Now that fans have gotten a good look at Assassin's Creed Valhalla, thanks to Ubisoft Forward, it is clear that this isn't actually an Assassin's Creed game.
As more and more information comes out about AC Valhalla there is surprisingly little about the age-old struggle between the Assassins and Templars. So far, the only indication that this is still an AC game is the hidden blade from the trailer... that and the terrible accents.
This brings us to the elephant in the room; that the Assassin's Creed brand is now Ubisoft's greatest asset and biggest crutch. The recent additions to the franchise give off the impression that the team is just about done with the series, but Ubisoft is keen to milk any historical action RPG setting they can.
The shift in direction for the new era is most evident in the game's combat. It used to be that if the player botched up their assassination attempt, or was too careless going through the streets that they'd stir up trouble. A few guards would start poking away but used to be relatively easy to dispatch and move on.
Heroes like Ezio could waltz into large groups of goons and come out relatively unscathed. To challenge this, Ubisoft had been slowly evolving the combat mechanics to focus more on large scale battles than the assassinations themselves.
Ubisoft had two paths in front of them, evolve the combat or make stealth harder. This led to the massive scale battles of Odyssey and essentially the death of stealth as we knew it.
AC Valhalla is no different, clearly someone on the dev team binge-watched Vikings and wanted to make an awesome Viking game. Players can raid, pillage, and burn town huge settlements full of Saxons. This all sounds great, but not very assassin-y.
Slapping the AC logo on the front may ring up sales, but it ultimately stifles a lot of creative freedom a new IP could have brought.
Take For Honor, for example, brilliant new IP from Ubisoft that gained a huge cult following without relying on being "Tom Clancy's" or "Assassin's Creed".
The notion of a non-assassin AC game dates back as far as Black Flag. What was arguably one of the best games in the series was almost the most disconnected from the source. With the recent shift to a more RPG approach in AC Origins, it was the perfect opportunity for Ubisoft to reinvent itself.
Origins also left the scientific techno-babble of its predecessors behind and said "stuff it, let's fight gods". This change, while immensely cool, sacrificed assassinations for boss battles.
Looking at the 30+ minutes of footage available for Valhalla, there won't be many assassin opportunities at all and will be replaced by fights such as the Rued boss encounter.
Funnily enough, Watch Dogs: Legion has basically become the spiritual successor to the classic Assassin's Creed formula, albeit with more drones and guns. Going around recruiting civilians into an underground group hellbent on taking down an oppressive authority figure using stealth and sabotage sounds awfully familiar...
It is time to let go of the Assassin's Creed safety rails and focus on exploring periodical set-pieces without the forced narrative.