A couple months after release, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla finally has transmog, but not as some players had originally envisioned it. The feature falls short of how it’s been implemented in past games, and comes with a 50 silver tax on each transaction to boot, leaving a lot of us, myself included, scratching out heads.
Transmog, which lets players mix the stats of one piece of gear with the appearance of another, was implemented shortly after Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s launch as well. There, it was a simple and easy to use option available right in the gear menu. Not so in Valhalla, which requires players to go visit the blacksmith Gunnar, engage in some dialogue, and then pay him 50 silver to make the change. “Pleased transmog is finally added,” wrote one player in the patch notes thread over on the game’s subreddit. “Confused as to why it needs silver and can only be done at the settlement.”
The frustration has broken out into other threads as well, with players arguing that this potentially more immersive approach to changing your armor’s appearance is ultimately silly when it comes to a game about mythical gods and monsters that literally takes place inside of a simulation. A thread on Ubisoft’s forums, meanwhile, takes issue with the lack of transmog options, especially when it comes to seeing what your character will look like before you make the changes.
And then there’s the issue of the 50 silver, an in-game currency you can collect throughout the world, but which is also sold for real money in Ubisoft’s microtransaction shop. On the one hand, 50 silver isn’t going to break the bank for most players, even if they’re going hog wild transmogging everything they own. On the other, why charge a nominal fee at all unless you think it might encourage some players to dip their toes into the game’s expansive microtransaction economy?
Ubisoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but community manager domvgt wrote over on the game’s subreddit that players’ frustrations are being relayed back to the development team. [Update - 1:30 p.m. ET, 3/17/21: A spokesperson for Ubisoft responded, “Silver is a common currency found in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, earned by selling loot or runes, finding sunken treasures, betting, flyting, and more. As we continue to add post-launch content, we introduce systems as needed to keep the in-game economy balanced.”]
This week’s 1.2 update also came with a free “Godly Pack”, giving players 300 Opals (one of Valhalla’s special currencies) on the house, as well as access to the game’s recent Yuletide cosmetics and a new Altaïr armor set (the main protagonist of the first Assassin’s Creed). As Eurogamer points out, the free gift seems like “a bit of a recompense” for some of the other ways Valhalla’s microtransactions have occasionally muddied what is an otherwise very good single-player open world RPG. This includes the number of armor sets added to the game as paid DLC versus those included at launch, as well as the later addition of things like the infamous paid XP Booster.
It’s not surprising Ubisoft keeps trying to walk this microtransaction tight rope, even as Valhalla continues to top the sales charts month after month. Microtransactions, or as the French publisher likes to call them, “Player Recurring Investment,” is a major money-maker for the company, especially as it’s released fewer gamers in recent years.
Still, I doubt Valhalla’s transmog tax will end up contributing much to Ubisoft’s bottom line, which makes its addition all the more bizarre. The company released another open world RPG last year—Immortals: Fenyx Rising—and it had a brilliant transmog system that came with no strings attached. Why should Valhalla be any different?