Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Wrath of the Druids Review
Stepping away from the trials and tribulations of English shores, Eivor sets out on a new endeavor to the Emerald Isles. This opportunity promises new lands and a new start, but also situations fraught with conflict and desire. Ubisoft’s 2020 release of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was one of the greatest works the studio has ever released, and is a tough act to follow. Wrath of the Druids, the first full DLC pack for the game, offers players a completely fresh and standalone experience free of the base game.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Wrath of the Druids Review
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was so full of content that it was oftentimes overwhelming. Each region featured hidden treasures, special events, quests, collectibles, special boss battles, and more lore than you could ever hope to digest. It was a dream for hardcore players, but not so much for the average Assassin’s Creed fan. I began my adventures in the Wrath of the Druids with around 106 hours in the base game, but for those that perhaps left Valhalla somewhere down their backlog list, you don’t need to be as heavily invested in the main game to enjoy the DLC.
Wrath of the Druids is available relatively early, not long after you’ve reached England in the main game. It’s also a lot smaller in scope. Don’t get me wrong, it’s grand in all the right places, but it doesn’t immediately fill you with dread as you reach a new land and begin exploring that first region once again. This is the best way to deliver this kind of DLC. It’s a completely standalone story that doesn’t require any experience or time invested in the main game, bar reaching the point to do the DLC.
The delivery of the DLC caters to both veteran players and fans that are perhaps tackling the game for the first time. The scalable difficulty ensures the new content is challenging and rewarding for higher level players, while the accessibility gives access to anyone that wants to dive in, taking a step away from the main narrative to enjoy a trip to the glorious rolling hills of Ireland.
The story sees Eivor travel to Ireland after receiving a letter from the King of Dublin, his cousin Barid. Eivor arrives in Ireland to learn that Barid is attempting to earn the favor of the High King Flann, the High King of Ireland. This seems like a seemingly simply task, until Eivor learns of the troubled history between the two – the infighting between the Vikings and Christians – and the outlying Druids and Pagans fighting to keep their traditions alive.
As a standalone story, Eivor’s adventures in Ireland are just as intriguing and captivating as the base game. There’s a host of fantastic new characters, Eivor’s wit and prowess are proudly displayed from start to finish, and the careful blend of the fantastical and believable tows a gentle line of narrative that’s as impactful as it is memorable.
The core base experience of Wrath of the Druids take clear cues from the base game, with many of the events and mechanics featuring prominently throughout the Wrath of the Druids DLC. Mysteries and artifacts return with more treasure maps, offering altars, Lost Drengr, and stones to stack with Cairns. Unfortunately, some of the original games’ unsung heroes don’t make a second appearance. I didn’t discover any additional Flyting battles, a Norse style rap battle that filled the original with wit and charm, and the challenging of Orlog seems to be absent as well.
In place of the missing events, players can take on Trials of the Morrigan. These are intense battles against evil druids that use an airborne toxin to hinder Eivor’s abilities, in turn increasing their power to the point of making dangerous wolves turn into ferocious werewolves. My first encounter with these mythical beasts is one of the standout fights from the entire game. If you’re not much for the side content, the core of the Wrath of the Druids DLC centers around developing Dublin as a trade hub.
Eivor can liberate Trade Posts scattered across Ireland, clearing out the enemies before locating the lost deed and claiming the trading hub on behalf of King Barid. Resources can then be spent to construct buildings that provide resources over time, healing supplies and arrows, or increasing rewards for completing certain activities in that region.
Each Trade Post delivers resources to Dublin over a period of time. Eivor can then use these resources to trade for goods from distant and exotic lands. It’s a simple interface where you deliver X item to get X in return, but it’s a fun endeavor and allows you to unlock an impressive selection of new weapons and armor.
As the story develops, Eivor and Barid slowly begin to earn High King Flann’s trust, but the other kings of Ireland are not so easily swayed. Eivor can collect various Royal Demands from different towns and cities (serving as a direct request from the Kings of Ireland), giving Eivor and Barid the opportunity to earn their trust. These are very simple missions often just tasking you with killing a specific enemy or looting a specific item, but the optional challenges provide some really intense scenarios. Defeating a single enemy in the heart of an enemy camp without being seen or killing any other targets is a thrill, but also proves to be some of the most difficult content the game has to offer.
The true beauty and wonder of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was always in the painstaking level of detail and heart that went into creating its world. The hidden stories and encounters that filled each mile with character and charm, visuals that represented the very best the generation could offer, and all of this continues in the glory of the Emerald Isle.
Wrath of the Druids is near perfect in its execution, a flawless combination of challenge and accessibility that paves the way for a glorious adventure into the darker side of Irish mythology and legend. Everything has been carefully packaged with incredible visuals, worthwhile new endeavors, and a cast of characters just as memorable as the original game.
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