Valhalla is a huge game. I’m sure that Ubi has all the stats, but if even 20% of players across all platforms completed the main campaign I would be amazed. Add in the numerous side quests, mini-games, and exploration options and you have the makings of a game that will take you well over 100 hours to get through. Well, get ready for more.
Wrath of the Druids is a meaty expansion to the game and if you mainline the main quest should take you around twenty hours to complete. The side quests and exploration will probably add another ten hours. That could be extended by the satisfying new trading gameplay loop that has been added to the game. The Assassin’s Creed 2’s merchant upgrade system but wholly overhauled for a new era.
This is the most significant update to the game’s mechanics that builds on the upgrading of your settlement that is found in the main game. As you explore Ireland you will come across these forts or trading outposts that you first must clear of enemies. Once you do that you can upgrade the outposts and engage in trade. The more outposts you liberate and upgrade the greater the resources at your disposal. These are then automatically shipped to Dublin, and you will have to take the time every so often to visit Dublin to bank and spend these resources. This is very much the same gameplay loop from games of old, just shinier, and newer and something I did not know I missed until I encountered it here. It is a lovely break from the usual exploration and raiding that is the bread and butter of the series. And for those of you addicted to cosmetics and outfits the resources you accrue can be used to buy newer and more exotic outfits like Bayak’s from Origins, because why the heck not.
Of course, a new expansion means new loot and abilities and there is plenty more to add to your arsenal. There are six new armour sets to build and several new abilities as well as new animal companions including the gigantic Irish Wolfhound. If you have ever seen one in real life you know that they are enormous and intimidating so imagine going into battle and facing off against an angry Viking being accompanied by one of these monsters!
Adding to the replayability of the expansion are challenges that you can undertake. While mostly voluntary, there are a few story-driven ones. These missions can be repeated allowing you to perfect your run and with the optional objectives giving you increased rewards you will probably play at least the first few a few times over. The challenges can be somewhat boring as you keep repeating them and as they themselves seem to repeat, but the optional objectives are a nice call back to the full sync objectives you used to get when the series still tried to make you care about the Animus and the modern-day. Oh yeah and as another call back to games of old, these challenges are picked up at pigeon coops, something is last seen in Black Flag and its expansion.
The conceit to get you to Ireland is a simple one. Your hitherto unknown cousin has somehow become the King of Dublin and his grip on the crown is a precarious one. He faces battles with other kings as well as a threat from the Children of Danu another bloody cult added to the series mythos. Like the hunt the cult mechanics introduced in Origins and continued in Odyssey and Valhalla you will traverse Ireland looking for these evil druids and systematically eliminate them and the threat they pose to your cousin. The druids are always cool-looking and come with all-natural abilities derived from roots, herbs, and mushrooms. Creating a fog for your battles you will hallucinate werewolves as well as buffed-up cultists making for a fair challenge and test of your skills.
The expansion can be accessed at any time via the arrival of Azar, the King’s envoy, at your settlement. This was a bit confusing at first as I was expecting to see the expansion on the main menu, but as soon as I loaded up my game I got a message that a stranger had arrived at the settlement and the quest appeared in the journal. While you can access it at any time it is recommended for power level 55 and greater, something that should not be a problem at all if you completed the main quest already.
As with the recreation of England, Ireland is gorgeous. The rolling hills and green valleys are all present as you travel as is the notorious Irish rain. I thought it a joke when I first visited Ireland when I was told to bring a raincoat, but it really does rain nearly daily and the game simulates that beautifully. The map is large, not as large as England, but large enough. It apparently simulates only two-thirds of Ireland so there is scope for another substantial expansion set on the island.
Technically I did have issues with the game that I did not have when I first reviewed it on launch. Playing on my gaming PC and gaming laptop I experienced persistent crashes to desktop and submitted numerous reports to Ubisoft. A new patch was released this week and the game seems more stable so your experience may vary and in conversation with Ubisoft, they stated that I was the first to report these issues of any of the reviewers. Be that as it may, the game should be more stable now.
Wrath of the Druids is an expansion that will keep you busy and entertained for a long time and if you liked the main game then you will enjoy this. I have enjoyed my time in Ireland and spending more time with Eivor has been a blast. The main enemies are a nice excuse to get in your boat and sail across the Irish sea, but they are not the main draw – the opportunity to explore Ireland and engage in some trade negotiations at the end of a blade makes for a fun distraction and is still one of the best power fantasies in gaming.
Assassins Creed Valhalla Wrath of the Druids was reviewed on PC and Xbox.
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Purchase the Xbox Version here for ￡19.99
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