Since the launch of Ubisoft’s recent game in November, there’s been an observable shift in attitudes towards Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. While it was initially received positively by fans, the post-launch content has caused notable controversies. This stems from Ubisoft’s approach to updating the game, treating it with a live-service mentality. While continuously adding to it sounds rewarding for gamers, it seems each update added new issues. Maintaining a finger on the pulse of the fanbase has revealed a frequent sense of disappointment within the community. So, what exactly has caused this regular outcry from fans who previously praised the game? Here is a dissection of 5 controversial AC Valhalla features.
The Controversial Helix Store
Pricy Additional Content
Let’s get the obvious point out of the way – the Helix Store has always been controversial. The in-game store is the means by which all additional content is purchased, outside of the major DLC. The store includes a variety of unique gear as well as certain in-game buffs. While DLC outfits are not unusual in games nowadays, Ubisoft’s version can wring user’s wallet’s dry.
The issue is that purchases require Helix Credits, a currency that must first be bought with real money. Where this becomes frustrating is in the disparity between the cost of helix packs compared to the desired item. Customers often have no choice but to buy more credits than they need in order to acquire a single item. For example, some packs are valued at more than 1050 credits, forcing players to spend roughly £15 on a Helix Pack of 2300.
Content Imbalance and Opals
However, where the controversial Assassin’s Creed Valhalla version of the store stands out is in regard to the content available. Players were very unhappy when the store started presenting more gear sets than were present in the base-game. Despite the game being fully priced, over half of the available outfits are currently locked behind additional payments. These gear sets are also often some of most powerful in the game. Even if players don’t need these sets, its still effort that the developers set aside from the core experience. With the base-game not having many sets to begin with, it’s easy to see why some fans feel some sets were deliberately withheld.
There is another way to acquire this gear, but it was made deliberately tedious to incentivise the Helix Store. Players need to acquire opals, another in-game currency, which requires a lot of grinding. You can find one opal at a time in random places in the world, or you can do contract missions. These quests only provide 5 opals for daily quests, and 10 for the weekly one. Most outfit items can then be purchased for 120 opals, which will get you one of the five items in a set.
Even in this regard, it has been made harder than Assassin’s Creed Origins and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Those games contained a random, cheaper reward that could get you a rare item, or something ordinary. This at least gave players a chance at reducing the grind, and also an opportunity at all items. In Valhalla, players can only purchase the select items made available each week. This limited availability of the desired item further tests player’s patience and pushes them towards the Helix Store.
Contentious XP Boosts
This has also been a common complaint in recent games and similarly relates to the Helix Store. Many players hold the belief that single player games have no business selling XP boosts. On the other hand, many also present the argument that no one is forced to buy them. However, this is a debatable issue due to the extensive length of these recent games. Odyssey and Valhalla are both very long games and quite grindy in nature. It has led many to assume that the drawn-out nature of the open-world and story has been to encourage XP boosts.
The controversial Assassin’s Creed Valhalla feature is somewhat more complicated compared to its former appearances. As previously mentioned, the feature has been a common complaint in the community. As such, many fans were relieved when no such boosts were present in the game at launch. However, Ubisoft later added the option in an update, conveniently avoiding it being criticised in early reviews.
This was made worse by the same update upping the difficulty of the game. The developers changed the level-scaling so that enemies would no longer remain extremely out-levelled by players. As such, even as players grinded to a much higher-level, the enemies remained close behind. This might suggest that it’s pointless to use XP boosts, but the game is still made easier by unlocking more skills. As such, players find they can no longer over-power enemies and thus the only help is those extra perks.
The Debatable Transmog Feature
Even in delivering requested features, Ubisoft have been unable to avoid backlash from fans. The recent inclusion of the long-requested Transmog mechanic ultimately left many players unhappy with its implementation. It allowed players to change the appearance of gear so they could choose fashion without sacrificing function. This also allowed them to use the downgraded versions of armour, as many did not like the fully upgraded appearances. It’s absence was already a contentious issue due to it previously being in Odyssey.
