The Assassin’s Creed (AC) series, at this point, is like an aircraft’s autopilot. Ubisoft can keep launching them, and barring very serious mistakes, the French video game company will keep making its money. But with the third DLC (downloadable content) for Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, it seems clear that the company cares only about quantity now. Which is painful for AC fans like me, who have bought every game and DLC this series has ever had.
At this point, I’ve spent 162 hours and 16 minutes on this game, and this is the fourth review I’m writing about it. Dawn of Ragnarok is the third and final DLC (downloadable content) title for Valhalla, and I could sum up its review with everything I’ve said for the last three — great visuals, lots to do, but a disappointing story.
Let’s start with the good things
To be sure, it’s not that Dawn of Ragnarok has absolutely nothing new. Where Seige of Paris and Wrath of Druids (the previous two DLCs) were more of the same, the landscape in this game feels different often, and is almost as vast as the original England map in the main game, if not just as large.
More importantly, it has new powers that a player can use. Instead of parkouring up to a viewpoint, I often choose to save some time and fly. In addition, I can raise the dead to fight alongside me, walk on lava, freeze enemies and assassinate people by inexplicably teleporting behind them.
For the uninitiated, viewpoints are those famous AC locations from which the character inexplicably takes a leap into a haystack and lives.
Assassin’s Creed has always been about the hidden blade on your arm, which the protagonist pulls out when you least expect it, to kill his or her enemies. This time, however, you get a second weapon on your other arm, called the “Hugr Rip”, which gives you all those powers I just mentioned. Unlocking them and using them judiciously is a new experience, and the five new powers you get don’t get old as fast as you would imagine.
But the new experiences end here. The other good thing about Dawn of Ragnarok is that you have a whole new, mesmerising scenario to look at. I’ve always changed my laptop and phone’s wallpapers with screenshots I took while playing the game. If there’s one game in the last two years that was made explicitly for 4K HDR resolutions that new generation gaming consoles support, it’s this one.
That said, I was disappointed with the depiction of the fire giants and Surtr. In older consoles, like the Xbox One X, the fire and lava often overshadows the actual details in these characters.
What’s not so good?
Would you be disappointed if you spent a 100-odd hours on any activity and didn’t get a fulfilling ending? That’s exactly the case with Valhalla and its various DLCs. But while the base game, Wrath of Druids and Seige of Paris had generally boring stories with abrupt endings, Dawn of Ragnarok suffers from a poor conclusion.
For fans of Assassin’s Creed’s rich lore, Dawn of Ragnarok should have brought answers, or at the very least some interesting questions.
You play the norse god Odin this time, or Havi as he’s known in the game, who is going up against the fire giant Surtr to save his son. It explores Odin’s character splendidly, showing you continuously how gods can be fallible. In doing so, it also explores an interesting part of the game’s lore too — the Isu.
Assassin’s Creed has presented gods of our various mythologies as an extinct class of superhumans, who actually created humans. It has repeatedly hinted that these superhumans were just as fallible as we, the humans, are. In Dawn of Ragnarok, it brings this concept home through Odin and gets one step closer to how they perished because of their own mistakes.
However, when Dawn of Ragnarok ends you’re sort of left asking – was that it? Did the story really just end there? The credits roll, your character says a line and you have a glimmer of hope that there’s more. And then the game disappoints you once again, as you ask yourself the same question.
After spending 162 plus hours in the game, such repeated disappointments have left me with a sour taste in my mouth, despite everything that is good about it.
Should you buy it?
If you’re an Assassin’s Creed fan like myself, you have probably already bought this DLC, which you can get from the Xbox and PlayStation stores. If you’re a fan of the lore, you should still buy it despite the bland story. It seems to at least set us up for future Assassin’s Creed titles that will be fully based on the Isu, which is an enticing proposition for us fans.
Having said that, it’s tough to see the game abandon its core elements of stealth and storytelling. Valhalla isn’t the first game to ditch stealth for hack and slash type fighting, and it probably won’t be the last. But if Ubisoft wants gamers to continue investing in this game, the company has to focus more on the stories rather than simply adding more content that will bloat up the game.