Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release: (Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC), (PlayStation 5)
Dawn of Ragnarok, the latest DLC for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, launches March 10. Ahead of the mythically themed content’s launch, I jumped in to get a sense of what awaits players in Svartalfheim. Over the 15 hours I spent with the DLC, I marveled at the magnificent environment. However, despite its end-of-the-world themes, the story wasn’t earth-shattering, and the new Powers, while entertaining, were not game-changing. If you loved Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and you want more of it, Dawn of Ragnarok provides that with a few interesting additions.
The expansion starts with Eivor receiving a blood-drenched vision that eventually prompts a trip to Ravensthorpe’s seer, Valka. She helps the Viking warrior enter a dream state where Eivor embodies Havi, one of the many names of Odin, Lord of Asgard. The expansion’s story occurs after the Asgardian content in the base game, but you don’t need to have experienced that content to understand what’s going on.
Dawn of Ragnarok gives new players a lot of consideration. Anyone not up to the power level requirement will get boosted when entering the vision, allowing them to jump straight into the action. However, Ubisoft’s consideration for first-timers makes the start of the expansion noticeably slow for those familiar with the adventure so far. The first few opening sequences feel like a tutorial with narrow paths to help get everyone up to speed on the mechanics. It’s also in these early hours that we learn the thrust of the plot. Baldr, the son of Odin and Frigg, has been captured by the Muspel king, Sutr. The fiery giant is right in the middle of conquering the beautiful Dwarven realm, so the angered parents travel to Svartalfheim to get their son back.
The narrative hook is not exceedingly compelling. I’ve spent well over 100 hours scouring the countryside with Eivor and only a few with the All-Father, even if they look the same while Eivor is in the vision. So, I didn’t find the desperate rescue mission for the god’s beloved son particularly moving. However, the story does a good job of encouraging players to explore the land, which is breathtaking. The landscape is a rich, deep green, and the sun filters through tall trees’ leaves to glint off gold-tinged bark. Crowning the realm are massive mountains with gilded peaks and monumental statues of Dwarven figures, all begging to be climbed. Enormous fragments of rock and magma loom in the air over the realm, and red branches of the World Tree erupt over the horizon. It’s almost worth the price of admission just to wander around.
Another highlight of the expansion is the Hugr-Rip and the Powers it introduces. This magical bracer grants Odin the ability to rip Powers from foes. Some allowed me to fly through the air, some to walk on lava, and others to build up an undead army for a short time. I enjoyed using all of these, especially when I had gathered enough materials on my raids to upgrade the bracer. But the Powers, which run out after a certain amount of time, don’t change the basic rhythm of the game. I had an easier time soaring up to synchronization points by transforming into a raven and Powers gave me a few more tricks up my sleeve for fighting and exploring, but overall, these god-like talents simply add flavor to a familiar recipe.
As the name Dawn of Ragnarok suggests, the DLC’s conclusion only seems to be the first step of an Odin-focused storyline. Despite pointing towards future content, the expansion’s ending is satisfying and can stand on its own. Ubisoft has reported it will take players around 35 hours or more to explore everything in the expansion. From finding new abilities, discovering unexpected side missions, picking up different collectibles, and winning the Valkyrie Kára’s approval in the Arena, there’s a lot of meat on this DLC. However, it took me roughly 15 hours to play through the story if that’s what you’re most interested in exploring.
Dawn of Ragnarok’s narrative kept me journeying through a captivating landscape, and the new elements added a creative twist on the base mechanics, but don’t expect this $40 DLC to break away from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s mold.
If you are craving more information on the specific Powers, locations, and more in Dawn of Ragnarok, check out this deep dive into the expansion’s hands-off preview.