Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Dawn of Ragnarok Review

Brave Svartalfheim before the Ragnarok.

by Noah Nelson
Assassin's Creed: Valhalla Dawn of Ragnarok Review

Assassin’s Creed games are interesting: you either love them or you hate them. As someone who stepped off the Assassin’s Creed wagon after Black Flag, returning to the franchise is both intriguing and disappointing. In the span of nine years since Black Flag, dramatic changes have been made to Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla like a focus on RPG characteristics. Changes aside, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Dawn of Ragnarok, the newest expansion to the newest game, holds many of the same frustrating Assassin’s Creed DNA that weakened its previous entries.

Since this is a review of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Dawn of Ragnarok, I will avoid commenting on the core of Valhalla and instead focus solely on Dawn of Ragnarok. I won’t be discussing core gameplay as it plays exactly like Valhalla. If you liked how Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla played, you will enjoy Dawn of Ragnarok. I will be addressing ongoing issues within the majority of Assassin’s Creed games since those issues are also prevalent in Dawn of Ragnarok. There are also minimal spoilers throughout, but especially in Personal Ragnarok (The Story and Setting), so be warned. After discussing the story, setting, quests, collectibles, mythology, and Powers of Dawn of Ragnarok, you’ll know for yourself if this is one to skip or pick up.

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Personal Ragnarok (The Story and Setting)

The story of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Dawn of Ragnarok is one that starts immediately, which is good if you’re up to date, but confusing if you aren’t. If you have never played the main Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla game, you won’t know the context that most of Dawn of Ragnarok is based upon. Also, Dawn of Ragnarok makes no effort to catch new players up to speed through cutscene or dialogue options, which is a bold move considering the innovative hoops it jumps through to ensure every level of player can dig right into the expansion. The game’s story still works, just know that you’ll have no idea why Loki is imprisoned or why your name is Havi.

For better or for worse, Dawn of Ragnarok uses the Norse Mythological event of Ragnarok as a backdrop to the personal Ragnarok that takes place in the heart of Havi throughout the story. In both setting and story, Ragnarok feels more like a marketing lure used to attract the current Norse Mythology moment rather than accurately capturing the story of the game. Either way, the adventure that Havi experiences is a dark one that feels a bit too familiar.

From start to finish, both the story and setting of Dawn of Ragnarok feel a little too familiar. With so many popular and successful Norse Mythology games released in recent years, Dawn of Ragnarok needed to bring something new in terms of story and environment for it to be enticing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. The story and the setting of Dawn of Ragnarok have been done, and been done better, in games like God of War, Valheim, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Tribes of Midgard, and many more. It feels like I have played the same story with the same setting and the same characters a half dozen times in the past couple of years, and Dawn of Ragnarok adds nothing new or worthwhile to the formula.

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Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back (The Mythology, Quest Quantity, Quest Quality, and The Collectibles)

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Dawn of Ragnarok feels like it takes two solid steps forward and two significant steps back, making it hard to tell if the new expansion positively expands the series.

The Mythology

The mythical world of Svartalfheim is an exciting world for Assassin’s Creed to explore. Although Svartalfheim and Norse Mythology is myth and The Animus is supposed to replay historical events, I’m willing to look past it for more fictional worlds coming to Assassin’s Creed’s future. My ultimate wish is for a futuristic, sci-fi world with space ships and moon bases. But, Svartalfheim is a good first step.

Quest Quantity

Another step in the right direction is the streamlined quests in Dawn of Ragnarok. The expansion isn’t that big, featuring only about ten main missions with no side quests. It was refreshing to have completed every mission by the time I had finished the campaign. Side quests aren’t always a bad thing in games, but in the world of Assassin’s Creed, they notoriously have been. Cutting the quantity of quests to focus on quality is what Assassin’s Creed needs (although the quest quality is still questionable).

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Quest Quality

One of the big steps back that Assassin’s Creed still faces is the quality of their quests. Time and time again, Assassin’s Creed sticks with its linear, antiquated quest designs. There are seventeen plus Assassin’s Creed games and quests where you follow a character around are still a thing. And it’s not just that, Dawn of Ragnarok continues the same quest pattern from previous AC games of go here, kill these people, examine these clues, fight the boss, and repeat. These games are slowly morphing into a third-person open-world version of the yearly Call of Duty carbon copy releases, which is an unnecessary shame. Taking a page out of how Ghost of Tsushima, Horizon Forbidden West, Red Dead Redemption, or even Uncharted handles its story and quests would do wonders for the Assassin’s Creed formula.

The Collectibles

The last step backward worth mentioning is Assassin’s Creed’s incessant use of collectibles. Similar to side quest, collectibles in video games aren’t inherently bad, it is how they are used that can make or break them. Consider Red Dead Redemption 2. The collectibles in that game are expertly broken down into categories, each with its own unique story and reward. Players can collect Dinosaur Bones, hunt for Legendary Animals, find Treasure Maps and so much more, all of which feel varied, exciting, and the exact opposite of filler. On the other hand, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok falls prey to old Assassin’s Creed habits of making each collectible feel indistinguishable and inconsequential. Hiding special armor and upgrades in with the pile of other collectibles never has and still doesn’t feel good.

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Some Powers are Powerless (The Powers)

A new addition to Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Dawn of Ragnarok is Powers. Early on in the game, you will receive the Hugr-Rip from the dwarves which allows you to steal the powers from your fallen foes. There are five Powers in total and, with no upgrade available, you can only carry two at a time. Some of the Powers include transforming to a Raven, frost attacks, and using the enemies you defeat to fight for you. The addition of Powers creates fun, new ways to fight and traverse the world, but some are clearly better than others.

Though each Power is fairly situation, the Power of Muspelheim, which gives you the ability to blend in with the Muspel Giants and walk on lava and fire, is used in the majority of open-world puzzles, quests, and boss fights. The other Power that is extra useful is the Power of the Raven. Transforming into a Raven to climb up huge mountains where the High Points are is necessary and makes traversing the world much faster. The other three Powers are still useful and fun, but the story and the open-world don’t require you to use them as much which makes them less important.

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The Verdict

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Dawn of Ragnarok is an expansion that oozes potential. Though familiar and sometimes senseless, the story of Dawn of Ragnarok is enjoyable and the setting of Svartalfheim, while oftentimes one note, is beautiful. The dreadful Assassin’s Creed pattern of dull, linear quests and unfulfilling collectibles persists in Dawn of Ragnarok, but new additions like the Powers spice up how you accomplish said tasks. Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Dawn of Ragnarok, for what it is and what it could’ve been, is still an enjoyable expansion. With the recent influx of incredible games paired with the ample amount of innovative Norse Mythology games released in recent years, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Dawn of Ragnarok serves as little more than a familiar midnight snack for those looking for something to nibble on in between better games.

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla Dawn of Ragnarok is available now on the Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Google Stadia, and PC.

This game was reviewed using a copy of the game provided by the game's publisher,public relations company, developer or other for the express purpose of a review.

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  • Score: 3 / 5
  • Available On: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
  • Published By: Ubisoft
  • Developed By: Ubisoft Montreal
  • Genre: RPG
  • US Release Date: March 10, 2022
  • Reviewed On: PS5
  • Quote: "With the recent influx of incredible games paired with the ample amount of innovative Norse Mythology games released in recent years, Assassin's Creed: Valhalla Dawn of Ragnarok serves as little more than a familiar midnight snack for those looking for something to nibble on in between better games"
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