• Aaron Adlem

Our first impressions after playing Assassin's Creed Valhalla's new River Raids

Picture Credit: Ubisoft

This week marks the arrival of the long-awaited first content update for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and it comes in the form of ‘River Raids’.

Now, although my thoughts on this current system are not final, I will be sure to write a full review once I’ve spent a bit more time pillaging the vulnerable river lands of England. In the mean time however, here are some of my first impressions.

‘River raids’ is a free content update available for all who own Valhalla, which promises to expand upon existing systems involving your Jomsviking crew, adding repeatable riverside raids as you would very much expect. Diving into the new content is easy enough and for most existing players they presumably already meet the prerequisites to get stuck in straight away.

After building Ravensthorpe’s barracks and recruiting your first Jomsviking, you will stumble upon a fellow named Vagn, who has just so happened to park up and build a house and dock right on the river of your town. I don’t suspect planning permission was heavily enforced in the Viking era, but this seems a bit invasive… Thankfully he took the time to introduce himself to me after illegally squatting on my lands unannounced.

Joking aside, my first impressions at this point had already started to deteriorate. I was met with a large riverboat clipping straight through their illegally built house. This accompanied with shoddy animations and broken NPC pathing, and I cannot help but think quality was not of the highest priority when releasing this content.

Picture Credit: Ubisoft

Okay I get it, this is a free content update and whilst new additions are always welcome, I would at least expect to not have my first experience of this patch to include horrible, immersion-breaking clipping issues and characters walking around in circles like they have been possessed; especially when existing game-breaking bugs go untouched for months. Luckily, none of those affected me directly…

Hopping into the broken clipped boat with my new best friend Vagn, we travelled to all new regions to pillage unsuspecting farmers and soldiers of their hard-earned loot. Now I use this term loosely as by ‘regions’, what they actually mean is, a small area to which you progress in a linear fashion until you reach the end.

Regrettably, these villagers have obviously been informed of my mischievous doings as they use the same bloody door bolts as everyone else in England.

Now I appreciate the fact that they want to keep me out from stealing their juicy goods, but how do they plan on getting back in themselves once I leave? It is a shame Ubisoft continue to use this mundane door tactic to pad out game time and I wish they would think of using more creative methods to delay my assault instead of find locked door, run around house looking for window, climb through.

After hundreds of hours of play, let us Viking smash!

Your Jomsviking crew now also require rations to heal themselves as they are no longer the immortal powerhouses they once were. These can be found whilst looting chests around the villages and, should they not have any rations if they are injured, it’s down to you to get them back up, less they get left behind as you progress further down the river.

Picture Credit: Ubisoft

River raids comes with its own risk reward system as villages get progressively harder to defeat as they are warned of your pending arrival following the thick smoke you leave behind. Yes, we know it would be much more logical to just not burn down all the houses on your way down the river, but Viking smash!

This can all be visualised by an increasing threat bar that can be seen and proposes a choice for your progression as harder villages offer more loot which can be used to purchase goods such as decorations and gear, however should you fail and die, you lose everything you gathered and are forced to return home with nothing.

Whilst first impressions are weak from a graphical standpoint and I have my doubts on the replayability of the new content, it’s a welcome addition and will offer a new experience to old and new players alike for no additional cost.