Assassin's Creed Valhalla was a fantastic game. A hefty lad set in a massive open-world filled with things to do and see, with very little of the quests or side activities feeling like your bog-standard AAA open-world filler.
I have nothing but praise for Ubisoft's open-world Viking RPG, which actually ended up being one of my favourite games of 2020. I recognise, however, that a big part of my own love for Valhalla comes from the fact I was never a huge fan of the original Assassin's Creed games. It's not that I disliked them, I just never clicked with them, you know?
With that in mind, I understand why there are people out there who feel there were things Valhalla could have done better - the game's stealth mechanics being a prime example. While my Eivor was not the stealthiest of Viking warriors, the few times I did attempt to sneak through certain areas I found the stealth to be pretty mediocre. A big deal was made of the latest game bringing back a lot of the emphasis on stealth that the earlier games had, but it seemed to me that any idiot could blunder through enemy forts and castles easily enough.
This is something that fans have been talking about over on the Assassin's Creed Subreddit lately. User DandalfDaWhite expressed their desire to see Ubisoft get a little more creative with the stealth in future games, lamenting the fact that Valhalla's stealth mechanics were quite basic.
"Speaking mainly about Valhalla, I loathe how being 'stealthy' in a settlement boils down to putting up a hood," they wrote. "And even then if you move at more than a walking pace guards are immediately suspicious of you. Let us steal Saxon outfits from kills; force us to ditch our armour and put on some commoner clothes so we can actually blend in properly but at the cost of stats. Or let us take armour from Saxon soldiers to equip as a set disguise outfit. If I want to sneak around a monastery and take out the guards one-by-one before triggering a raid, let me dress as a monk and really hide in plain sight."
DandalfDaWhite's post was met with wide-ranging agreement from fellow fans, with many arguing that the stealth in Valhalla felt more like an appeasement to the people who preferred the older games.
"I think the issue is that every system has become more advanced while the stealth is still as straightforward as a 2009 game," reasoned NatKayz. "Hell the stealth system has less options than Assassin's Creed II (only drunkards rather than courtesans and thieves and Mercs, can't assassinate from benches, no notoriety system, maybe other stuff I'm not thinking of)."
Given Assassin's Creed's journey from stealth-action game to hardcore RPG over the years, it seems unlikely that Ubisoft will ever fully go back and once again embrace the series' sneaky roots. Still, Valhalla did at least try to give players more choice when it came to stealth, especially when compared to Odyssey and Origins. Maybe as the series grows further down the RPG route, complex stealth mechanics can become an entirely optional path for those players who want to follow it? We'll have to wait and see what future games hold in store.
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