Assassin’s Creed Valhalla may be a year and a half old now, but Viking is still being updated regularly with new content. However, Dawn of Ragnarök exceeds the average for games as a service update. With so much new space, it’s undoubtedly the biggest (and most expensive) expansion in the series to date. But it turns out that bigger isn’t always better.
A quick look at the facts: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök is a stretch of at least €40. This makes the package as expensive as the season pass with two expansions. You will get something for it. The new district, Svartalfheim, is much larger than that of Ireland and Paris from previous expansions. In fact, the area is so big that you might wonder if Dawn of Ragnarök couldn’t be released as a standalone game. However, it makes sense that Ubisoft has “just” chosen to create an extension for it. After all, Dawn of Ragnarök is a direct continuation of the legendary story of Valhalla.
Once again, Ivor (m/f) commemorates Havi, better known as Odin. After we managed to visit Asgard and Jotunheim in this way, now it’s Svartalfheim’s turn, the land of dwarves (and according to legends, black elves too, but we don’t see them in the game). This land is under attack by fire and ice giants from Mospelheim and Gottenheim. However, this invasion is not the reason for Havi’s intervention. His motives are much more personal: the fire giant Sirte captures his son Balder. Anyone familiar with Norse mythology (or playing the god of war) knows that Baldr’s death largely begins at the end of time, or Ragnarok.
This may sound complicated as there is a lot at stake, but in practice, Dawn of Ragnarök does very little with such fertile soil. This is partly because the honorary End Times has already been revealed in the main game. The battle between Havi and Sirte is ultimately a somewhat isolated feud. As a result, the story unfortunately turns out to be little more than a snack, rather than an epic prequel to Ragnarök.
Furthermore, Dawn of Ragnarök mainly uses familiar items in a new jacket. “New” is the ability to absorb and deploy life forces from certain enemies, but in practice, some of the existing gameplay mechanics are recombined. For example, you can use the life force of a crow to transform yourself into a bird. Useful if you need to conquer a high mountain or infiltrate an enemy base, but by no means new. Vogel-Eivor controls just like Synin, your feathered friend that you can switch to at any time. The only difference is that you can now also land and then seamlessly switch to Efor.
For example, there are more useful powers, but do not feel new at all. For example, with the power of Muspel, you temporarily transform into a fiery giant. You are then immune to fire, which is very useful when lava is pouring from the ground everywhere, and you can also move undetected between Muspels – similar to how you would normally sneak into your sanctuary. Perhaps the most wonderful power is the one with which you automatically bring the dead back to life, and then they will fight for you. The effect is similar to poison arrows from previous games, but more effective because you quickly create your own army of minions.
All enemies feel familiar too, with the same attacks and strategies as the main game’s enemies. The main difference is their appearance. Muspels in particular catch the eye, but not always in a positive way. Their charred skin still gives them a cool look, but their orange and red hair is missing a little white. It’s not like their hair is on fire, it’s just colored by fire. The face and character designs weren’t Valhalla’s strengths (a one and a half year old game), and these new designs painfully reveal that weakness.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök isn’t really bad because of all these negatives, but it’s not good either. It is basically more of the same thing. Known ingredients are remixed without risking too much, but this does not produce a new dish: a warm leftover is created. Some love it, and some just throw it in the trash after a day. No matter what team you’re on, it’s a shame. Norse mythology did indeed present opportunities to add something new and new, but these opportunities were not seized.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök will be available on March 10 for PC, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, Series X/S and Stadia. Original game required. For this review, the game was played on the PlayStation 5.
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