Following a year of robust content updates that included The Siege of Paris and Wrath of the Druids, Ubisoft has kicked off Year 2 of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla with an excellent proposition – a 30-plus hour expansion that delves into the godly realm definitely sounds enticing, but for the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök DLC, the action RPG continues in the same vein despite its more mythical leanings, which is both a good and bad thing.
If you have enjoyed spending hours in the base game, then more of the same but with added supernatural abilities will provide a good time. Conversely, if you have grown tired of the gameplay formula, then a significant expansion like this is not going to move the needle.
As a setup, Eivor will dive deeper into her roots as a reincarnation of the ancient Norse god Odin, otherwise known as Havi, who now has the unenviable task of rescuing their son, Baldr, from the fiery grasp of Surtur. This trip to the realm of the gods is not new to players returning, but it does add a big chunk of content to wade through with some nice added touches.
The dwarven lands of Svarfenheim are ripe for exploration, and it definitely looks as polished and beautiful as many of the other areas we have seen in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. After travelling for quite a distance during Eivor’s adventures, it is still pleasing to see such amazing vistas, with the occasional weird sight to punctuate the more mystical aspect of Dawn of Ragnarök.
Characters players meet also get the same treatment, with a cast that is well developed with their own convictions and beliefs, even if they are obstacles standing in your way. The dwarves are a hoot to interact with, and it helps to provide more context on how the people view the meddling of the gods, especially when the All-Father is standing right in front of them.
However, on the gameplay front, the lack of more meaningful surprises does hold back Dawn of Ragnarök in certain ways. The large map is still full of familiar things to do, as Eivor will need to locate treasures, synchronise viewpoints, fight various enemies, and locate collectables. These are nothing new, and their mileage will vary depending on your tastes.
What has changed is that Eivor can now utilise the new Hugr-Rip, a bracer that allows players to steal powers from your enemies and use them to your advantage. Perhaps you like to stay stealthy and infiltrate enemy camps disguised as one of their own, or augment your combat prowess with some frost powers, there is an added layer of complexity to consider with the Hugr-Rip.
It also gives players more options for traversal, with the transformation into a raven a particularly useful tool to scope out the surroundings and reach new places. Of course, being able to teleport by firing a magical arrow is also an excellent tool to have, and it is in such instances that being a god actually feels exciting.
Yet, players are actively hamstrung by Dawn of Ragnarök by the fact that you can only ever have two of such powers to count on. Considering the fact that you have to obtain these powers from the enemies, losing a useful ability can be a troublesome affair. It is not exactly fun to go on a hunt just to locate a powerful but elusive ability only to have to lose it down the road.
On the combat front, Dawn of Ragnarök does mix up the usual cannon fodder with special enemy types that can present new challenges. Fighting against foes that are strong at range and can revive fallen allies require a more strategic approach, and certain boss fights will have new mechanics for players to learn and overcome. If you enjoyed the combat, then there is certainly more where that comes from.
The addition of the combo-based Atgeir weapon also spices things up quite nicely, mixing light and heavy attacks that can help you even the odds. It is obviously not on the same level as other titles that rely on combo attacks, but it is a good addition nonetheless. Dawn of Ragnarök also brings in a new level of upgrades for gear, with the Divine level opening up one more slot for a new rune to be embedded for more power.
Despite the more godly slant to things, Dawn of Ragnarök will feel innately familiar to returning players. Even with the new additions of the Hugr-Rip and abilities, alongside other small tweaks here and there, this is largely the same experience as Eivor’s previous adventures.
Bringing a new realm into the game could have achieved much more if players were given the freedom and flexibility to experiment, but for a big expansion that requires a commitment of time and effort, Dawn of Ragnarök is not exactly the divine intervention fans were hoping for.
GEELK REVIEW SCORE
With plenty of potential to bring Assassin’s Creed Valhalla to a new divine level, Dawn of Ragnarök falters by sticking to the same familiar formula and restricting players from truly unleashing the powers of a god.
Gameplay - 7/10
Story - 8/10
Presentation - 8/10
Value - 6.5/10