Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Siege of Paris Review: Everything is the same
“Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s Siege of Paris DLC is the same game, a different setting – nothing new to see here.”
History has thematic weight
Assassination missions are returning
An inconspicuous world
Severe lack of unique content
For me, the Assassin’s Creed franchise is about wandering historical areas, talking to the icons of the time, and sometimes murdering them. In Odyssey, players venture through the colorful world of ancient Greece, meet brilliant mathematicians and philosophers, and explore ruins that still stand today.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla drops the ball in that regard. His world is usually beautiful, but hardly filled with recognizable characters and set pieces. Valhalla’s basic gameplay loop doesn’t do much to compensate for this issue either, and stagnates after the first couple of iterations. However, the game’s Siege of Paris expansion takes in and amplifies any current issues, resulting in a prime example of how bloat, repetition, and general boredom can ruin an expansion.
Begging for pity
The Siege of Paris DLC begins with two new characters arriving in Ravensthorpe warning Eivor of a mad Franconian king who could one day sail to the coast of England and destroy what they have built. Given the potential threat, Eivor decides to sail to Paris to convince the mad King Charles the Fat to leave England alone one way or another.
From the first time you set foot in Paris, things are obviously different in Walhalla. The picturesque land is covered in blood and burned as Charles’ troops destroy everything Nordic on their way. In these opening moments, Paris is neither colorful nor beautiful. It’s dead, and it’s a fitting introduction as players delve into the story of the Expansion’s Revenge and how religion can distort people’s minds.
This promising story, however, is told by some of the most irredeemable, poorly-written characters I have come across in an Assassin’s Creed title. Charles himself is a madman who is hard to forgive by the end of the DLC, regardless of your point of view. Of course, his wife (a good Christian whom he tries to kill several times) is an apologist who believes he can be saved and the game eventually tries to push players in that direction too.
Likewise, the Viking leader Sigfred, who leads the siege of Paris, is an angry lunatic, which shouldn’t sound too strange to a Nord invader. In fact, Sigfred is one of the easier characters to sympathize with early on. This is all taken away after he (and I cannot stress this enough) commits war crimes during the siege of Paris. There’s a reason some of the more brutal aspects of Viking life – the rampant murders and looting – are left out of the game’s main story. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla takes a strong stance on what is right and wrong, even with Vikings as the main characters, and Sigfred falls heavily on the wrong side.
There are no characters to cling to, no one to miss when the credits roll in after about eight hours.
Of course, there are some entertaining characters in The Siege of Paris, but they can’t save the game’s overall poor cast. There are no characters to cling to, no one to miss when the credits roll in after about eight hours. Having villains or anti-heroes in a story is never a bad thing, but they need to be made compelling, or at least reasonably relatable, and Siege of Paris doesn’t do either.
More of the same
Between the main story missions, players can explore Paris and its outskirts as well as England, Vinland or other areas of the game. Much of what The Siege of Paris has to offer both inside and outside the main story can be found throughout the base game. This is the systemic problem of Valhalla, and it is a difficult one: the main game loop of the game repeats itself quickly and often with few variations. That remains true in The Siege of Paris.
The big map of the expansion is still littered with collectibles, world events and wealth to cram your pockets with. There are even a few monasteries to loot, but none of this is new. The equality would have been somewhat offset if Paris had looked more prominent, but that’s not the case. If you told me it was any other part of England, or really any part of Central Europe, I would believe you.
That’s not to say the area can’t be beautiful. It is filled with lush nature, small towns and villages. Paris has its own charm but is losing the French accent and I couldn’t tell the difference between Paris in the ninth century and Hamburg, Germany. It’s just not characteristic; there are no landmarks to be seen or places that players want to visit quickly.
Even the rest of the contents of the extension have this property. None of the missions, apart from the actual siege of Paris, are memorable. Again, this is the same content that players know from the main game. I followed NPCs, investigated things by holding a button for a moment, and smacking enemies to a pulp.
It’s just not characteristic; There are no sights to see or places to visit quickly.
Thankfully, there is some unique content in the Siege of Paris. Players will face off against cavalry, which is a decent threat, until they figure out how to fight it effectively. There are also rebel missions that players can take on at any time and earn new cosmetics. The DLC also marks the return of assassination missions that players may remember from previous games in the franchise. Players are tasked with taking out a specific target and exploring ways to murder their prey. However, these missions all steer the players towards an extremely obvious solution and leave behind the creativity of the players in their approach.
I’ve played a decent number of RPG expansions in my day, and most of them have built on what the base game does well. Whether it’s Blood and Wine from The Witcher 3 or Old World Blues from New Vegas, a good DLC takes the best aspects of the base game and highlights them with a unique, new spin. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s siege of Paris opposes this. The best parts of the game – its world and characters – stay in the dirt while a boring gameplay loop and clumsy story take center stage. Of course, some players will enjoy exploring more of this, but considering how long it takes to quit Valhalla, I couldn’t imagine coming back for seconds. When I first got to the version of the game from Paris, I saw an exhausted, burned-out country. When I left it, I could certainly empathize.
Is there a better alternative?
If you’re looking for some extra Assassin’s Creed adventures, try Odyssey’s The Fate of Atlantis DLC pack. It will take a while to finish, but it has a lot more unique content than you can find in The Siege of Paris.
How long it will take?
It took me about seven hours to complete the main story of The Siege of Paris. Completing the rest of the DLC content could easily eat up another 20 in my estimation.
Should you buy it?
No. When you’re done Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and not striving for more, there is no compelling reason to dive back in. The Siege of Paris doesn’t offer enough unique content to entertain everyone but the most ardent Assassin’s Creed fans.