Choice of personnel
In addition to our major 2021 Game of the Year Awards, every member of the PC Gamer team is shining a spotlight on a game they’ve loved this year. We’ll be posting new staff picks, along with our top prizes, throughout the month.
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla received two new DLCs this year: Wrath of the Druids and The Siege of Paris. The two took Eivor and the Raven Clan further afield as I explored Ireland and the city of Paris in all their glory. While Dublin is a bustling city filled with people of different faiths, Paris is a dismal, gray, rat-infested mess that Charles the Fat, otherwise known as Charles the Fool, reigns with little love for his people. In short, they’re both pretty accurate in terms of historical accuracy, if that’s your jam.
It’s nice to take a break from fighting the English to take on the surprisingly difficult enemies that roam the lands of Ireland and France. Druid battles use a lot of poison and fire, and enemies seem to be moving around you at a breakneck pace. The wildlife seems to hate you a bit more in Ireland, but it’s great fun running around the emerald hills on the back of a lynx. Meanwhile, the new Frankish Knights of Paris won’t knock their horses down no matter how many axes you throw at them, and they can easily mow you down with just a few hits. Rat plagues will chase you down and eat you alive if you’re not careful, so make sure you have a weapon handy so you can drive them away. What is A Plague Tale?
You’re still playing the Kingmaker in every DLC – it seems all of Europe needs Eivor’s help at this rate – but there’s little to choose from in the two; it’s more of an illusion this time. The enemy of the Druids is hidden in plain sight, and it is only after convincing High King Flann Sinna to look away from the Danes that he realizes that his trust in Father Eogan is misplaced. . This is the kind of betrayal we’re used to seeing in Valhalla, although the battle at the end may surprise you. Friends turning into enemies is a common concept in Assassin’s Creed games and, as always, this ends with a definitive choice to be made.
Paris Siege works a little differently, finally introducing black box missions to Valhalla. It has several key enemies that you can defeat in different ways. You can go all over the place or take a more stealthy approach, letting the environment do most of the work for you. New Rebel Missions see you arming the local French resistance to attack Charles’ men, which is fun but a bit repetitive. You do get some cool armor, however, and you can give Pierre a French kiss if you’re lucky.
Ultimately, you’ll have to decide whether France deserves a more level-headed ruler, like Odo, or whether Charles’ young illegitimate son should ascend the throne. There are no real winners in The Siege of Paris – someone must be disappointed or, you know, killed. It seems underwhelming at times, but there are some pretty decent side missions to complete and it offers some cheese throwing competition, and I love myself cheese so much.
I enjoyed following Ciara and listening to her singing between fighting some rather spooky and mysterious druids and exploring parts of Ireland that I know well. Paris, while spooky, is thrilling to explore, and there are plenty of little secrets and stories to be heard as you try to escape swarms of rats. There is also an achievement in finding all the orange cats – now who could resist it?
There’s a lot to do in both DLCs, and they perfectly set up the next adventure, Dawn of Ragnarök. Hopefully this will come with more black box missions as well, as it will be pretty awesome to cut like a stealthy Odin.