Title: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Wrath of the Druids
Release Date: May 13, 2021
Reviewed On: PS5
Genre: Action Adventure
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla reignited my desire to play an open-world adventure after a lengthy burnout. The game’s narrative and environments immersed me in a setting that I cared about and didn’t mind spending 100’s of hours looking for secrets and quests. Now, with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Wrath of the Druids, we get a bit more of that, but the team went a step further and gave us all of Ireland to explore, making this feel like another playground to get purposely lost in.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Wrath of the Druids begins when a trader enters your camp claiming that you have a kingly friend in Ireland, who turns out to be a family member named Barid. You take this opportunity to visit Dublin and see what kind of kingdom he’s creating. The narrative is built on the tension between the Christians and pagans, as Ireland is mainly controlled by the church. This ties into the issues that you’re tasked to solve as Barid wants to be recognized by the council of Ireland, who typically only crown Christian rulers.
This introduces a wave of conflicts, but Barid is a much different ruler than anyone we have met so far. He is compassionate and forgiving if only to prove his ties to the Christian ways. The missions find Eivor working to repay a debt to Barid, even though it isn’t requested. The more interesting moments are when Eivor uses techniques used in England to help Barid’s reputation in the region, but there’s no guarantee these kings are trustworthy.
I liked the narrative for what it was as the campaign focuses on character growth with missions having you follow characters and listen to their stories. Further, many missions guide you to a general area and expect you to find your target. I liked this approach better than just being told exactly where to go, and it really sells the idea that you’re solving a mystery.
As beautiful as this new environment is, it isn’t as lush as England or Norway. There aren’t too many deep caverns or secrets around every corner. It’s large, but it just didn’t feel as full as the other regions. That said, there are plenty of ways to get lost and make discoveries as your leisure. The game encourages this with added pigeon missions that will send you to various camps with different objects. It gives you a reason to return to areas and explore more, getting the most out of this new region.
Much of Wrath of the Druids is built on trade as you collect supplies and materials to improve Dublin’s output. This also increases the possibility of rare materials and additional rewards. Trading posts are scattered around the region, which first needs to be taken over. You can establish these posts using supplies, but you’ll need to complete raids and missions to have enough materials to build up the posts accordingly.
The mission’s structure begins action-focused, and sadly, these new environments aren’t designed with stealth in mind, even though some missions have a bonus requirement to take out targets unseen or only hurt the target. This is limited because you can’t choose to knock out an enemy and can only kill them. So these side objectives are challenging to accomplish, so I ignored them.
Wrath of the Druids offers a new set of targets to take out known as the Children of Danu, which is probably the highlight of the DLC. You’ll be given hints to their whereabouts, which lead you all across the map to finally revealing their locations. However, it’s possible to stumble across them during exploration, which is always a nice discovery.
Further, there are new romance routes available so that you can fall in love all over again. We all know that whatever happens in Ireland stays in Ireland. It’s nice that the campaign includes all of these possibilities that feel natural to the story progression. It’s never shoved in your face about what choices you should make and instead feels like some aspects of the story are still controlled by your actions.
I’d say my only issue with Wrath of the Druids is that the world can feel a little empty. What’s here is fun to explore, but the rewards don’t really match the effort at times. The enemies are also just reskinned of ones you’ve fought before, apart from some of the druids you’ll encounter. If you encounter issues with AI or limited stealth mechanics, adjust your options difficulty higher or lower as it will significantly improve your experience. Also, expect to run into the same one-off glitches from time to time.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Wrath of the Druids is an excellent extension of what the base game offers fans. Its focus on uncovering a mystery is embedded in the campaign and missions. Roaming around Ireland provides a new playground for fans to explore but at the cost of a few empty areas. Still, there’s so much to discover here that just being able to spend more time in this world is reason enough to return.
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