The Ravensthorpe settlement is preparing for something big in Assassin's Creed Valhalla. The latest free update brings with it the start of the Sigrblot Festival, which tasks Eivor with earning the blessings of the gods by taking part in a war effort. Naturally, as Vikings, the Raven Clan hopes that earning the gods' favor will grant them good fortune for the raiding season, but it also teases the start of a new adventure that awaits our assassin in the not-so-distant future. After speaking with Thyra, she tells me of news from Francia, a place "with plunder of such finery that the Norse have ravaged the lands up to the very gates of Paris". Eivor expresses a desire to visit this city one day, and of course, we know that day is coming very soon. The Siege of Paris expansion is just around the corner, and we're set to sail to Paris to face a new threat to the Raven Clan.
As I go about bolstering the war effort with my many deeds, I hear two Norse warriors talk about raiding with Sigfred, who's said to be the most feared Viking in all of Francia. With every mention of this bountiful distant land, I can't help but feel excited about just what we'll encounter and come up against in the upcoming Siege of Paris expansion. As well as heightening the anticipation for the expansion, the festival also introduces the long-awaited debut of one-handed swords, and with activities such as playing Orlog for tokens, taking on a new challenge of wits by flyting with Ake, and getting stuck into a test of metal by mastering different dual-wielding weapons, the latest update quite literally sets the settlement ablaze with a renewed sense of excitement.
After coming to the end of the main story in Assassin's Creed Valhalla and completing the Wrath of the Druids expansion, the festival gives me a reason to return to the Viking adventure. But I didn't expect it to also successfully reginite my excitement about the prospect of spending more time with Eivor in a new adventure. Just like the Ostara and Yule events that have come to the game in the past, a part of the settlement transforms into festival grounds - only this time, the Sigrblot event feels much grander. With a big wolf-like effigy you set on fire to signal the start of the festival, the grounds bustle with the sounds of Norse warriors conversing and clan locals milling around. The settlement feels alive with activity, and as the flames engulf the wolf, my first quest begins.
I take a look around the festival to see what I can get up to first, but my primary goal is to contribute to the war effort in a bid to earn the blessing of the gods. It's not long before I come across three posts that highlight the different ways I can take part, such as performing an act of bravery, holding a feast, and building up stores with animal goods. Essentially, the quest gives you the perfect excuse to try out a bit of everything going on at the festival in order to complete it, alongside some familiar tasks such as fishing and hunting. Just like previous events, there are new rewards you can buy from the vendor by earning yourself some tokens. In festivals past, you could partake in a drinking contest, fire arrows at targets, and fistfight in a makeshift arena. This time around you can earn tokens by playing Orlog, which is arguably one of the best minigames in games, and one I could quite happily play time and again.
When you're not throwing dice, you can also get stuck into a new activity called "test your metal", which sees you try to master different weapons in three consecutive rounds against multiple enemies. With the likes of dual-wielding daggers and shields, you also get to try out the one-handed sword in battle and see just how swiftly it lands blows against your foes. For the first two rounds, you'll be joined by your main jomsviking mercenary who will help you take on the enemies, but the third and final round will see you going it solo against tougher adversaries. As well as adding a satisfying challenge that lets you try out different weapon fighting styles, you can earn yourself bonus tokens if you successfully win all of the rounds in a row.
Not only that, but you can also earn a hefty sum of tokens by taking on Ake in a round of flyting. In this battle of wits, choosing the right quippy responses in order to "humble Ake" isn't immediately obvious, but if you're willing to bet a large number of tokens, you can double your earnings. Overall, the amount of tokens you get for doing certain activities feels more generous, so it's not such a slog to grind for the items you want. This is especially good since I find myself wanting to get my hands on almost all of the rewards on offer. With the update debuting the one-handed sword, you can now buy one from the festival vendor, but it is easily the most expensive reward you can earn yourself. There's also a new hunting raven skin, as well as some new hairstyles, tattoos, and settlement decorations that motivate me to do everything I can to bag more tokens.
The promise of something new
There are also some smaller additional quests to complete outside of doing tasks to contribute to the war effort. One sees me shepherding pigs back to a pin to be sacrificed to the gods - when you know their fate you can't really blame them for hightailing it out of there. You have to whistle to get the pigs to follow you back to the settlement, and Eivor quips that this isn't exactly what they were expecting to do during raiding season, but once you safely return the pigs, you get to choose which of the three gods you want to earn favor with by lighting a fire under the respective statue.
Each god stands for something different, and whichever you choose will determine which cosmetic settlement decorations you unlock when you complete the overarching war effort quest. Another side quest is also quite straightforward: you pick an offering put together by certain members of the Raven clan to "feed the wolf" effigy you set aflame. While the quests don't ask you to do anything too spectacular, they both serve to add to this feeling that you're building towards something greater.
Throughout my time at the festival, there's this sense that you're preparing for some grand adventure. It instills in you the idea that Eivor is on the precipice of something new by tying the event to the upcoming Siege of Paris expansion. Everything you do and everything you hear seems to add to this notion that you're about to embark on a quest to a new and distant land, where new challenges await you. As festivals in Assassin's Creed Valhalla go, Sigrblot is easily one of the most exciting free updates. Not only does it introduce one-handed swords and give me a great excuse to spend too much time playing Orlog, but it also holds the promise of a new journey with Eivor. I can hardly wait to see what is yet to come and what we'll discover and encounter when we leave Ravensthorpe once more.
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