It’s been five months since Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla struck the market. That means we’ve had plenty of time to immerse in the rich history of Viking-torn England and bite through the bulk of the journey. What it also means, of course, is that we’re pretty much ready to tear out the gizzards and scrutinize every nook and cranny of the expansive chapter. And believe me when I say — Valhalla sure wasn’t holding back on glitches and wonky physics over its sixty-hour story. But that’s not why we’re here.
Story arcs are what drive Valhalla to its final curtain call. With a dozen or more unique regions to explore and forge alliances with, every slew of quests offers genuinely fascinating backstories and compelling gameplay. Or at least the majority of them do, anyway. Of course, with a game as enormous as Valhalla, we sort of expected to hit a few speedbumps along the way. However, it’s these five mind-numbing quests that had our eyes rolling the heaviest. Cue the excuses, Ubisoft.
5. Well-Travelled (Asgard)
If there’s one thing we don’t enjoy in a game that is action-oriented — it’s monotonous puzzle solving. Of course, I can’t speak for everyone when I say that, but for a game as battle-focused as Valhalla —having to stop in our tracks to scratch our heads for thirty minutes just doesn’t bode well with our immersion. And unfortunately, the incredibly dull quest, Well-Travelled, is what breaks that connection between Eivor and the player for the first time.
Made worse by the fact that Eivor tells his accomplice that he’s rearranged the beaming lights several times before, we’re immediately left to feel like idiots as we fail every single attempt. Of course, unsealing the sacred Well of Urd doesn’t come across as an overwhelmingly difficult challenge. After all, it’s just connecting a few lights, right? Wrong — it’s connecting several lights — and then doing some absurd trickery with a glass shard somewhere. Sure, it sounds easy in context — but without a single shred of guidance along the way, cracking the puzzle makes up for some of the most frustrating moments over the course of the entire arc. And then some.
4. Bloody Path to Peace (Sciropescire)
In what should be a rather entertaining quest overall, Bloody Path to Peace is ultimately ruined thanks to one small segment that features around the midway point. And that’s fishing. Eel fishing, to be precise. As if that’s something we want to do after torching a village and reducing it to ashes. Oh, and considering it also follows on from a pretty tough boss fight — it just doesn’t make a lick of sense to serve up a bonding moment with the wannabe king, Ceolbert.
The fact is — fishing in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla isn’t fun. It’s not. If anything, it’s about as boring as the loose ambitions that drive the rookie prince to the throne altogether. And, if you haven’t unlocked the fishing hut back in your settlement by the time you start the quest, then you’re essentially left to resort to alternative methods of securing the trio of eels. That, of course, means having to wade through the mucus green water with nothing but a bow and a volley of arrows. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, try saying that when going toe to fin with the school of slithery so-and-sos.
Despite the many intriguing story arcs that weave between the diverse regions of England, there are the odd couple that didn’t exactly captivate us on an emotional level. Essexe, of course, was definitely one of them. But rather than pluck out just a single quest from the chain as a whole, it seems only right that we put forward the entire collection for judgement.
Pushing into the thirty-hour marker of the main storyline, Essexe plays a major filler role as you work to rack up your Power points before taking on the likes of Vinland and other higher-ranked boroughs. Unfortunately, the weak writing and dull premise surrounding a love triangle with wooden personalities were what ultimately dragged the arc down into the pits. Combat was compressed to bite-sized segments, the dialogue was trimmed down to cringeworthy monologues, and the two-hour story, despite its enchanting setting, was a pitiful attempt at keeping us entwined with the Viking lore. Eivor the Matchmaker? I don’t buy it.
2. The First Night of Samhain (Glowecestrescire)
After spending forty-five hours purging England of its riches and closing in on the climax of Eivor’s lengthy tale, it was only natural for us to expect something a little gritter than what Glowecestrescire actually had in store for us. While the county as a whole is a thing of natural beauty — the cringeworthy story arc that tells the story of the iconic Wicker Man is, if anything — incredibly out of place. However, it’s the ridiculously long opening chapter to the region that had us sinking our face into our palms the most.
It’s fair to say that after spending upwards of fifty hours as the bloodthirsty Viking, we came to understand the anger and determination that drove Eivor’s heart. And while he is most definitely a loyal chief to the Raven clan and an overall staple to his townsfolk — he is by no means one to go friggin’ trick or treating. That’s where we lost it. Oh, and how could we forget that the Glowecestrescire debut also had us battling boars, trailing countless strangers, and fending off sexual propositions from aspiring politicians? You know, all the pointless filler you’d expect to find in a game of this calibre. Though, perhaps not fifty hours in. It’s tutorial worthy at best — let’s just leave it at that.
Finally, as we draw to the conclusion of our least favourite quests in the whole of Valhalla, it seems to be as good a time as any to slate Jorvik for all it’s worth. Thanks to the city being littered with game-breaking bugs (yes — even in May), corrupt save files and a zombie-like population, the whole Jorvik story arc ended up being nothing more than a lukewarm swamp of absolute nonsense. And boy — talk about a poor excuse for a filler story.
As well as the strung-out glitches and braindead citizens, Jorvik also unravels one of the worst storylines in the whole game. Of course, it’s all well and good having some filler content to help flourish The Hidden One’s backstory, though Jorvik essentially screams mediocrity and lazy writing with very few genuine bonds to boot. Kill him, kill her — report back to Randvi to tell her the “good news.” Yawn. It’s fair to say that, without Jorvik in the mix — nobody would be that upset to see it out of the picture. Just another pile of pointless filler that Ubisoft lacked the motivation to tweak into a convincing story. Tut tut, Ubi. Can’t say we didn’t expect more.