Assassin's Creed Valhalla's Post-Launch Woes Continue

Illustration for article titled Assassin's Creed Valhalla's Post-Launch Woes Continue
Screenshot: Me, trying to play through more post-launch woes.

I loved Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. So much so that, had I been given more time with it during the calendar year, it would have made a serious run for my Game Of 2020. But boy, at the same time, I have not been happy with the support the game has got after launch.

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The game released with, and continues to feature months later, a number of quest-breaking, and sometimes entirely game-breaking bugs. One of them had me stuck for over a week when a character essential to a main storyline quest refused to appear at her designated point in Ravensthorpe; another for a few days when a quest that was supposed to trigger new dialogue after I dropped a guy off my horse just never got around to it.

Those are two that plagued me; The Washington Post highlighted another last week that was giving many others serious headaches.

To be clear, the problem here isn’t that the game launched with bugs. Like some other wonky parts of Valhalla—low-quality sound effects in some areas, and cutscenes where character’s lips don’t move—there are concessions to be made for the fact a big AAA game was released in the middle of a global pandemic.

But also, there’s a point where we have to acknowledge that this game was released in November, and it’s now almost April, and many of these major bugs are still there, trapping and frustrating players months later. Which sucks!

And while issues from November are still there, new ones keep piling up. The game’s latest round of free seasonal content, based around the Ostara festivities, has had a number of aspects removed after they started causing crashes.

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That solution involved removing Ravensthorpe’s Ostara decorations, and its new quests won’t be able to be completed while Ubisoft works on a fix.

I’m trying to get excited for the game’s first proper update, which will shift Eivor’s adventures to Ireland, but when the game still has so many lingering issues, what’s to say an expansion won’t just add more to the pile?

Luke Plunkett is a Senior Editor based in Canberra, Australia. He has written a book on cosplay, designed a game about airplanes, and also runs cosplay.kotaku.com.

DISCUSSION

This kind of article makes it hard to steer around cynicism. I have mostly taken the messiness of AC:Valhalla in stride. It mostly works. How much more can we really expect?

Even after the debacle around Cyberpunk 2077 and the cancelled development of Anthem, it still seems like the norm for games to find their finished form long after release. I’m not particularly interested in the outrage surrounding how ubiquitous patches have become. But I am curious whether sites like this one can articulate some coherent standards: where is the line between a reasonable post-release fix and a game that imposes upon its audience with a premature release?

The weird part is that movies are moving in the same direction. Cats was literally patched post-release (not that it helped), and the Snyder Cut is now angling to be the No Man’s Sky of franchise cinema (except not free for those who shelled out for the bare-bones initial release).