Assassin's Creed: Valhalla - Siege of Paris – Non-Spoiler Review
Written by Sorrosyss, August 11th, 2021

The Siege of Paris is the second major narrative expansion for Assassin's Creed Valhalla, and indeed the second such offering in the purchasable Season Pass. This time around, the content was primarily created by the Ubisoft Singapore studio. Within this new narrative, Eivor travels to Francia (aka France) and becomes entangled in the political strife between the northern dwelling Vikings and the occupied lands of the localised Franks. Eivor also lends a hand to local villagers, who are organising a rebellion against the oppressive Frank military forces.

The northwestern area of Francia is captured pretty well here, with some very picturesque fields of beautiful flowers. It was quite a nice surprise to see towns of a decent size here, including of course Paris itself, which actually lends a nice reminder to our urban parkour roots of the franchise. As is expected, there is some heavy re-use of graphical assets from England, though there are definitely some new unique NPCs and animals such as the famous French wild boars. Exploration is achieved in the same way as the main game, though I did experience having six or so world events not actually populating to the world map as they normally would from the use of viewpoints. This did necessitate some monotonous aimless wandering around the map to locate them, which all seemed to have a very small radius to trigger an icon to your compass, though admittedly this might have been a small bug.

One new unwelcome mechanic is the addition of swarms of rats. If you are pretty squeamish like me, being rushed upon by these little groups is pretty alarming. Fortunately, they can be contained if you block their entrances to locations, but in the end they are simply an annoying hindrance that I usually just dodged my way past. On the flip side, one of the new combat abilities is to gain the ability to summon these rat swarms onto your opponents which is strangely satisfying. Speaking of new abilities, there is the addition of a flying knee attack (added in the small patch just before the expansion) which I found myself using pretty extensively. It really helps as a distance closer, especially on enemies that are running away from you such as archers.

In terms of major characters, Eivor meets a whole host of new ones. They are first introduced to Toka, who is a really likeable female Viking and niece to the historical Viking Sinric. Her uncle, Sigfred, is the primary leader of the Vikings of Francia and his bloodlust has slowly been building tensions to the area. On the other side, we come across Charles the Fat – who was the Emperor of the Carolingian Empire in this time period - and we also meet his wife, Richardis of Swabia. Finally, there is Pierre who runs the aforementioned cell of rebels.

The rebellion itself is a separate mission chain away from the main story line. Essentially it involves you running raid style missions with a small group of rebels to either intercept an enemy group, eliminate a camp / single NPC, or steal some evidence. In doing so, you obtain currency which you can spend on equipment, cosmetic items, or to purchase upgrades to your little rebel team. Whilst this initially appears to be a fun little time sink, unfortunately you can only ever take a single mission at a time. Infuriatingly this results in you having to travel back and forth from quest givers each time you complete one. It seems pretty poorly designed in that regard, especially when you could
take multiple similar style quests at one time in the Ireland DLC. Completing the rebel questline will require you to finish around 30 of these missions, but the constant back and forth, along with the repetitiveness of the missions, really makes this feel like far more of a grind than it should do.

Thankfully the quest design of the main storyline is much more interesting. Fans will likely be aware that the “Black Box” style mission structure has been brought back for this expansion. This essentially means that when you have to assassinate a primary target, you are offered multiple avenues to eliminate them. This requires the player to perform some investigation work in the local area, interviewing witnesses, finding secret entrances/keys/passwords – it's all very fun, and really makes you reminisce for the older style games. Often by putting in the extra time, you are rewarded by some very cinematic style kills that usually involve some social stealth mechanics. Frankly, this is a very welcome return to the franchise and I truly hope to see more of it in order to really instil those Assassin themes that we love into the gameplay.

In terms of the Hiddens Ones themselves, they are fairly absent here with the exception of an abandoned bureau. There is also no Children of
Danu or Order of Ancients menu to clear off this time, with any proto-Templars group conspicuously missing from proceedings here – though one could speculatively argue that the newly introduced and secretive Bellatores Dei group might fit the bill. It is a shame as with the return of more Assassin mechanics and missions, it would have been nice to see more of our much beloved meta conflict here. Naturally this is a non-spoiler review so I won't go into any great detail (especially as we will cover the narrative analysis in a future article), but as with the main game and the Ireland DLC we once again have Eivor playing the Kingmaker. It is getting a tad repetitive narrative wise now in that regard, as I know many fans have been wanting Eivor to join the Hidden Ones since the initial game released.

In terms of the historical story, it is pretty decent, though the self titled Siege of Paris doesn't really feature for that long within the
actual story itself. In terms of overall playtime, you are probably looking at around 10 hours to complete all of the major storylines. Indeed, it took me a grand total of around 13 hours to completely finish all activities on the entire map. In that regard, whilst it still remains a solid amount of content and good value for your money, it has a comparably smaller map and number of objectives to that of Wrath of the Druids. The expansion also sadly maintains the same general instability as the main game alas, and I suffered a few crashes to desktop during my expansion playthrough.

In terms of narrative themes, sadly there is no Isu content at all which is surprising considering that Saint Denis is a part of the map here – which many of you will recall from Unity's Dead Kings DLC. There is also no real mythological or mystical storylines either, which will come as a comfort or a disappointment depending on which camp you belong to in the Assassin's Creed fandom.

Despite the historical events depicted in the expansion being set after the ending of Valhalla, you will be saddened to hear that the events of Francia offer no further continuation to the conclusions of the main game. On the contrary, following on from the trend set by Wrath of the Druids, this expansion is again treated as if it was happening in parallel to the main game, with sadly the new characters namedropping characters from the main game narrative that should be dead by this historical point in time (such as Hemming Jarl).

Eivor even mentions and still believes in Valhalla at this point too which is pretty telling. There is also sadly no Modern Day content whatsoever. As with Ireland, this story is self-contained, and does not impact on the wider storyline. In that regard, I can imagine a lot of players will not feel the same level of interest and investment in the narrative, especially as the Assassin's Creed Odyssey DLCs pushed the main game storyline forwards with each release. The Siege of Paris falls short here as a result.

All in all, it is a solid and enjoyable experience for an expansion, but its own self-containment also means that fans can quite easily bypass this content with no real impact to their main Eivor story. (Fortunately Ubisoft has recently confirmed that we will have further story expansions in 2022.) If you have always wanted to experience medieval Paris as a setting though, it is certainly worth your time. The Siege of Paris is available August 12th on all valid gaming platforms. It is purchasable individually, or forms part of the available Season Pass. Our sincere thanks to Ubisoft for the early access opportunity.

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