Ready your supplies and sharpen your axes as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla transports the player to new territory to explore. A familiar face has settled nearby, and Eivor is invited to Dublin of Ireland for a little reunion. As fate would have it, there’s trouble from multiple angles as Eivor comes face-to-face with The Children of Danu, an ancient evil that threatens all of Ireland. On top of mystical struggles, political leaders seek to make the most of the green lands in name of God, freedom, and order.
Primitive Promises Corrupt the Wicked in Wrath of the Druids
Wrath of the Druids is Assassin’s Creed Valhalla‘s first big expansion since its initial launch back in November of last year. Since then, we’ve had plenty of time to rid England of its filth and engage in the River Raids. Now, we get to apply our acquired skills to handle two new kinds of enemies: the rage of the titular druids, and tussles with trading posts. In addition to the threats, Eivor’s cousin, Bárid, is the King of Dublin and wishes to ally with the High King of Ireland. And while these features are enticing in mind, I’m afraid that it doesn’t do much from feeling refreshing in its delivery.
Firstly, Ireland is just magnificently beautiful in its overall green landscape and high shores. There’s much to see and learn from the cultural impacts of the Christian faith and the inhabitants who find a home in a new land. Of course, using Photo Mode to snap some exquisite shots is always a given, and Ireland has a lot to offer in terms of scenery and environmental details. My particular favorite was jumping into a bloody action scene as a rainbow appeared across the sky.
In addition to the new sights to witness, there are new and aggressive enemy types to encounter as well. Quite notably the druids themselves, these foes have unique magical abilities that spice up the action to a different level of engagement. Some of these corrupted individuals possess the power to teleport during battle or cast fire upon Eivor. At certain moments, the player will dance toe-to-toe with a werewolf that serves alongside the villainous druids. It’s a nice mixture from Vahalla‘s presentation of separate worlds of England (and others) with Asgard, combining mysticism with realistic consequences.
The Unluck of the Irish
In terms of the general execution of Wrath of the Druids, I’m not too pleased with the results. Most likely, the DLC takes place sometime after Eivor’s arrival to England from Norway, so I felt a lot of early character development come back into the light even though I already spent over 100 hours growing with the fictional Viking legend. The power level suggestion for Ireland is set at 55; my Eivor is currently at 423. The DLC feels a little too early in the base game’s narrative to make it impactful toward England’s ravenous Viking.
I will admit, bringing back Assassin’s Creed Rogue‘s mechanic of trade post management and Syndicate‘s conquering system was a nice treat. By slaying enemies in a certain area to only claim it with investments switched the gameplay up a bit, for good taste at least. After a while, taking care of the trade posts felt more of a chore that needed to be done. This breaks the immersion a bit, and it mildly goes against Eivor’s characterization as a raiding leader who fights for a better future. Bárid might be the sole reason for this loose break in character (and it seems justified in a way), but it didn’t feel germane to the character I already spent over 100 hours on.
The one great aspect to sprout from the trade posts in Wrath of the Druids is the Royal Demands feature that players can embark on. By assisting and gaining trust from High King Flann Sinna, you can choose to rely on the Kings’ Plea for a bonus in rewards. These can challenge the player to be more vigilant in stealth and assassination, though the options are very limited.
It’s a great touch to the gameplay, but it doesn’t gratify the experience of traveling to new territory to only be presented with a handful of half-worked features that just sprinkle Assassin’s Creed Valhalla‘s replay value, which isn’t high. And that goes for the raiding activities as well, which are merely rebranded to acquire trading supplies instead of raw materials. It’s simply a new coat of paint that we can see right through with.
The Children of Danu’s Big Entrance
One of Valhalla‘s notable activities was hunting down the members who abide by the Order of the Ancients. While chasing down and hunting these sad souls of life, killing off the Children of Danu wasn’t very exhilarating to engage with. Some targets follow the story’s flow, but there are notably far fewer members to kill off as opposed to the massive manhunt against the Order. The character designs for these wicked druids are cool to glance upon, but once the fight is over it’s easy to forget about what their purpose is in the game.
