I bought Assassin's Creed: Valhalla for my birthday; it was the first time I had gotten a game from the Assassin's Creed franchise. When I started downloading it, people didn't hesitate to tell me what they thought of it.
"It was boring."
"It's so good!"
"It takes too long to reach the end of the main quest, so you're stuck doing a lot of extra, pointless stuff."
"You're gonna love it!"
Even though I am a first-time player of the franchise, the story in Assassin's Creed: Valhalla is easy to submerge myself in. I watched the History Channel's hit TV show "Vikings" in an attempt to fill the fantasy violence void left by the finale of "Game of Thrones." Never did I expect to become invested in the pop culture popularity of Norse history and mythology. (At least not to the point where I would become excited about and then purchase an RPG game of my own.)
I didn't have any interest in action role-playing games until my former partner encouraged me to try The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim on PlayStation 4. Once I got the controls down, and he gave me advice on the skill tree and skill stones around the open world, I became obsessed. I especially loved riding Shadowmere everywhere and have replayed the game twice.
In the month that I have played Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, I've clocked in nearly 50 hours and am nowhere near finishing the main quest. This unfinished main quest doesn't bother me as it has my peers because I love taking my time with quest-based video games.
If I don't want to further the main quest, I can go for a raid with the longship crew, work on building the settlement my shield-maiden calls home, or travel to Asgard and work on the mythological side quests in the perspective of the one-eyed Allfather, Odin. There's still plenty left for me, the gamer, and my character to do. Longevity in gameplay and plenty of quests are two big things I wanted out of Valhalla that I could not get in Skyrim.
The abilities you can choose from for your melee and ranged weapons are helpful to each person's fighting style. If you prefer stealth, your raven can provide a distraction. If you prefer melee, you can choose an ability that allows you to throw axes at multiple enemies.
The skill tree in Valhalla, based on the skill tree often found in Japanese role-playing games, is extensive. It's easy to get confused when you first start, but once you realize which colors belong to which skill, it gets easier to navigate the skills you want to improve and the ones you want to ignore. If you don't want to bother going through the whole skill tree, you can get your skills automatically assigned by "Fate."
Traveling in the game--whether by longship or horseback--is gorgeous; I recommend it every chance you're able to. Both traveling methods can enable the cinematic camera mode, but I love this mode best while on the longship.
The top positive for traveling on horseback (and the number one feature I always wished Skyrim had when riding horses) is being able to go right to your quest or map marker with the push on a button while following the road. While following the river when going to raiding locations in your longship, you can also enable this feature.
My only complaint about this game is my only downfall in video gaming: decision-making having later effects on gameplay. I love for things in my game to go as planned. It makes me feel I'm in control and can give my characters a "good ending."
Choosing dialogue is one thing, but making choices that may have lasting effects on the way your game plays out is different. Twice in my gameplay already of Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, I've had to accuse someone of betrayal. I chose wrong with the first betrayal and was so distraught that I went back after looking it up. My main advice would be to trust your gut with these choices and collect all the evidence you can when examining your surroundings.
If you're looking to dip your toe into action role-playing games, Assassin's Creed: Valhalla is the perfect way to do so. The long plotline and multiple quests give you ample time to build up your character's powers, familiarize yourself with the skill tree, and know the controls. The graphics make the game gorgeous even on its lowest setting. Just be wary of choice-making.
Assassin's Creed: Valhalla is available on all platforms, except the Nintendo Switch. I play on PC, so I recommend using a controller no matter the platform you purchase.