With a solid foundation to build off, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla took off the shackles of the past and gave players an epic Viking adventure that spanned both time and space. If spending over 50 hours exploring old England was not enough, the Wrath of the Druids expansion added the emerald fields of Ireland into the mix, giving players more lands to explore. But with the arrival of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: The Siege of Paris, this particular entry has seemingly reached peak fatigue.
While it is always good to have more content that engaged players can continually gobble up, the alienation of anyone looking for something fresh is quite prominent with this final expansion for the game’s first season. Instead of ending things with aplomb, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: The Siege of Paris is more akin to a disappointing wisp of smoke that fails to deliver, despite the return of the classic assassination missions.
Following a similar formula to Wrath of the Druids, new visitors to the Viking home of Ravensthorpe signal the call for Eivor to bring his or her talents to Francia in a battle against the mad king, Charles the Fat.
While both Valhalla and Wrath of the Druids provided enough narrative developments to keep things going at a brisk pace, the same cannot be said of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: The Siege of Paris. Things take a long time to get into motion, and it is not exactly fresh material either, with conflicts arising due to cultural differences, territorial disputes, and the horrors of war.
At the very least, the characterisations remain a highlight of the proceedings. Characters are brought to life immensely well, with the likes of King Charles being delightfully evil as the villain, and capturing the essence of tyrant versus rebellion at its core. Others, such as Count Odo, also do great in elevating the storytelling beyond its familiarity.
That said, entering a new world may bring expectations of fresh visuals that impress, like those of Ireland, but Francia is more like England 2.0. Even veterans would find it hard to differentiate between the two for most of the general environments.
This below-par similarity also extends to the general gameplay loop in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: The Siege of Paris. Essentially, players are tasked with the same activities, just in different areas, doomed to repeat this cycle.
You will arrive somewhere, help a stranger out, kill some enemies, and discover items and locations of interest. One might argue that it is no different from the base game, which paints the expansion in an even worse light, as Wrath of the Druids managed to infuse a freshness and splendour that was markedly different even if the activities were somewhat similar.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: The Siege of Paris does feature the new Rebel Missions activities, but they do not deviate much from asking you to find a certain item and eliminating some enemies.
The good thing is that they are significantly shorter in length, and you have AI companions along for the ride. The rewards of the denier currency is also a great incentive, allowing you to further strengthen the rebels or get new gear, that is, if you are a completionist and care enough to do so.
Another new addition is the rat swarms mechanic, which rears its ugly head in thankfully few instances. Francis is beset by a plague, but players will not see its effects save for when you are in the sewers or ruins around them. These rats are out to end you, but attacks can only chase them off for so long.
In order to be truly safe from the swarms, you will need to shepherd them into sewer grates and block them off. If this is supposed to be a fun distraction, the option of death by rat becomes quite enticing.
Of course, the headlining addition in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: The Siege of Paris is the return of open-ended assassination missions, or Black Box missions if one is familiar with Assassin’s Creed Unity. Rather than force players to play a certain way, the increased freedom and flexibility to complete missions however you like is a breath of fresh air.
It does not reach Hitman levels, but this welcomed blast from the past is certainly due a revisit based on what can be experienced here. Learning intel, uncovering shortcuts, and seeking the right moment to enact a brutal assassination is a rewarding endeavour that should be included more liberally in the games to come.
And when you are not involved in such assassinations, you can always count on the combat to shine. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: The Siege of Paris has helpfully added the scythe as a weapon, two-handed instruments of death that are perfect for crushing crowds and individual foes alike. It is still a pleasure trying to decimate the opposition with the variety of arms at your disposal, and having the scythe is just another arrow in the quiver.
Enemies are still quick to go down satisfyingly, even with the level scaling, but the new Heavy Cavalry will likely rub some players the wrong way. These knights are monsters on the battlefield, and their immunity to many abilities can be frustrating. Prioritise them as targets whenever you see them, and you might live to fight another day.
At the end of the day, The Siege of Paris may be an expansion with new features in the form of Black Box missions and a new weapon, it does not feel like the next big must-play addition to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Similar content and a narrative held up only by the brute force of Charles the Fat is not the path of kings, but rather one that could easily lead to ruins.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Despite promising additions of Black Box assassinations and the scythe, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: The Siege of Paris fails to live up to the heights of prior additions to Eivor’s adventures.
Gameplay - 7/10
Story - 7/10
Presentation - 6/10
Value - 6/10