Assassin's Creed Valhalla RPG Catch-All

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Oh, and one more thing: Christianity is fundamentally incompatible with the mythos of the franchise. It is unsurprising for Christianity or any other religion to be disrespected by an Assassin’s Creed story.

Similarly, it is unlikely that the Norse pantheon is intended to be seen as superior. Odin may talk directly to Eivor in this game, but any such conversation is probably taking place between some time hopping Isu consciousness and Layla. I have no idea if that’s really the case, I’m just basing it on other AC games.

BadKen wrote:

I’m not familiar enough with the link between Viking culture and Naziism to make a judgment call on that aspect of the game. And frankly I have zero interest in educating myself regarding that association. I couldn’t care less what Nazis think about anything. However, based on the viewpoint of the rest of the article, my strong suspicion is that any portrayal of that in the game is incidental.

The historian's position seems to be that throughout all history, there are a few recurring strategies for misrepresenting cultures. Most of the strategies that aren't just blatant demonization of enemies are about

1) ignoring the existence of >90% of the actual people have actually ever existed (helots, serfs, thralls, etc.),
2) justifying a brutal political view of the world where enslavement is fine, justified, and necessary,
3) or similarly justifying colonialism.

The complaint isn't that the past should be represented with 100% accuracy, but that the corners cut here do line up propaganda that has shaped the broader understanding of the past in ways that have had gruesome consequences. It's not that Ubisoft started with real history, then had to shave off the challenging parts. They started with the old, conservative misrepresentation and put a little spin on it.

But we're not really lambasting Ubisoft here. Just as you can write a screenplay that doesn't pass the Bechdel test, and that's fine. The real issue is when 90% of screenplays don't pass. Likewise when 90% of depictions of past cultures (especially those we might identify with) all agree in their own whitewashing, that's a cultural problem for us in the present. That's the actual thing we dislike, the pattern. Valhalla is just another instance of the pattern.

Alternatively, if every storyteller had there own take on Vikings, each riffing off of a shared historical understanding in severely inaccurate yet distinct ways, then I don't think historians would have much to complain about.

Danjo Olivaw wrote:

But we're not really lambasting Ubisoft here. Just as you can write a screenplay that doesn't pass the Bechdel test, and that's fine. The real issue is when 90% of screenplays don't pass. Likewise when 90% of depictions of past cultures (especially those we might identify with) all agree in their own whitewashing, that's a cultural problem for us in the present. That's the actual thing we dislike, the pattern. Valhalla is just another instance of the pattern.

If that's the case, then the piece could just as well be titled "Man Yells at Cloud."

People creating popular media are going to use common popular (mis)conceptions about the world and weave it into their media. The creators are not interested in challenging the public. Certainly not in AAA games. Indie games fill that role nicely, and the indie game market seems pretty healthy right now. With the possible exception of big publishers eating up gobs of independent studios and looking for second helpings.

Honestly I can't think of a AAA game I've played that has made me examine my moral outlook. As long as AAA games are pew pew, brrrrrt, stabstab, and vroomvroom, I don't see that changing. Movies are a different story. While the movie industry is sort of on hold right now, the trend leading up to last year was towards even blockbusters sneaking some radical ideas into films. Again, indies lead the way in challenging peoples' worldview, but slow progress was being made even in big budget pictures. There's still a long way to go, but things are starting to happen in movies now in a way they are not happening in video games.

A good indicator of a movie or game that is at least trying is cries from Angry Internet Men that the item in question was "ruined by SJWs" or "too political."

I must say, it is definitely very interesting to me to read a historian's perspective on the corners cut by AC developers to make their story work in a AAA world. As you say, though, Ubisoft isn't intentionally playing propagandist.

The Animus is not a time machine, the Animus is a holodeck.

And if Layla et al want to run around in DNA memories but censor out the most terrible bits, they can do that. There you go, there's your canon reason for the omissions.

Similarly, when I go to Colonial Williamsburg I like to look at cool buildings and costumes, but that's about all the realism I want.

I made it to England, build my blacksmith and killed one of the ancient targets. Now on my way to getting my first alliance. There isn't too much to say that couldn't be said about the latest prior AC games.

