Hi. I believe a lot of things I will mention was already told many times but after hours I spend playing AC:V (more thar 300 and still not finished ) I'm soo frustrated about some aspects of it and I can't believe it's still happening after "Unity"
I will start from saying that it is a really good game and I'm really enjoying it. Unfortunately that's it, It's just a "good" game and that's the frustrating part because If basic game would be properly finished and polished it could be an epic game. Ubisoft have everything that's needed to do so, but from some reasons players always receive "early relase" that's later is patched with DLC which gives extra content, sometimes truly fantastic but in the end it contains all the same features just in different skin.
Valhalla is first AC game I'm really playing since I finished Rogue. Unity was unplayable (still is, I tried and it is such a waste, I genuinely believe Unity deserves a remake, not remaster), Syndicate reminds me first assassin's when you had sector's and in each, same "things" to tick off, boring as hell. Origins and Oddysey, well somehow I was pushed away with new concept.
Please remember that I'm looking at games from around 35 years perspective and I value more immersion, logical integrity and thoughtfully builded world than hiper graphic or huge content. For example I really liked game "Control". Great lore, universe connected to other stories told by developers and yes weird universe but realistic in its own form.
Small example from AC universe. AC 1 and AC 2 we play as assassin's creed order members. Altair and Ezio have been training for years to be assassin's and they don't kill innocent people because they very existence is described by the code to protect humanity. Soo later we have Edward Kenway who is a simple privateer but somehow he have from the beginning all the same skills. AC:V - Eivor is not an assassin or templar so he is not bind by the code and still he cannot kill innocent people. You're a viking and you raid villages and monasterys. You can go to any town even friendly and kill your fellows vikings that are guards, burn everything and kill all animals but try to kill an innocent person...
Other example and that one for me is a bloody crime and people who commit it or not notice how stupid it is should burn in hell 🙂 In general big part of AC:V is exploration. Obviously I doubt any of the developers assumes that people who will play Valhalla game would follow only main quest till the end and later clear the rest of the map. So now they created hundreds location and without few exceptions each one contains hidden location that are marked on the map after you reach high point or use your Raven. Sometimes you need to figure out how to reach them. It might be a hidden passage, door bolt you need to destroy etc. So basically the game system around treasure chests teach you and force you to search for hidden way to get your war spoils. Soo.. Now developers placed in game few treasures you can't reach until you finish specific main quest and of course there is no information about it whatsoever. I will be honest: it's a [censored] move, really. I waste an hour once trying to find the spot but I give up, google it, and hey ho... One isn't a problem but when I came across more nonsense like that and I'm not talking only about unreachable treasure chests I did throw "one or two" juicy words towards people who created the game. I'm sorry 😉 I'm playing game on PS5.
My main points :
- It's not a next gen title.
Visuals and landscapes are great and not once I was amazed by spectacular views and enjoyed slow horse ride just to look around and be amazed for a little bit longer. Especially places like Ireland or Isle of Sky. Beautiful sunrises with eerie lightning in forest. Mist flowing down the hills on morning or stormy waves. Simply goergues . But that's it. Game don't offer anything new since Ezio trilogy, in that matter I think each next AC game is more shallow with mechanics and AI in general. I also think that while visual esthetics catch up with next generation hardware, all the rest stayed far behind.
- Parkour and controls
Parkour changed. It is simpler but it's not an improvement. Now you can climb on everything until developer ticked NO on specific structures. It's absurd that Eivor can climb on polished flat wall but can't climb on tree with plenty of branches. You can find exactly same structures (for example mentioned trees) that once you can climb other times not. I really liked it when you needed to find right places to climb and you could see how character actually place hands, feet in right spot. You had more control over character and also you needed to figure out climb spots, ledges to grab if you wanted to climb. In previous games View Points had a form of a challenge and required from you something more than just press forward + X. You also can't simply jump up, so you can stand under a ladder but no.. you need to find something to move to jump from it on a ladder. Same as jumping over small lava pods, until there is no edges that you can jump from one to other, you need to run over. It sounds more like solutions from PS1 not next gen games. After two years from release, few patches and dlc's Eivor can stuck almost everywhere, fall into the wall (load game), or not doing the simplest thing you want him to do or opposite, he is doing everything apart what you really want him to do. Some of those issues are caused by how control directions are related to where is camera placed. Sometimes for example when you climb or descent camera can turn and if you not correct your directions.. It happens a lot and you can imagine that more dynamic parts of the game like chases or any make it on time situations where you need to be more precise are more irritating.
