Assassin's Creed Valhalla was a disappointment on PS4. Plagued by a constant and unending stream of bugs, an otherwise great open world adventure was held back on Sony's last-gen console. Thank the Norse gods for PS5, then. The new system improves Valhalla massively, to the point where we could actually sit back and enjoy the game's intriguing storylines without having to worry about characters falling through the ground at random.
In this review, we'll be highlighting how Ubisoft's latest runs on PS5. If you're looking for a more in-depth analysis of gameplay systems and mechanics, be sure to check out our Assassin's Creed Valhalla PS4 review.
Right, first thing's first: Valhalla looks fantastic on PS5. The lighting, the visual effects, the colours — everything looks more vibrant and detailed. It also runs at a silky 60 frames-per-second, giving the entire experience a smoothness that greatly benefits playability. Combat — though still a little bit rigid — feels so much better. Other actions, like climbing and even taking part in drinking contests, feel way more responsive.
And then there are the load times — or lack thereof. Valhalla often took over a full minute and a half to load a save, or fast travel to a completely different location. On PS5, loading your progress from the main menu takes about seven seconds. It's a jarring improvement. We had gotten used to getting a drink or checking our emails while waiting for Valhalla to load — now we barely have the time to take a bite from a biscuit.
It's not just the more obvious load screens that fall to the power of the PS5, either. When striking up a conversation with a character, Valhalla would sometimes cut to a black screen on PS4, as if the game was trying to keep up. On PS5, all of these little interactions are instant, as are the transitions between gameplay and cutscene. It's a truly seamless open world on the current-gen machine.
But what about the bugs? Well, we're delighted to report that the experience is nowhere near as buggy on PS5. You literally couldn't go ten seconds without seeing some kind of visual cock-up on PS4, but here, you'll get the odd wonky animation and that's about it. To be clear, Valhalla isn't bug-free on PS5, but it's still an immense improvement.
The bottom line here is that it's now far easier to become immersed in what is a very good open world RPG. Ubisoft's recreation of 9th Century England is, at its best, quite breathtaking. When the lighting's just right and you look up to see the fields, forests, and mountains stretching on forever, it's easily one of the most striking open worlds in gaming.
And visuals are important when you're spending over 100 hours with your Viking pals. Valhalla's map may not be as colossal as the whole of ancient Greece in Assassin's Creed Odyssey, but it's the incredibly long main story that demands so much of your time. It's a gigantic game, but at least it'll keep you busy throughout the PS5's launch period.
As we wrote in our PS4 review, Valhalla's structure is what sets it apart from its immediate predecessors. Yes, it still boasts an open world that's packed with side quests and optional activities, but the emphasis on main story missions — spread out across numerous Norse and Saxon kingdoms — gives the game a kind of focus that Origins and Odyssey, in all of their bloat, simply didn't have. Most importantly, this allows the game's wider cast to actually make an impression. In both its writing and its storytelling, Valhalla is a clear cut above what's come before.
Assassin's Creed Valhalla really comes together on PS5. Near instant load times combined with silky smooth performance make it a joyous open world excursion, complete with an engrossing main story. What's more, the countless bugs that plagued the PS4 version of the game have, for the most part, been squashed. This is Ubisoft's best ever attempt at an open world RPG in the vein of something like The Witcher 3, and while it is still a little rough around the edges, Valhalla leaves its mark as a top tier entry in the Assassin's Creed series.