Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a fantastic game, but there are a few areas I’d like to see improvement for the next entry in Ubisoft’s sneaky, stabby series.
Here are the seven things I’d like to see change for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla:
Stop level gating assassinations
I quite like the RPG direction the series has gone in. Multiple choices in conversations are good, messing about with armour and weapons that tweak my stats is nice. But damage numbers do not work for a game series about assassinations.
I’m deep into the final DLC for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and almost at the new level cap. I’ve put most of my ability points into the Assassin skill tree. And yet, I still can’t assassinate people half of the time.
Stealth attacks in Odyssey are often just a way to get a free hit on a tough enemy, to take a chunk of their health before you battle them and all the guards around them.
The original vision for Assassin’s Creed cast the player as a blade in the crowd, moving unseen among the masses. You’d silently shiv your target and melt away, or you’d pounce on them, pin them down, and escape across the rooftops. Odyssey lets you hide in a bush, stab someone, then have a ten minute scrap.
Assassinations should ignore levels. Fighting should be a last resort, unless you’re in an all-out war. If you have the skills to pick off every target in a compound silently, the game should account for that.
Bring back parkour
While it’s nice to be able to scale a sheer cliff face, I miss the smooth animations and balletic freerunning of the old Assassin’s Creed games - where every handhold made sense and large structures became navigational puzzles.
A lot of the buildings in Odyssey are the same, and it gets dull to schlub your way up each one mindlessly.
I’m not expecting too much from this point for Valhalla, however. Everything we’ve seen so far points to rolling fields and open plains. Mud huts and straw houses. The occasional fort. Dark Ages England was flat. But maybe we can go back to some of that rooftop running for the next one, eh?
Copy and pasted areas
As beautiful as Greece is, it’s too big. Not only that, but most of the locations lack their own personality. If you’ve seen one salt mine, you’ve seen them all. Trust me, I know - I’ve read the comments on my articles.
Like I said in the last section, many of the buildings are repeated as well. You’re always scaling similar viewpoints. The only real difference is the topography. Athens is its own thing, but I couldn’t tell you a single distinctive feature about any of the islands dotted around Greece.
Give me a smaller, more detailed map any day. A Ubisoft representative recently said Assassin's Creed Valhalla won't be the longest or biggest game in the series, so maybe we'll get a denser world instead.
Too much filler
That last point goes for the quests, too. I’ve done hundreds of them in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and I only remember a handful. It’s not just because most of them play out the same way, it’s because there’s too many.
Because of the volume of quests, you’re encouraged to take on as many as you can at once and complete them efficiently as you work across the map. This changes your mindset so you’re just ticking off things on a list, rather than fulfilling the needs of a quest-giver.
Most quests in The Witcher 3 are mechanically the same, but that game manages to invest you in the stories that these missions tell. You’re pulled through by the narrative, and the characters make you care. It’s hard to care when you’re juggling ten at a time and your quest log is bursting at the seams.
A better solution would be to have quests lead into each other. Perhaps a quest in one location ends in another where you pick up a quest that sends you somewhere else. It’s a better solution than the player ticking off a to-do list every time they step foot somewhere new.
More meaningful loot
I like the loot in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. I love changing how my character looks, mix and matching outfits, and trying new weapons. But I wish the loot system was more like Dark Souls than Destiny. I don’t need ten versions of the same thing. I would rather have three wildly different versions of a certain piece of armour or kit.
Not only does this make the player more invested in their gear, but you’re cutting out time spent in the menus disassembling kit, which is a long, laborious process.
There are 15 studios working on Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. I hope that somewhere in there, there’s members of the team who worked on the Splinter Cell series. Those guys and girls know stealth.
Assassin’s Creed has lost its social stealth, and so you only really have a few options left: hide in bushes, get up high, use an ability that turns you invisible, or stay behind cover. We need more options to make stealth viable.
Then there’s the level design. A side effect of those copy and pasted forts and encampments is that they’re not designed for specific routes. They’re fully open-ended and in the sandbox. Soldier routes overlap, they’re filled with guards, and the level design simply doesn’t support sneaky tactics. I’d like to see these more tailored - inside spaces where we can hop across the rafters.
You could even take a leaf from the Splinter Cell playbook and introduce light and shadow as a mechanic. Instead of shooting out lights, you’re dousing your arrows with water and extinguishing torches.
Chill out with Mercenaries
The Mercenaries system is like Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis system dialled back. The idea is to punish players for unlawful deeds that are witnessed. But because stealth is barely viable, nearly all your crimes are seen.
Mercenaries joining the fray often lead to drawn-out fights where you spam abilities until their health drops. And you can easily get rid of them by bringing up the menu and holding a button, so it makes them kind of pointless anyway. It’s just another thing that keeps you in the menus and outside the game, like breaking down weapons.
While we’re at it, I’d like to see an overhaul of the combat system. I don’t want to hit a man 20 times before he dies. I’d rather be a glass cannon that kills quickly and is just as vulnerable, making fights more of a deadly dance than a war of attrition.