- It's really nice looking , even if I had to dial down anti-aliasing to med along with character textures. I dialed shadows to medium too. My frame rate usually stays within 30-50 fps. Before the changes I was having major slowdowns.
- The main characters are pretty well done and the story is good enough for me to enjoy. I don't think they are as good as the last too though. Some of the side content is kinda bad.
- Combat is OK. It's fun to stealth kill. Movement and attacking sometimes feels like it's only in 4 directions - it's just not smooth feeling.
- I struggle to find the way to best play it. For my play style, following icons is boring. I've turned off the compass and playing on pathfinder. That doesn't really fix it though. I'll try to find stuff without looking at the wealth / mystery / artifact icons on the map but inevitably I see it when looking at the map for other reasons. If I never consult the map I'll miss way too many resources.
- Like the compass, I don't like using the bird. To me, there is nothing fun about being able to magically see where all the resources and other goodies are. I wish they could make that aspect mpre natural.

All that said, with the good and bad I like it enough. The big question will be will I like it enough to finish. I finished Origins and bailed on Odyssey. I think I played it too soon after Origins. For my $15 of UbiSoft+ I'll be happy to play as much as I enjoy and not feel bad if I want to stop.

Far enough into this where I feel like I can lay down some solid thoughts:

The free-running system is as buggy as it's ever been. I often jump to the wrong thing, I've got the old AC problem of trying to climb somewhere and the game just not being able to figure out how to move a foot or so up, and I can't get down from anything without throwing myself off of a three story cliff. This was largely a solved problem a game or two back. I don't know why it's taken several steps backwards.

Combat is probably as good as its ever been, but with a few hiccups. I'm playing on hard, and beating boss-type enemies like fanatics is incredibly difficult. Attacks don't always follow a set pattern, which is kind of critical to this style of game. Enemies often change up their attack patterns after hitting certain damage thresholds, but it also feels like sometimes the scripting gets reset mid-attack, and you're suddenly looking at combos that don't normally happen.

The male voice actor is so much better than the female option. Which kind of sucks because it appears that female Aivor is the canon option for most of the game (other than some spoilery sections). The game also occasionally has dialogue that is clearly intended for female Aivor, so it's not really agnostic about the choice.

Hard to say what the story's about so far. Story's sort of incidental to an AC game, but it's nice when it's at least semi-coherent. I do like what I've seen of it so far. They do a bit of a head fake early on where you have to make a choice with lasting consequences based on evidence you've gathered. As far as I can tell, they don't do that ever again, though I have played out a story where they pretended to, then went, 'lol, nm!" and ignored your choice.

Spoiler:

The Asgard stuff is kind of tedious and I'm not sure why. I really think AC needs to be running in some version of reality for everything to work right. I'm also not sure what my takeaway is supposed to be with the Asgard plot, even though I'm very deep into that storyline. Generally in AC, mythological gods turn out to be Isau, a race of hyper-intelligent beings that preceeded humans before they were wiped out by a freak solar storm. The Asgard stuff seems to be playing very close to the mythology, with only hints of Isau here and there.

edit: Edited out dumb-cis-guy-rambling-about-trans-experience-poorly stuff. Supportive but ignorant, I suspect.

I've put a good amount of time into the game, over 40 hours. I am around power level 140. The more I have played the more I appreciate some of the changes. I was initially mixed and some of my criticisms still persist. The skill allocation system is a mess, probably the biggest step backwards from Odyssey. Plus the abilities are less useful and less fun to use. There are 3 or 4 I use regularly and that's it. I'm not a fan of the gear system. I understand people did not like the regular inventory management that came with Odyssey's flood of gear, but they scaled it back way too much. In my 40 hours I have never been excited by finding gear. I don't understand why they removed the transmogrification system. I enjoyed changing Kassandra's look regularly. It could add some excitement to getting new gear. Even if I don't like the stats, at least opens up a new look. The settlement mechanic hasn't really grabbed me. I'm never there and don't feel a drive to keep growing it. Most things it adds seem minor, like now I can turn in fish and get rewards.

