Assassin’s Creed Valhalla First DLC Is Good, But Feels A Bit Lonely

Illustration for article titled Assassin’s Creed Valhalla First DLC Is Good, But Feels A Bit Lonely
Screenshot: Ubisoft / Kotaku

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was a big game. (Maybe too big.) But I still found myself wanting to explore and conquer more after the credits rolled. Today’s new DLC, Wrath of The Druids, is mostly what I wanted: While it adds a big new map and storyline, it lacks the smaller side stories and characters that I loved so much in Valhalla.

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Wrath of The Druids is the first big expansion for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Over the last six months or so the game has received free updates that added small in-game events. In contrast, Wrath of The Druids is a big new expansion that sees Eivor traveling to Ireland to help out her cousin, Barid, who happens to be the King of Dublin. Once she arrives, she quickly learns that Ireland has a problem. Its new High King, the leader of all the kingdoms in Ireland, is being targeted by an evil cult of Druids who want to kill him and all the Christians. As you might expect, it’s up to Eivor to help her cousin gain trust with the High King while also stopping the evil cult and saving Ireland’s new leader.

Thankfully, you don’t need to have finished the main game to start the new DLC. It took me about 11 hours to beat the main storyline in Wrath of The Druids, though you could probably beat it in half that time if you only focused on the campaign. I found the overall narrative a bit predictable, but still enjoyable. The small cast of characters is likable and felt properly fleshed out, something that Valhalla wasn’t always able to do with the enormous cast featured in the main game. The main quest line doesn’t feel as rushed as some of the stories seen in the main game and builds to a big conclusion, though it has some quiet character moments that I appreciated. Ciara and Azar, two new characters added in this DLC, are some of my favorite Assassin’s Creed characters in some time.

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This is Ciara. She’s great.
Screenshot: Ubisoft / Kotaku

Ireland feels roughly about 30% or so as big as Valhalla’s main England map, but there’s still plenty to explore. It has its own barren and gloomy look, with large, misty fields and green-covered hills and cliffs. Ireland is also a bit more quiet and mystical than England, which helps create a different atmosphere in Wrath of The Druids. You’ll stumble upon Druid ritual sites and encounter magical creatures and spell-casting enemies.

The most disappointing part of Wrath of The Druids is the lack of side missions and strange characters. I loved the weird folks you would meet in Valhalla, people like Axehead and others. Wrath of The Druids replaces these side stories with combat challenges, puzzles, and collectibles. The end result is that Ireland feels less alive than the other areas seen in the main game. I haven’t seen every inch of the map yet, so it’s possible that somewhere deep in Ireland is an interesting new stranger to meet, but it’s still a letdown after the wonderful, weird, and creepy folks I encountered in the main game. There are some side stories, of course—there’s a small and secretive cult to take out, just like in the main game—but overall it feels desolate.

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Ireland isn’t all misty bogs and empty fields. Look at this bridge I found!
Screenshot: Ubisoft / Kotaku
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Aside from the campaign, Wrath of The Druids focuses on building, maintaining, and managing a network of trading outposts and materials. That doesn’t sound very exciting on paper, but it’s satisfying to explore Ireland, find new trade posts, take them over and build up a large trading empire. You use the hard-earned goods you receive from these posts to trade for exotic new armor, weapons, decorations, and more. The more you do this the more Dublin, the territory that serves as your hub in Ireland, improves.

This network of trading outposts and supplies feeds into a system that can feel like it was built to give players more to grind away at while playing the new DLC. I don’t think that’s a bad thing: If you, like me, love the gameplay of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Wrath of The Druids gives you a nearly neverending amount of little tasks to do while exploring and killing, or you can just focus on the main story.

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I suspect a lot of folks are still chipping away at Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and might never finish it. But if you cleared out most of that main game or you are just looking for a new place to explore, Wrath of The Druids is a great way to extend the already massive Valhalla. The lack of side stories and strangers is disappointing, but the rest of the expansion and the misty vibes of Ireland more than make up for the smaller cast of characters you meet.

Kotaku Weekend Editor | Zack Zwiezen is a writer living in Kansas. He has written for GameCritics, USgamer, Kill Screen & Entertainment Fuse.

DISCUSSION

grant8418
grant8418

I hope they’re no more stupid rock stacking challenges in this DLC. Those final few in the main game made me so angry, and I hope I never have to do another (but I doubt that)