2020

Console

PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5

How long does it take to unlock all trophies in Assassin's Creed: Valhalla?

~100h

How difficult is it to unlock all trophies in Assassin's Creed: Valhalla?

Easy (3/10)

Does Assassin's Creed: Valhalla have online trophies?

No

Does Assassin's Creed: Valhalla have difficulty-specific trophies?

No

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Praying to the Pagan Gods for a Bug-Free Platinum

Ever since I began enjoying the Assassin’s Creed series again with Syndicate, Origins and then – my personal favourite – Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey I’ve been hoping Ubisoft would release a Viking-themed AC game, allowing me to explore my preferred era of history and the culture I’ve repeatedly found myself enamoured by.

With the announcement of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, it wasn’t long before I had it pre-ordered and was waiting in excitement for it’s release. I’d hoped to first experience it on PS5 but when the game launched a few months early, I launched the PS4 version and gave it a go…

A screenshot from the PS4 version of the game.

I was painfully disappointed. The game performed terribly, crashing once every hour or so. It’s muddy textures and low-res models looked nothing like a next-gen title and I soon learned that my trophy progress would not carry over to the PS5 version, so with that I dropped the game and decided to wait – much more patiently – until I could play it on PS5.

Note: The game has been patched since then and you can transfer saved data and your trophies between games.

When the PS5 launched, I found myself enamoured by titles like Sackboy: A Big Adventure and Spider-Man: Miles Morales and happily left Valhalla behind for me to come back to. I did play it for an hour or so just to test it and found that other than performing better, it didn’t really look any better than the PS4 version.

It wasn’t until I ran out of PS5 titles to play that I finally settled in for the long arduous journey that would be the Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla trophy…

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Platinum Review

Settling in

The first 6 hours I spent in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla were in Norway. Norway is essentially the game’s tutorial, it introduces you to the combat and many of the side-activities and then takes you through Eivor’s origins and the story behind her and her brother Sigurd.

I went with a female Eivor for a unique perspective on the testosterone-driven perception of Vikings, but it made little difference in the grand scheme of things.

In the interest of map completion, I ensured I had done absolutely everything I could in the starting region of Rygjafylke before progressing the story. The last few moments of my time in Norway were spent in Hordafylke to the north, but I knew from the 10 hours I’d spent on the PS4 version that I wouldn’t be able to complete everything there. I left it for my return which would happen almost 70 hours later.

Norway is an ugly place in AC: V. Except for the northern lights adorning the night sky and the charming little villages hiding in the snow, the grubby rock textures and low-quality snow make for an uninteresting and bland experience occasionally broken up by a half-dead tree.

Compared to the excellent snow physics we’ve seen in Horizon and Death Stranding several years ago, this small but ever-present qualm of mine is put into perspective.

Spending my first 6 hours here doesn’t leave a very strong impression, dull blue colours burn themselves into my screen as I traipse through the snow getting frustrated that the new “World Event” mystery activities are untrackable, heavily prone to glitching, and simply irritating.

I did find that the crashes on PS5 were far less common. I’d occasionally lose a frame and say to myself “That’s where it would have crashed on PS4”. It wasn’t until I started experiencing audio glitches which often resulted in crashes during my final 30 hours of gameplay that I experienced any crashes at all.

It was quite common, however, that an activity or collectable would glitch out. Sometimes I couldn’t hand in a World Event quest, sometimes a collectable just wasn’t there, other times I’d complete the requirements for an activity but it would stay on the map. In all of these instances, I overcame each glitch by loading an autosave from a few minutes earlier. Despite that, my heart still skipped a beat thinking the Platinum was suddenly out of my reach.

This was something I was faced with for the entire 95-hour journey from start to Platinum.

I had two (thankfully not game-breaking) glitches which I could not resolve. One was that a cloak I acquired during one specific portion of the story could not be unequipped once I’d equipped it. Ever. I tried everything and I couldn’t remove it, couldn’t hide it, it just stuck there.

The problem with that is that it had a huge goofy horse skull attached to it and many cutscenes were ruined by me having a horse’s skull glued to my face.

The other issue was that every single time the game loaded, whether I loaded a save, booted the game up, or died and respawned… Eivor was drunk. Pissed out of her mind. And each time the game loaded she was a little more drunk than the last. It got to the point where she’d stop and stumble for a few moments leaving me unable to control her while she tried to regain her balance.

Like I said, not game-breaking, but certainly annoying!

Anyway, getting back to my experience… Following my six-hour stint in Norway, we finally set off for greener pastures (literally) in England. It was something I hadn’t yet done on the PS4 version and I was excited to finally see my home country in-game.