However, when it was finally brought back for Valhalla, the mechanic was made more tedious to use. Odyssey allowed free and easy changes in the inventory screen. By contrast, Valhalla requires players to return to their settlement, speak to the Blacksmith, and then pay him.
The in-game cost is a mere 50 silver, which does not seem pricy, but it adds up. For starters, this will punish players who constantly change their minds. Furthermore, changing an entire set of gear will cost upwards of 250 silver. All of this also happens without a proper preview of the gear, so players might pay and then regret it. Some have also mentioned that silver becomes a more sparse resource for players who have explored the entire map.
The reason it has become such a controversial Assassin’s Creed Valhalla feature is, once again, due to the Helix Store. Considering that pricy demand above, it should be noted that the Helix Store includes silver packs. While by no means necessary, it follows a trend in the game’s design of making things tedious to incentivise shortcuts.
This contentious issue fluctuates in its severity. It relates to the post-launch material, as while Ubisoft celebrates it as new content, many fans are left unconvinced. The river raids, as well as the Yule and Ostara festivals, were added a few months after launch. It is important to first mention that these were all free add-ons and are by no means compulsory. However, many players were disappointed when they invested time into raids that had lacklustre rewards. The resources were useless outside of cosmetic raid rewards, and the experience was deemed repetitive. Furthermore, the final reward, a new armour set, was just a reskin of gear already in the game.
As for the festivals, they simply included a few mini-games to unlock new settlement decorations. Whilst inoffensive, some were dissatisfied when they found the Ostara festival to be an almost exact replica of the Yule festival.
However, as with many controversial Assassin’s Creed Valhalla features, the main issue relates to the store. As previously stated, the above-mentioned content was at least free. What isn’t free is the recent gear sets appearing in the Helix Store – despite being reskins of existing outfits. While the Saint George outfit was freely obtainable, the recent Black Raven set costs credits. It included what is essentially a dark reskin of the Hidden One set in the game.
It’s a rather costly reskin, coming in at 500 credits standalone, and 1500 as a larger pack. Many fans were disappointed with the garish green outfit unlocked in the game, so providing a sleeker black version at a price is rather disappointing. Essentially, while previous games allowed players to dye clothes with in-game currencies, Ubisoft now demands microtransactions.
Bugs, Old and New
And now we arrive at an issue that was present at the game’s launch, but has in fact worsened over time. Many fans were quick to observe that the latest game was a very buggy one. Existing in the shadow of the catastrophe that was Cyberpunk 2077’s launch, Ubisoft avoided too much backlash. Despite this, the title contains a variety of game breaking bugs relating to quests, as well as immersion breaking issues. This includes complications with sound, gameplay and save data. However, despite adding so much new stuff to the Helix Store and post-launch, the bug fixes seem lacking. While patches regularly list bug fixes, the game is still observably suffering from various issues.
Controversial Assassin’s Creed Valhalla updates have seemingly made things worse for some players. The recent launch of the Ostara festival has introduced a variety of new bugs to the game. Not only were decoration posts gone from settlements, but other issues soon became apparent. Many fans reported that the game had begun crashing on a more regular basis. Additionally, others reported than the sounds had completely vanished from their horses. As such, it’s easy to understand the accusations that Ubisoft is prioritising the store over the state of the game.
Understanding the Controversy
There are some observable trends to be noted from the accumulating backlash towards the game. Most of the issues were not present at launch, and those that were received some lenience from the fans. What seems to be generating the most animosity in the community is the attitude towards the game’s post-launch. As such, this article should not be viewed as any sort of review of the game, but rather a commentary on its subsequent implementations. There is a worrying habit of focusing more efforts on extra paid content, or incentivising the store, rather than the core experience.
However, the developers do have more substantial content planned for the post-launch roadmap. It was recently revealed the first major DLC, Wrath of the Druids, will be released April 29. A consensus amongst many fans, old and new, is that the issues mentioned above are the culmination of continuous growing problems in the latest games. With each new entry, rather than responding to complaints from fans, the games seem to double down on these choices. As such, the complications with Valhalla give rise to concerns over the state of future entries in the series.