Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök Review – Big AC Energy

Reviewed March 18, 2022 on PS5

Platforms:

Xbox One, PS4, PC, Xbox One X, PS5

Released:

March 10, 2022

Publisher:

Ubisoft

Developer:

Ubisoft Sofia

If you saw the heading to this review and thought “Really? More new Assassin’s Creed Valhalla content?” I honestly don’t blame you. Ubisoft has given Valhalla players a hell of a lot to sink their teeth into since its release in 2020. I mean, we’ve already had two DLC packs for the game and the “Cross over stories” free addition a few months back. What narratives could really be left to explore? Due to protagonist Eivor’s special connection with the Nordic God Odin, there’s a whole new world for them to leap (of faith) into. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök delves into the mythological aspects of the universe and lets you play as Odin themselves. Ubisoft delivers a new map, new enemies and amazing new weapons that puts the “rök” in Dawn of Ragnarök.

All the action is set on the new map of Svartálfar, a land that is mainly inhabited by peaceful dwarves. However, since Odin’s nemesis Surtur has taken residency in the lands after he has kidnapped Odin’s son Baldr, the dwarves are in hiding and are at risk of being wiped out. Svartálfar is now covered in Surtur’s cronies who are the fire wielding Muspels alongside villains of Valhalla, the icy Jotnars. The dwarves have information that will aid Odin’s search for Baldr, whilst Odin has the brawn to keep the Muspels and Jotnars from harming the dwarves. Therefore, it is a match made in Ragnarök heaven.

The dwarven shelters, which you are tasked in finding around the new map, work similar to settlements. Here you will find blacksmiths, merchants and also many main quests are started through interacting with the dwarves in these locations. Therefore these bases are the beating heart of Ragnarök. A lot of the action is focused on saving dwarves from the clutches of the Muspels, mainly through infiltrating areas of the map they have taken over. The more you help the dwarves the closer you get to finding out exactly where Surtur holds your son captive. The Muspels, Ragnarök’s newest enemy type, look like the living embodiment of the lava pits they surround. They come in a number of forms including Giants who are stronger and have more health, Berserkers who are equipped with a fire chain that they whip around extremely fast and the Fire-Keepers, who have the ability to resurrect fallen Muspels. These new enemies are brutish, with heavy weapons and a lot of fire power that will lead you to be desynchronised pretty quickly if you don’t have a plan of attack.

That is where the new Ragnarök gear will help killing these enemies a little easier and a lot more fun. The expansion introduces eight brand new weapons, including a new hammer and dagger that can be found in deserted locations throughout the map. There is also a new weapon type, the Atgeir, which you will be given as soon as you enter the Svartálfar map. There are a number of different variations of Atgeir that you will find, one of the most impressive being the Fiery Warsong. You’ll be able to get this into your Godly paws by killing all three of Sinmara’s chosen. These enemies work like Valhalla’s Zealots and are stalking you because you have beef with Sinmara, Surtur’s wife. Each when killed will drop a blade piece that, once you have collected all three pieces, can be taken to a blacksmith and turned into the Mythical weapon.

One of the most impressive new weapons and an item that really makes the gameplay in Ragnarök exciting is the Hugr-Rip. As a gift to Odin for being their protector, the dwarves bestow onto them this ancient relic that lets Odin take on the powers of the Muspels and Jotnars’ after they are killed. There are five abilities that can be absorbed by Odin, each that are powered by Hugr, a blue essence that can be collected by interacting with massive flowers easily found around Svartálfar and by killing foes. The Hugr, like Eivor’s health and stamina, has a bar that once filled, can then perform the allocated power for around 25 seconds.

The first of these powers you will obtain is the Power of Muspelheim. When activated it will trigger a shape-shifting ability that makes you look like a Muspel, meaning you can blend into the enemy’s world without being detected. Also, you will be immune to fire and lava damage, meaning you can walk across smoldering pits to reach lava infected areas. The Power of the Raven lets you embody the bird who has been your eyes for so long, landing on any flat solid surface this power is great for flying over hordes of Muspels to get into guarded areas. My favourite however is The Power of the Rebirth, which lights your weapon on fire and resurrects the enemies you kill to come and fight by your side. Gotta love a horde of zombie fire demons!

To upgrade this powerful artefact, you need to complete raids on enemy territories. This can be done by blowing your war horn as you do in Valhalla, which will bring Vikings to come to your aid to capture the enemies wealth. The material used to upgrade your Hugr-Rip is Silica a “rare mineral… awakened by dwarven technology”, that can be taken by asking one of your crew to help you gather it during your raid.

Along with the main storyline Ragnarök, as you would have guessed, has a few side activities that will keep you very much in trouble in Svartálfar. A lot of these, like the raiding of Muspel and Jotnar bases, are repurposed from the base world of Valhalla so that they fit into this new mystical land. For example, Mastery Challenges are now found in the form of a quest called Heroic Scholar. This sees players tell the mystical battles of Odin to a Valkyrie via narrative and also fighting the enemies within the story. Unlike the Mastery Challenges where the objectives are already chosen, you choose from a number of debuffs such as enemies being able to inflict more damage on you, or enemies not able to be stunned by your attacks. The more debuffs you choose, the more points you achieve. These points can then go towards purchasing unique items from the Valkyrie’s store. Daily quests are still present, however, the quests now help the dwarves of Svartálfar.  This idea to mould elements of Valhalla to fit in with Ragnarök may seem lazy to some, but to me, it fits in perfectly with the infamous “Ubisoft Formula.” Yes it’s similar, but so are so many elements of Valhalla and Odyssey and both are awesome games with their own individual worlds and characters, but also overlapping game mechanics.

“This idea to mould elements of Valhalla to fit in with Ragnarök, which fits in perfectly with Ubisoft’s infamous ‘Ubisoft Formula.'”

Of course it wouldn’t be an Assassin’s Creed game without amazing acres of land spread out before you that makes you giddy to explore. The dwarf dwellings are some of the most gorgeous visuals in the game. You find these areas by following golden markers that are usually left on old wagons and kegs around the map. Here you’ll find dwarves living their best lives amongst acres of golden chalices, or turquoise stalactite structures hidden within mountain tops or under sea level. This provides a juxtaposition between the areas that the Muspels inhabit that are filled with ashen blacks and startling reds making their locations fill you with a sense of foreboding instead of the sense of community that vibrates from the dwarves’ locations.

In saying that, all these locations are stunning in their own way and are fun to scale and traverse. However, if you’re after an extremely different take on the base game then you’ll be disappointed with Dawn of Ragnarök. This expansion is the same ol’ Assassin’s Creed with a few extra mythical elements and a whole new map to explore and kill and be killed across.

7

Good

Positive:

  • Hugr-Rip is a fun new element that equips Eivor with new, powerful abilities
  • Svartalfheim is a gorgeous setting for a beautiful, yet dangerous mythical tale
  • New characters and story adds weight to Valhalla's mystical universe

Negative:

  • Players may be overwhelmed by large amount of extra content on offer
  • The repeated Ubisoft formula elements means a bit too much of the same thing

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök doesn’t stray far from the Ubisoft formula that has made their games either adored or loathed by gamers. Though some may think that a third expansion for Ragnarök may be overkill, it’s the developers focus on the more mythical origins of Eivor that makes this DLC different enough for lovers of the base game to be excited about exploring the new territory of Svartálfar. Dwarves as new friends and the Muspel as new foes creates opportunities for new stories, new personalities and new gameplay to be introduced, all that make for a worthy addition to the Valhalla lineage.