They are the titular figures in the game, so it would be reasonable enough to have their actions storm through Ireland in a big way – or even Eivor for that matter. But in general, their presence was very minimal, and their encounters only did so much to kick up the combat a bit. Even when it came to multiple druids or druid bosses, I was done with them in a few minutes: to say I was bored in an understatement – I was ready to get back to England, and even there I already felt as I completed all of the imperative tasks to make Assassin’s Creed Valhalla‘s narrative complete.
The biggest reward from doing all of these chores is assembling armor pieces that holler back to previous Assassin’s Creed titles. By advancing Dublin’s renown, you’ll open more trading opportunities from foreign lands. One of these opportunities was collecting the Egyptian armor set, which is a glorious callback to Assassin’s Creed Origins.
Why Am I Here?
In terms of the story, however, there isn’t much to take from it. Ireland is in the midst of a religious crisis with corruption and mistrust getting in the way of expansion and unity. With Eivor, you’re a huge helping hand in some of the cases that will shape Ireland’s forerunner status and a homeland for the Irish folk. As Eivor themselves, not a lot of development happens, or at least I didn’t feel the impact on it toward Ireland. Bárid is Eivor’s cousin, so obviously, he’ll be very prominent in the DLC and Ireland’s unity, but I didn’t connect with him as much. That goes for just about every other bland character I yawned through during dialogue deliveries and cutscenes.
On the other hand, the character Ciara switches things up with her intriguing connection to the druid culture and singing talent. In my review for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, I wasn’t much of a fan of the game’s music, but Ciara kicks things in a different angle once she whips out her instrument and commences to serenade. To the delight of those around her, it was I who was infatuated with this musical kicker, and it’s probably one of the DLC’s better aspects.
Unexterminated Bugs in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
This section is solely dedicated to the bugs in this new expansion from Ubisoft. While Eivor can still climb onto empty spaces from time to time, the little details on the side are hard to miss (and haven’t been improved upon). Birds flap their wings in a very low framerate setting that looks entirely out-of-place; Eivor’s mount will comically appear in cutscenes where the mood is rather serious than comedic; and (my favorite) obstructive placement of NPCs and animals. Attached below is a shot I took after completing a mission. I circled the scene, and nothing seemed to change. Funny? Hell yes. Problematic in immersive adventures? Definitely.
That’s all that’s really to it. Aside from a few new armor sets and weapons, nothing truly stands out to make Wrath of the Druids a worthwhile playthrough. Sure, one character is interesting enough to follow along with, Ireland is gorgeous, and some of the druid scrimmages offer a new level of combat, but this DLC is presented as an expansive side quest that doesn’t serve the main narrative with any supportive presence. Photo Mode is honestly a blessing in the Wrath of the Druids‘ case; if it was nonexistent, I probably would’ve given up halfway through conquering trade posts in the middle of nowhere.
The Wrath of the Druids delivers a fascinating concept of mixing Irish lore with Eivor’s story of Viking exploration, but ultimately in the end it’s a very impactful story that many fans will not find essential. While it was a pleasant surprise to re-include previous Assassin’s Creed features, it’s not up to par with what the base game was: an intense open-world adventure of Viking savagery – only to be replaced by chore-like activities and unimportant consequences to Eivor’s story, and the overall Assassin’s Creed legacy as well.
What did you think of Valhalla‘s first DLC expansion? Are you enjoying Ireland, or are you just waiting to see when the Hidden Ones become the Brotherhood? Be sure to leave a comment down below!
- Ireland is mesmerizing to travel upon.
- Combat becomes more enhanced in this expansion pack.
- Run-of-the-mill DLC that doesn't add much to Valhalla's narrative.
- Supporting characters can get boring quickly; with the exception of Ciara.
- Poor delivery of additional features.
- Many of the bugs experienced beforehand have not been resolved.