Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is a beast of a game, with so much content that many gamers wouldn’t have come close to seeing all of it. Hell, I loved the game to pieces, but eventually had done so many side stories that I just had to focus on finishing the main questline so that I could move on to other games in my shame-pile. Even then, I’d pumped about 70 hours into the title, and felt exhausted upon completing it. This context is important, because a large expansion in Dawn of Ragnarök is just around the corner, and promises an additional 35 hours of content. 35! It already had like, hundreds as it is!
Despite the hesitancy of spending another large chunk of time in what is, in my opinion, the strongest Assassin’s Creed entry to date, we had the chance to go behind closed doors and check out the expansion; and even though going back to the giant world of Valhalla would be quite the task, Dawn of Ragnarök certainly provides some compelling reason to do so.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök focuses on the personal saga of Odin, who is trying to rescue their son. The demo we saw showed a small part of a quest, taking place in one of the oldest territories of Svartalfheim, ruled by the son of Surtr, Glod. T o say that they are tapping heavily into this mythology is an understatement.
We begin the demo where Odin is searching for hidden dwarven markings, which leads to a shelter where they live. These shelters act as your hubs where you can meet characters, find out more information, trade with merchants and so on. Once gathering some intel, Odin continues on the journey to find a relic; but they don’t have to just use their feet, like normal idiot humans like us have to.
The hook here in Dawn of Ragnarök is that you’ll play as a literal God, with powers that support varying playstyles. One core gameplay system that has been added allows you to collect powers from fallen enemies that you can then use for yourself; for example, The Power of the Raven is the first we saw, which allows you to shapeshift into a bird that can easily soar across the map. Beyond the ease-of-travel this provides, a truly excellent way of reaching high areas without having to climb them manually on foot, you can upgrade the power so that you can achieve air assassinations on enemies; it’s undoubtedly cool seeing you transform from Raven to Odin, mid-drop, and kill a baddie below you swiftly and efficiently.
“Dawn of Ragnarök absolutely taps into the more mystical side of Valhalla”
Another power that was shown off is called The Power of Rebirth, where every opponent that’s defeated while it’s active is quickly resurrected and can aide you as a temporary ally, which means you can effectively build a small army of helpers on your quest. We also saw one that allows you to disappear from active combat and remove yourself, very handy for when you’re getting overwhelmed and need a quick exit.
New enemies bring to life the fiery realm that they come from, and they release a War-cry that makes their chest glow with inner heat, a menacing sight for sure. Dawn of Ragnarök absolutely taps into the more mystical side of Valhalla, with enemies more demonic and aggressive in nature. One particular variant of baddie was shown that can also summon enemies from lava, along with being able to reignite their fallen allies to fight against you. In this way, simple fights can evolve quite quickly into complicated battles if you’re not strategic about where to focus your attacks first. New weapons will allow for new combo systems, along with devastating finishers, including one particularly nasty cleave that we saw. Some fun dismemberment to be had for all. Well, fun for Odin, at least.
Beyond the demo we were shown, there is the promise of other content in this expansion, including Valykrie Arena, “an arena with new and familiar faces from Valhalla” that will challenge your combat skills, with difficulty increasing boosts forcing you to try new fight options. Overall, there looks to be some tantalising new features to look forward to here. It is positioned as “Endgame content”, with a power level recommendation of 340 (essentially meaning you have to have played a lot of Valhalla). For those who don’t have that power level yet though, they’ll be able to jump in straight away using a boost with the expansion as well, so don’t stress if you’re not at that point yet but want to jump into this intriguing side story.
The new powers and dialing in more heavily to the mystical elements of Valhalla certainly looks to warrant a revisit to the beefy game; if you’re still working your way through the existing content, the idea of adding more might be daunting – but for me, someone who finished the campaign over a year ago, Dawn of Ragnarök could very well be the perfect excuse to jump back in for some more Nordic fun.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök will be available March 10, 2022.