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After Siege of Paris, I think I'm done with Assassin's Creed

assassins creed valhalla
(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Earlier this week, I reviewed Assassin's Creed Valhalla: The Siege of Paris, and found myself walking away with a shrug. Like Assassin's Creed Valhalla and its previous expansion, Wrath of the Druids, The Siege of Paris has a ton of content, and it can start to feel pretty samey after a while. After assassinating yet another historical figure, and escaping yet another contingent of angry guards, and collecting yet another set of upgradeable armor, I had an unexpected realization:

I don't really want to do this anymore.

After years of bloated playtimes and generic stories, I've started to view one of my favorite series as a timesink, at best, and a slog, at worst. While I mostly had a good time with Assassin's Creed Valhalla, I just don't know if I have it in me to sink another 100+ hours into a game with perhaps 30 hours of interesting content. 

A lengthy history 

assassins creed valhalla

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

When it debuted, Assassin's Creed was one of the most unusual series in gaming. It combined a meticulous eye for historical detail with tight stealth mechanics, and just enough open combat to keep things interesting. It also had an ambitious metastory with a daring central theme: Can you justify murder in order to combat religious fundamentalism? The whole story took about 15 hours to wrap up.

Now, having sunk 80 hours into Assassin's Creed Origins, 130 hours into Assassin's Creed Odyssey and 140 hours (and counting!) into Assassin's Creed Valhalla, I just don't know if I have it in me anymore. The games have gotten much, much bigger since 2007, but with arguably diminishing returns. There's so much stuff to do in each new Assassin's Creed game, it's hard to focus on a central theme, story arc or gameplay mechanic.

After Ubisoft finishes releasing new content for Assassin's Creed Valhalla (incredibly, there's still more on the way), it will bring out Assassin's Creed Infinity. As the game's name suggests, it will be an ongoing live-service game, with periodic updates to add new content, presumably for as long as players keep logging in. What started out as a pointed historical stealth series will reach its apotheosis as a kind of all-purpose historical action sim.

Clearly, there is an audience for this "100+ hours, no pressing central story" style of Assassin's Creed. Ubisoft has now made three games in this style, and while we don't know much about Infinity yet, even its name suggests that it won't be a concise, focused experience.

Last month, Stephen Totilo of Axios Gaming shared an eye-opening chart on Twitter. It catalogued the time required to complete both the main story and the optional content in each Assassin's Creed game.

"Please enjoy this chart that confirms what you thought," he said, adding that the chart doesn't account for expansions, which make recent AC games even longer.

The original Assassin's Creed took 15 hours to finish the main story, or 31 to finish all the optional content. Both numbers have increased steadily over time, to the point where Valhalla's main story requires 56 hours to finish, and a completionist playthrough takes 132. That's roughly a fourfold increase for both metrics.

On the one hand, offering more content for a similar price is hardly a bad thing. But there's something to be said for a 15-hour experience that knows exactly what it wants to be, versus a 60-hour experience that meanders for most of its playtime.

The rest of the story 

assassins creed valhalla

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

When Valhalla first came out, I wrote a piece entitled "It's time for Assassin's Creed to end." In it, I argued that the longer, more repetitive games prevented the series from making any strong narrative or thematic points, as it did in earlier entries. In other words: "What happens when power corrupts religious institutions?" in Assassin's Creed II is an interesting question. "What happens when you're a Viking and get to do cool Viking stuff?" in Valhalla is not.

There's also a practical detriment to making the games longer and longer: fewer people finish them. Based on achievement/trophy statistics, about 50% of players finished the first Assassin's Creed game; about 25% of players finished Valhalla. That's a steep decline, and there's no reason to think that Infinity will reverse the trend.

Granted, not every player needs to finish every single game to get their money's worth. But it's much harder to communicate a cohesive theme if you don't expect 75% of players to reach the ending. Assassin's Creed can convey the message that each historical time period can tell us something about the modern world, or that each historical time period is a playground. I don't think it can do both.

That brings us back to The Siege of Paris, which tacks another 10 or 15 hours onto Valhalla's playtime. That's in addition to the main game, which took me 100 hours, the Wrath of the Druids expansion, which took me 15 hours, and all the various free DLC since then, which took me another 15 hours.

You can play The Siege of Paris at any time during Valhalla's final third. It doesn't wrap up any lingering plot points or add anything radically different to Valhalla's gameplay mechanics. It's just more content, in a game that's already packed beyond the brim with content. It delivers gameplay that’s enjoyable in the moment, and maybe that's enough. But that's also a pretty low bar to clear, considering how inventive and impactful the series has been in the past.

Video game franchises grow and change over time, and find different audiences than they initially courted. In that respect, I can't hold Assassin's Creed's success against it. If the series hadn't evolved, it would have stagnated, or simply ended a long time ago. However, Assassin's Creed originally grabbed me with its innovative gameplay and bold story. Those are still present in the newer games, but they're buried under a mountain of busywork. And I no longer think the tradeoff is worthwhile.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla will probably be my last game in the series, unless Ubisoft finds a way to streamline the experience in the future. If it does, I'll be ready to strap on my hidden blade once again - and if it doesn't, then I sincerely hope the new audience finds what it's looking for in Infinity.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi. 

