Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök is a huge expansion. It’s not a two-hour break from play if you’re tired of the main game’s story, nor will it be just “more Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.” Instead, developer Ubisoft Sofia‘s forthcoming expansion is a 35-hour adventure that makes some massive changes and additions to the base game’s formula, giving you full control of a Norse god and his mythical abilities.
GameSpot was able to watch a hands-on demonstration of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök, which gave us a glimpse of the Svartalfheim region only accessible via Valka, Ravensthorpe’s seer, much like Asgard and Jotunheim in the main campaign. This land, historically told to have been ruled by dwarves, has seen the native community scattered in hiding to avoid destruction and forced labor. Ubisoft Sofia has avoided the common notion of having muscular, bearded hunks with Scottish accents for the role, instead portraying the dwarves as a slightly smaller, human-like race – like hobbits, but without the hairy feet or insatiable hunger. It seems to fit Valhalla well and offers a more restrained take on mythology than, say, the cartoonish and goofy characters in Immortals: Fenyx Rising.
Speaking to GameSpot, Creative Director Mikhail Lozonov emphasized that the focus on mythology reflects the daily lives of people in Valhalla’s time. For this reason, they are included alongside actual historical events, even though we now have a better idea of what is “real” and what has been made larger than life by storytellers.
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„Sie sind auf jeden Fall gefahren [people’s] Everyday life,” said Lozonov. “They created the story we read today because of these myths – because of these beliefs. And for us, it felt natural to continue Eivor’s story and delve deeper into those memories of Odin’s DNA within her DNA.”
As the controller of Odin (dubbed Havi by fellow Æsir companions and playable as male or female), your journey into one of the most dangerous areas of Valhalla is intended as endgame content, although newer players can get a temporary power and gear boost if they want play it earlier Not only must you find and (hopefully) save Odin’s son, Baldr, but you must also face off against the immortal fire god Surtr.
Usually, an “unkillable” enemy isn’t exactly an easy opponent, and it’s unclear how Odin can turn the odds in his favor. However, he has a number of special abilities to deal with lesser enemies that were not available in Valhalla’s other Mythic Excursions. Obtainable through a new skill tree, they include the power of Raven, which allows Odin to temporarily transform into a bird to quickly scale mountains or hit enemies, and the appearance-disguising power of Muspelheim.
All have their place alongside traditional Assassin’s Creed skills and tactics, and they can be upgraded if you rely on one more than the other. These abilities weren’t chosen just because they seemed “cool” – although they are – although the team drew inspiration from ancient writings to identify some of them. The power of the raven, for example, comes from a saga of poetry that ended with Odin turning into a bird. In this case, the bird was an eagle, so Ubisoft Sofia didn’t limit itself to the literal text for its own interpretation.
Choice is at the core of Dawn of Ragnarök’s combat – the same is true of the rest of Valhalla, but the difference lies in the wild Ways you can use Odin’s abilities to turn the tide of a battle. What impressed me the most was the power of rebirth, an ability that when activated temporarily turns anyone Odin kills into an ally. Use it at a convenient time, e.g. B. when you face an enormous number of enemies, and you can turn the fight from a losing cause to an all-out carnage in your favor. You must choose carefully, however, as only a few of these abilities can be equipped at a time. Their use is also tied to a new resource, Hugr, which you can obtain from enemies, certain objects in the environment, and shrines – although the latter option requires a sacrifice in health to do so.
This give and take of these powers seems to be most interesting in the battle arenas of Dawn of Ragnarök. These gauntlets offer additional combat challenges in exchange for ever-increasing rewards tied to their difficulty level. Rather than picking “normal” or “hard” from a list, you can instead have Odin brag about an achievement they’ve achieved. The more boisterous, the harder the challenge becomes, and additional modifiers can make things even harder.
But if you’re smart, you can actually turn this in your favor. An example shown during the demonstration presented two additional challenges. In addition to reducing Odin’s attack damage with each additional hit, it also dealt increased damage to enemies. However, by using the power of rebirth, Odin was able to quickly finish off a few enemies before damage reduction became an issue and then chase them after the remaining enemies. This damage bonus still applied to the “enemies” who are now resurrected and fighting their former brethren, resulting in an easier win.
Still, you’ll need to be on your toes against even the smallest groups of villains. In Svartalfheim, these are not just people armed with axes and swords, but powerful muspels. The creatures are capable of conjuring fire spells, and a Flame Warden archetype can also “rekindle” fallen enemies and send exploding Furies to detonate around Odin.
In addition to mythic abilities, Odin also has an entirely new weapon type in Dawn of Ragnarök: the Atgeir. Based on the Vikings’ own spear, but slightly resembling Monster Hunter, it’s a powerful two-handed weapon with its own combo system. It is also capable of delivering powerful ground strikes as well as quick attacks to take out multiple enemies. For those fed up with the axes that Valhalla portrays so prominently, it seems like a very different alternative, and one flashy enough to appeal to fans of character action games who can imagine Odin Dante or Bayonetta is.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök is shaping up to be the series’ furthest leap into the fantasy world yet, but as a reflection of the Norse beliefs during that time, it still feels like a natural part of the Assassin’s Creed universe. Although it bears little resemblance to the adventures of Ezio and Altair, it seems to have a very good grasp of its own identity, and that’s necessary in a game that you’ll be playing for 35 hours. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök will be released on March 10th for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|C, Stadia and PC.