That being said I am enjoying the game. I like the combat. I think the combat works better for fighting groups of enemies. I liked the 1 on1 combat in Odyssey, but it broke down when you were fighting more people. I haven't had that happen often in Valhalla. I think the quest system is interesting. Odyssey had a ton of side quests to the point that it would be difficult to sort through them and remember what happened in earlier steps. The quest system here is more focused, but I never feel like I'm constrained without interesting things to do. I've met interesting side characters. I did not like some of the initial side character from the first pledge I did, but other's have been a lot better. I'm currently doing the missions in Lunden and the 2 characters your work with are great. The game is beautiful and so expansive. I initially thought it would be a tighter more limited game, but that is very wrong. I think I'm over leveled. I'm doing missions in areas where my power level is 30 points higher than recommended. I've only used two weapons. I played the first 30 hours using a big 2 handed sword. I recently switched to the blacksmith's hammer (I feel like Thor) and it is so satisfying they way it feels on impact. There is a brutal finishing move where I break both their knees which drops them and then uppercut them with this huge hammer. The first time I saw it I cringed it was so brutal. I like puzzling out how to get to items. Usually there are interesting little things you need to figure out to gain access to areas. They do start to repeat though.

I think the Assassin creed series could be the best running RPG series going right now. It is amazing how much stuff they can fit in these games. It seems like it would take 5 years or more to stuff all this in there. This one is a little buggier. I've only had one or two that caused me to reload a save. Most are just goofy things. I'm really looking forward to what they can do when they design a game entirely for the new gen.

If there's one bit of advice I can give, it's for people to switch up your weapons and weapon combos. The only weapon I haven't liked is the flail but everything else is distinct. Currently, I'm using a Dane Axe and it has a lot of weight to it. I've also regularly used the hammer or hand axes. Both with shields or dual wielding. Oddly, one of the most fun weapons is a dagger and shield. Just stabby stabby all day long. Not very effective against enemies with big health pools but does allow you to get damage off very quickly.

I like the smaller inventory change but, yes, the lack of visual variety for armour is a bit of step backwards.

Just got to Oxenforshire last night and the story is starting to pick up. Discord and mistrust has seeped its way into a few key relationships.

kazooka wrote:

Far enough into this where I feel like I can lay down some solid thoughts:

The free-running system is as buggy as it's ever been. I often jump to the wrong thing, I've got the old AC problem of trying to climb somewhere and the game just not being able to figure out how to move a foot or so up, and I can't get down from anything without throwing myself off of a three story cliff. This was largely a solved problem a game or two back. I don't know why it's taken several steps backwards.

Combat is probably as good as its ever been, but with a few hiccups. I'm playing on hard, and beating boss-type enemies like fanatics is incredibly difficult. Attacks don't always follow a set pattern, which is kind of critical to this style of game. Enemies often change up their attack patterns after hitting certain damage thresholds, but it also feels like sometimes the scripting gets reset mid-attack, and you're suddenly looking at combos that don't normally happen.

The male voice actor is so much better than the female option. Which kind of sucks because it appears that female Aivor is the canon option for most of the game (other than some spoilery sections). The game also occasionally has dialogue that is clearly intended for female Aivor, so it's not really agnostic about the choice.

Hard to say what the story's about so far. Story's sort of incidental to an AC game, but it's nice when it's at least semi-coherent. I do like what I've seen of it so far. They do a bit of a head fake early on where you have to make a choice with lasting consequences based on evidence you've gathered. As far as I can tell, they don't do that ever again, though I have played out a story where they pretended to, then went, 'lol, nm!" and ignored your choice.

Spoiler:

The Asgard stuff is kind of tedious and I'm not sure why. I really think AC needs to be running in some version of reality for everything to work right. I'm also not sure what my takeaway is supposed to be with the Asgard plot, even though I'm very deep into that storyline. Generally in AC, mythological gods turn out to be Isau, a race of hyper-intelligent beings that preceeded humans before they were wiped out by a freak solar storm. The Asgard stuff seems to be playing very close to the mythology, with only hints of Isau here and there.

edit: Edited out dumb-cis-guy-rambling-about-trans-experience-poorly stuff. Supportive but ignorant, I suspect.

Regarding your spoiler:

Spoiler:

I'm only 30 minutes in, but Asgard is so boring at the moment. Also, it's a tall zone, so lots of tedious climbing.

I agree with just about everything in your post. Enjoying the game, but after Odyssey I'm disappointed in some of the steps backwards.

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