For gigantic open-world games, it is often a journey that requires utmost attention and investment to keep players going for the long haul. The combination of story, gameplay, and mechanics can keep players interested for hours on end. Yet, once there is a break, it can be difficult to draw players back. However, with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s latest DLC, Ubisoft has given veteran and new players plenty of reason to return to the fray once more as Eivor, in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla – Wrath of the Druids.
This latest content addition sees Eivor journeying to the new world of Ireland. A short journey north of the English lands, Viking intervention is required. Gameplay would be familiar to those that have put in dozens of hours into the base game. However, rather than rehashing the core game, the tale weaved, along with the new enemies, offer great incentives for players to push forward. The fact that you can access it fairly early in the campaign is another valuable arrow in Ubisoft’s quiver.
Players will be able to sail to Ireland by returning to Ravensthorpe, the home village of the Vikings in England. Word has arrived from a mysterious cousin in the green hills, now in need of help as war threatens from every front. For Eivor, the idea of another ally and more resources is enough to send her on her way. Awkward implementation aside from cousin that has never been mentioned beforehand, Wrath of the Druids is an excellent detour to enjoy.
A Whole New World
Once you arrive in the new land and get your bearings, the outstanding difference in visuals will give you a much-needed break from the more dreary lands in the main adventure, now filled with beautiful hills of green and large plains of life, where even the hills and cliffs are somehow fresher in Ireland.
Granted, it is not only the nice stuff that impresses. Certain areas in Wrath of the Druids elevate the sense of dread and creepiness that only occurs occasionally in England. The architecture stands tall and proud like the tourist attractions they are.
It helps that the story in the DLC allows for Eivor to stretch his/her muscles and journey across the lands. For about 10 hours of this wild and exciting ride, Wrath of the Druids draws attention to the conflict brewing that has been intensified by High King Flann’s quest for unification, and the religious revolution driven by the various factions in the country.
As you arrive, you will soon learn that dear old cousin Baird’s kingship is less than secure under Flann. Your intervention is vital to ensure things turn out in your favour. Similar to the production values of Valhalla, the voice acting in this DLC is phenomenal. Characters bring gravitas and suitable charm and whimsy when the occasion calls for it, allowing players to truly immerse themselves in this side adventure.
It also helps enhance the more focused storytelling here. Twisting arcs and narrative surprises make for a more relatable tale that still retains its messaging. In comparison to the main game, the way the story in Wrath of the Druids tries to explain the struggles of people in face of religious uncertainty is much more believable and convincing.
At the heart of all the struggles lie The Children of Danu. The radicalised group of druids have been causing troubles across the lands. Be it wanton violence, deceitful manipulation, or any means necessary, it is clear that they will resort to everything to preserve the old ways.
In terms of mechanics, these druids are no different from the Order of the Ancients in Valhalla. Eivor will have to track down who they are, investigate their sins, before culling them in. Yet, the expansion benefits from the fact that this process is actually integral to progression, rather than a side activity. Overall, it makes for a better cohesiveness for storytelling and gameplay progression.
A Clash Of Ideals
Going up against the druids is also made more interesting with what they bring to the table. Hallucinogenic gas is part of their arsenal, which makes Eivor believe them to have magical powers. While that is untrue to players’ eyes, what is presented on screen is anything but. These foes can dart around with lightning-fast speed, utilise the elements against you, and give you a generally hard time.
It will take all of your training to bring them down, as well as the other optional enemies in the DLC. Being able to get the blood boiling again in combat makes the addition of the druids a refreshing and much-needed shot in the arm.
However, the same cannot be said of the other quests in the expansion. They largely follow the same process in the base game. Fetch quests and eliminating every opponent in an area can only grab your attention so far. The recycled nature of these quests works against the other good things in this game.
The DLC does add a new quest type in the form of Royal Demands. Sadly, it detracts from the enjoyment further. While completing Royal Demands help your allies gain more influence in the war for Ireland, clearing outposts or stealing items do not feel that significant in the grand scheme of things – surely we could have used more interesting quests to aid the war effort?
Freshening Things Up
Thankfully, Wrath of the Druids does not forget other key parts of the open-world experience that is loot and side activities. There are more armour and weapon sets to be found in this new land, giving you more ways to show the people who is boss.
Combat challenges allow players to enjoy more of that refreshing druid combat. The new side activity of establishing trade posts should also keep players busy, especially for those completionists. As a whole package, the DLC that is Wrath of the Druids is worth your time and investment.
Exploration, combat, and the story are high points that continue to be prominent with this addition, with Ireland being a sight to behold. However, the reusing of familiar activities as filler content takes away from an otherwise excellent experience. Let the more nuanced and elevated storytelling in Wrath of the Druids take you away, just long enough for you to get over those otherwise uninspired quest designs.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
An intriguing story that demands your attention, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Wrath of the Druids brings the fun in narrative and less so when it comes to less significant quests.
Gameplay - 7/10
Story - 9/10
Presentation - 8/10
Value - 8/10