Well, you can definitely tell where most of the effort went, and they wanted to make it as clear as possible when you got there that their rendition of England was absolutely stunning… From a distance.

There are many beautiful vistas from where you can enjoy the beautiful moors of England from on high, watching as the sun rolls over the hill-caked landscape. However, get close to any of it, really take a close look at any field, tree, or rock, and you’re hit in the face with how prevalantly low-effort each element is.

The grassy plains are filled with beautiful flowers, but from just a meter away you’re stung with the irkingly two-dimensional nature of each one. Trees and bushes are just flat planes jutting into each other and while these were common practices just 5 years ago, the leaps we’ve made in technology lately as well as the fact that this is a next-gen title gave me expectations I never should have had.

Couple it with visual glitches that we’ve all come to expect from Ubisoft’s catalogue of games and the game begins to feel very low quality.

Of course, many would argue “But the game is so big! Of course the graphics aren’t that good, the map is enormous!”

And they would be right, who am I to complain? But I would retort that the game doesn’t need to be so big. Its size is unnecessary. You could lose the pointless and completely disconnected “Vinland” section and, while I was excited to learn that my home-county of Yorkshire (Eurvicscire) found it’s way into the game, it was unneeded.

The beautiful Yorkshire landscapes are disappointingly drowned in snow and the events that transpire anywhere north of Leicestershire (Ledecestrescire) aren’t entirely related to the game’s main narrative.

Based on the location of Jorvic (York) and Donecaestre (Doncaster) this is about where my home-town of Bradford would be.

It’s all fluff. Pointless fluff to artificially extend the gameplay. Of course, it’s not all trash, but it begins to feel more and more pointless when you find yourself trying to earn the Platinum and asking yourself why you’re crawling around old Roman sewers for another bit of Tungsten you know you’re probably not going to use.

Having said that, there are two large arcs which take place in Asgard and Jotunheim, visited via spiritual “Vision Quests” taken up via some suspicious potions in the Seer’s Hut. These are almost completely needless (though they do have some connection to the main plot) but stand as the best parts of the game.

The sprawling branches of Ygdrasil stretch out over the skies of Asgard.

The sprawling locales of Asgard and Jotunheim are beautiful and brimming with tales from real Viking legend. One particular tale I enjoyed was that of Ratastok, the squirrel who spends his days running up and down the World Tree (Ygdrasil) transporting insults from the dragon Nidhogg to an Eagle (with a Hawk on its beak) and vice versa. In a very excellent touch, you can actually enter into a Viking Rap Battle (Flyting) with the rodent. Unfortunately, it’s one of the worst Flyts in the game, but you can’t win them all I guess.

Another excellent story they adapted and butchered was the tale of Fenrir’s chain. In mythology, to make this chain the dwarven blacksmith uses 6 impossible items; the sound a cat makes when it moves, a woman’s beard, the roots of a mountain, the sinews of a bear, the breath of a fish, and a bird’s spit.

Naturally, when Odin hears the chain was made from these things he says it is preposterous, for none of these items exist. To which he is told that they don’t exist because the Dwarves had them all along.

In the game, this fantastic tale is whittled down to the need for two items, and all the whimsy of the original story is all but removed.

Ygdrasil’s roots reach down over Jotunheim.

My complaints aside, I did find myself drawn into many of the stories told in Valhalla, even those I would argue are entirely needless. My love for Viking mythology pulled me back in every now and then and whenever I saw a Viking legend referenced in-game I transformed into the meme of DiCaprio pointing at his TV.

Map Completion

The overwhelming majority of my time on AC: Valhalla was spent trying to get 100% map completion. The game and it’s story is split up by region, several English counties, Vinland, two Nordic regions, Asgard, and Jotunheim.

Each region has several “Wealth”, “Mystery”, and “Artifact” waypoints, indicated by a glowing dot on your map in the relevant colour.

Artifact waypoints, the white dots, were the least interesting. There would either be a Treasure Horde map, a Roman Mask collectable, or a Cursed symbol to destroy.

They were typically hidden in annoying locations; underground tunnels with a hidden secret entrance you’ll spend 5 minutes trying to find, behind locked doors which are barred from behind and can only be unlocked if you find a window at the right angle… They’re simple and short puzzles but repeated hundreds of times across the entire game they get old VERY fast.

The very worst of these Artifacts were pieces of paper which would run away from you in the wind. Yes, exactly like the Shanties in Black Flag. Yes, they brought it back. Yes, they’re sadistic, evil, bastards.

I really wouldn’t mind these ones if the parkour mechanics were anywhere near as good as Ubisoft thinks they are!

