It was only a few months ago that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla hit us with its Wrath of the Druids DLC, but Eivor is already back for more with the Siege of Paris expansion. This time, Eivor heads to Francia to protect the Ravensthorpe settlement from a looming threat, as well as take part in one of the more iconic battles in Viking history. Should players join Eivor on this journey, or perhaps sit this one out?
When in Francia
Siege of Paris adds quite a bit of new content to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, including about a dozen hours of story content and even more for those who like to thoroughly explore. Fundamentally, it feels like more Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, but there are new activities to explore, gear to find, abilities to unlock, and characters to get to know.
If I'm being brutally honest, very few characters stand out as worth getting to know in Assassin's Creed Valhalla. Charles the Fat is one of the few exceptions to this. Maybe it's because his character stands out visually, or that he's voiced well, but I found myself more invested in the Siege of Paris than I was with most story elements that came before it. I'm far more likely to travel across the map to dig up a new piece of gear than I am to push the plot forward, and that remained true in the Siege of Paris. Give me a puzzle in a cave that leads to a new weapon over a cutscene any day. Unless it's a cutscene with Charles the Fat, of course.
The biggest gameplay shift comes from the introduction of Infiltration Missions. These open-ended quests let Eivor choose how to complete an objective. Players can partake in smaller quests before the main part of the mission in order to find opportunities or go it alone if they see fit. In what could be considered the tutorial Infiltration Mission, I was busy running about finding keys and passwords to unlock as many paths as possible. When I arrived at my target, I instantly spotted my preferred method of approach and made my choice. I was able to use various opportunities to meet my target at their most vulnerable moment, completing my objective and disappearing without a big kerfuffle. These missions reminded me of Opportunities in the Hitman trilogy. Yeah, you can sneak your way in the old fashioned way and eliminate your target, but explore a bit to find an exploit or two and perhaps unlock something more cinematic.
Infiltration Missions are a nice change of pace, as it seems that Eivor is thrown into large battles – those also exist in Siege of Paris – more often than not. My advice to players diving in would be to turn off hints and waypoints, as much of the discovery is lost when there’s a beacon telling you where to go. I'm pretty sure Valhalla suggests this when players first launch the base game, so it makes sense. Either way, Infiltration Missions are a nifty addition to Valhalla that should go over well with players.
Speaking of nifty, another addition to Valhalla with the Siege of Paris is the inclusion of Rebel Missions. These quests allow players to aid Frankish Rebels in their fight against Charles the Fat. Rebels will join Eivor on these missions, but they start out as nothing more than motivated civilians. As players complete missions they will gain Infamy and currency to train these Rebels into a more formidable fighting force and unlock new gear and cosmetics for their efforts. Although they function quite differently, Rebel Missions reminded me of the Overseas Trading hub from Wrath of the Druids.
The fun things to see and do in the Siege of Paris don’t end with Infiltration Missions and Rebels. Players have a lot of cool moments to look forward to as they move across the land. These things are tough to detail without spoiling their discovery, but expect more secrets around the Hidden Ones, puzzles galore, factions, rats, and epic battles against formidable foes, both human and otherwise. It all remains true to the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla vibe, but it’s more new content to enjoy in a world that, if you’ve come this far, you probably already look upon with fondness.
A beautiful and broken land
I suspect I say this a lot, but Ubisoft has again created a beautiful backdrop for Eivor’s adventures. Francia, like all other parts of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, is gorgeous. Whether it’s land that has been ravaged by battle, lush fields and forests, or the busy city of Paris, Valhalla is a stunning game that takes advantage of high-end PCs, assuming players aren’t dropping frames all over Francia.
The problem with the Siege of Paris on PC is a returning issue from before the official launch of the base game. Prior to the public getting their hands on Valhalla, my experience was riddled with massive frame drops that popped up about 20 to 30 minutes after launching it. These issues were fixed in a patch prior to release, but those problems are back with the Siege of Paris. No matter how much I lower my settings, the game becomes choppy within 30 minutes of booting it up. The only thing that will fix this problem is exiting to the desktop and loading back in, but who wants to do that every half hour? I’m confident these issues will be worked out in due time, but as I did in my original Assassin’s Creed Valhalla review, I urge PC players to do some homework before diving in. The experience, at least for now, may not be smooth.
Riches and sorrow
With the Siege of Paris DLC, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla gets another infusion of content. Players have more gear to chase, more activities to enjoy, and more story to experience. Infiltration and Rebel Missions are both a cool way to change things up, but the Siege of Paris remains true to the feel and tone of Valhalla as a whole. Players who enjoy what Valhalla has offered thus far with the base game and Wrath of the Druids will want in on the Siege of Paris. PC players, however, should do some digging to avoid walking into a PC performance ambush of Ragnarok proportions.
These impressions are based on a digital code provided by the publisher. Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Siege of Paris launches on August 12.
Bill Lavoy posted a new article, Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Siege of Paris impressions
I get wanting to mentally prepare for the next olympics, but this seems a bit excessive