Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök
Genre(s): Adventure, RPG
Platform: Xbox Series X|S (Also available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 & 5, PC and Stadia)
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: 13/12/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Back in November of 2020, I had the amazing opportunity to review Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. As one of my first major titles on my Xbox Series S, I was extremely satisfied with my next-gen experience as well as the game’s story and the world overall. Since then, we’ve had three DLCs; Wrath of the Druids, The Siege of Paris (which I, unfortunately, haven’t had the chance to play) and now Dawn of Ragnarök. Naturally, since loving the game so much, I jumped at the chance to review the new DLC when the code came in.
Dawn of Ragnarök interestingly puts us back into Havi’s boots, which I didn’t touch upon in my Valhalla review purely due to trying to be concise (it’s a ten minute read as is!). In Valhalla, aside from the main story, Eivor dreams and visits Asgard as Havi, better known as Odin. It’s full of gods and mythological beings, much different from the fields of England. Dawn of Ragnarök takes place after these events, so it’s best to finish this first or at least look at a recap. It goes without saying if you didn’t like this part of Valhalla, this DLC isn’t something you’ll be interested in either!
A Challenge Worthy of the Gods
I was surprised that you needed to be Power 340 to stand a chance against the enemies in Dawn of Ragnarök. I panicked at first as I am nowhere near that despite having about 70 hours in the base game. Luckily, a progression boost is offered, the pros and cons explained. It’s good that players aren’t cut off completely from being able to play the DLC. However, it’s clear that it’s a challenge, designed to be played after you’ve grinded through the game and want more.
I took advantage of the boost but made a separate save so that my main game wouldn’t be affected. I was concerned that maybe I’d made it too easy for myself, but boy was I wrong. The first couple of bosses I struggled with, partially down to the fact I hadn’t played Valhalla in some time. They were quick and relentless, forcing you to act fast. After much cursing and claims of “this is impossible!” though, something clicks once you learn the pattern and concentrate on your movements. Strangely I found the last few bosses much simpler, but maybe that’s from having had time to get used to the mechanics of the game again. Nevertheless, from the first boss, I could tell Dawn of Ragnarök was a test of skill.
Welcome to Svartalfheim
Our adventure takes place in the dwarven kingdom of Svartalfheim, fallen victim to Surtr, a literal fiery warlord. With both the Muspels, fire beings, and the Jotnar, ice beings, supporting him, the dwarves have had to go into hiding. What’s worse, Surtr also has Havi’s son, Baldr, captive. Though Havi’s mission is to rescue his beloved son, he learns working with the dwarves is the only way to achieve this. Meanwhile, Havi must come to terms with what Fate has decided for him…
I loved the dynamic between Havi and the dwarves; he begrudgingly helps them knowing it will help rescue Baldr. From this though friendships develop, and despite the bickering and stubbornness, they need each other. This helped me form an attachment to the characters, which I think is one of the most important aspects of a narrative. As a Welshwoman, I was very pleased to hear the Welsh language and accent pop up in some of the dwarves too!
The story had its twists and turns which surprised me and was brutal in the fact that not everyone gets their happy ending. I enjoyed returning to the world of gods, despite the fact I enjoyed the main storyline in England more in Valhalla. Be prepared to carry a lot of dwarves around though, that was slightly repetitive! Completing the story took me just over ten hours, which is maybe just a little shorter than what I expected for the price point. I did rush through the storyline for review purposes though, and there is more content to enjoy.
A New Way to Play
Dawn of Ragnarök has some key elements which make it new and different from the base game. Since the dwarves have been forced to hide away, it is up to you to find their shelters. These are symbolised by house-like illustrations on the map; once you approach them, you will see yellow dwarven markings pointing you the way to go, designed so that enemies can’t follow them. It’s easy, but it adds a layer of immersion, seeking out the dwarves behind the backs of your enemies. Here in the shelters, you will find places such as the blacksmith (more on that shortly) and stables, similar to in the base game.
You also have access to the Hugr-Rip, a dwarven bracelet, enabling you to wield godly powers by draining them from slain enemies. These range from transforming into a magma covered Muspel to disguise yourself as them and walk through lava or to becoming a raven to reach great heights and attack from above. Certain powers I barely used and avoided picking up in favour of others, since you only have two power slots. However, the Muspel one had to be used frequently to reach certain places. While not mindblowing, they are a fun inclusion to the game, providing different ways to sneak and kill.
Ride of the Valkyries
There’s also the Valkyrie Arena, found in Kára the Valkyrie’s mountain domain. Here, you can reenact tales, which essentially means facing off against enemies and proving how they were defeated! It’s part of the Heroic Scholar quest, where you have to find scrolls across Svartalfheim that unlock ‘Boasts’. These are essentially debuffs that make the tales harder, but you will be rewarded with more tokens the more you include. The tales have a difficulty ranking as well, so you may want to start with an easier one to learn the ropes.
The tokens earned allow you to buy special items such as gear, runes, clothing and hair cosmetics. Again, though not particularly thrilling, it’s something different to enjoy, which can also help you boost your power and skills.
Similar to the base game, there are also raids of Mylna to carry out. Gather up your dwarven crew and pillage the place for materials including Silica. Silica can then be used in the blacksmith for upgrading your Hugr-Rip. All of these extra elements in Dawn of Ragnarök combined create more incentive to keep playing besides the story, grinding that power level to become the ultimate assassin!
Still Just As Beautiful
Without repeating myself from my Valhalla review, Dawn of Ragnarök features the same stunning visuals, the lighting being a particular highlight. I loved going to the synchronisation points and seeing the vast world rotate around me. The landscape was diverse and much different to explore than England; dwarven mines, lava ridden villages, frosty dams and lush green forests, it was a joy to explore. Though not as big of a map as England in the base game, it felt the right size for a DLC.
I experienced very few performance issues too. Occasionally things wouldn’t render immediately in cut scenes and it would take a second for a character to do so. There was also a glitch where I tried to drain a flower for my Hugr-Rip at the same time as carrying a dwarf. Since they both use the Y button, I accidentally placed the dwarf onto the flower and could not pick him up again to progress the mission. A restart from my latest autosave did the trick though, and there was nothing else of note in regards to performance.
The soundtrack by Stephanie Economou is extremely fitting, the otherwordly vocals and swell of instruments invoking an epic atmosphere. It makes battles and bosses very intense with the pounds of drums and speedy strings! Though a similar vibe to Valhalla’s music, there’s something about it that seems even more mystical and ancient.
Will You Take the Leap of Faith?
If you enjoyed the Asgard questline in Valhalla, there’s no doubt you will love Dawn of Ragnarök. You learn more about Havi while experiencing a whole new dwarven kingdom and enemies, whilst getting to grips with new mechanics too. If you didn’t enjoy it because of the mythological aspect, then it’s best to avoid it. However, I would say it’s worth playing if you just want more out of Valhalla in general.
Dawn of Ragnarök is a great way to keep the game going, increasing your level and acquiring new items. Even as someone who prefers the Vikings in the English side of the game, I was eager to go through the story. It could be a little repetitive at times, carrying dwarves and finding shelters, but it was enjoyable regardless.
I wouldn’t say it’s a purchase that has to be made or that it is essential to keep enjoying Valhalla post end game, since the base game has a wealth of content as is. If you’re on the fence, it may be best to wait for a sale. But if you’re looking for new ways to improve your power level and explore another mythological environment, why not take a trip to Svartalfheim?
Rapid Reviews Rating
4 out of 5
You can purchase Dawn of Ragnarök for Xbox from the Microsoft Store here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.