Though some would say Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is already much too long given the base game’s abundance of content, I’m not such a person. I spent 80 hours with my mainline run of Ubisoft’s Viking saga, whose lengthy political drama I compared to multiple seasons of Game of Thrones in my Valhalla review last fall. Following a familiar schedule, this spring brings players the game’s first major expansion, Wrath of the Druids. Though the DLC does nothing to win over the folks who have had their fill dozens of hours ago, Eivor’s trip to Ireland provides fun new mechanics and another interesting locale where every stone feels worth turning over.
In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Wrath of the Druids, Eivor leaves Ravensthorpe and heads west for the literally greener pastures of Ireland. Eivor is invited to the land by a king who turns out to be a cousin she presumed dead. The DLC is sunny much less often and the terrain is much rockier, which can make for some frustrating treks on horseback, but otherwise it provides a welcome change of scenery, especially when the rainbows hit the sky after a storm.
Together with her cousin Barid, Eivor’s mission is to resolve yet another power struggle while building up Dublin as a new hub of trade and commerce. Players can take over Trading Posts, which act a bit like the tried-and-true Far Cry settlements at first, but they are ultimately more involved. You won’t simply clear out a Trading Post to claim it. You’ll also need the deed, which usually means hunting it down across the sprawling, but still manageable, land of Ireland.
As you take over and later build up each Trading Post, you’ll start to contribute new supplies to a business in Dublin. It’s there where you can withdraw those supplies as often as you’d like, then trade them to faraway lands like Egypt and Constantinople. With each successful trade, you’ll earn more money, new armor, and other rewards. Eventually the unique rewards are replaced by repeatable trades offering just money in return, which means this first expansion provides a simple way of boosting Eivor’s cache for spending back at home.
You can also perform kings’ requests, meant to be shorter sidequests that will give you a faster supply of tradable goods, but I found these missions to be both faulty and unnecessary. Since so many of these missions take place where other missions are also centered, they seemed to disrupt progress and even sort of break the game whenever I tried to complete both before leaving an area, causing me to reset and lose a bit of progress on more than one occasion. Eventually, I stopped taking these missions on, especially once my Trading Posts became self-sustaining and I no longer needed any supply boosts like the kings promised.
The map is approximately 25% of the size of England’s map, and like before, there always seems to be more to uncover in every corner. In my 10 hours with the DLC, I beat the story, took down the Order of the Ancients-like assassination list, and wrapped up all side missions I came across. But I know there is even more to do, like uncover unique armor and weapon sets, which admittedly is a much bigger draw for other folks than it is for me.
Wrath of the Druids in Review
The story in Wrath of the Druids is neither a high point nor an afterthought. It introduces some interesting new characters, like the bard Ciara and Eivor’s cousin Barid, but it mostly unfolds like other segments of the long story: Travel to a new land, get in the mud with the local politicians, fight your way out of it. Wrath of the Druids does feel different than most of Eivor’s previous adventures because the titular enemies feel supernatural at times, even introducing werewolves to the enemy list. Ultimately though, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Wrath of the Druids will only be enjoyed by folks like me, who already put in upwards of 50 or 100 hours and still crave more.
The new commerce angles are fun and justify the DLC as a post-launch campaign, but they’re self-contained to Ireland and only really reap any widespread rewards once you’ve completed all there is to do. It’s probably hard to convince any players to come back to a game they gave up on, and online sentiment suggests many folks didn’t get to the end of Valhalla and thus don’t care to pay extra for 10+ more hours of the game. However, for the folks who wiped the maps in both England and Norway and are waiting to saddle up with Eivor once more, Ireland is a worthwhile trip.
If Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was as vast and interesting as many seasons of Game of Thrones, think of Wrath of the Druids as the forthcoming House of the Dragon spinoff. It’s not going to change anyone’s minds, but if you were still on board, it’s exciting to return to that world.