Let's follow the controls subject. Another how to make your time with the game more frustrating feature. I might be wrong here but I couldn't find it in the game or by google it. I tried to remap controls but game doesn't give you option to choose between HOLD or TAP the button to activate desired action which is weird as part of them are originally set up like that. So if you want to change R3 - odin sight to UP on D pad it will show up the conflict but it still will work as you need to tap it to use Raven and hold to use odin sight. Problems start when you want to map something that is set as default to HOLD for TAP only. It does not sound that bad but later in game there is plenty of actions that are triggered by the same control. Like setting a trap/bow finisher/odin on R3. Placing odin sight on R3 to HOLD was a terrible idea anyway as you using it very, very often and you can only blink it, not turn off/on. It can really affect your wrist when you play longer. Triangle as interact/carry bodies /pick things is also brilliant.
- lack of logic in world construction - there is no consequences for anything you do. Developers implemented mechanics with cloak, hiding, turn off alarms, but why? You can go to city, blow horn, kill everyone and that's it. No penalty no consequences whatsoever. I was going on some meeting in game and in front of quest character (some Earl) I killed all his guards and nothing, we still had a fruitful conversation. Citizens can see you butcher whole castle but that's alright, no drama no alarms. Don't worry though, try to kill a fish using a bow in front of them 🙂
In past games a lot of missions required being unnoticed or target would escape, you would be overrun by enemies and killed or it messed your mission output. You can go to farm and in front of guards kill all animals... no interest. Although from some reasons you can't kill normal citizens or monks during rides because of lack of synchronisation. Game is not giving you any explanation for it. It's ok to kill fellow vikings (guards from allied camp) but not saxon monks. Your deeds should be more influencing to how npc seeing you in next gen AAA games with concept like AC, not mention vikings and their honor etc etc.
- Doubtful or completely lack of AI -
I mean that. Everything that moves and need to do something and it's not you (hmm😂) is brainless. Seriously I think that every person who did bigger raid or siege in AC:V would probably choose lemmings for helpers than his drengars.. Ok, I will write about fights, raids here as well as its all connected. Why we can't command to our party? Why your party can't use shields to cover from arrows. Why we cannot fight during night in rain and mud being in shield wall experiencing "war cry" and vikings taunting there enemies with hitting their shields with axes. Why your party can't do anything by themselves? They can't jump through the window to a house on ground floors. You need to do it yourself and open a door for them. Not mention they running like chickens without heads. They or stay behind observing sky or going in alone against all. Why you can't order them to loot or stay and fight by your side? You need to open by yourself all locked doors and chests which means in the end it looks exactly like normal exploring just with fire and fighting people around you. After few raids I start to cleaning camp's by myself and later I start a raid just to open those chest and doors that required help from one of your man. Same during sieges, without you, soldiers do not know how to push ram etc. I don't understand why to create such a huge feature which is so important and integrated to the world of AC:Valhalla, only to later completely overlooked it? I must say that raids are the most disappointing feature in AC:V. Instead of releasing few dlc's Ubisoft could make raids how they supposed to look like. Did you notice that during ALL raids and sieges there is only one terribly monotonous song played? I genuinely believe vikings had sing more lively lullabies to their children. Can say exactly same things about "shanty" that our vikings sing in longboat. What else? I noticed that you're never attacked by more than three enemies (not including range), so while you fighting them the rest is usually freeze somewhere else. You can be in the middle of the camp, fighting, blow up something and still guard behind the wall will won't wake up. Another lovely thing to watch is when you clear spot from guards and leave one left. He will start a loop of * suprised * we all know that head move when guards lean to look * go in slowly * sprint * crouch and check body * check bushes if near* go back* here if he see different body it start again * We can kill 20 people, and guard will still check them all just to go back to his spot like nothing happened. Where is some kind of alarm, fast horseride to other camp for reinforcements and bringing in strongest enemies. Hmm like it never was in other AC games.
