The open world, RPG-infused Assassin's Creed games — Origins and Odyssey, before Assassin's Creed Valhalla — received some great post-launch support. Origins in particular was blessed with a fantastic expansion in the form of Curse of the Pharaohs, and Odyssey lived long thanks to a slew of solid episodic escapades. We had reasonably high expectations for Wrath of the Druids, then — the first of two promised expansions for Assassin's Creed Valhalla.
The DLC sees Eivor travel to Ireland, where he or she seeks to forge new alliances with the isle's fractured kings. The premise and the story itself are quite predictable, but it's a nicely told tale, complete with numerous nods to Irish history and folklore. The campaign has you start off in Dublin — at this point a Viking trade port — before giving you an excuse to roam Ireland's rolling emerald hills and foggy swamps.
Although you don't get to see the whole island, this is still a large map — around the size of two or three English territories from the main game. With its druidic ruins, extremely green colour palette, and gorgeous purple sunsets, Ireland certainly has its own look. The weather, too, makes a surprisingly big difference; near perpetual rainfall gives the adventure a sombre feel, and there are even dynamic rainbows to gawk at (a first for open world games, as far as we know).
All in all, this is the single biggest map of any Assassin's Creed expansion, and it's peppered with the kind of activities that returning players would expect. There are hallucinogenic combat trials to conquer, artefacts to find, and bandit camps to bust. There is a new addition, however, in the form of trade posts. There are just a handful of these abandoned settlements dotted around the map, but by capturing them, you're able to develop Dublin's trade network.
Outside of the main story (which we'll get to in a bit), this is where Wrath of the Druids gets addictive. More trade means that more exotic goods reach Dublin's docks, and so you gradually unlock a range of brand new weapons and armour sets from all across the world. We spent a good few hours tackling pigeon coop contracts (repeatable, randomised missions) and delivering supplies just so that we could get our grubby hands on cool equipment. And in that sense, the DLC definitely doesn't disappoint. In particular, there are a couple of 'mythical' items that make Eivor borderline invincible — but we won't spoil them here.
It's worth noting that you don't need to do a lot of grinding, either. Ireland's smaller map size — compared to the main game — means that everything feels streamlined and better connected. It's a very cohesive expansion, and with a runtime of around 20 hours or so, you get bang for your buck without the adventure ever outstaying its welcome.
Even if you just blast through the main story, there's a lot to like about Wrath of the Druids. Again, you'll probably see specific plot points coming from a mile away, but a likeable main cast of characters and some strong scenarios make for an enjoyable ride.
The campaign's also got a horror-tinged edge to it, as it seeks to incorporate the creepier side of pagan folklore. With a dangerous druidic cult on the prowl throughout the countryside, Eivor has to investigate a number of strange happenings. From forebodingly foggy forests to eerily quiet villages decorated with animal skulls, there's a distinctly ominous vibe to Wrath of the Druids that sets it apart from Eivor's English adventures.
And when it comes to combat, the expansion dials up the difficulty. Elite opponents tend to be much more common than they are overseas, and several new druidic enemies will test your skills with devilish attacks and sneaky abilities. Indeed, some of these fresh foes utilise poisoned weapons and hallucinogenic gasses to get the better of Eivor, and they appear to be more aggressive than your average adversary. All of this makes for some surprisingly intense encounters, as well as a number of fun boss fights.
Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Wrath of the Druids is one of the series' best expansions. In its beautiful but sombre open world depiction of Ireland, it provides an intriguing story that combines history and folklore to great effect. A range of new weapons and armour sets help sweeten the deal, while more engaging combat scenarios keep you on your toes. If you're already a fan of Valhalla, this Emerald Isle adventure is very hard to fault.