I loved Assassin’s Creed Valhalla when it released in November of 2020, giving it the big 5/5 in review. In fact, even though the Assassin’s Creed franchise is long and varied, Valhalla is probably up there as one of my favourites of the series, what with its gameplay influences borrowed from Red Dead Redemption and the whole experience going full-on RPG in its scope and scale. Travelling around oldy England is a treat yet after a little break it’s time to get acquainted with my shiny magical spear once more, taking in a new adventure that takes players to Ireland and the chance to take on the Wrath of the Druids.
In recent times the DLC packages that have arrived for the Assassin’s Creed franchise have been good value, pretty much starting with everything from Origins onwards. They have taken us to unknown places, mixing mythology with history to great effect. And further to that there has been the offer of the hugely popular Discovery Mode too, which places you in the shoes of a history tour telling you about the locations and history of the world. This is coming later to Valhalla but for now it’s a straightforward extension to the story.
I’ll admit, after a few months away from the Valhalla world, I was initially confused, taking a while to settle myself in the region again. I’m guessing the same would be true for many gamers, but all you need to know is that your settlement is where the game starts and you find out that a long-lost cousin wants to talk to you in the faraway land of Dublin. After a bit of a boat ride, you arrive in the Irish capital to be greeted by your cousin – the King of Dublin. It is here where the adventure begins.
The story involves a lot of political wranglings between the High-King of Ireland and the people who want to upset the apple cart. These folk have formed a secret cult of ancient druids who are upset that their kind and ways will be wiped out. The writing is good and the story is an intriguing one, pretty much as you would expect from the team behind it. But I have felt that Wrath of the Druids has been unable to take players somewhere really unique or been able to move the story in a fascinating new direction. That’s not helped by the fact that this tale completely abandons the modern day storyline that I felt was starting to get interesting again and for that reason I sincerely hope that the next piece of DLC on the Valhalla line will come with more surprises. Perhaps I’m being hyper-critical of what is essentially a solid story; one that has been well-researched and is pretty interesting. But on a personal level there is just something missing.
The gameplay is, as to be expected, pretty much the same as the base game, with no major surprises in terms of combat, movement, or exploration. The new additions come in the form of an order of druids which need to be hunted down; aside from that it is very much standard fare. There is one added addition that is interesting though, as you get the chance to set up trading links with the rest of the world. Here it is up to you to discover trading posts that first need to be rid of all their inhabitants. Once this is achieved you’re left to find the deeds to the trading post nearby, following clues in the process. From there it’s a case of building up the trading post, using the gains from any raids to do so. The more resources you gather, the more trades you can action around the world, all in return for some coin and weapons.
Another new addition in Wrath of the Druids is the ability to take in some Royal requests; basically heading out and completing quests in fortified areas, taking an objective from the scene or killing a target. It’s nice that these come with extra conditions that can be met in return for additional bonuses; receiving no damage or not being spotted, and these aren’t as easy as they may seem.
Visually and what is there to say about Assassin’s Creed Valhalla that hasn’t been mentioned before – the game is still stunning and beautiful to behold. The Irish countryside, mountain formations, and whole sense of place found in Wrath of the Druids is just as fantastic and stunning, whilst the druids themselves are a welcome addition that adds a mythic tone and conjures the supernatural elements throughout your encounters with them. The soundtrack is still very strong, however, whilst the voice work is always great, some of the accents are a little off from what you may expect.
I’m a massive fan of Assassin’s Creed and have found myself loving the latest games more than any which went before them. That is equally true of Valhalla yet, whilst the Wrath of the Druids is a strong addition to the library, it does at times feel more like a side quest rather than something capable of pushing forward the overall Valhalla narrative. Saying that it’s good to get back into the saddle again, being given the opportunity to explore this beautiful countryside.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Wrath of the Druids opens up Ireland to Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One players