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Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok Expansion Review-

19/3/22

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In the latest major Assassin's Creed expansion, Odin (Havi) travels to the land of Svartalfheim in search of his lost son Baldr. Dawn of Ragnarok acts as an interesting addition to Assassin's Creed Valhalla, introducing a huge new map and captivating storyline, but fails to add much substance for long time fans of Assassin's Creed looking for answers.

Players are treated to absolutely breathtaking landscapes, intriguing story arcs and memorable side characters, but the expansion does not do enough to make it a satisfying addition to the Assassin's Creed franchise. The Dawn of Ragnarok expansion is very much aimed at fans who enjoyed the Jotunheim/Asgard portions of Assassin's Creed Valhalla, diving even deeper into Norse mythology. Fantasy is prevalent, as the vail is thicker than ever, with little 'Assassin's Creed' lore hidden beneath. Fire Giants, Lava pools and Dwarves inhabit Svartalfheim. It's hard to imagine the 'real' Isu memories behind the events, as the game goes too far in creating a fantasy land. The whole expansion could in-fact work well as a stand-alone spin-off series for the franchise, as Eivor's story is not really progressed in any way. The internal conflict between Odin and her own thoughts are not addressed as it was in the main game, creating distortion. Are the visions allowing Odin to take control of her thoughts? (as was the case with Basim & Loki). 

It's immediately clear that Eivor isn't the focus of this expansion. The real focus is that of a broken Odin, verging on the cusp of madness, as he charges his way through Svartalfheim.

Edited by Ashlea Blackett

About the Author

Col is the Community Admin for The Ones Who Came Before, and one of the Community Builders for The Mentors Guild.

He is also a former Ubisoft Star Player, and has spent the last 6 years working within the Assassin's Creed community on countless projects.

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Colum Blackett

A Deeply Poetic and thoughtful Saga that embraces a
chaotic path towards vainglorious self-destruction 

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The World

Top Stories

Story

Combat

Conclusion

Review contains Major Spoilers

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Assassin's Creed Valhalla Dawn of Ragnarok: 6.5/10

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The teams behind Assassin's Creed are getting really good at creating fantasy worlds. Svartalfheim is in-fact the largest realm created for Valhalla, with a huge map to explore. The land of the dwarves was once a magnificent landscape, but thanks to the invading Musphel presence, scorched plains and death litters the land. Under the command of Sutr, Musphels put the Dwarves to work, mining deep within caves, and creating weapons for their army. Although the invading forces leave their mark upon Svartalfheim, it is still a visually impressive and colourful realm. Players will no doubt make use of the Photo Mode whilst freeroaming the land, stopping to take incredible shots at every opportunity. One thing that I noticed during my playthrough is that the weather in Svartalfheim is not as dynamic as in the Assassin's Creed Valhalla main game. Fog does appear when near a cursed area, but the majority of the weather is clear, at both day and night. I did however like how the surroundings change depending on which enemy controls the territory. The beautiful tranquil scenery can change from summertime nature to winter snow or even volcanic lava in the blink of an eye. Ice trees are a particularly impressive addition to the game. Dwarven shelters are a stand-out world addition, with each one having a different appearance. Most are hidden deep within caves, but do a good job at showcasing Dwarven history and traditions.

There are many different collectibles to discover in Svartalfheim, and several new materials also make an appearance. Odin can collect uncut gemstones, platinum ingot and silica are, all of which are resources which can be used to upgrade and enhance gear. The expansion also brings back Opal, a rare stone used as payment at Reda's merchant stall. He too reappears, adding fuel to theories that he is an immortal being who sells his wares throughout time, never aging. This is most likely just an Easter egg. but it was really fun to see. The top secret Thousand Eyes guild can be found in Dwarven Shelters, once again providing quests for the player to complete in exchange for precious opal. The once illusive resource can be found everywhere in the Dwarven kingdom, for those who take the time to explore. Reda's weekly reset and daily additions also return, making it worthwhile to complete missions for The Thousand Eyes guild. Some of the gear you can purchase also automatically has divine quality status, meaning you don't need to grind to upgrade it. Similar to the Valhalla main game, DOR also locks away gear across the land, hidden in enemy camps. They are well worth collecting, as they provide Odin with a unique look that was not possible in the main game realms. Players will once again use their surroundings to replenish Odin's equipment. Arrows can be collected from tree stumps, or even battlefields, and resources such as iron ore can be used to increase gear quality. Hugr blooms are a new addition to the game, acting as a dynamic resource for replenishing Hugr. They grow all over Svartalfheim, and make the game even more beautiful. 

