With Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok, Ubisoft Sofia is setting out to bring us the biggest and most ambitious expansion we've seen in the series so far. While the base experience has already explored Eivor's connection to Odin in mythological realms like Jotunheim and Asgard, Dawn of Ragnarok will delve even deeper into the mythos of the Vikings. As Eivor, you will fully adopt the role of Odin and journey to a new Norse realm in a quest to rescue your son, Baldr. By wielding exciting godly abilities in combat, you'll take on new challenges and foes in a setting about one third the size of the landscapes of England.
With 35 hours of gameplay to tuck into and a cast of new characters to meet, the DLC set to arrive on March 10, 2022 will give us one very big reason to return to Assassin's Creed Valhalla next year. I, for one, can't wait to leap right back in and gain insight into the character of Odin. As the studio behind Assassin's Creed Rogue and the Assassin's Creed Origins Curse of the Pharaoh DLC, the team at Ubisoft Sofia wants to deliver an experience to Assassin's Creed Valhalla that will, as creative director Mikhail Lozanov explains, fascinate players.
"Throughout history, mythology has always played an important role in people’s daily lives. Since Assassin’s Creed is а brand that explores various historical periods, naturally mythology is an inseparable part of this exploration. When we initially started brainstorming how to expand such a huge and varied package as Valhalla is, it came naturally to us that mythology – which was touched only briefly in the main game – is the right and strong vision for Dawn of Ragnarok," says Lozanov. "The Dwarves also played a very important role in almost every myth or saga that we know, so Svartalfheim was also a natural choice. We believe that players will be fascinated and surprised by how the dwarven kingdom and Odin, the All-Father are recreated through the eyes of 9th century Vikings."
The Kingdom of the Dwarves
As Lozanov mentions, Dawn of Ragnarok will give you the opportunity to explore the kingdom of the dwarves, known as Svartalfheim. The new Norse realm is currently under invasion and the war spreading across the land has sent the dwarves into hiding. In your quest to rescue your son and exact revenge on those responsible, you must set out in search of the dwarves and use their knowledge to aid you. With diverse landscapes, such as giant underground forges to journey through, the prospect of leaping into another new setting steeped in Viking legend and mythology is undoubtedly appealing. As we've already seen in Assassin's Creed Valhalla's take on Jotunheim and Asgard, the mythological realms also offer up some very visually engaging worlds that can be both surreal and fantastical.
When it came to bringing the new realm to life, Ubisoft Sofia approached the design and feel of Svartalfheim in much the same way as building a character. "When you are building characters, one way to approach it is to place your character in a situation where they don’t belong and witness their reactions. We treat our world, Svartalfheim, as a character as well," Lozanov explains. "So, by juxtaposing this serene and surreal world against the invasion players can experience its character. Making the inhabitants of this world also react to these events, brings out their character and makes the Dwarven kingdom alive and surprising. We strongly encourage the players to explore Svartalfheim and they will find a huge diversity of stories and events that will spice up their journey."
Since you're taking on the role of the Norse god Odin, it's only right that you get some powerful new abilities that are befitting the All-father in this new realm. Thanks to the dwarves, you'll be given what's known as a Hugr-Rip, which is a bracer that allows you to possess the abilities of fallen enemies. This new feature will present you with some very exciting new powers that look set to really shake up the combat of Assassin's Creed Valhalla. A few examples include the ability to shapeshift into a raven to perform assassinations from the sky, giving your weapons elemental effects, raising enemies from the dead to fight for you, and even teleporting to locations with your bow.
These new powers will not only deliver new experiences in combat, but in exploration, and even some puzzle elements as we explore Svartalfheim. Previously, Wrath of the Druids offered up some new combat abilities that could be gained from tomes and the in-game skill tree, and Siege of Paris added a variety of one-handed swords to try out. But Dawn of Ragnarok arguably has some of the most exciting abilities yet, with powers that really lend themselves to the mythological world we're set to explore.
"Right from the start, our objective was to refresh the gameplay of all players," says game director Georgi Popov. "Being set in mythology really created the perfect opportunity for this new gameplay. In Dawn of Ragnarök, players will possess the powers of their enemies through careful and strategic use of the Hugr-Rip – a mighty artifact crafted by the dwarves and gifted to Odin. The powers will give players new approaches to stealth, let them reach inhospitable locations, traverse the peaks and valleys of Svartalfheim – and, of course, unleash devastation on the forces of Jotunheim and Muspelheim."
"But players should always stay on their toes. The Hugr-Rip can store only 2 powers at a time. And the way to change them is to defeat opponents and take their powers for your own. This creates a strategic choice for players – they should always be on the lookout for new powers that might be more suited to their current situation, but also, they should also be careful which power they abandon," Popnov continues. "Once inside the Hugr-Rip, Powers can be used as many times as needed. Activating the powers is not free though – they cost 'Hugr'. The term roughly translates as the spirit or 'Life Force'. All living things carry it, and Odin can refill it by defeating enemies and animals, and draining it from Hugr Blooms. In times of dire need, players can even sacrifice some of their own life for Hugr at Shrines of Yggdrasil."
Frost and Flame
In Svartalfheim, you'll have plenty of opportunities to test out these new abilities as you face different challenges and take on new foes. With invaders such as Jotnars – the Frost Giants that you may have already encountered in Jotunheim in the core game – you'll also be going up against Muspel enemies from the fiery realm of Muspelheim for the first time. The fire opponents will bring fresh challenges to the combat, with the likes of Flame Keepers who use an ability to bring back fallen foes, and adversaries known as Surtr's Fury who will launch at you and explode to inflict some damage. With the arrival of Muspel invaders, we're also set to take on what is said to be the most powerful enemy Odin has faced yet in the imposing fire giant of legend, Surtr.
After taking on druidic members in Wrath of the Druids and going up against heavy cavalry knights and lots of rats in Siege of Paris, the mythological setting in Dawn of Ragnarok looks set to shake up the combat with its own unique opponents. As we set about exploring the new realm, we'll encounter and infiltrate enemy strongholds, where we can once again use our new arsenal of powers. Outside of combat against the mythological beings of frost and flame, there will also be a new arena where you can take on the Valkyries' challenge. With options to increase the difficulty of these challenges to earn greater rewards, these arena-based trials will see you go up against more new foes as well as some familiar faces. One thing's for sure: we'll have plenty of battles to overcome in Assassin's Creed Valhalla next year.
Since mythology is so deeply rooted in the traditions and culture of the Vikings, it's exciting to see the upcoming expansion focus on this side of Eivor's journey and explore their role and destiny as Odin. As a complex figure, the team at Ubisoft Sofia relished the chance to explore the story of the All-father, which Losanov believes many will relate to. "What is most fascinating about the Norse myths is how human and vulnerable all of their Gods are. They could be mighty and strong but at the same time they have their vices and flaws," says Losanov. "Exploring the character of Odin allowed us to create a deeply personal story that many will relate to and maybe will find tiny fragments of their own personality."
"Odin is an extremely complex and diverse character with all his flaws and strengths," Losanov adds. "With Dawn of Ragnarök players will be able to understand his personality and follow them on their journey to rescue their son, Baldr. Players will uncover something larger than they have ever imagined."
Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok is set to release on March 10, 2022.