This review contains spoiler-free screenshots and content!
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has been Ubisoft’s most ambitious and successful project yet. Becoming the best seller for the company right at the launch, the game quickly acquired a giant fanbase that was ready for more Nordic adventures. After the tremendous success of the Season Pass content, Ubisoft announced their paid expansion called ‘Dawn of Ragnarok’, which would follow the Asgardian Arc of the game, featuring Eivor relieving his ancient past as Havi, Lord of Asgard. Considering the fact that the base game was my personal GOTY for 2020, my hype level was off the charts!
But finally, when I had the chance to play the expansion, I was left shocked and disappointed. I was constantly waiting and exploring to find something new and fun. The map is based on the realm of Svartfelhiem and it may just be the best-looking map in the entire game itself. However, this beauty is quite hollow, for it does not offer the kind of story I expected from a paid expansion.
Laced with a tinge of sadness, here is everything I felt about this game.
Too beautiful, but too boring
Right from the start, I could notice every small detail that has been put into the world design. From England to Svartalfheim: I could see how the developers learned what the players liked and they beautifully placed everything together in the new realm. Once home to the elves, Svartalfheim is now under invasion by Surtr, who leads the Jotuns as well as the deadly army from Muspelhiem. This in turn as has wrecked the beautiful lands in dust, lava pools and ashes. All completed by a beautiful colour scheme: gold all over the place with towering statues, Svartalfheim is a blessing to explore!
But apart from the world design, there isn’t anything else I can speak positively about.
Talking about the lore, Baldr is now a captive of Surtr for unknown reasons, and Havi is along with Baldr’s mother have arrived at Svartalfheim. Going head-on without any preparations, Havi had to face a terrible defeat, and cost him the life of Baldr’s Mother as well. Now, he is cared for by the Dwarven people as they and Havi share the same goal. So instead of Havi calling the Asgardian army or using his godly powers, he proceeds to find all hidden dwarven sanctuaries so that he can find something valuable to barter for his son. And yes, that is the entire plot of the expansion.
You are tasked with finding 4 shelters, however only 2 of them have actual story arcs. While one arc makes you face the daughter of Surtr, the other Arc helps you become like Snow White, so you can hang out with the Dwarves. Following this, you end up at the final arc.
You have new raiding posts to acquire silica that is required to upgrade your bracelet, gifted by the Dwarves. These bracelets allow you to gain different powers by absorbing Hugr, the life essence. But once again, as for someone who has done all raids including the river ones, these feel less like an exciting raid and more of a grind to level up your bracelet and make it usable.
With poor powers, comes sheer disappointment
So now we had the chance to utilize the powers that have been teased again and again in the trailers. Out of the four powers, I ended up only liking one. These four powers include – The power of Muspelhiem, the Power of Jotunheim, the Power of Resurrection and the power to become a Raven.
The strongest power here is the Power of Resurrection, which basically revives anyone you kill as your ally, evening your odds. Their AI capabilities while being on your side drastically decreases but they will land brutal and never seen before finishers. The power of Jotunheim allows you to inflict heavy frost damage that is effective against Muspelheim enemies and allows you to teleport using your bow. This being my favourite ability, allows you to play stealth in a fresh way, but often you’ll have more fun dodging and teleporting. The power of Raven allows you to become a Raven. You can also climb the floating rocks with it and scale towers faster. The power of Muspelheim allows you to blend and stay undetected between other Muspelheim enemies but is mainly used for allowing you to walk over lava.
Main use? The enemies are too easy to defeat, hence we never used these abilities while fighting. Their actual use is while exploring and collecting armour and loot. The game will repetitively force you to use the power of Muspelheim to walk over a place, find a key, and then walk over lava again to reach your destination.
Finding alternate routes to reach the loot is a headache, and out of every ten doors you see, you will find eleven of them barred. And that is a major letdown. This is a magical realm: nobody had the time to block their doors with wood, that Odin himself cannot break. Please. This frustrated me to an extent that I had to drop the game for some time and take a walk. And open doors in real life.
There isn’t much to talk about Dawn of Ragnarok. You can grind your 30-40 hours, finding loot, collecting new powers and uncut gems that reward you with decorations for Ravensthorpe that you might not even log back into, to actually place them. The expansion has a great map to explore, but again, lacks good lore, deep storytelling and interesting powers. Dawn of Ragnarok is, unfortunately, a huge missed opportunity. You might have fun for the first few hours, but it will be a dry experience until you reach the last part. The side missions are more enjoyable than the mains, and you will have more fun hunting the chosen ones and other groups.
It is also worth noting that after 4-5 hours of playtime, every time I pressed F12 to capture a screenshot via Ubisoft Connect, the game crashed.
Personally, Valhalla still is by far a legendary game, with amazing content and mechanics. Every Ubisoft DLC by far has been so good, that many times it has gained the respect of being better than the game itself. But perhaps this is why Dawn of Ragnarok is not a DLC, but an expansion. While the expansion does take the same things forward and adds fresh content, it has failed to deliver for the price it asks for. I, with a heavy heart but no shame, give Assassins Creed Valhalla – Dawn of Ragnarok a 6.5/10.
FINAL RATING: SKIPPABLE
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn Of Ragnarok released on 10th March for PC (Ubisoft Connect, Epic Games Store), PS4, PS5, Xbox One X|S, Xbox Series X|S. Code was received from the publisher for the purpose of a review, without any riders.