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'Assassin's Creed Valhalla' Ireland Expansion Is Massive, Gorgeous, And Well Worth Checking Out

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'Assassin's Creed Valhalla' Ireland Expansion Is Massive, Gorgeous, And Well Worth Checking Out

Assassin's Creed Valhalla was easily one of my favourite games of 2020. Dropping at a time when it was inadvisable to leave the house, Ubisoft served up a perfect portion of open-world comfort food that delivered exactly what it needed to.

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Its take on a much older, untethered version of England was a stunning visual and technical achievement; all rolling green countryside and rivers that snaked through deep forests and sparkled in the sunlight. A meandering and badly-paced story did little to hold back the sheer feeling of joy I felt in simply existing in this world and tracking down its many unusual - and often genuinely hilarious - side quests and other distractions.

Wrath Of The Druids, the first of two planned major expansions for Assassin's Creed Valhalla, takes our hero Eivor away from the familiar faces of England to a new adventure in Ireland - but is this continuation of the viking saga worthy of your time?

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That depends. Wrath Of The Druids is, unsurprisingly, Assassin's Creed Valhalla-lite. There are no new major ideas on display in this DLC, nor any sort of huge deviation from the main adventure's formula. Any issues you may have had with the base game have not gone away, in other words. What you will get is a gorgeous new region to explore, and more of the same action and adventure that made Valhalla what it was.

Structurally, Wrath Of The Druids is more or less identical to the base game. After a quick mission in England to get the ball rolling, it's off to Dublin. Here, Eivor meets an old friend and becomes embroiled in yet another plot involving kings and conspiracy in an effort to shift the balance and establish powerful new allies... As was the case with pretty much every settlement quest in England. It's nothing desperately new, and the characters leave little impression after the credits roll, but it's a perfectly serviceable plot that acts as an excuse to cart players around Ireland.

The new map is terribly impressive, by the way. I've long dreamed of seeing Ubisoft bring its franchise to Ireland, and Wrath Of The Druids certainly delivers in terms of capturing the country's raw and wild beauty, from the craggy coasts and ancient tombs of Ulster to the thriving hub of Dublin itself. We don't get the entirety of Ireland to explore, sadly. The entire map is probably just a little larger than the base game's Norway, but much more densely packed with things to see and do. I'd say you'll get at least a dozen or so hours from this mini adventure, assuming you've a mind to comb every inch of map for secrets, ancient artefacts, and enemies.

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Assassin's Creed Valhalla / Credit: Ubisoft
Assassin's Creed Valhalla / Credit: Ubisoft

If you've played Assassin's Creed Valhalla - or any Ubisoft game, for that matter - you won't be too bowled over to discover that Ireland is filled with the kind of standard open-world fare these games have managed to refine over the years. The vast majority of these side activities are slight variations, but functionally exactly the same as most of what you did in England and Norway, from raiding forts to collect wealth to solving environmental puzzles to rid the land of "curses".

Ireland even has its own spin on England's settlements. Early on in the adventure, you're introduced to the concept of helping turn Dublin into a thriving trading hub. To do this, you need to liberate various outposts (by murdering everyone there, obviously), before upgrading their facilities and features with materials plundered from nearby churches. Helping build an Irish trade outpost by burning a church to the ground feels a bit like ripping a tyre off a car to fix the steering wheel, but whatever.

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Once you've established enough trade outposts, you'll be able to collect special materials that can be exchanged for various cosmetic goodies like armour and new sails for your longship. As someone whose Eivor is kitted out in a fully upgraded set of Thor's armour, I didn't feel a ton of incentive to engage with the trading business much, but it's still a fun way for collectors to complete sets and round out a killer wardrobe.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla / Credit: Ubisoft
Assassin's Creed Valhalla / Credit: Ubisoft

There are also a handful of pretty neat Druid challenges - which basically throw you into a ring with a set number of enemies - and a side mission that involves collecting a handful of ancient Irish artefacts to unlock a hidden treasure.

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Perhaps my greatest disappointment with Wrath Of The Druids is the relative lack of side quests. One of my favourite things about Valhalla, by far, was that exploration often involved bumping into a large assortment of ludicrous characters who would send you off on an entirely pointless and self-contained adventure. These quests were seamless, and quite unlike anything we'd ever seen in Assassin's Creed before. There are virtually none of these to be found in Wrath Of The Druids, with Ubisoft preferring to keep the focus on the main story. This very much to the expansion's detriment, and robs exploring Ireland of much of the charm and excitement of running into the unexpected that England was able to deliver almost consistently.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla / Credit: Ubisoft
Assassin's Creed Valhalla / Credit: Ubisoft

Minor quibbles aside, this DLC is well worth a look if you're among those who love the direction Valhalla took Assassin's Creed and want to see more. It will absolutely not do anything to win over those of you who can't into the base game, and I suspect the upcoming Siege Of Paris expansion will take a few more risks, but Wrath Of The Druids is a fitting, fun continuation of Eivor's escapades.

Pros: Ireland is absolutely stunning, great excuse to jump back into Eivor's world

Cons: Open-world repetitiveness, dull story, lacking some of the charm of the base game

For fans of: Assassin's Creed Valhalla... obviously

7/10: Very Good

Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Wrath Of The Druids is available May 13 on all platforms. Code for review was supplied by the publisher. Find a guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here

Featured Image Credit: Ubisoft

Topics: News, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Ubisoft

Ewan Moore
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