Wrath of the Druids review: The luck of the Irish?

by MaddOx
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Wrath of the Druids is the first DLC that became available for Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. Now, you may be thinking – wasn’t ACV already an absolutely huge game that nobody finished because there was just so much exploration and content already? And wasn’t all that content of a middling, the largely uninspired quality which became akin to eating nothing but dry, off-brand Coco Pops for days on end? So why would I want to pour a fresh serving of slightly stale-tasting cereal atop my already-heaped bowl?

Well, as it turns out, Wrath of the Druids actually works much better as a story than the core Valhalla experience. The new Irish setting is beautiful, a heavily mythologised interpretation of the country that’s similar in style to the vivid, almost fantastical vision of ancient England. It’s perfect for those gamers who really enjoy exploring different cultures. You can find many other games that match themes based on Irish folklore at the best online casinos in Ireland.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla Wrath of the Druids artwork

But back to the Wrath of the Druids DLC, this is a substantial expansion, but it’s nowhere near as bloated as Valhalla, which makes it a bit more focused and a little less mind-numbingly overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, I loved a lot of Valhalla, but it would have been better if it was half as long. Standalone experience Dawn of Ragnarok suffers the same fate – it’s just too similar, despite promising you godly powers.

Then, neatly in the middle, we have Wrath of the Druids, a smaller, more personal story that largely sidesteps a lot of the supernatural/future story bollocks and just gets on with what’s in front of Eivor. Yes, we have hints of the supernatural, but in much smaller doses. It’s a great little slice of historical fiction, and I sort of wish Valhalla itself was more in line with its tone.

I guess the core problem with any Assassin’s Creed game now is probably Ubisoft. Yes, Mirage has been scoring some rather decent points so far – but I’ve yet to find out if the questionable company behind these series of massive money-makers determined to milk their audience dry has eschewed the aggressive microtransactions along with the feature bloat in the series’ newest entry.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla Wrath of the Druids riding horses

It’s tricky because although this is arguably one of Valhalla’s best stories, Wrath of the Druids doesn’t do anything substantially different. It’s the same gameplay loop – raid, loot, upgrade, repeat – intersected with little splashes of storyline to give everything a sense of purpose. The problem is if you’ve already gotten even halfway through the core game, all that stuff still feels meaningless, like it’s designed to eat as much of your time as possible. As nice as the backdrop is, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is still halfheartedly looking for a soul in its gameplay, and I don’t think it’ll ever find it no matter where it goes.

I think we’re still looking for a truly great Viking game. Yes, God of War’s Norse saga was amazing, but it didn’t hit the same spots. Surviving, sailing, pillaging. Although Valhalla offers a diluted version of all those things, it doesn’t do any of them particularly well. It does tell a few good stories along the way, with Wrath of the Druids being one of them. It’s also particularly enjoyable to see the historical, mythology-steeped version of Ireland depicted so beautifully. Ubisoft can make some absolutely gorgeous worlds – they’re just not that great at making engaging games within them. 

Assassin's Creed Valhalla Wrath of the Druids artwork

Overall thoughts on the Wrath of the Druids DLC

If you loved Valhalla and you’re hungry for more, this is a fantastic addition. If you’re hoping for something to reinvigorate what is at this point a very well-trod path, it… doesn’t do that. I’d recommend grabbing it on sale and playing it when you’ve got a good amount of mental distance from the core game. Developers – more games set in ancient Ireland, please!

You can buy the base game for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla over at CDKeys. You’ll also find more information on the game and the Wrath of the Druid DLC on the official website. If you want to check out more of our game reviews, then just click here.

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