I was very pleased to see the return of World Events, which were excellent in the Assassin's Creed Valhalla main game. They once again shine, drawing out the many sides of Odin's personality. Although he is often selfish in nature,  the world events reflect his cunning resourcefulness when it comes to overcoming problems. Nothing will stand in the way of Havi when a challenge is presented, and the world events provide an excellent platform to showcase this. Cursed areas also return, but this time they feature difficult light puzzles, where multiple skulls need to be destroyed to lift the curse. Light puzzles are heavily featured in the expansion, and generally present more of a challenge than the main game. Many take place deep within Dwarven ruins. Multiple steps are required to access chests and gear sets, but the light puzzles  may become tiresome for those wishing to collect everything. Long gone are the days of parkour puzzles, where Ezio would freerun his way through a crypt to collect ancient gear and weaponry. At times, DOR feels like it uses puzzles as an obstacle, rather than a challenge. Once you've completed a light puzzle, you know exactly what you're looking for. Although they can be hard at times, more variety is needed for future puzzles. Valhalla did this well, scattering keys in caves across the land that eventually unlock Excalibur. 

Another feature that returns from the main game is raiding. Musphel camps can be found all over Svartalfheim. This feature was slightly immersion breaking, as Odin's raids like a Viking. Eivors crew turns up with Ravensthorpe shields. It would have made more sense to have Asgardian warriors appear. Raids are once again satisfying, providing resources which can be used to enhance gear and weaponry.This time however, you don't feel a sense of guilt for attacking. In Valhalla, Eivor attacks monasteries and churches, as a Viking would. Odin attacks Musphel camps, liberating the captive dwarves, although this certainly is not his motive. I particularly enjoyed syncing the viewpoints in the Dawn of Ragnarok expansion, as the world is incredibly stunning. Photo mode was used many times during my playthrough, especially at the top of viewpoints. I think the team did a particularly good job at copying across activities from the main game to fill the realm of Svartalfheim, and changed them all up slightly to make them different. Considering how large the realm is, I would say that the team added a good amount of activities to keep players busy outside of the main storyline. It's a dynamic world that provides an array of enemies and beauty, making it particularly memorable in comparison to other realms, or even those available in Assassin's Creed Origins & Odyssey. The old argument about fantasy realms not being needed in Assassin's Creed games may gnaw in the back of some minds, but it's clear that the team are getting increasingly better at making them more and more dynamic. To improve, I would suggest that future development teams look a weather mechanics and increasing randomised encounters. That being said though, DOR does enough to make Svartalfheim interesting and otherworldly.

In the most ambitious expansion in franchise history, Eivor must embrace their destiny as Odin, the Norse god of Battle and Wisdom. Unleash new divine powers as you embark on a desperate quest through a breathtaking world. Complete a legendary Viking saga and save your son in the face of the gods’ doom.

The expansion begins with Eivor Wolf-kissed, who is once again looking for answers regarding her memories of Odin. Valka once again acts as the gatekeeper to other realms, handing Eivor the keys to Odin's journey. By completing initial quests for Valka, Eivor learns how to view the memories locked away inside her. We join Havi during a dark time in his saga, as he searches the realm of Svartalfheim for information about his missing son, Baldr. Once again, the excellent voice performances by Magnus Bruun and Cecilie Stenspil make the experience worthwhile. As always, both voice actors excel at providing an engaging experience for players. The expansion is made even more engrossing by an excellent soundtrack created by Stephanie Economou.

