The second package of DLC for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla may have caused a few raised eyebrows. After all, the last game in this series set in Paris, Assassin’s Creed Unity, was less than satisfactory. Its forgettable story and its bugs that gave Bethesda’s Fallout games a run for their money soured a lot of AC fans at the time.
Fortunately, The Siege Of Paris doesn’t feature the issues that plagued Unity, although it does borrow an integral piece of that game’s mission structure. In fact, for those AC veterans who have been missing the franchise’s old school adherence to stealth mechanics, the latest DLC could provide something of a boon.
Furtive in France
The Siege Of Paris starts with a pair of visitors arriving from France for a feast. Their visit’s purpose is to convince Eivor to travel with them back to the continent to help out the Elgrin Clan who are being oppressed by Charles the Fat, Paris’s ruler. In short order, Eivor (and the player) are off to France to aid the Elgrin clan against Parisian oppression.
The Siege Of Paris boasts a decent story, if an unremarkable one. It underpins the action rather well, but it will hardly surprise any players in the way it unfolds. It also has no bearing on the game’s main storyline, either in Eivor’s reality or the modern day.
The characters, for the most part, are pretty well written and voiced. Stand outs are Eivor’s cousin Toka, who seems to be further ahead of the curve than her uncle and clan leader Sigfred, although she’s marginalised due to her sex.
Charles the Fat is arguably one of the strongest villains to appear in an Assassin’s Creed game in quite some time. A condescending antagonist, Charles’s gross veneer hides a mind that is both insidious and sharp. Players underestimate him at their peril.
The map in the DLC is the smallest in Valhalla so far and in a way that’s refreshing. Players aren’t hindered by massive distances between their objectives as they were in the main game. The map size compliments the structure of the DLC’s missions, which are rather different from Valhalla’s.
From the outset Eivor realises that they may be out of their depth in their quest to liberate France. The reason for this is that unlike in the base game, players aren’t tasked with the objective of empire building. There are no strongholds to storm and no local leaders to parlay with.
Instead, Eivor’s mission is to destabilise the power structure that keeps Charles the Fat in charge of medieval Paris. The way the player goes about this is to stick to the shadows, gather information and strike at the optimum moment.
It’s a bold move for Valhalla. The franchise has been moving away from pure stealth since the days of Black Flag. To be frank, Valhalla has more in common with The Witcher series of games than it does with its own back catalogue. Reintroducing stealth as an integral means of progression could rub new players the wrong way.
The bulk of Eivor’s adventures in France are wrapped up in a series of quests called Infiltration Missions. Rather than charging at objectives directly, a path open in the base game, players are tasked with gathering clues, listening in on conversations, accomplishing the odd side mission and then clearing a path to their target.
In short, The Siege Of Paris has more in common in terms of its structure with the most recent Hitman games than it does with Assassin’s Creed. The Infiltration Missions have a lot in common with the ‘Black Box’ scenarios in Assassin’s Creed Unity.
Here players are dropped into a map in which their target is located, and they have to go about gathering information in order to plot the best way forward. Beyond harkening back to Unity’s mission structure, the Infiltration Missions also feel more in line with the game’s lore when it comes to the Order Of Assassin’s.
Eivor on the backfoot
Rather than build mini empires, engage in epic battles and generally conquer the world around him (or her), Eivor is on the backfoot from the moment the player enters the DLC. Eivor is no longer an unstoppable force geared towards establishing the Raven clan’s supremacy in a new land.
He (or she) is instead a member of a clandestine resistance movement who has to chip away at the allies and nobility structure that Charles the Fat uses to rule France with an iron fist. In short, it’s back to being an assassin for the player. That having been said, The Siege Of Paris isn’t as open-ended as the recent Hitman games.
It doesn’t have a tenth of their variety in how players go about dispatching Eivor’s enemies. The whole experience is far more streamlined, which may go some way towards attracting players who are put off by the prospect of a true-blue stealth DLC after they’ve hammered their way through both England and Ireland in the Wrath Of The Druids expansion.
Stealth for beginners
Think of it as ‘stealth for beginners’; franchise veterans will likely appreciate it while newcomers won’t be too intimidated. The Siege Of Paris, then, is a worthy addition to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Its story and characters are well written, it looks gorgeous, and its mission structure impressively straddles the line between new school and old school.
For those who wish to continue their adventures with Eivor in the lands beyond Norway, The Siege Of Paris comes highly recommended.