It seems like Ragnarök has been coming back more and more often lately. Marvel did it with Thor a few years ago. Sony is about to do just that with the God of War franchise. Neil Gaiman keeps writing about it. And now Assassin’s Creed is taking its own version of the Norse End Times with the “Dawn of Ragnarok” expansion for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Discover, Eivor, visions of Odin’s quest to save his son Baldar from the clutches of Surtr, who has invaded Svartalfaheim with the combined might of Muspels and Jotuns.
“Dawn of Ragnarok” is Assassin’s Creed’s biggest DLC to date, bringing players into an entirely new, expansive, and truly unique world. The DLC is essentially a continuation of the base game’s Asgard and Jotunheim Sagas, taking players to the land of the dwarves as Surtr conquers their kingdom and Odin fights to ward off his visions of Ragnarök. But things were already set in motion in previous stories and the kidnapping of Baldar does not bode well for the rest of the cycle. It’s a bit confusing to follow if you think about it too much. You play a video game in which you control a modern type character who uses a machine to relive the story of a long-dead Viking who, using magic potions, relives his past life as a Norse High God Odin. Who, by the way, is actually an ancient being called Isu and I won’t even try to explain further from there because I’ll probably get something wrong, it’s so complex.
But if you’re not an Assassin’s Creed story buff, don’t worry. The DLC can really stand on its own. In fact, one might wonder why this was published as a Assassin’s Creed Valhalla DLC and not a standalone project when it’s not even about the main character of the game you’re playing. To that, I say, let me come back to that later. But for the game as it stands, the story is easy to get into even if you haven’t completed the other Odin stories in the base game. It’s also one of the strongest stories of any Assassin’s Creed DLC to date.
The story of father and son is immediately emotionally charged. You are thrust into the role of Odin as he and Frigg search for their missing son. I’m often disappointed with the way Assassin’s Creed stories set up big emotional stakes and fail to follow because they’re too busy throwing out last-minute stories (ask me what I think of that). ‘Assassin’s Creed Unity). But here we have an isolated story that certainly fits into the larger mythos but isn’t distracted from it throughout. It also gives other characters old and new, especially Eysa, time to grow on you in a way that base game side characters often felt like a way to get to the end of a quest.
“Dawn of Ragnarok” also adds many new gameplay elements, especially the Hugr Rip. This new doohickey essentially lets you harness the spirit of your fallen enemies and use it in one of five magic powers. Each of them is distinct and has repeat value in combat, stealth, and exploration. In fact, I found myself really craving those powers when I finished the DLC and started playing the base game again. I appreciate that they’re all unique and have repeat value rather than feeling like gimmicks like so many new skills and weapon types compared to the previous DLC. They are fun to play and have made discovering all the secrets of Svartalfaheim the most fun in a while.
Of course, Svartalfaheim itself is also a huge draw. It’s a vibrant new world filled with golden mountains, crystalline caverns, and large stones that fill the landscape with something new around every corner. The enemy Muspel looks epic with fire hair and the Jotun have a major improvement in their appearance from the base game. The main characters are all downright amazing with truly unique designs and appearances.
Unlike previous DLC’s Francia, it’s worth exploring every inch of the map, including its newly accessible skies. Some of the world events are also pretty fresh, and the Hugr powers really help to mix up the puzzle solving from the hundreds of highly repetitive hours of previous gameplay. The Valkyre Arena is also a nice addition for those who want to challenge themselves to earn the best new armor in the game.
One of my main issues is that I wanted more. For such a high price, my little over 20 hours to complete almost everything was fun, but not necessarily enough. I suspect it may not be the end of yet Assassin’s Creed Valhalla for the moment, in which case, I say well. I love the game and how totally immersive it is in a very enjoyable time. It has some of the best quest-finding exploration integrations the series has ever had. But like I said. Ragnarök comes up quite often these days. And the reality is, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has a rather weak combat system that makes it hard not to draw comparisons to other contemporary iterations of Ragarök. There are some truly epic bosses and theoretically awesome fights.
But even when playing on the absolute highest difficulty, I found it mostly a breeze. Maybe I have too many levels or have played too many hours in this game? But the ease with which I beat even tough bosses left me lamenting my lack of a PlayStation, let’s just say. Assassin’s Creed isn’t known for its complex combat, but I maintain that combat in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey felt more challenging than the simple button mashing that this game tends to encourage.
I don’t play this game just for the fight though, I play it for the emersion and the story, and luckily “Dawn of Ragnarok” brings them both in spades. It’s an epic family tale with great emotional weight. I’m very happy with the direction this expansion has taken in the storytelling of Assassin’s Creed, I absolutely hope that Havi’s saga continues and allows us to experience the end times first hand, maybe explain a little more on the Isu, and continues the franchise’s knack for blending incredible environments with one-of-a-kind historical narrative.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok is available on Xbox, PlayStation, PC and Stadia on March 10.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok
Dawn of Ragnarok has a rich emersion and story in its epic family tale with great emotional weight
Pop culture is cool, but have you ever tried to analyze it through a historical and cultural lens so that you can not only understand the content more deeply? When Jason isn’t editing the podcast or thinking about the effects the media has on our lives, I’m working to develop sustainable food systems.