Almost exactly the same, are Wealth waypoints. At these locations, you’ll either find a chest with an upgrade material in it or some armour/weaponry to use on your adventures. In locations where you can stage a raid, however, these waypoints lead you to huge caches of resources you can use to upgrade your Settlement.

Raids are pretty fun, you just trot up to a Monastery, bold as brass, and call your Viking pals over with a blow of your horn, initiating an open pillage-fest in which you can slaughter many enemy soldiers and help yourself to their supplies.

Literally every other wealth waypoint is a chest hidden in a secret underground tunnel, behind a barred door, or stuck behind up to three locks for which you’ll need to find keys in the surrounding area. Just pure annoyance. Given that Wealth waypoints are the most plentiful, going through the same “How do I get in there?” rigmarole with every single one is just exhaustingly tiresome, especially when the rewards are not worth the effort.

The worst case of these wealth waypoints by far are the ones in Asgard and Jotunheim. In each of those locations, you need to find 30-33 chests to collect items. The time and effort put into collecting them aren’t rewarded with a weapon or armour-piece of legend, you’re given no special ability and they can’t be used in any way other than to complete a single Mystery waypoint in each location. That’s literally hours of work for nothing. But you need to get them all for the platinum, of course.

That leaves the Mystery Waypoints, simultaneously the most interesting but most frustrating time-wasters in the game. You never know what you’ll find until you get there, some are worse than others.

You’ll often find a “World Event”, which I complained about earlier. These short quests can’t be tracked and the waypoint doesn’t move, so if you miss a hint in the dialogue or don’t see where an NPC went, you’re very likely not going to know what to do or where to go, which happened to me far too much.

They can be interesting though, I met one man who was trying to create a sauce and would eventually create the infamous Worcestershire sauce.

There are also “Fly Agaric” mushroom events, in which you go on a drug trip and try to solve a puzzle based on visual cues alone, these can be quite fun.

Tripping out on Fly Agaric.

Or maybe you’ll find a legendary hunt and face off against a mini-boss in beast form. Perhaps you’ll instead run into a skilled Flyter who wants you to enter into a Viking Rap Battle with him, some of the best side-activities in the game.

One particularly impressive mini-game is the Cairn-building (or stone-stacking) challenges, which – using very impressive physics-based mechanics – ask you to stack stones up to a certain threshold. These get very tough towards the end of the game though, with frustration reaching its peak every time the stones fell and I had to start again.

One particularly precarious Cairn I had to build.

The worst of these events, by far, were “Animus Anomalies”. The tired old present-world animus storyline found itself seeping into this game too, and you’ve got to complete some really naff and immersion-violating puzzles to satisfy Ubisoft’s need to inject this crap into the stories.

The anomalies will spawn a long-winded and boring platforming puzzle which uses disappearing platforms, laser-beams and the game’s less-than-reliable parkour system to ruin your day for about 10 minutes at a time. Luckily, there’s only 10 of them.

In-fact all of the most annoying waypoints are made worse by the fact that they rely on the Assassin’s Creed parkour system which hasn’t improved since Syndicate and actually even seems to be worse.

Getting around in the open world, scaling mountains, even using the thrilling combat system, they’re all great and you can actually have a whole lot of fun. But as soon as the focus closes in to a small confined space like a town or an underground lair or something like that, getting around just makes you want to start slaughtering civilians.

Oh and, you can’t slaughter civilians because that would cause “desynchronisation”… Not a very Viking point of view, but if you say so…

There was one misc trophy which I attempted about halfway through my journey that gave me a lot of grief. About 4 hours of grief to be exact. The trophy is bugged and after attempting it for hours and hours, I eventually worked out a way to circumvent the bug, with a bit of help from the Reddit community, check out the video below to see what I mean (you’ll also find this in the trophy guide, too).

Anyway, after 80 hours of this stuff over and over again, region by region, with a little bit of story content to break up the tedium I had finally achieved 100% map completion. I had checked off a few misc trophies, completed the story, picked up some legendary weapons along the way and even enjoyed myself in a few games of Orlog.

It was finally time to mop up…

Nixing the Order

“The Order” in AC: V is Ubisofts latest rehashing of the Templar enemy to the Assassin’s (or “Hidden Ones”) and as with the other games in the series, you need to wipe them out. Completely wipe them out. For no reason because they’re like cockroaches who just keep coming back.

Chronologically we even know they’ll come back, but putting that to the back of my mind I soldiered on. Through my travels, sometimes for story and sometimes by chance, I had wiped a good chunk of the order off the face of England and had just a few more to locate.

The Order Members are found using clues which you pick up throughout the game, either just loose bits of paper on a table, found in the pockets of other Order Members, or by winning a good old drinking game in Ledecestre. Each clue leads to the next until you have all clues for a particular order member, at which point they can be tracked from the Order tab in the menu.