The new side characters that act as allies to Odin are unfortunately all mistreated in some way, as Odin finds a variety of ways of using people, caring little about the suffering around him, and focussing solely on his own pain. At one point, The High One helps grieving Dwarves bury their kinsman, purely with the intention of gaining favour with them, to extract information from them. One particularly interesting addition was the return of Ivaldi, who has since built a reputation for himself, and even inspired a resistance group to rise in the wake of his kidnapping. One cool thing I noticed during DOR is that Ivaldi's beard grows as the story continues, showing the passing of time. I enjoyed the moments of light, as they work well to break up the overall dark tone of the expansion. Although Odin is a very serious and brooding character, he does provide a quip every now and then that makes you smile. The side quests and World events in particular do a good job at providing some much needed humour.

The expansion makes a real effort to explore the relationships Sutr has with his own family, but players will quickly notice that the majority of this is done off-screen. Sutr's family members are spread across the map acting on his behalf, helping the war efforts. By taking them down one by one, Odin gets a step closer to uncovering the truth about his missing son, and in the process, helps weaken the Musphel presence and the brigs the Dwarves closer to freedom, although this is an afterthought for The High One. Eysa is arguably the best new side character, turning on her own family to help Odin rescue his son, and put a stop to the Musphel invasion of Svartalfheim. Her change of allegiance makes her ending simply more tragic. She has a good heart, and is the most reasonable member of Sutr's family. For a moment, her interactions with Odin almost feel flirtatious, suggesting a romance could have potentially brewed between the pair, but the game's ending quickly snuffs out this spark. She's also the most memorable of the new side characters, due to her intriguing look and clever mind. Upon the destruction of his family, Sutr does not respond with the same sense of loss as Odin does, and is solely focussed on controlling the Salakar. This could represent an early conflict over the Pieces of Eden between battling Isu tribes, but the real truth behind the events remains locked away for now.

One thing that Dawn of Ragnarok did really well is expand upon the information gathering mechanic established in the main game, and goes even further to make it better than ever. Odin tracks down targets by collecting information from his surroundings, and it makes the game feel like you have to work slightly to learn. An example of this is when Odin is tracking the Dwarven Shelters by following markers that point the way. Later in the story, he also disguises himself as a Musphel to intimidate information out of a Dwarven worker. Some of the most interesting pieces of dialogue are when Havi is thinking outloud. He often ponders on his broken friendship with Loki, and regrets the events that lead to his imprisonment. It's clear that these events weighs heavy on the High One, but he has nobody he can talk too, so he simply says them outloud. By seeking revenge for his son, Odin in a way finds a toxic coping strategy, leading to the destruction of Sutr and his family. This takes his mind off Asgard, as he becomes distracted in a far away land. The dialogue regarding Loki feels intentional, potentially hinting at future expansions regarding upcoming conflicts. One thing that I particularly liked about DOR is that it will have the player question Odin and his choices, as he constantly blames Loki for all that has gone wrong. Some of his decisions feel rash and unnecessary, as he spreads his chaos across the land in a selfish fury. This distinguishes Eivor and Odin, making the Viking the more likeable and reasonable of the pair.

The main storyline's ending is technically split into three parts. The first ending is abrupt, as Sutr is defeated after killing Brokkr, and the credits roll. Many questions remain. What does it all mean? What really happened? After the credits, it is hinted that Havi should visit a Dwarven shelter. Although this is not marked in the quest log, it does provided the second of three endings, making it a secret for fans who miss the short line of dialogue. In the shelter, Hyrokkin suggests that by embarking on a vengeful crusade away from Asgard, Havi himself has ignited Ragnarok. By defeating Sutr, minions from Musphelheim begin raising an army to seek revenge, and Loki is given the time he needs to escape and unbind his captive son, Fenrir the World Eater. Odin must finally face the consequences of his actions. It will leave you wondering what is yet to come, and will the conflicts leading to the events of Ragnarok damage Odin even further. Although it is an entertaining but bleak addition to Assassin's Creed, it leaves more questions than answers, that may leave you drained of energy as the death toll rises. Expect nothing less than pain when Havi goes on a rampage. The final ending takes place when Eivor awakes from her vision, and reflects on what she has learned. Death has the potential to be an ending or a new beginning, but each day must be lived with purpose and strength. Her goal of protecting the land is rejuvenated, and her drive to fight and protect Ravensthorpe is stronger than ever. Each day must be lived well, as the wolf will one day claim them all. Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok is a deeply poetic and thoughtful Saga that embraces a chaotic path towards vainglorious self-destruction.

