Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s New DLC Is All About War, Vengeance, And Poor Optimisation

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s New DLC Is All About War, Vengeance, And Poor Optimisation
Screenshot: Ubisoft / Kotaku

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has always been a massive game, and yet Ubisoft continues to make it bigger. Its latest DLC, The Siege of Paris, finds viking-assassin Eivor confronting a mad king, helping a French rebellion, and saving a clan of vikings whose leader is hellbent on endless war and bloodshed. Needless to say, she is very tired of it all, but I’m not tired of Valhalla. This latest DLC breathes new life into the game, even as it suffers from annoying performance issues.

The Siege of Paris starts with some Danes visiting Eivor’s growing settlement. They come bearing gifts, building a house and throwing a big feast. It’s all very nice — perhaps a bit too nice. The visiting vikings explain that they need help fighting off a growing French army led by a dangerous and mad king, Charles the Fat. While hesitant at first, Eivor realises that this deadly monarch could pose a threat to her clan in England one day, and agrees to head to France to help the vikings and rebels topple the royal fat cat. However, once you get there and start talking to people on both sides of the conflict, it becomes clear that anger, vengeance, and bloodshed have blinded many in France. So Eivor has to balance the conflict’s various players, while trying to save both the innocent people living in Paris and the vikings searching for a place to live in peace.

Screenshot: Ubisoft / Kotaku Screenshot: Ubisoft / Kotaku

If this sounds a bit complicated, it is, but fear not. The 10-hour-or-so campaign in Siege is well written and conveys its complexities in ways that are easy to follow, even if the situation Eivor finds herself in is a mess. It’s also interesting that Siege of Paris spends a lot of time talking about how, regardless of whether the vikings settling in England are peaceful or violent, their presence means that generations of families will lose out on land and resources. Eivor herself seems tired of it all, at one point telling her pet raven that she never expected to end up travelling the world just to see more kings and thegns complaining and killing each other. As someone with over 130 hours in this game and its DLC, I can relate. Same, Dane. Same.

But if you don’t care about narrative, character arcs, and the like, don’t worry. Siege of Paris, unlike the last DLC set in Ireland, is more lively and filled with stuff to do. You’ll find side quests, lots of hidden areas to explore, and a whole system where you help rebels overthrow the kingdom. If Wrath of The Druids and its Irish setting were too quiet and boring for you, Siege of Paris will probably be more in your wheelhouse. There are more people to meet, kill, and talk to, as well as a chance at some light romance.

The big star of this DLC is the return of “Black Box” missions last seen in older, more stealth-focused AC games. These missions feature large areas and a single target or objective that is hidden somewhere within the space. You have to explore and puzzle out how to kill your target or complete your objective. These missions offer great freedom in your approach, letting super-assassins ninja their way through and letting bumbling fools punch and stab their way to the messy end. I really enjoy these missions; they felt more like classic Assassin’s Creed. There aren’t too many in the DLC, but enough that I think players who miss the more sneaky-sneaky action of the past games will be satisfied.

Screenshot: Ubisoft / Kotaku Screenshot: Ubisoft / Kotaku

The actual Siege of Paris is great too, involving multiple quests and an exciting buildup to an explosive climax. When the siege begins, it’s loud, exhilarating, and unlike any other questline featured in the main game. From that point on, all your decisions and actions quickly careen towards a memorable finale. I won’t spoil anything, but trust me, it’s a great self-contained story worth experiencing for yourself.

I wish I could end the blog here, saying that I liked this DLC a lot and think it’s worth buying if you still want to play more Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, or if you miss the more stealth-oriented action of the classics. However, this new DLC has been running like crap for me since I started playing it a few days ago. I played on PS5 using the game’s 60fps mode, and it would often dip well below that point. Screen tearing and audio slowdown were also prevalent in certain areas of the map, like Paris. Others have reported these issues too.

It’s a shame because Valhalla and its first DLC have mostly run fine in the 60fps mode. Hopefully, a future patch can fix some of these issues so this excellent expansion can shine more brightly.

Comments

  • Finally, some assassination in Assassin’s Creed. :eyes:

    Anyone actually playing this on PS4? I wonder how this DLC performs there.

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