In my opinion AC:V is really poorly scripted in every aspect. One of my favourite examples is "follow road/river" feature. Your horse or longboat always will hit some wall, land somewhere else or simply choose to go completly other way. While I can understand bugs like that and completely ignored them on day one, I cannot understand why nobody fixed them since. I wonder how it looked during test. Did someone used that option and next landed with his longboat on some rocks or his horse instead of mission marker reached opposite end of the map and just said, eee, close enough and ignored it? I'm looking at it as a customer who is paying for the game. Can you imagine buying a car and find out that half of things it should do are not working?
To be honest AC:V it's not the only open world game that AI doesn't exist or sucks but if you consider it's twelfth instalment in series you could expect some improvements not deteriorating. The best example of how next generation hardware should influence next generation software in that matter is The last of us 2 and soon part 1 remake. Combat AI and all npc's behaviours are a masterpiece there.
- physics, doors and treasures - each location: covered well, house that you need to find spot to shoot door bolt, wall to explode and one door locked so you need to find the key. Almost every chest is hidden this way. It's stupid. Also the fact that there is soo many places with guard closed inside buildings but during raids you still need to find the way how to get inside even that they are trying to get out. For the next gen game AC is not using any advanced physics to enrich exploring or immersion. Why you can't burn buildings to the ground? It looks spectacular when you burn few huts and later you are admiring your handwork from a distance but yes it just another feature you could do in games 20 years ago because you're not really burning anything. The only difference is better objects, textures and lighting. From next gen title I expect to burn village to the ground, fighting inside burning house while walls are collapsing and you can't see a thing through smoke and fire. Wouldn't be nice to see later how local folks are rebuilding burned houses and running in panic when spot your longboat on the horizon, fears of another raid?
It reminds me a dialog in Deus Ex game between your character and your captain. I once sneak into ladies toilet and someone seen me. Nothing happened at the time but during conversation with my commander about completly different things he mentioned that someone reported me and that kind behaviour looks bad at work (if I twisted it slightly, I'm sorry, it was 20 years ago). Moments like this gives you a better immersion, you really feel like you're a part of this world and you can influence it. Be careful what are you doing.
- pathfinding and looking for clues.
Ok, it's very subjective perhaps but I'm sick already that every game now have kind of six sense/echo sonar/Eagle eye, odin eye to find "things" so instead of really looking for some clues (lore, npc, visible evidence) we "blink" and follow the glowy thing. It's disgusting and It feels like developers are trying to make a point that players are idiots (it's for all developers not only to Ubisoft's)
Would you imagine to track enemy party only by looking for real clues, created in next gen engine? Real Time foot marks in mud, broken brunches, tramped grass, blood on leaves, scared animals, even a [censored] that someone left in bushes that you could step on and swear because of it, maybe smoke from campfire in the distance, asking people. Anybody remembers Morrowind and what kind of clues you sometimes got to continue quest? I know AC:V have options to change the way we explore the world but world itself and quest are not created the way to play it this way. You can turn off hud but then you need to use raven and map too often, which gives me exactly the same "disconnection" effect.
Solution? Ubisoft have resources and perfect timing to create app for phones with map and some sort of navigation solution. It can be in form of some artefact. Or maybe creating detailed map with properly drawn stand out landmarks and roads that you can download and print and your protagonist instead of using SUPER EYE can simply drop comments "I recognise that" bridge" from here I should take road on the left" There are smart people out there and I believe someone, somewhere have a brilliant idea how to get rid those six senses from games.
2 - Unfinished/unpolished -
Ok, in my opinion AC:V it's a game of half measures. Raids are great but AI and music makes them boring and irritating after you finish few. Follow roads, cinematic camera, included. Try it, good that ubisoft is not involved into car GPS business. Plenty to do in game but nothing surprising, every activity is marked. I would like to see some spontaneous events that could lead to a quest. One of my favourite moments in games was when a wizard fell from the sky in front of me (Morrowind). Beautiful landscapes but most of the time poorly used, especially main map (England). Ireland or Isle of skye somehow feel like story is more integrated with terrains and more intensive by creating better atmosphere. For example in Ireland while I was travelling through one of the forests, music and colours changed creating more threatening atmosphere almost like in Silent Hill. On England map I really enjoyed introduction to assault on Burgh Castle, Sea at storm, plenty of long boats, and Thor striking anvil with his hammer. Those kind moments are pure honey for me. Oh Ubisoft, you had excellent engine and story to fill Valhalla world with epic scenes like that.
I will end here but I will continue. I will also edit it later. Hope you guys will share your thoughts, solutions or how you see my issues. Take care 😊
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