It’s Tough To Be A God
HIGH Great features ease players into another massive world.
LOW It’s more of the same.
WTF I think I’m ready for the next mainline Assassin’s Creed now.
I’ve written at length about Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.
It’s an enjoyable action-RPG that shakes up a long-running series I love while streamlining conventions of the genre in ways that make it more approachable than most. Eivor’s epic quest across England (and Ireland, and France, and etc…) was one I kept revisiting during the past year and a half, as its exploration, meaty combat, and vast open-world still had its hooks in me. So much so, in fact, that I was looking forward to diving into the latest expansion, Dawn of Ragnarok, even after over 100 hours spent in the base game.
While the core of what makes Valhalla great is still present in the Ragnarok DLC, there’s a lot less ambition present. Rather than being a fresh experience, it’s more like a retread of what I’ve already been through.
Players control Eivor once again, this time fully embracing her destiny as the Norse God Odin. Similar to certain missions in the main campaign, she steps into her dreams as the deity to figure out how to stop the impending doom known as Ragnarok. Players control Eivor throughout this new story, though she is referred to as Havi (Odin) in a new environment known as Svartalfheim.
Svartalfheim is a mythical dwarven realm, and arguably one of the nicest vistas the series has thrown players into. It’s a gorgeous environment full of mythical creatures like giant boars and enemies known as Muspels. The grand scale that was present in the base game is still here, as is the freedom to explore every inch of the map.
Similar to what I would do in Vahalla, I found myself running down the main path, only to get distracted by something cool on the way there. Sometimes there’s a cave full of hidden gear, or maybe it’s an angry bear that’s hell-bent on ruining my day. There’s also a group of assassins roaming the map, similar to the Order in Valhalla‘s main campaign.
While these distractions are enjoyable, the overall structure feels too similar to what we already have. Instead of an epic, mind-blowing adventure, I was going through the motions as missions play out similarly — investigate an area, eliminate enemies, talk to NPCs to gather info and then kill more enemies.
That’s not to say it’s bad though. The same great combat is here, with a few new tweaks and additions. The main one is being able to absorb different godlike powers from enemies. Being able to wipe out a group of Muspels and then reviving them to fight for me ruled, and disguising myself as one of them and gain the ability to walk on lava and move undetected in heavily guarded areas was also great. My favorite, however, was being able to turn into a raven and fly around the map. It adds a lot to the traversal and makes getting around the large map so much easier.
I also enjoyed many of the boss fights. Going up against massive enemies that look like they came out of a Souls game was cool, especially with the opening boss wielding an ax and fire-based attacks. These were some of the hardest fights I’ve encountered in the series, and they provided plenty of challenge.
The absolute best part of the Ragnarok DLC, however, isn’t even a feature exclusive to it.
In late February, Ubisoft released Title Update 1.50.0, which added a host of new accessibility features that let players customize aspects of the gameplay. A custom difficulty option allowed me to tweak stuff like the parry window, how much damage Eivor receives, and even how level scaling works. There’s also no penalty for tweaking these, so being able to make the game easier and more forgiving lets players of any skill level experience everything Valhalla has to offer. It’s an amazing toolset that I hope other developers take note of.
One final thing Ragnarok did that I enjoyed was the ability to play with a boost in my overall level.
If players aren’t at the recommended level for this postgame DLC, they’re allowed to boost their stats. That enhanced level carries over into the main game as well. Similarly, if their gear isn’t up to snuff, the game loans out new weapons, armor, and other crucial pieces of kit to help them out, though these can’t be upgraded or taken into the base game. Funny enough, the weapons I had were slightly better than the ones loaned out to me, but the feature is great nonetheless. It takes that more ‘streamlined’ approach to RPGs and really runs with it, allowing any potential difficulty spikes to be eased without sacrificing the enjoyment.
Despite these welcome new additions, I still felt that Ragnarok suffers from playing things too safe. It’s just more Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, for better or worse. For players who truly can’t get enough of Eivor, this is another winner. However, players like me who were looking for a slightly fresher spin after 100+ hours are likely better off waiting to see where Ubisoft takes the series next.
Disclosures: This DLC is published and developed by Ubisoft. It is available on PS4/5 PC, XBO/X/S and Stadia. This copy was obtained via publisher for review and was reviewed on PS5. Approximately 15 hours were spent in single-player and was not completed (still playing). There is no multiplayer. Approximately 100 hours were spent in the base game and earlier expansions that were completed before playing the DLC.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs and Alcohol. The official description reads as follows: This is an action-adventure game in which players assume the role of a Viking mercenary (Eivor) who travels through England to forge alliances, lead raids, and defeat rival clans/rulers. Players explore open-world environments, perform missions (e.g., hunting for items, battling enemies), and use stealth to discreetly kill human targets. Players also use swords, axes, arrows, and siege weapons to kill multiple enemies (e.g., soldiers, mythic boss characters) in frenetic melee-style combat. Combat is highlighted by screams of pain and frequent blood-splatter effects. Some weapons allow players to decapitate enemies; zoomed-in sequences depict victims’ bones, organs, and muscles getting damaged by players’ blade. The game contains some sexual material: a mission taking place in a brothel; topless women straddling men; a character agreeing to “lay with” a man (kissing is depicted before the scene fades to black). A handful of sequences depict screen distortion/discoloration and impaired movements after players’ character consumes mushrooms or inhales mushroom-based fumes (dialogue states, “I may still be buzzing from these mushrooms.”). Players’ character can also engage in a drinking contests; later sequences depict the character stumbling as the screen tilts and blurs. The words “f**k” and “c*nt” appear in the dialogue.
Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are present in the options menu.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers: I spent most of my time playing the game on mute and found no issues. Everything has some visual cue and the subtitles could be resized. There is also the option to include closed captioning to clearly label every noise in the game world. This content is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: Yes, the game does offer remappable controls and there is a control diagram. The Y-axis can be changed.