Ubisoft’s latest expansion is now available for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and it is finally time to put this game in its grave and bid it farewell. Dawn of Ragnarok, while being the fantasy fix I needed in the series, doesn’t really do much to reinvent the wheel. In fact, it actually shows you how much Valhalla has aged in the past few years. So much so that while playing Elden Ring and Horizon Forbidden West just a few days prior to getting this, Valhalla’s world is actually quite bland and empty.
Perhaps when the game launched back in November 2022 it marked the biggest leap for the series to date but we have been spoilt with some incredible open-world games of late which doesn’t help this experience at all. I have spent 100 hours in Valhalla before Dawn of Ragnarok came around and sadly, this expansion was kind of boring to play through. I had a feeling this would be the case after spending 40 minutes doing an introduction to the world that revolved around me following two slow dwarves around an area limited in exploration.
I could not help but shout at the TV “hurry the F$%k up and walk faster” as the two dwarves casually strolled through the forest while all I wanted to do was explore Svartalfheim. Not to mention taking two minutes out of my day to climb up a giant statue just to synchronise the map. This is meant to be fun, right? Whoever thought an intro like this was a good idea needs to take a holiday. Ubisoft also needs to take a step back and reconsider what they deem as an “experience” when implementing giant statues to climb. There’s nothing exciting about it. Maybe five or ten years ago but not anymore.
Dawn of Ragnarok follows the story of Havi, or Odin the Æsir for those who are speaking the tongue. If you are familiar with the original hallucinogenic visions in the original game, Dawn of Ragnarok takes the same approach. After you get the expansion, Eivor will have a vision about a fantasy land. He then performs a ritual and like magic, is seeing the world through the eyes of Odin who is now in Svartalfheim.
After an overly drawn-out introduction, we learn that Odin’s son has been kidnapped by Surtr, the flaming lord of Muspelheim. Why? Well, that is why we came to this place in the first place. Dawn of Ragnarok starts off pretty dark and throws Odin into the deep end. However, Odin, being unfamiliar with these lands also needs to uncover its secrets with the aid of the dwarves who have now sheltered themselves away due to the ongoing invasion of Surtr’s armies.
Dawn of Ragnarok also tries to put Odin’s personality in the spotlight as he has to question the love for his family and his ongoing struggle to put an end to a god that simply cannot die. While the expansion sets this up quite early on, it sadly never gets anywhere and in the end, I was left wondering what the hell happened. Then again, it is Ubisoft’s “edgy” and convoluted Assassin’s Creed storytelling so that doesn’t come as a surprise.
In a way, it felt like the rest of Valhalla and the DLC as in it never goes anywhere and sadly plays it safe for the sake of historical and mythological accuracy. A tale we have heard for ages now.
When it comes to the general gameplay, Dawn of Ragnarok feels different at times but most of the “new” stuff gets boring very fast. It also feels overused and at times, like reskinned world events from the main game. Odin now has a device attached to his arm called the Hugr Rip. This gauntlet allows him to extract the Hugr from a monster’s soul and other beings around the land.
This Hugr then holds powers that unlock new abilities for Odin to use throughout the expansion. This is done in exploration and combat. For example, Havi can fly across the sky using Hugr from a raven. With Muspel Hugr, he can coat himself in lava and pretend to be an enemy not only sneaking into bases but also walking through lava pits without taking damage.
The powers come in handy throughout the expansion and while most of the combat Hugr abilities can left out of the experience, the others are tied into puzzle-solving and exploration. These are more mandatory than the rest. Some infiltration moments also gave me the freedom to use a different power depending on how I felt. However, this often resulted in either flying in using the raven Hugr or sneaking in using the Muspel.
I do feel like the Muspel Hurg is overused in the expansion. Almost every second puzzle or location required me to hunt down a Muspel and kill it in order to move a slab out the way in the lava or get to a location stuck in the middle of a lava lake. It also doesn’t help Odin is limited to the number of powers you can carry at a time. You also need to refill energy to use them.
While the intro in Dawn of Ragnarok was tiresome, I have to commend Ubisoft on the general pace during the first few hours of the game. Once the long intro is done, I was dropped into the world without any objectives and was told to simply find the shelters. In a way, this sense of freedom is unlike anything the Assassin’s Creed series has done so far. I loved it. I had to search for these shelters which were hidden away in the world. My only hint to their whereabouts was yellow paint on some objects that pointed me in their direction.
Sadly, after a few hours, Dawn of Ragnarok throws this freedom out the window in favour of the traditional Assassin’s Creed waypoints, overcluttered HUD and hand-holding quests. It was good while it lasted. This opening pace also goes to show how dull the game world really is in the end. I just mindlessly fast travelled to the nearest point, hopped on my mount and asked it to go to a spot. I didn’t care what was around me because there was no real urge to discover anything.
It also doesn’t help that the world just isn’t that interesting. For a fantasy expansion, I expected more fantasy. Not giant statues to climb up to give me a break between the tedious trek across the land. In a way, Ubisoft shot themselves in the foot here because Dawn of Ragnarok starts out with some incredible potential. It just doesn’t last.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok doesn’t do enough to feel like a new experience but I don’t think that is what Ubisoft was looking for. However, the expansion also shows how aged this game is and I hope it is over now. Please, Odin, enough now.
This Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok review was based on a code sent to us by Ubisoft. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok is out now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC. You can get it today from Nexus here.
Don’t forget that MSI is hosting a special game code giveaway when you purchase certain products. You can find out more about the promotion here.