Assassin’s Creed leaks and rumors are like Thor’s hammer Mjölnir, as they often swirl about and come back when the time calls. And that mythical hammer has a lot to do with the recent Assassin’s Creed Valhalla leaks and recent official reveal. While some of these leaks look solid, Ubisoft has confirmed almost nothing about the game. Such silence gives us freedom to detail what we want to see from its next open-world RPG and what we want to see damned into Helheim.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Wish List | A meaningful open world
Assassin’s Creed Origins‘ beautiful rendition of Egypt was unique and huge, but that size worked and gave the game a sense of place. Odyssey initially felt the same way until the vast stretches of boring open water and repeated islands reinforced how bloated it truly was. It felt like Content™ for Content™’s sake, watering down the few good towns with dozens of forgettable ones, plenty of nothingness, and tons of filler side missions. And given how many open worlds we see time and time again, we can’t have Ubisoft relying so heavily on scale especially when that almost always inevitably leads to excess.
As the rumors suggest, Valhalla will be the biggest entry yet, which is a shame, but hopefully Ubisoft makes better choices within that space and doesn’t so directly favor quantity over quality. Valhalla would be wise to not have so much superfluous space on the map with the same tired events and outposts that permeate most Ubisoft and non-Ubisoft open-world games.
Players should spend less time wandering through the same forests and more time seeing dynamic, user-driven moments that go outside of raiding simple convoys and watching a random soldier fight a wolf. It’s just not new anymore and if Valhalla just mostly copies and pastes all the same typical missions, events, and forts, then it’ll put a damper on whatever new stuff Ubisoft does cook up. Fast travelling is almost a necessity and if fast travelling around your open world is basically required and done without second thought, then you should probably make your world more exciting to run through.
Players should want to be in the world to see exciting new events unfold like in Red Dead Redemption 2 and or have some control over them like Metal Gear Solid 5 and Breath of the Wild with their vast toolbox of interlocking gadgets. Valhalla‘s big play area will succeed if it feels dynamic and alive like those three open-world games that pushed that style of games forward.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Wish List | Put an anchor on the ship
Ship combat was a novelty in Assassin’s Creed 3, realized well in Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, and just a nuisance after. Regardless, the franchise is hellbent on forcing it in every game to the point where an Assassin’s Creed on the moon would likely somehow feature naval combat and boats to plunder. Not only is ship stuff just old, but it would also likely lead to more empty space since having a boat means having a big, boring ocean to slowly traverse. The leaks — along with common sense — point to the game having ships but hopefully it borrows more Origins‘ sparing use of ship travel rather than Odyssey‘s dependence on it.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Wish List | Lean more heavily into Exploration Mode
Despite its tendency to repeat what past titles have done, Odyssey flirted with one idea that its successors should lean more heavily into: Exploration Mode. Instead of leading players by the nose from waypoint to waypoint, Exploration Mode made players listen to what characters said in order to deduce where to go… mostly.
While a step in the right direction, it was incredibly easy to pinpoint where something was and the game would straight up tell you what you were looking for once you were within 150 or so meters, which often happened on accident. Valhalla should encourage thinking and exploration by rewarding vigilant players that listen over those who stroll to the right place through dumb luck. In-game signposting and less forgiving mission markers would be a step in the right direction.
This might be harder for a game like this that wants to push players toward Content™ and get them ticking items off the checklist to get immediately rewarded, but a more methodical pace would do wonders in keeping players immersed. It’s another area where the game should look to Breath of the Wild and goes hand-in-hand with having a more meaningful open world.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Wish List | Improve the fiddly bird pinpointing mechanic
Pointing out key objects with the bird is a novel idea that takes a game mechanic and actualizes it in the world, but it’s often too annoying and imprecise. Since it rarely seems to easily find what you want and takes far too much of a hassle, it should be heavily streamlined or just killed. But keep the bird. Birds are nice. Although this one is rumored to be a raven and they aren’t as nice, but are more thematically appropriate, given their connection to Odin.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Wish List | Goodbye, level gating
Origins and Odyssey were both guilty of having spaces that funneled players through them in a fairly linear fashion. This approach butted against the openness of its world along with being an arbitrary roadblock that gated players out of content in the worst ways. Shooting an arrow into a guard’s head should do damage regardless of what level your bow is. These stringent RPG systems tell the player “no” and shouldn’t be so prevalent. The rumors claim that Ubisoft is forgoing level gating, so hopefully that will have a positive impact on the game’s structure.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Wish List | A sharpened sword and hidden blade
RPG systems also negatively impacted the stealth and combat as numbers dictated their effectiveness over player skill. Ubisoft should make the mechanical underpinnings of these series more engaging to make up for that as learning and mastering deep mechanics is more satisfying than grinding out better stats.
Combat should go more down the Origins route and be more methodical and Souls-like with its parries and defensive play; a more engaging and satisfying alternative to more frantic swordplay. Carving up foes like in Odyssey sounds more exciting but is prone to being mashy and mindless especially as you could loop the same attacks and special moves over and over. It also wouldn’t hurt to have a nod to Mjölnir, perhaps in some sort of axe-like form in order to spice up the combat.
Stealth could also use an upgrade and having more accessible one-hit kills should be a given but also only the first step. Valhalla could add more systems to make sneaking more involved as hiding in hay bales and tall grass and laying a trap on the alarm is also getting stale as the years drag on. The rumors point to being able to hide in mud, snow, and within crowds, which is a good step into moving Assassin’s Creed back to its, well, more assassin-like roots.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Wish List | Kill the modern day stuff
It started out as an inventive storytelling method but the modern day parts ended up bogging the series down in a stale, never-ending war that doesn’t seem to progress or change. After fully jumping the shark in Odyssey, Ubisoft proved that it has nowhere left to go and has gotten so, so far away from its origins as a creative hook. The past portions of Assassin’s Creed could easily live as self-contained narratives told via an Abstergo VR game. Let the future die. Kill it if you have to.