I don’t know if I got lucky or it’s by design, but I only had 5 order members left who would unlock clues for the three order leaders I had remaining to then reach the head honcho.

It took me a couple of hours to track down the last of the clues and then wipe out the last few members but I was glad it didn’t take too long and the clues all but give you a waypoint so with a little knowledge of the map it wasn’t too difficult.

You shall have a fishy on a little dishy

Another portion of the journey which took several hours was the fishing. There are some guides you can buy in-game from the merchant in your settlement called “Fantastic Fish and Where to Find Them”. These were all the instruction I needed to find every fish in the game, catch them with the fishing line, and collect the trophy for doing so.

Probably the biggest fish I caught. A “Bream” I think?

The problem, and the reason it took so long, was that there’s currently a fish spawning glitch in the game. Many coastlines don’t spawn fish for some reason. There are workarounds, like meditating on the coast, walking up and down the coast, or fast-travelling and walking back, but none of them are guaranteed.

I had no problem catching river fish, it seemed that wherever there was a short pier or a fishing boat, there were hundreds of fish to catch, but along the coast… Nixes.

So many fish in the rivers!

So I literally spent hours trying to trick the game into spawning fish, which all seemed to disappear after I caught one or two, making me spend hours trying to fix the spawn again.

Obviously, I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t been successful, but it was just another way that the game’s poor performance and abundance of glitches tried to get in the way of my platinum.

Supply farming and the Platinum

There was one last challenge ahead of me as I drew closer to that platinum. I’d been upgrading my settlement as I played but eventually realised that I didn’t have enough supplies from raiding alone.

Ravensthorpe’s humble beginnings… Seems like so long ago now.

Throughout my entire playthrough I’d avoided any small chests which didn’t count as wealth collectables because I never found myself needing their contents. Well, some of these chests (the flat-topped ones) contain supplies. Supplies needed for settlement upgrades. And when it came to the end of my playthrough I was short 3,500 supplies. With 100 supplies in each chest, that meant I would need to find 35 chests.

I went to every Monastery and Abbey I had ever raided and raided them again, pulling about 300 supplies from each raid. Even after all that, I was still short seven whole chests.

In the end, after spending half an hour checking every chest in Ledecestre and Lunden, I finally had enough supplies to completely upgrade my settlement.

I just had one more trophy that I was saving to hopefully get a good platinum screenshot, so I went off and got an assassination kill from the back of my mount (ensuring I had optimal weather and light conditions for when the trophy popped) and there it was, finally, after almost 95 hours… The platinum trophy.

Time Breakdown

Story Content

Map Completion & Collectibles

“Overdesign II” Trophy

Settlement Upgrades

Fishing

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Trophy Guide

Itching to grab an axe and join us in razing England? Well, we’ve prepared a comprehensive guide which will help you see it through to the platinum!

Check out our Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Trophy Guide here.

That concludes my Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla review. If you enjoyed reading this review, please do let us know, it means the world to us when we hear feedback and we love engaging with people over the game we just platted. It’s basically the only thing motivating us at the moment!

You can follow us on Twitter @GetPlat and Instagram @platget where we’ll be sharing updates, screenshots, upcoming reviews and general gripes about the games we’re working on so feel free to follow us or use it as another channel for feedback!

Verdict

Play

I can't in all good consciousness recommend platting this game. Taking almost 100 hours of your life to traipse across admittedly beautiful landscapes in search of irksomely hidden rewards not worth their effort. There's something to be said for the story, though, which should be experienced for any Viking or Assassin's Creed fan, but the hefty chore that is the Platinum is not worth the time it takes.

Pros

  • Plenty of interesting glimpses into Viking lore and culture
  • Beautiful landscapes (from a distance)
  • Diverse (albeit familiar) combat system

Cons

  • Too much content that isn't worth doing
  • A deeply watered down and filtered version of Viking history
  • Heavily littered with potentially plat-breaking bugs

Silver Trophy

If only Ubisoft had focused more on making the game more rewarding and offering quality content over the absurd quantity of mediocre content we were left with, then maybe it could live up to the love I have for Odyssey. Here's hoping God of War: Ragnarok scratches the Viking itch that Ubisoft failed to satisfy. When compared with the similar gameplay of Ghost of Tsushima or even Ubisoft's own Immortals, Valhalla has undeniably failed to deliver.

About the Author

More fond of single-player experiences and story-driven games than anything else, TheDblTap has a keen eye for secrets and collectables, a skill which serves him well as a Trophy Hunter. However, with little patience and poor timing, he can struggle where MrZhangetsu would succeed.

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