The current season pass for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla comes to an end this week as the final expansion arrives for the game. This time around, Eivor travels to Francia to help another clan put an end to Charles the Fat’s reign of terror. You see, while the king is not taking over England at this time, the Vikings fear his lust for power might drive him to the land and result in a war between the current clans. So to prevent this from happening, Eivor teams up with some new faces in an attempt to show their muscle and force the king to back down. Enter Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla – Siege of Paris.
If you aren’t a historical person then the events that take place during Siege of Paris might completely blow over your head. 9th Century Paris was a tough time for the country. Not only were they fighting sickness and disease but Paris was still a small town fighting for dominance in the land. All of this was thanks to Charles the Fat, a main icon during the time and also in the expansion.
I won’t go into detail regarding the game’s story to avoid spoilers. However, I will say how surprised I was to see the overall plot follow the history books to a certain degree. While the game had specific decisions I could make during the campaign, I tried to align them with what I know from the era. In the end, the story felt as if I just read it from my textbook.
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla – Siege of Paris, for the most part, brought back a lot of gameplay elements that have been lacking in the series for a while now. While the past three games have been huge in world design and quests, they have all lacked the iconic Infiltration gameplay that made Unity and Syndicate so great.
This means that instead of running into a fort and slicing enemies up to get to your target, assassinating someone forced me to plan and explore the surrounding area. Be it overhearing a conversation about a key a guard took that would unlock an underground passage to the palace, to pretending to be a newly-recruited member of a cult all to get closer to my target.
I didn’t realize how much I missed these Infiltration Missions until I was playing them. Not only did the game feel more layered in-depth than ever before but this is what the Assassin’s Creed series is all about. I had to sneak, I had to listen, I had to interact with the world to find opportunities around me. This is something I haven’t done in years. It felt fantastic. Valhalla is an action game and Siege of Paris turned it into an Assassin’s Creed game.
Of course, some of these Infiltration Missions felt a bit bland. While a few offered various exciting pathways to choose from, some simply offered two. For example, in one mission I had to either talk to a smuggler in order to get into a location or kill an enemy to unlock a gate. I wouldn’t really call that “exciting”. Still, they provide a breath of fresh air especially given how far off the past games have been from the series’ core roots.
Being all about Paris, the expansion also incorporates rats a lot into the game. There is a new Rat Swarm mechanic that sees giant bundles of flesh-eating rats run around dungeons. You have to chase them away by hitting the group. Slowly they scurry into holes and I had to run and push something in front of the hole to prevent them from returning. The mechanic is okay but it becomes more of a chore after a while. Some of them I just skipped by dashing just to get away from the group.
Eivor can also summon rats in combat now with a new skill. He shoots an arrow that calls them to a certain spot. They then eat the enemies and cause some intense damage. This new skill was great and fed into the whole new “forced sneaking” aspect that comes with the Infiltration Missions.
When I was not helping Sigfred and his clan, I was running around Francia completing new Rebel Missions. These missions are repeatable quests that revolve around aiding against the forces of Charles the Fat. Basically, you start off with a handful of weak peasants that run alongside you during these quests. As you complete them, you gain currency that kits them out with better weapons from a pitchfork to a spear. The system also unlocks more fighters the further you progress.
There’s also gear for Eivor to purchase, tattoos and other items. The idea is to build your own small army and it works, for the most part. The quests are a bit bland and don’t attempt to try anything new but the XP gains and unlockable levels helped push me through them. Even after I completed the story arc, I carried on repeating these quests for more gear and army upgrades.
Then there’s the new weapon, the Scyth. It looks pretty badass and is great to wield. It is slow when one-handed and reasonable fast when equipped with two hands. It has some decent range too and throughout the expansion, I found a number of different types. These all came with some perks and appearances. I won’t say it is a game-changing weapon but still something cool to play through the expansion with.
Of course, the entire Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla – Siege of Paris experience was also a lot more exciting thanks to the level scaling feature. This allowed me to pump the game’s difficulty up beyond my current power of 457. This meant enemies were tougher than ever, bosses had me on the edge of my seat and the game finally felt challenging. If the game is too easy I highly recommend making use of this option. I dare say that I died in combat for the first time in a few months.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Siege of Paris. However, I can’t help but feel that compared to Wrath of the Druids, it was a lot smaller in scale and even the plot failed to impress. I shed tears in Wrath of the Druid multiple times. The characters were wonderful and memorable. Even the world design was amazing. It is just not the same for this expansion. I get that Ubisoft is restricted to the history books but the land and overall plot felt forgettable. There’s also a big focus on a “demonic” theme that doesn’t get enough attention here.
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla – Siege of Paris Review
For a ten-hour campaign, Siege of Paris tries new things. The Infiltration Missions made me miss the old games and the Rebel Missions added that grind. However, the story is forgettable and the siege is over before it gets exciting. There are still mysteries to find in Francia and some unanswered questions that hopefully lead up to the next expansion. I wouldn’t say this is Ubisoft’s best expansion to date. If anything, it made me realize how much I miss the older games.
This Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla – Siege of Paris review is based on a code sent to us by Ubisoft. The expansion releases on 12 August as a standalone purchase and part of the Season Pass.
Available On: PS4, PS5, Xbox, PC | Reviewed On: PS5 | Release Date: 12 August 2021 | Price: R719 (season pass)