I'm hidden just outside an enemy camp filled with members of a druidic cult. A thick green fog hangs in the air, with smoke billowing from a nearby brazier that emits a strangely colored flame. A patrolling druid, wearing antlers that jut out from a skull mask, comes a little too close for comfort, while another who's in command of a boar circles the camp. After taking out an enemy from the shadows, I'm suddenly spotted by another who throws something on the ground that explodes into a hazy smog. Suddenly my vision is distorted and every surrounding druid looks on with red, menacing eyes. This is my first taste of battle against the new enemies introduced in Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Wrath of the Druids.
Wrath of Druids, the first DLC for Assassin's Creed Valhalla, takes Eivor to the lush green landscapes of Ireland. With new foes and features, ample room for discovery, a wealth of gear, and a story campaign that throws you into the heart of conflict, trade, and tradition, Assassin's Creed Valhalla's first major expansion has plenty to offer. While you can still expect to do some raids, take out enemy outposts, and get stuck into all of Viking action and assassinating you'll be familiar with if you've played the base experience, the setting and introduction of new characters, enemies, and additional features keep things feeling fresh. Throughout the adventure, I found myself getting completely swept up in the story, and lost myself to exploring every inch of the map and uncovering all of Ireland's mysteries.
Eivor's Irish adventure begins back at the settlement in Ravensthorpe. At the docks, I first meet Azar, who comes bearing a letter from the king of Dublin. The king happens to be Eivor's cousin Barid, who wishes to establish trade with England, and makes a request for Eivor to journey to Ireland. The suggested power level for the expansion is 55, so you don't need to have completed the main campaign in order to access the adventure. The DLC also adjusts to your level if you're at a higher power, as was the case for me, and I certainly felt like I was challenged throughout. Before I can journey out to Ireland, I'm tasked with clearing out a naval blockade nearby, but once it's cleared, I soon find myself voyaging across the sea and arriving in Dublin to be greeted by Barid.
The story does well to quickly establish Eivor's history with their cousin, and the bond they still share all these years later. As a Vikyr, Barid seeks to secure his throne and gain the favor of Ireland's High-King, Flann Sinna. It's not long before I'm caught up in the power play between Gaelic kings and encounter some new faces that play a big role in the story of the expansion. One of the most interesting and memorable characters in Wrath of the Druids is Ciara, a bard and poetess with an enchanting singing voice, a strong sense of tradition, and a likable personality. I'm quickly drawn to learning more about her, and I found myself enjoying moments she was in far more than any other character.
It's through Ciara that you first get to try out one of the new features introduced in Wrath of the Druids. As you try to gain the patronage of Flann, quests known as Royal Demands help you curry the favor of other kingdoms and gain resources. As Ciara informs you, a list of demands to carry out can be found by going to a pigeon coop. Requests include the likes of taking out a particular target or securing jewels from an enemy camp. Each demand will have a set of secondary objectives known as the Kings' Pleas that you can try to fulfill to gain twice as many resources. As an example, my first task is to wipe out an enemy camp with the objective of remaining undetected. The Kings' Pleas add an additional layer of challenge to the mix of each mission, and do require some cunning to pull off successfully depending on the scenario.
Alongside Royal Demands, trade is another big new feature that can give you access to a wealth of gear and cosmetics. Throughout Ireland, many different trade posts can be established that will generate a variety of Irish resources over time. Much like the way you upgrade Ravensthorpe, trade post resources can be earned through raiding abbeys and looting chests to upgrade an outpost, which will generate resources at a faster rate. Once enough resources have been gathered, they can be traded at Azar's shop in Dublin for a range of new armor, weapons, tattoos, and ship cosmetics. The trading system is easily one of my favorite new additions in Wrath of the Druids and offers a sense of progression that feels really fulfilling. By the end of my time with the expansion, I had a veritable bounty of new gear to play around with through trading alone.
While the characters and features bring something new to the table, it's not the kings or the tricks of the trade that really grip me. The sense of mystery and mysticism surrounding the druids, along with the scope for discovery around Ireland, is what truly gets my attention and draws me in. Partway through the adventure, I learn of a dark druidic cult known as the Children of Danu who are clearly up to something. The strange hallucinogenic green fog one druid threw at me is the cult's signature weapon, and every time I see the hazy smoke, I find myself on high alert.
The druids play a part in another new challenge that will test your fighting prowess. As I'm venturing through a hillside, I stumble upon an unlit brazier surrounded by stones decorated with strange carvings. Setting the brazier aflame triggers one of the Trials of Morrigan, which pits you against the new druid enemies under a blanket of fog.
My vision is once again slightly distorted as Eivor shakes their head from the green smog, and hallucinations of imposing antlered figures made of smoke seemingly spectate my fight. It's during this trial that I go up against a range of different druids all at once. Venomous druids hit me with poison, while a fire druid sends an explosion of flames in my direction. Dodging every which way, I deliver enough blows to take them all out and successfully pass the trial. The unsettling fog clears away and the shadowy figures evaporate from my sight. Every trial I come across presents a satisfying, atmospheric battle to overcome.
With an expansive map, there's plenty of room for exploration away from combat and trading. I spend a lot of time roaming the rolling green fields and hills of the country in search of hidden treasures and secrets. Just like England, there's a vast amount of little orbs dotted around the map that indicates points of interest, with new gear to find, resources to collect, and mysteries to discover. There's so much to see and do outside of the main story campaign for those who want to spend ample time traversing the landscape. I even came across some nods to Irish legends and myths that I found myself reading up on as a result of playing the expansion.
After completing the main game, I was all too excited to get back into the action with Eivor in Wrath of the Druids, and it certainly didn't disappoint. There's so much to do in the new setting of Ireland, and while I found the sense of discovery and mystery surrounding the druids more enticing than some of the expansion's main story beats, I never found myself losing interest in the adventure for a moment. From taking on the druids in that camp covered in fog, to building up my very own thriving trade, and getting lost in the land's scenic vistas, Assassin's Creed Valhalla's first major expansion is well worth a look.
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