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Assassin's Creed Valhalla

Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarök - Hands-off Preview

This next chapter in Eivor's saga is almost here and we've seen a bunch of new gameplay.

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After its announcement back in December 2021, Ubisoft is officially gearing up for the release of the third major expansion to arrive in Assassin's Creed Valhalla. Continuing the saga of Eivor the Viking, this expansion is set to be a little different to previous ones, as it'll focus predominantly on Odin in the body of Eivor, as is the case in the side stories that are started when Eivor drinks the hallucinogenic potion in Valka's hut. With this in mind, Dawn of Ragnarök serves up a mythological tale, drenched in magic and wonder as Eivor travels to the glorious realm of Svartalfheim as Havi (Odin) to locate and save the All Father's son, Baldr, who has been captured and imprisoned by the fire giant, Surtr.

The storyline revolves around Havi (again, this is Eivor as Odin) coming to Svartalfheim in search of answers, only to discover that the realm has been the subject of an invasion by the fiery forces of Muspelheim (Surtr's army). On the path to save Baldr, Havi becomes wrapped up in various quests, each aiding the Dwarven people who are currently hiding and living in fear of the deadly and merciless Muspelheim legions.

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While it's worth noting that if you've played Assassin's Creed Valhalla or the previous two expansions, Dawn of Ragnarök does not do anything massively different. You still get a tale told through conversations between Havi and the cast of supporting individuals, all set in a vast open world filled with mystery and intrigue. Yet, with that being said, Svartalfheim is significantly different to that of England, France, and Ireland.

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This is a world of legend, and is almost defined by the sprawling roots of Yggdrasil that span the horizon but have been tainted by the fiery presence of Muspelheim. The world is large, broad, crammed with lush vegetation and is highlighted by glorious, golden Dwarven structures and towns. It radiates magic and intrigue, yet is corrupted and scarred by the warring armies of Musphels that have turned this magnificent and pure realm into a fractured and chaotic landscape.

The Musphels themselves are the embodiment of fury. Their design is humanoid, yet is unmistakably mythical thanks to their fiery, molten skin. While the majority of these savage monsters are a similar size to Havi, there are various enemy types, including towering giants and Musphels wielding all manners of different types of weapons, be it axes, spears, swords and shields, you name it. The main catch with Musphels and what sets them apart from other enemies is their ability to empower one another with bellowing war cries that rally any Musphels in range and makes them even harder to take down. Add to this the special Flame Keeper type unit, who can resurrect fallen Musphels, extending fights significantly unless you target them first, and you get a deadly enemy faction, one that is as ruthless as it is hardy.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla

To help Havi chew through the forces of Musphelheim, Ubisoft is using Dawn of Ragnarök to add a new ability system called Hugr-Rip. This is exclusive to this expansion, meaning you won't be able to take the moves to England or elsewhere, but what it will allow you to do is transform to abuse certain Powers. As is in the lore, Hugr-Rip is essentially taking something's life essence and using it as the fuel for magical moves. In the case of Dawn of Ragnarök, this can mean turning into a Raven to quickly traverse the map, resurrecting fallen enemies so they will fight alongside you, even turning into a Musphel so that you can walk among Surtr's armies unnoticed.

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There are five Powers to discover and use and each can be upgraded to do a few extra things, for example allowing Havi to air assassinate a foe by dropping on them while using Power of the Raven. To add to this, items will also have a new upgradable tier called Divine quality, which allows you to unlock a new Rune slot that will further add unique traits to each Power, thus bolstering the customisation and specialisation available in Assassin's Creed Valhalla.

While it is not exactly the main driving point of what Dawn of Ragnarök is serving up, the new weapon, the Atgier, is set to bring a new style of combat, which prioritises using varied combos and moves to cut through Musphels in a flurry of slashes and strikes. This tool, which is essentially an unusual variant of a polearm, is also slated to serve up an array of devastating finishers that show the true might of the Lord of Asgard.

Even though Dawn of Ragnarök will provide plenty of enemies to throw down with, if you're looking for a new way to test and improve your skills, the Valkyrie Arena is set to be the place to visit. This fighting ring is a location that offers a plethora of combat challenges that can be enhanced by using Boasts to increase the difficulty of the encounter, so that you can improve your mechanics and become more familiar with weapons, combos, and abilities and more, in a dedicated scenario.

Assassin's Creed ValhallaAssassin's Creed Valhalla

Returning Assassin's Creed Valhalla players will have the luxury of already being familiar with Eivor/Havi's journey, and will likely already be in a place suitable for cracking on with the expansion when it drops. But for those who aren't, for those that haven't quite reached the power level of 340, Ubisoft is providing a way to instantly boost your character level so that you can dive right into Dawn of Ragnarök. If you're concerned this might mess with the narrative, do not fret, as creative director Mikhail Lozanov told us that the expansion has been designed so that players can start it "no matter where they are in their Valhalla experience," and that whenever you choose to play Dawn of Ragnarök, it will simply "enhance" the overall Valhalla storyline.

There's plenty to look forward to in the realm of Svartalfheim judging by what we were shown, and the best part is that we won't have to wait all that long until Dawn of Ragnarök lands, as the expansion will be launching everywhere Assassin's Creed Valhalla is available on March 10. Hopefully when that day arrives, we'll learn a little more about if this expansion is foreshadowing the catastrophic event of Ragnarök at all, and if so whether we'll get to step back into the shoes of Havi/Odin once again in the future.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla

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