Parkour

Stealth

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New Features

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Dawn of Ragnarok is an excellent addition to Assassin's Creed Valhalla for those who enjoyed the fantasy aspects of the main game, but the major let-down is that it does not contain much Assassin's Creed lore, even for those who dig.

Assassin's Creed as a series is at a transition period, merging many different concepts together in search of its lost identity. The Valhalla main game did a great job at tying up loose threads and acting as a continuation of the 'Sage' concept first established in Black Flag. Long time fans of the series must once again use a microscope to find the tiny breadcrumbs of lore that are scattered throughout the world, and make sense of 'the truth, which in theory must exist beneath the layers of mythology. It's incredibly sad that longtime fans feel that they are no longer the target audience for Assassin's Creed. Although it is still possible for veterans of the franchise to enjoy the new additions, many feel it's simply no longer for them, and DOR doesn't do much to convince them otherwise. 

Ubisoft set a high price point for expansion, $40, and failed to include the expansion in the Assassin's Creed Valhalla Season Pass, meaning players had to pay even money to fully complete a 2 year old game. 

It's surprising that a Year 2 Season Pass was not announced before the launch of this expansion. The same goes for the Dawn of Ragnarok Official Game Soundtrack, which was also not included in the Assassin's Creed Valhalla Season Pass. 

 

- Quite a dark story overall, with an abrupt conclusion.          at times it feels completely disconnected from the main game, and does nothing to bridge the connection between Odin and Eivor. For her, it's simply further exploration of memories locked within, rather than a further attempt to control consciousness.

The unsatisfactory ending            does not do enough with Eivor

Upon completion, I felt an overwhelming sense of loss, as the expansion contains an extreme amount of unnecessary death. Odin, in his blind rage, loses most of the people who try to help him find Baldr, and shows little care as his sole focus is the loss of his son. 

Dawn of Ragnarok has a great range of enemies, such as Jotums, Musphels, War Hogs, Chosen Warriors, Wolves and Giant Ravens. Odin will encounter these threats whilst exploring the lands of Svartalfheim. To balance the odds against these mythical foe, new attacks have been added to the skill tree, along with a new arsenal of weapons. Enemies can now breath fire, throw lava, resurrect the fallen and work together in an attempt to lower your health. Musphels range in ability, but I found that many attempted to push Odin backwards towards lava, which can damage health more than the actual fight. This is a clever feature, as they know that the Asgardian can not handle the fires of Musphelheim. 

 

Some of the more interesting combat challenges are Sinmara's Chosen warriors. 'The Chosen' are a set of highly trained warriors that seek to defeat 'The High One' in combat. Each warrior has different weapons and abilities, making them particularly difficult to defeat. The hidden blade animation that featured in the main game reappears, allowing Odin to dispatch them with honour. Depending on your level, they really can take a bit of time to defeat, with some resurrecting nearby dead enemies to fight alongside them. Poison is an effective tool to use against Musphels, with fire damage doing very little to decrease health. During my playthrough, the Chosen all worked well with nearby Musphel patrols to attack Havi at different times. Sometimes, the Chosen will even stand back and shoot lava attacks whilst the patrols provide the heavy strikes. This was interesting, as it even suggests a form of hierarchy in the Musphel army, with the Chosen outranking the normal foot soldiers. 

 

The best addition to combat is the new fighting arena game mode, as it poses a real challenge for the player. By this point in the game, it's clear that The Lord of Asgard is incredibly proud of his achievements, revelling in his own glory. Odin meets with Kára, one of the Valkyrie's training warriors in order to prepare for Ragnarok, who is less than impressed by his lack of care for duties outside Asgard. This creates a fun dialogue opportunity, as Odin tries to win back her admiration by telling tales of his greatness. Rather than choosing dialogue options however to best impress her (like flyting), the game introduces a system of 'boasts', which add a series of controls to increase the difficulty of Odin's battle in the fighting arena. Odin can face some of the hardest enemies from the main game, or even new ones from the DLC like Sutr and Sinmara. It's a nice addition to the game, and I was especially impressed with the way it plays out as if Odin is telling a tale after the player defeats a wave of enemies. You also feel a sense of achievement when defeating main game enemies once again, as it shows the progression between then and now. A good example of this are the Swamp Witches, who were particularly difficult to defeat in the main game, but can be quickly subdued in the Fighting Arena. You realise how far you have come, and how powerful level 400+ makes Odin/Eivor with all the new skills and weaponry.

