Ubisoft Waits A Month To Start Selling XP Booster For Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Ubisoft Waits A Month To Start Selling XP Booster For Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
Screenshot: Ubisoft / Kotaku
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What do you do when you launch an Assassin’s Creed game, include the option for your customers to pay $13 to level up faster, draw all kinds of negative reactions — many of them suspicious, wary — and then launch a new Assassin’s Creed two years later? Launch with that controversial paid booster again? Not quite. If you’re publisher Ubisoft, you leave out your $13 XP booster at first (hooray!), then add it a month after release (hmmm).

Yesterday, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s online store saw the addition of two premium boosters. For around $13, players can permanently supercharge their character’s experience-point gain by 50%. They can pay another $13 to do the same for how much in-game currency they earn, or buy a $20 bundle that lets them do both.

Gaining XP in Valhalla allows players to earn points that they can spend on improving their character’s offensive and defensive stats, as well as on perks that make their character more powerful.

Two year’s ago, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s designers denied that the boosters influenced the design of their game, saying they didn’t throttle the speed at which your character became stronger in order to drive people toward buying the booster.

Today, a Ubisoft rep said the same about Valhalla’s booster: “The XP boosters did not influence the game’s design.”

The XP and money boosters from 2018's Assassin' Creed Odyssey (Screenshot: Ubisoft / Kotaku) The XP and money boosters from 2018's Assassin' Creed Odyssey (Screenshot: Ubisoft / Kotaku)

It’s plausible that Valhalla’s designers calculated the rate at which characters would improve in the game without factoring in any paid boosters. Character advancement in Valhalla is constant, as players climb hundreds of levels in quest after quest.

It was also plausible for Odyssey, as it was possible for players to comfortably improve their character without paying for boosters by playing the game with an omnivorous appetite for main quests and side-quests. If players focused more on main quests, the power climb was far tougher.

Odyssey’s developers had to deal with, at the very least, the appearance of potentially throttled progression, because that $13 booster went on sale at the same time as the $80 game. Who could fully rule out the idea that the game was being sold with a hidden cost, like a supposedly free mobile game that moves too slowly unless you pay?

Last spring, Kotaku asked the creative director of Valhalla about the potential for an XP booster. He dodged, saying he and the team had re-thought progression in the next game to keep players from feeling like areas they wanted to explore were inaccessible to them. Then came launch and no booster. Lesson learned?

Well, it seems a lesson of sorts was learned. Another big publisher, Activision, has regularly been adding microtransactions to Call of Duty games after release, past when their games are reviewed. Valhalla did launch with some microtransactions — for special outfits and helpful maps — but those notorious boosters were held back until now.

You could buy this for Valhalla, too.  (Screenshot: Ubisoft / Kotaku) You could buy this for Valhalla, too. (Screenshot: Ubisoft / Kotaku)

The fact that people have been happily advancing through Valhalla for a month supports the idea that the game wasn’t designed to make people feel like they need an XP booster. There haven’t been many complaints that the game is too arduous to advance through, that it leaves its player character too weak. The complaint, if any, is that there’s so much to do in its world that the game might be too large, which is a different sort of problem.

The presence of any microtransaction is nevertheless always a prompt to wonder. They draw suspicion even if it might not be warranted and in that regard do a game’s creators a disservice that must be part of the equation, alongside the convenience it may afford wealthier players and the profits it’ll bring the company. Is it worth it?


  • I swear to absolute fucking christ we were just commenting that after the last patch, Eivor seemed to be levelling up slower. THIS is bloody why I guarantee. I know you ‘go up slower’ per kill as you get to higher levels, but even then, it seemed to be way, way slower than normal. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ubi purposely hamstringed it just to get people to buy these… maybe I’m just paranoid, but would anyone put it past them?

  • Last patch, probably not, but I did see early game reviews who did 70 hour plslaythrough that he felt the later level requirements showed signs of exp grinding curve… that wouldn’t surprise them if the XP boosts from the last two games return.

    • That may be it then. Mayhaps when we hit later levels around that time, it slowed right the hell down. Either way it’s a scummy practice.

  • I honestly don’t know what kind of person would buy XP. Its a video game there for enjoyment and you’re literally paying more money to to take away the joy of completing it? If the games too hard change the difficulty… it absolutely astounds me.

  • I’m the sort of person who buys these as I don’t have time to grind out GaaS titles, kinda makes me complicit with the bullshit though :(.

    • I entirely understand where you’re coming from though. These massive open world RPG’s are a huge time sinks and people have jobs, families & social lives to contend with so if people want to speed up the process for their own playthrough then I have no problem with that.

    • While on one hand I want to say “Oh camm, no…” on the other, if they didn’t artificially restrict the level cap and level progression, you’d have zero need to do it anyhow… so it’s still entirely on them 🙁

  • So there using Activations playbook now, hey? The ‘Wait till the reviews are done, then throw in the shit everyone does not like’ move.

  • God this bullshit is getting old.

    Once again here to throw in my two cents to say that you earn levels like fucking crazy in Valhalla… I was level capped a bit before the main story ended and I still have a lot of side content to do. And you do NOT in any way shape or form need to be even close to level cap to finish the main story.

    Just the same as in Odyssey really. You know, if you didn’t COMPLETELY IGNORE like three quarters of the game’s content so you could bitch in your review and start raging about how the entire game MUST have been scaled according to the XP booster you saw in the shop.

  • im not seeing an issue? if weresmurf is correct and they made it worse for non paying customers, then i definitely do. but otherwise? its entirely optional. pay or dont. if the game that youve already paid for put up a blocker on progression before you paid, thatd be a different story.

    • It definitely feels as you get into the top levels that they have scaled it. There’s some sort of massive curve as you get into the higher levels. There always is in rpg’s, which is fair. But this feels like you go to that natural curve, then at some point, there’s a cliff face?

    • The issue is they are intentionally making the game less fun by adding unnecessary grind in order to monetize.

      Old Assassin’s Creed games had no levels and they still managed to dole out timely upgrades and gear in a satisfying manner. The only reason they added it was to monetize it (with xp boosters and buyable gear and whatever the premium currency is called). That is literally the only reason. Valhalla is nowhere near as bad as Odessey was, where due to level scaling you effectively got weaker every time you leveled up and had to grind for more materials and gear to get back to normal.
      Add to that, in Valhalla, they added it a month later so that people couldn’t complain about it in reviews makes it insidious as hell. I mean wouldn’t you want the best, most enjoyable game possible for your money? Not one that has been intentionally made to be a slightly worse experience in order to milk a few extra dollars out of people?

      It’s fine if it doesn’t bother you but it is an objectively shitty thing to do to in a premium priced game.

  • It’s not bad like Odyssey. Odyssey had a horrible grind.

    The levels ATM for me are alright, but currency is certainly very slow going.

    I just hate how much fucking MTX theyre putting in the game. It was $40+ of MTX on launch day. What. The. Fuck. For a single skin it’s like $10. Holy shit

  • The impatient kid trap has been set.. if only people were intelligent enough to not buy this trash method of making money.

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