So here we are again, back with Eivor and the gang for some more Viking japes and journeys across the world with the Siege of Paris – Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s latest expansion.
This is the last DLC pack for Year One of Ubisoft’s plans and so we could well do with a bit of a catch up. Eivor has dominated England, changing the shift in hierarchical power, building up settlements, has traveled to Valhalla, and was sent to Ireland to battle the druids. So what’s next for our tattooed, bearded axe manic? France is the answer – or Francia to be more historically correct. The Siege of Paris is our focus and I need to remember the controls again. To war!
The story found in The Siege of Paris starts with you back in your settlement in Ravensthorpe where you get two visitors asking for your help. They need help in Francia, fighting the French army and the influences of the King – Charles the Fat. You pop over to Francia and then start to engage with the players of both sides of the war.
The Vikings led by Sigfred seem to be on a bloodlust of vengeance, not caring if they murder the innocent while on their rampage, whilst the French are battling each other inwardly because of the mentally unstable King Charles. The writing and story are as interesting as always – something we should expect with any Assassin’s Creed expansion – blending historical realities with the Assassin Creed myths and fiction. I have liked the whole examination of the politics of the time and how it manages to tackle subjects like revenge, loyalty, and power. However, The Siege of Paris hasn’t managed to wow me or impress as much as, say, the Wrath of the Druids expansion previously. In fact, this has felt, at times, like a couple of side missions from the main game, rather than a whole thing on its own.
But what’s new in the game mechanics side of things, I hear you cry. Well, the main addition here is the return to the assassination modes of yesteryear which mixes modern-day Assassins Creed with old-school Assassins and a bit of Hitman thrown in. You probably know the drill, but in case you don’t, you have a target of one of the main characters to kill, yet how you go about the dispatch is very much up to you. You could – if you so wish – rush to the location and smash your way to them. This would be hard but doable. Instead then there’s the opportunity to head into detective mode to try to find some info around the area to help you. For example, in one mission I discovered a maid who was having an affair in the gardens, using a secret back entrance to attend her love nest. I followed her and managed to enter the location required in a stealthy manner. These missions are a great addition to the franchise and it’s brilliant fun to try and work out the possibilities of how you approach your assassinations. Most of these quests finish in an interesting boss battle too, testing all your attacks, special and defending skills.
Another option on offer are the Rebel Missions which are similar to some of the other modes before. Here you get to take on a mission – simple stuff like “kill these people before they reach here” or “go find some documents”. You have some AI support in terms of rebels and it’s up to you to keep these guys alive as well. At the end of the mission, you level up, utilising the skills to upgrade the rebels’ AI skills and get inventory rewards. Honestly, Rebel Missions are okay, but they fast become tiresome.
There are some new weapons included in The Siege of Paris too, like Scythes to collect and a few new enemies to fight; the standouts being the Heavy Cavalry which are heavily built tanks of soldiers to defeat. There is also a strange addition in the form of swarms of rats that occupy the sewers in plague-ridden Paris. Here you have to knock them back with an attack, then cover the drains up with a barrel or box. Again, honestly, this is a really annoying addition and the rats will kill you quickly if you don’t act. The problem is, it just doesn’t fit with the rest of the game, feeling much like something drafted over from something else. It really isn’t needed.
In the last piece of DLC, that was set in Ireland, you felt there was a real difference in the environments with the coastland and mountains. Here though, France looks a lot like England and it feels very familiar. There are some nice details in the towns and the interiors, granted, but there have also been some occasional glitches. A couple of times I found myself needing to restart a mission again because an NPC I was meant to be following would get stuck on something. However, the soundtrack, effects, and voice-over work are still excellent throughout – as is to be expected from this franchise.
I am a huge Assassin’s Creed fan and loved the Valhalla base game. Yet the first Wrath of the Druids expansion failed to blow me away. It’s a similar case here with The Siege of Paris. It’s good, but really nowhere near what we have come to expect from the franchise as a whole. I think it will be interesting to see how Ubisoft tackle the Year Two content for the game and where exactly they are going to push this story to.
Take on The Siege of Paris in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One