Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: The Siege of Paris has many of the same charms and pitfalls as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Wrath of the Druids. That expansion was likewise similar to the original Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, which was similar to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which was similar to Assassin’s Creed Origins. Early on in The Siege of Paris, I realized that I had another 15 hours of fighting, sneaking and riding from waypoint to waypoint ahead of me, and for the first time, it seemed like a chore rather than a pleasant diversion.
There’s not much wrong with The Siege of Paris from a technical standpoint, save for Ubisoft’s now infamous launch day bugs and glitches. It’s still a competent open-world action/adventure game with a decent mix of stealth, combat and exploration. But after a full game, a lengthy expansion, a handful of limited-time events and a generous helping of free DLC, there’s just not much The Siege of Paris can offer that Assassin’s Creed fans haven’t seen before.
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Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5 (reviewed), Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Stadia
Price: $40 (as part of Season Pass)
Release Date: August 12, 2021
Genre: Open-world action/adventure
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: The Siege of Paris review: What’s new?
Like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Wrath of the Druids, you’ll take control of Eivor: Viking leader and European traveler, who has now journeyed to Norway, England, Ireland, Canada and even the mythical realm of Asgard in his ongoing adventures. This time, the action takes place in the medieval Frankish kingdom of Francia, specifically in the regal city of Paris and its surrounding countryside.
By now, you know the drill: Eivor travels across the European countryside, sometimes on foot, sometimes on horseback, and sometimes on a longship. He undertakes plot missions, which sometimes involve stealthily dispatching foes, sometimes involve open combat, and sometimes involve solving simple environmental puzzles. He’ll also discover a variety of side missions to complete and doodads to collect. The gameplay loop is pretty much the same for both the main and optional quests. Read our full Assassin’s Creed Valhalla review for more information about the core gameplay.
While The Siege of Paris features the same setup as the core game and Wrath of the Druids, there are two new features: rebel missions and black box assassinations. The former are a bit rote; the latter can be a lot of fun.
In the rebel missions, Eivor and a handful of AI-controlled allies take on quick missions to harry Frankish soldiers. You may have to assassinate select targets, or clear out a fort, or waylay a caravan, but it’s usually going to end in open combat. You collect currency based on how well you pull off your objectives, which you can use to empower your allies or buy collectibles. Your level of Infamy will increase over time, offering you better rewards. You’ll need to complete some rebel missions for the story, but it’s not terribly interesting overall.
The black box assassinations, on the other hand, are a welcome returning feature from Assassin’s Creed Unity and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Whenever Eivor has to assassinate a high-profile target, he has three options. He can carve a bloody swath through the surrounding area, he can find an unguarded entrance and sneak past the opposition or he can undertake some side quests to unlock a unique assassination opportunity.
For example: In one early mission, I had to rescue a local girl, sneak through the sewers, fight off a group of bandits, unlock a hidden entrance into a church and disguise myself as a penitent in order to assassinate a corrupt priest. It was considerably more interesting than just barreling my way through his underlings — but I appreciate that I could have done that, too. These freeform assassinations hearken back to earlier Assassin’s Creed games, where stealth was more of a focus.
On the other hand, it’s hard to forget that Siege of Paris is not the first major piece of DLC for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. After finishing this enormous game, we’ve had one other major expansion, periodic festivals, combat challenges, river raids and tons of extra weapons and armor. (In The Siege of Paris, you can finally use one-handed longswords — which are not terribly interesting, since the game’s weapon variety was already pretty generous.)
The fact is, if you play The Siege of Paris after all the various free and paid Valhalla content we’ve received up to this point, you’ll not only be terribly over-leveled — you may simply be a bit burned out on what the game has to offer. If you’ve already played everything up to this point, you have anywhere between 100 and 150 hours of the game under your belt — and if you haven’t played everything up to this point, you still have a lot of content to grind through without having to pay for The Siege of Paris. I wonder how many people will want to play this expansion, when only about 1/3 of Valhalla players even made it far enough to achieve its minimum recommended power level (200).
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: The Siege of Paris review: Story
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: The Siege of Paris retells — well, you can probably guess the historical event in question from the title. Like previous Assassin’s Creed entries, it does a good job of laying out all the major players, from the belligerent Viking war chief Sigfred, to the arrogant French king Charles the Fat.
Charles is a somewhat interesting villain, as he’s not entirely opposed to making peace with Eivor; otherwise, the characters and setup are fairly similar to what we already saw in Wrath of the Druids. (An ambitious king, a Viking lord who wants to amass power, some family drama, etc.) There’s nothing wrong with the narrative in The Siege of Paris, but you can probably guess all the major beats in advance — particularly if you know a thing or two about medieval European history.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: The Siege of Paris review: Visuals and sound
The visuals and sound in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: The Siege of Paris haven’t changed much since the base game came out. I reviewed the title on PS5, and thought the color palette was gorgeous, particularly on a 4K TV with HDR capabilities. Characters look realistic and distinctive, although the art style is a bit drab in general. Francia looks a lot like England and Ireland, with a lot of rocky hills and small towns. Paris looked a lot more impressive in Assassin’s Creed Unity — although that’s perhaps not a fair comparison, since Unity took place in the 1790s, whereas The Siege of Paris takes place in the 880s.
Likewise, the music and voice acting are both competent, particularly Magnus Bruun Nielsen and Cecilie Stenspil as the male and female versions of Eivor. They’ve both recorded dozens of hours’ worth of dialogue by now, and still manage to infuse the character with some life and intensity. After the beautiful Irish harp work in Wrath of the Druids, however, I was a little disappointed that The Siege of Paris didn’t have anything equally as creative from a musical standpoint.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: The Siege of Paris review: Verdict
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: The Siege of Paris is more of the same — and if you’ve already sunk more than 100 hours into the main game and its previous DLC, that may not be a ringing endorsement. I had a perfectly good time with The Siege of Paris, and I was also very eager to put it aside once I was done playing each night.
The trouble with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla DLC is that after such a substantial main game, each new package has to do more to justify its existence, and its price. The Siege of Paris adds more content, but not substantially different content. I’m sure there’s a small fanbase that absolutely can’t wait to climb more viewpoints, raid more camps and upgrade more armor. But I’m also sure that even many players who enjoyed Valhalla have had their fill by this point. It makes me wonder whether the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Infinity will really be fun to play, every day, indefinitely.