Fighting Arena Game Mode really does stand out as an excellent addition to the game. You can earn tokens in the fighting arena to spend at Kára's shop, which hosts a range of new gear, weapons and runes. The All-Father gear set is of particular note, as it gives Odin back his original image. 

One thing that broke the immersion for me was the raiding feature, which returns from the main game. Odin can call on Eivor's group of Ravensthorpe Vikings to raid Svartalfheim locations. It would have made more sense to have Odin travel with a group of Asgardian Warriors, rather than have Eivor implant her own memories of raiding to fill this gap.

As was mentioned in the Combat section, 'The Chosen' are powerful mythical warriors that hunt Odin across

Svartalfheim. The system acts as an extension of the Zealot system from the Assassin's Creed Valhalla main game, which provided some of the most challenging combat experiences. Defeat them all to demonstrate Odin's prowess in battle.

Divine Gear 

Fireside stories were excellent

Parkour is the one pillar that isn't improved upon in the expansion. Generally, parkour is once again problematic, often feels redundant at times due to the 'power of the raven'. As a player, why would you climb an extremely tall mountain when you can literally turn into a bird and fly there. 

basic parkour to access dwarven shelters

best parkour sequence is right at the end of the expansion, as Odin runs away from Sutr the fire giant.

Many    are unclimbable.         Overhaul needed   enhanced

Stealth unfortunately is just as problematic as it was in the Assassin's Creed Valhalla main game. Guards are vigilant and will spot Odin very quickly, particularly in open areas. Even when walking cloaked in suspect areas, Musphels will notice Odin and raise the alarm. At times, it feels like the game is encouraging you to favour a combat approach, offering little that would make you want to play with stealth. Also, all of the marketing for the expansion focussed on combat, and showed very little in terms of stealth. Finally, the benefits of stealth are exactly the same as combat when it comes to defeating enemies, offering now reward for doing so. In fact it can take even longer to dispatch enemies one at a time with the hidden blade. The best addition to this core pillar of the franchise is the Power of the Musphel, which is a new stealth mechanic that allows Odin to transform into one. This can be used for multiple purposes, such as sneaking past guards, intimidating information from Dwarves, or leaving combat at any point. Other than this addition, the expansion doesn't really expand upon main game stealth at all. It's also worth mentioning that the Power of the Musphel is a timed power, meaning it runs out and Odin returns to his normal appearance.

 

I was glad to see the Hidden Blade assassination timing mechanism return, as one of the main problems with Assassin's Creed Odyssey was that higher level enemies could not be killed with the blade, even at close quarters, which is extremely unrealistic. Stealth feels like an afterthought, and will rarely cross the player's mind with such a high range of combat manoeuvres that can quickly overpower enemies. The expansion, like the main game, offers a very limited range of stealth weapons. Archery is once again the best ranged weaponry to help with a stealth approach, especially when using the Predator bow, which can be accurate from long distances. By adding more stealth based weapons to the game, players could be encouraged to try something different. Previous Assassin's Creed games have featured poison darts, rope darts and berserk darts, but DOR unfortunately offers nothing like this to help the player. It would also have been interesting to have seen more of a range of disguises. There's no doubt that if the game had been about Loki rescuing his son rather than Odin, the developers would have looked at various disguises and tricks to sneak past guards. Odin is more of a blunt instrument that his former friend, favouring a brute force approach rather than a clever trick. Going forward, more attention is needed to the Stealth pillar, which distinguishes Assassin's Creed from other franchises. It needs attention, and Valhalla took a big step in re-establishing social stealth which had long since been discarded. A fresh look is needed, and the team behind Assassin's Creed should question what tools are needed to be stealthy in an enemy filled environment.