Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Wrath of the Druids – Impressions
A few months after its initial release and a few so-so in-game events later, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is getting its first major piece of DLC, Wrath of the Druids. Set on the island of… well Ireland, it sees Eivor tackle a cult of druids as they seek to overthrow a newly coronated Irish king and return power to those who worship the old, pre-Cristian beliefs. It is a rather hefty bit of extra content, adding an extra 15 hours or so of story to an already massive game so is it worth your while? Well, I have been playing over the last few days to determine exactly that.
Let’s get this out of the way, there is nothing in here that is going to sway you in either direction regarding Valhalla. If you liked the main game, chances are you will like this. However, if you found the original release a chore, this isn’t going to magically improve the game for you. For the most part, this is just more Valhalla, the good and the bad so if you are simply looking for more, then know right now you will be well served.
There are a couple of new things that have been brought in to mix things up. The whole DLC package places a lot of emphasis on Ireland’s trade and Eivor plays a big part in improving that. Capturing and upgrading trading posts, fulfilling trade contracts and discovering new trade items all work together to improve Dublin, a city that happens to be run by Eivor’s cousin. These trade missions are, for the most part, optional but they do offer a host of benefits if they are completed so it is worth your time to seek them out. Using trade to upgrade Dublin also gives Evior access to new merchants, supply depots and the like, much like upgrading Ravensholm in the main game did.
The other new feature is actually a return of an old one. Called Royal Demands, they are essentially the return of Assassination targets from previous games in the franchise. They are even collected at pigeon coups, something that has been a franchise staple since the first game. These targets are often simple, but offer bonuses if certain conditions are met. For example, assassinate a target without being detected or clearing out an enemy camp without taking damage. If these bonus conditions are met, Eivor will receive double the assassination reward which makes for a pretty tasty carrot to dangle in front of players. Just like trading, most of these missions are optional, but once again they are both fun and rewarding for fans of the game.
As for the story, it is pretty typical stuff for the series. High King needs help, Eivor needs to gather the support of other nobles by traipsing around the country side collecting and stabbing things to her heart’s delight. If you are the type of person that usually skips the story… well keep on skipping, but if you are like me and love the cheesy, high drama of the franchise (and love the female Eivor’s amazing voice) you will find a tale to meet your desires. It is a shame that Ubisoft didn’t go fully crazy with mythology in this DLC. There is some here, but nothing like the final piece of DLC for Odyssey or some of the stuff in Origins. Hopefully, the second major expansion will dive into that territory.
Another great thing about this DLC is that you can pretty much dive into it whenever. There is no need to have finished the main game first, so it makes for a great change of pace from the central story if you are finding things are dragging a bit.
In all, Wrath of the Druids is a hearty dose of what made Valhalla great. More of the wonderful Eivor, some great set pieces and exploring the countryside of Ireland is just as rewarding as exploring merry old England. The only real criticism I have is to plays it just a touch too safe at times, instead of embracing the crazier side that the franchise has delved into in the past. Apart from that, folks looking for more Eivor, more assassinations and more Viking raiding will be well served and will enjoy their time immensely.