  • persyus
    Cool but no one asked. People, including myself are still enjoying the game.
    Reply
  • merk
    admin said:
    After playing Assassin's Creed: The Siege of Paris, I may be ready to put down the series for good.

    After Siege of Paris, I think I'm done with Assassin's Creed : Read more
    I have a better reason not to play it - it's not an assassins creed game. It's not a bad game, it's pretty good for whatever it is. But it's not an assassins creed game. I'm not sure how anyone thinks it's an assassins creed game when the assassins are literally just a tiny little side mission. Most of the AC games focused on assassination - usually the stealthy kind. This is more of a historical hack and slash. If you are into that sort of game you'll probably enjoy this. But I don't know why Ubisoft is calling it an AC game. They should have just spun it off either as an entirely new game series, or as some sort of spin off only vaguely related to the AC games. I've finished ALL of the AC games, but this is the first one where I've gotten bored with it after about just half way through it.

    I hope the next one is more like an AC game, otherwise I think valhalla will probably be the last one I buy. I really enjoyed the other AC games so i hope the next one goes a little bit more back to the roots of the series.
    Reply
  • Nocturnald
    merk said:
    I have a better reason not to play it - it's not an assassins creed game. It's not a bad game, it's pretty good for whatever it is. But it's not an assassins creed game. I'm not sure how anyone thinks it's an assassins creed game when the assassins are literally just a tiny little side mission. Most of the AC games focused on assassination - usually the stealthy kind. This is more of a historical hack and slash. If you are into that sort of game you'll probably enjoy this. But I don't know why Ubisoft is calling it an AC game. They should have just spun it off either as an entirely new game series, or as some sort of spin off only vaguely related to the AC games. I've finished ALL of the AC games, but this is the first one where I've gotten bored with it after about just half way through it.

    I hope the next one is more like an AC game, otherwise I think valhalla will probably be the last one I buy. I really enjoyed the other AC games so i hope the next one goes a little bit more back to the roots of the series.


    I agree with this. The game has lost its sharp wit, humour and gameplay flow. I loved Oydessy and Origins but even those didn't feel like real AC games. I'd rather a shorter game with a better story line that has growth and expands the series. I'm sick of collecting stuff that does nothing or doing main missions that add nothing to the story arc.
    Reply
  • CGCYT1991
    This is my first time here so I really don't care if you are done with Assassin's Creed No one didn't ask for your biased opinion 🤦‍♂️ I still enjoy Assassin's Creed for what it is especially I finished the main story of Valhalla It's by far the best Assassin's Creed game since Black flag 😍 I actually had fun with siege of Paris It may not be the best DLC but it was fun But it's not going to make me quit supporting the Assassin's Creed franchise unlike you 🤦‍♂️ Some people take gaming way too serious gaming is about having fun playing Your favorite games no matter the flaws 🤦‍♂️ I own every single AC game ever released on Xbox Yes that includes AC bloodlines on PSP and mobile AC games 👍 To be honest the franchise kind of died after they stupidly killed off Desmond Miles 🤦‍♂️ in AC3 After that it's just side story after side story but I still enjoy them They are refreshing 👍
    Reply
  • merk
    You kinda contradict yourself CGCYT1991. If no one asked for our biased opinion, did anyone ask for yours? If they didn't want people to comment on their articles, they wouldn't have included a link to post comments.
    Some people take gaming way too serious gaming is about having fun playing Your favorite games no matter the flaws

    So, we're supposed to play the game no matter the flaws but we're also supposed to play it to have fun? This isn't a charity. People will play a game if they enjoy it. And they'll stop playing it if they don't enjoy it. I'm not going to play a game just because ubisoft says it's an AC game when it has none of the stuff from the previous games that made AC what it was. If you enjoy the game, then keep playing it. I said at the beginning of my post that Valhalla wasn't a bad game. It's just not an AC game.

    And then you said
    To be honest the franchise kind of died after they stupidly killed off Desmond Miles
    So you think they killed the franchise, but it's still an AC game? You basically just agreed with everything i said in my original post. I didn't say it was a bad game, I just said it wasn't an AC game. And you basically just agreed with that.

    Let me put it another way. Lets say someone made a superhero movie where superman was in it for 5 minutes and then the rest of the movie had the flash in it and they called the movie superman saves the world. It might be a good superhero movie. It might be a good flash movie. But it's not a superman movie.

    That's the same way I feel about Valhalla. It might be a good historical hack and slash or whatever you want to call it. But it's not an AC game.
    Reply
  • Cjbb_black
    I’ve been playing since it was released and have sunk in over 100 hours…it’s showing as 80% complete but is feeling a bit samey. Was actually about to start googling to find out if it is actually possible to complete or if it’s infinite!
    Reply
  • merk
    Cjbb_black said:
    I’ve been playing since it was released and have sunk in over 100 hours…it’s showing as 80% complete but is feeling a bit samey. Was actually about to start googling to find out if it is actually possible to complete or if it’s infinite!
    I felt the same way except i stopped at 67 hours.
    Reply