Did you will know Dublin would be a Viking settlement at some point? My American education will probably blame, but I’d only known of the Viking’s history with England up to I played the first expansion DLC for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Wrath of the Druids. Turns out the Northmen were really involved in Ireland, though Wrath from the Druids is certainly not an accurate historical representation.
For example, the King of Dublin so happens to be Eivor’s cousin. Turns out having a bloodthirsty Viking raider in the family has its perks, so King Barid requests Eivor’s help handling a local dilemma. It’s this basic conceit that propels us out of England and in to the rolling green gales of Ireland proper. From there it’s a tale of power, betrayal, and honor. You know, a standard Valhalla tale.
Wrath from the Druids is more of the same, for better and for worse.
After Eivor meets and runs an errand for the foreign merchant Azar they’ll get passage towards the misty green isle, and upon setting foot upon the Dublin docks players will discover themselves embroiled in a plot relating to the newly crowned High King of Ireland, Flann Sinna, and group of radial pagans called the Kids of Danu.
I prefer to avoid spoilers within my reviews, so I’ll summarize the tale as thus: it is very, much like another regional narratives in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. It's largely self-contained and it has little effect on the primary narrative. It features a wholly unique cast of characters, and something of them may or may not really be among the bad guys.
It’s a good, fun yarn overall and a fine diversion in the main game. Wrath from the Druids seems like an all natural extension from the core experience that launched in November of this past year, and this feeling carries over into the land of Ireland itself and just what you’ll do therein. The expansion happens in roughly the northern half of the island, as well as in total it’s in regards to a quarter the size of England’s map. The typical fare of additional tasks dot the maps, from resource-laden Wealth markers to the standard run of Mysteries we’ve played to death within the regular game.
While the general design and flow of Ireland isn’t different than from say Cant or Wessex, it is perhaps certainly one of Ubisoft’s best maps visually. The vibrant green glens and forests break method to towering crags and sheer cliffs, making Ireland perhaps certainly one of Assassin’s Creeds more vertical maps, and I’d argue it’s among the best areas in all of Valhalla.
Say what you should about Ubisoft’s recent obsession with generating obscenely large open-worlds, but Ireland easily ranks among their best. It’s gorgeous, well laid-out, and also the size is just right for a twenty-hour experience. Sure, still it takes a while to navigate Ireland on either foot or horseback, however the scenic route is really worth taking (you’ll swiftly learn why rainbows adorn damn near every stereotypical Irish decoration).
Mechanically, Wrath of the Druids is more of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and I’m not saying that to be reductive. By and large the core gameplay loops that comprise the bottom game are here and offer within the expansion. There are a couple of wrinkles though, such as the Trading Outposts and Trade system which are a cross between your settlement development and traditional Ubisoft outpost liberations.
You’ll still perform raids in Ireland (though your doing so doesn’t exactly jive using the main story), however this time you’ll make use of the resources to upgrade the number of Trading Outposts scattered across Ireland (after you’ve liberated them, of course). These outposts generate one of four trade materials unique towards the expansion, which are then redeemed at Azar’s look for cosmetics, further supplies, and to increase Dublin’s trade rank, which unlocks additional “trade partners” for more rewards.
There are four armor sets tucked away within the Trading system, which makes it well suited for new players looking to round out their armory early in the sport. Other than that, it’s a good way to earn some silver when the major rewards have been redeemed, so while it’s not entirely exciting for returning players, it does enable them to generate some relatively residual income.
The new Royal Demands are less exciting. Part way into Wrath of the Druids story you’ll unlock these randomized missions, and they’re a decent way to farm up resources if you’re bored. They come with additional secondary objectives, called King’s Pleas, that will double the amount rewards earned if completed. These Pleas have a tendency to focus on precise stealth gameplay, so for those of you out there searching for a proper reason to run a stealth build in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla these Royal Demands may scratch that itch.
Other compared to those a couple of things and three new abilities that can be found, Wrath of the Druids is really just a lot of same. You unlock a small assassination tree set exclusively in Ireland that actually works exactly like the Order from the Ancients mechanic within the base game. The points of great interest are mainly all the same because they are in England, though with no entertaining mini-stories. There’s a new Trials from the Morrigan event, but it’s really just a number of combat trials against the new druid faction.
Which is itself . . . s’okay. They are fast, brutal attackers which are fine to fight in small groups, but are a stun-locking nightmare in larger numbers. Since Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s combat tends to trip over its own animations, fighting the druids can occasionally seem like a true test of patience over skill. They’re a fine new set of enemies, but Valhalla’s combat can’t always keep track of their constant unrelenting assaults.
Overall, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Wrath from the Druids is really a solid first expansion. It doesn’t reinvent the formula or introduce anything radically new, like the DLC for Ubisoft’s other recent open-world title, Immortals: Fenyx Rising, but it does what it sets to do, and does it well.
If you are still enjoying Valhalla then Wrath of the Druids may be worth a gander. Hopefully the Siege of Paris expansion breaks the mold just a little, until then this first expansion provides a serviceable excuse to revisit Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, if simply to tour about 9th century Ireland.