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Assassin's Creed Valhalla just confirmed our worst fears

Assassin's Creed Valhalla is a highly anticipated game, but it continues to give gamers one surprise after another. Some of these surprises have turned out to be less enticing than others. Recent reports related to Assassin's Creed Valhalla indicate that the Xbox Series X version of the game will run at a much lower frame rate than previously expected. According to a statement Ubisoft released to IGN, the game will run closer to 30 frames-per-second (FPS), rather than the expected minimum of 60 FPS.

"Assassin's Creed Valhalla will run at a minimum of 30 FPS," Ubisoft told IGN. "On Assassin's Creed Valhalla, we are committed to offer the best experience to our players by immersing them in the most beautiful worlds and environments we could create, and leveraging not only the graphics enhancements offered by the next generation of consoles, but also faster loading times and the new architectures."

This comes as a major surprise, especially considering the fact that Microsoft had previously stated that the Xbox Series X was expected to play games with a performance rate of "4K at 60 FPS – up to 120 FPS." It's difficult for fans not to see this new figure as something of a major downgrade.

Meanwhile, Ubisoft echoed these sentiments in a statement to Eurogamer (via Wccftech). When asked for clarification, Ubisoft said, "Assassin's Creed Valhalla will benefit from faster loading times, allowing players to immerse themselves in history and the world without friction. Finally, Assassin's Creed Valhalla will benefit from improved graphics made possible by the Xbox Series X, and we can't wait to see the beautiful world we're creating in stunning 4K resolution."

According to Xbox Games marketing GM Aaron Greenberg, this doesn't mean that other games won't feature that sweet sweet 60 FPS. Greenberg said on Twitter, "Developers always have flexibility in how they use the power, so a standard or common 60fps is not a mandate."

In other words, it's up the developers whether or not a game needs to/can run at 60 FPS or higher.

As pointed out by TechRadar's Adam Vjestica, having a frame rate of 30 FPS essentially means that Assassin's Creed Valhalla will be operating with the same level of power as the franchise's last entry, Assassin's Creed Odyssey. Vjestica writes, "Despite the addition of a few fancy graphical bells and whistles, then, the experience will largely be the same on Xbox Series X – performance wise – as it will be on Xbox One X. Let's not forget, Assassin's Creed Odyssey ran at 4K/30fps on Xbox One X and Assassin's Creed Valhalla is also coming to Microsoft's current-gen console."

In other words, it's kind of difficult to suss out why an Assassin's Creed fan would see the new game as any kind of upgrade from the current experience with Odyssey. We already know that Microsoft is using compression technology to lower the file size of games. In addition, Greenberg's comments tell us that the system could support higher frame rates, so it's unclear why Valhalla would take a hit in the graphics department like this. It's especially frustrating when one considers Phil Spencer's comments regarding frame rates in previous months.

Back in January, Spencer made it sound like a higher frame rate for games would be one of the main considerations going forward with the Xbox Series X. Unfortunately, it looks like fans are off to a rough start in that regard. 

This isn't the first uproar connected to Assassin's Creed Valhalla in recent weeks. The game isn't due to be released until much later this year, but fans of the series have already found things in the first trailer that bothered them. These include the fact that the game features an optional female viking protagonist. Some fans feel that this has impacted the series' grasp on historical accuracy. 

The waters were muddied on this issue when the game's narrative director, Darby McDevitt, told fans that the series' canon is somehow unaffected by the dual protagonists. As McDevitt said, "Both choices are canon, but we're not going to spoil how we managed that trick until you play the game."

Other fans are taking issue with some of the other story elements seen in the game's trailer and marketing materials. Ubisoft is talking up the game's massive battle scenes and a focus on RPG-style gameplay mechanics.  This has made some longtime fans feel like the series has strayed too far from its roots as a stealth action game franchise.

Still, it's encouraging to know that Ubisoft is being upfront about the game's frame rate. Fans have already complained about seeing more trailer footage than gameplay, so hopefully this transparency will go a long way towards setting expectations for Assassin's Creed Valhalla.