AC Valhalla: Wrath of the Druids and Siege of Paris

FBT revisits his ancestors – no, not the Vikings, the mud-stained NPCs.

ACV was hard work. Sprawling, repetitive and largely pointless except for the modern era reboot element – when an AC’s strongest moment is the modern era, it’s got issues. It’s the most bloated of AC’s RPG era (and that’s saying something), crying out for some restraint; not a word you think of when you think Viking. But, maybe on a replay I’ll be more forgiving – not a word you think of when you read my reviews.

Except, there is no New Game Plus mode, nearly a year after release. Instead, Ubisoft has been pissing about releasing elements instead, like level scaling, mini-missions that unlock upgrades, mastery, seasonal events and the pointless River Raids. All of which bloats the game even more. I can’t restart this without NG+, it’s too much. All we want is to rediscover the game when tooled up, actually use the upgrades and abilities we unlocked at the end. Is it too much to ask? It’s not like we’re asking for the game to be any good.

So if there’s no NG+ mode, guess it’s up to the DLCs, Wrath of the Druids and Siege of Paris to make the Viking experience interesting. I’d review them separately, but as it turns out they’re the same, except NPCs have accents from either Father Ted or ‘Allo ‘Allo.

In Ireland, a Viking wants Eivor to help him win the favour of Flann and secure their place in Ireland. The only thing in the way is secret sect Children of Danu, who wish to drive out Christendom and are controlling things in the shadows.

In France, a Viking wants Eivor to help him push back Charles the Fat and secure their place in France. The only thing in the way is secret sect Bellatores Dei, who wish to restore Christendom and are controlling things in the shadows.

More of the same? Twice?! DLC is where AC shines, plays with its own rules a little, has fun – what about an off-the-rails bit of ‘what if?’ like Odyssey’s Fate of Atlantis, Origins’ Curse of the Pharaohs, ACIII’s King Washington, Brotherhood’s Da Vinci Disappearance, Unity’s Dead Kings or even Syndicate’s Jack the Ripper distraction? Nope.

Same old. Not even a spin-off like Freedom Cry or Liberation. This could have explored that hint about the beginnings of the Templars (actually miss those guys), gone further into Norse legend, go have a mini-adventure with Kassandra, play up to the Viking legend, anything but this; there’s so much to explore and instead they just retread the main game with zero impact. Well, what did I expect from the AC that managed to make Beowulf boring.

Maybe nothing much exciting happened around that time, historically speaking – other than a mass Viking invasion that is, but those events that see Eivor help secure the Norse presence in Europe just feel low-energy, like inconsequential side missions, XP grinds. And neither actually feel like the location they’re supposed to be. It looks muddily beautiful but it’s just England with ‘Paris’ or ‘Dublin’ on the map to fool us.

In Ireland we set up a trading post and help establish supply routes to give us more options in their store which we never buy, while in France we help a rebellion which is a reskin of that bratty kid’s fetch/kill missions from Origins (who also nonsensically popped up in Valhalla – making him around 900 years old; the only immortal I wanna see is Kassandra). Ireland also has pigeon coops where we can pick up kill missions for the Kings, but with odd restrictions like kill without getting hurt – why would the King care? Otherwise, it’s the same mysteries, treasures, clear some forts, raid a couple of monasteries and largely redundant B-side perks across both games; in France the only noticeable addition is… rats?!

France and the rats just got me excited for the Plague Tale sequel. They gather in cellars and dark areas, getting in the way (a bite triggers Eivor to react as if she’s on fire?), while a poison arrow ability causes soldiers to vomit, distracting the others. Not exactly a cool new ability that changes up the game play, watching French people throw up.

While the Ireland adventure spins off into mystical, Isu Artifact-driven drivel/filler, it does at least get ballsy by adding werewolves out of nowhere which is about the only historical ‘fact’ in it. Siege sticks more closely to the historical siege of Paris but feels oddly disconnected from the event as the plot requires Eivor to find a peaceful end to it. Boring.

Both DLCs leave you feeling short-changed, and Siege is particularly galling, given its delays and that it has even less going on than Druids. The DLCs just feel like they were a chore to Ubisoft, something knocked out because they had to. There is zero new stuff to experience here. Everything is exactly the same – gameplay and experience wise, and aside from some pointless perks and XP, which you’ll have no need for by the time they unlock, they’re a waste of time. They’re beneath Eivor, someone who went through so much in the original game, and insulting to us. What was the point of all this?

Origins’ Hidden Ones attempted to show the Assassins trying to establish themselves, and Odyssey’s First Blade showed how Kasandra’s Isu bloodline got into the general populace – both raised more questions than answers (especially in Kassandra’s case, given the reveal that Aya was her progeny not Bayek and the bloodline ended with their son’s death), but at least they attempted to expand the lore, made AC seem epic again. But those DLCs just bring the worst of AC Valhalla, the tramping across nothing to reach a pointless mission.

Avoid the Season Pass unless it’s free. And even then, think carefully. Gaming time is precious, you wanna spend it redoing the worst parts of ACV? It was bad, but those make it worse. I wanted to like ACV and hoped those DLCs would convince me to dive back in. Now ACV is dead to me. I mean, if that NG+ ever surfaces, maybe I’ll give it another go…