Coming up with sneaky routes to glory has long been a guilty pleasure in video games that feature flexible play systems
It’s clear how the Viking raids in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla are supposed to work. Ubisoft’s latest historical adventure has you playing as a brave Norse warrior rampaging across England with your fellow raiders, battling Saxon soldiers and ransacking their burning cities. That’s not how I play. I discovered early on that, instead of approaching an enemy site in my longship, with all my skilled courageous troops, then engaging in open, bloody warfare, I had more success if I went ahead alone and hid in the bushes, picking the guards off one by one and quietly hiding their bodies. You can clear out a whole town without a scratch, and then your fearsome warriors can pop in at the end and help you open the treasure chests. It feels … wrong.
Open-world video games such as Assassin’s Creed, Cyberpunk 2077 and Witcher 3 are specifically designed to give players the freedom to go where they want and do what they want, tackling the game’s quests and missions how they see fit. The best of them support different modes of play, whether that’s charging into battles or stealthily breaking into enemy bases. But whatever you go for, the idea is that you develop skills and finesse your way to steely competence. I don’t think you are meant to just hide in the bushes and murder people.