Assassin's Creed Valhalla marches into its second post-launch expansion, The Siege of Paris, and while Wrath of the Druids was stellar, Siege of Paris raises the bar even further, and it may just be my favorite storyline in Valhalla thus far. Like Wrath of the Druids, Siege of Paris has you traveling outside of England, this time taking Eivor to Paris to help a fellow clan and, as a result, throwing her in the middle of one of the most ambitious battles in Viking history. You'll meet a compelling cast of endearing yet flawed characters through an adventure that is paced just about perfectly, and with a few new twists to the Creed gameplay in the mix as well, it makes for an unforgettable tale.
You are asked by Toka, a representative of the Elgring Clan, to help her uncle Sigfred take on the indestructible walls of Francia's imposing fortress and put an end to King Charles' conquering ways. It's a simple enough premise but no less effective, as once you head to Paris you come to realize that not everything is as clear as it once seemed, and the murkiness of motives and intentions extends to your allies as much as it does your enemies.
That's a massive part of the story's charm. Even amongst the game's most altruistic characters, there's the kernel of doubt, and you'll have to rely on your instincts to truly know who to trust. Even if you place your faith in the right allies, no clear-cut answer is given on how your decisions will play out going forward, and even with what you would call the "good ending," there's still an uneasiness in regards to if you made the right choice. It's a credit to the storytelling and richness of the relationships you form over a smaller run time that such weight is felt making these decisions, and at several points, I was compelled to go back and replay certain sections just to see how it played out, even though in most cases I stuck with my original choice. Choices matter, too, so you will want to pay attention and choose wisely.
Quite a few characters will surprise you along the way, and it was a treat to get to know most of them inside and out. Richardis, Count Odo, Pierre, Sigfred, Toka, and King Charles all carry their own biases and hopes and make questionable choices along the way, and it all goes a long way to making this new piece of the Valhalla world feel authentic and alive. The cast and their stories are what make Siege of Paris truly stand out, though there are some other elements to sweeten the deal.
Fans of the Hidden Ones' History will have some welcome new content, while those looking for new side quests will have fun with the Rebel Missions. These missions will allow you to raise your infamy and upgrade the rebel units that Sigfred sends with you. The best part of this system, though, is that there's also a shop you can buy gear from, and while the weapons and tattoos are fine, it's the runes that really impress, so you'll at least want to spend enough time in this system to unlock some of those new additions.
The other new element is rats, which you cannot kill and will surround you and deal damage to you. The only way to get rid of them is to attack them, which won't hurt them but will make them scurry away, and if there's a drain or grate they will head towards it and give you a little time to breathe. You can also shoot barricades over grates and drains to unleash them on soldiers standing around them, but for me, they were more of a hassle to deal with than the soldiers. If there is a large group of them you can sometimes split the group when you attack, causing one half to go towards a grate while the other just runs into a corner. Then they come right back after you, and while they don't do a ton of damage, a horde can eat away at your health pretty quickly. More importantly, they can stop you from moving as they keep attacking, so it was just a nuisance. They didn't really add much to the game and, in most cases, I just tried to avoid them as much as I could. The only other noteworthy flaws are just a bit of stuttering and screen tearing, though those are only evident in one area and around a very active sequence, and odds are that will be patched shortly.
The Siege of Paris delivers an adventure that I simply could not put down, keeping me riveted to the final battle and beyond, and I would return to this world in an absolute heartbeat. A villain that is nothing like you expect and a rich cast of characters keep you invested the whole way through, and while the game's new mechanics didn't really floor me the way that I'd hoped, they do enough to bolster an engrossing tale of intrigue, loss, war, and forgiveness that I would recommend to anyone who adores this franchise.
Rating: 4.5 out of 50comments
Assassin's Creed: Valhalla The Siege of Paris will be available starting on August 12th.
Review copy was provided by Ubisoft for PS5.