Six months after the launch of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla comes the launch of its first major piece of DLC, Wrath of the Druids. It’s a rather substantial experience and one that I’ve put quite a bit of time into already. But much like Valhalla, there’s a lot to do – but just how much does it add to the experience? Quite a bit, it turns out, and yet another huge map to explore too.
Wrath of the Druids takes the action out of England and into Ireland. At face value and potentially a show of my own ignorance, I thought this direction wouldn’t be all that interesting. Thankfully, it turns out Ireland has a rich history in this time period and it’s an especially key region in the history for the Vikings.
The journey begins as Eivor is visited at Ravensthorpe by Azar, the economic chief of Ireland. They request Eivor to carry out some quick tasks for them, before coyly revealing that they’ve been sent by none other than Eivor’s cousin, who is now the king of Dublin. Enticed enough by this proposition, Eivor sets sail for Ireland to reunite with his cousin and attempt to bring together a divided nation. It’s a simple, politically charged story at first glance.
The first thing you’ll notice once you arrive in Ireland is that it has an entirely different vibe to it than any of Valhalla’s other five maps. Ireland is a beautiful locale, teeming with vast green plains peppered with lots of stone throughout. It’s always a sight to be seen when Ubisoft brings life to yet another locale for Assassin’s Creed, and Ireland is no exception.
Given that Valhalla had so much included in it’s initial offerings already, I’d questioned just how essential this new expansion would be. For the most part, Wrath of the Druids is more of the same – so if you liked Valhalla it’s hard to imagine you’ll find an issue with what’s on offer here. There’s obviously a new storyline to delve into which surrounds the occult, so this will be hit and miss with some players. There’s the hearty combination of politics and intrigue, as per usual with Assassin’s Creed, but this story definitely errs more on the side of the occult.
But I really enjoyed the cultist aspect of the last three Assassin’s Creed games, so I enjoyed that Wrath of the Druids introduces a brand new cult to hunt. Called the Children of Danu, they’re a cult that worships deities known as Tuatha Dé Danann, the presence of which were most prevalent in Irish mythology pre-Christianity. It’s once again mythology that not many games tend to explore, so it’s a nice angle to take for Wrath of the Druids.
From a gameplay perspective, this doesn’t lend itself to too many changes. If you enjoyed hunting down the members of the Order or the Cult of Kosmos in other games, this will appeal to you. Outside of the cultists, there’s still a brand new storyline to get through here too, but it doesn’t revolutionise much of what Valhalla already introduced – though I’m not sure it needed to either. This is more or less what you’d expect – more of the already substantial Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.
Much like the way you built your settlement in England, in Ireland you’ll also be able to collect materials to establish a base of operations. Newer features include trading posts, where you exchange materials for other rare and exotic materials from faraway lands. Royal requests are the other main addition, which sees Eivor carrying out requests sent by Gaelic Kings via carrier pigeon. It feels like a neat throwback to Assassin’s Creed II but is really just a different way to give the player quests.
I’ve put in a good ten or so hours into Wrath of the Druids and there doesn’t seem to be an obvious end in sight. Some are opposed to Assassin’s Creed tendencies to jam-pack their games full of content, but Wrath of the Druids has done a great job of keeping me hooked from the moment I’ve started. There are some great mysteries to solve here, even if they’re recycled from previous games (how many cult leaders do we need to be surprised by, again, after all?). There are even new mythological beasts to track down too, once again drawing from oft unexplored mythology.
All in all, Wrath of the Druids is a great addition to Valhalla’s already well-bolstered package. Visiting Ireland, learning about its rich history and mythology is something I’d never thought that I would be interested in. But Wrath of the Druids is so engaging that it’s hard not to recommend to people who enjoyed Valhalla. Just don’t expect it to reinvent the wheel, but instead, bring a few more.
THE XBOX SERIES X VERSION OF THIS GAME WAS PLAYED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. A DIGITAL REVIEW CODE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.