Ever since I heard that the Assassin’s Creed franchise was coming to England, I prayed to the Gods that Ireland would be involved in there somewhere and when they announced the DLC’s for Valhalla the waiting game was on. Well, the wait is now over with the release of the first expansion Wrath of the Druids but was it what I dreamt of or another case of an American fantasy of the motherland?
A story of convenience
In Wrath of the Druids, Eivor gets a visit from a one-eyed woman called Azar who has a letter from the King of Dublin that conveniently is Eivor’s thought to be dead cousin Bárid Mac Ímar. So after establishing a Trading Post in Ravensthorpe and a little killing Eivor and Azar leave Ravensthorpe and England and heads west for a new adventure in Ireland.
There is not much of a difference in the landscape, unfortunately, other than Ireland being rockier but it is just as beautiful if not more so (I might be biased though). Eivor’s mission in Ireland is to help Báird resolve, you guessed it, another power struggle while helps to build Dublin as the new capital of trade. You do this by taking over trading posts that are scattered across the Irish landscape.
Ireland in most of its glory
First I really want to talk about how Ireland is represented in Wrath of the Druids. The landscape itself is stunning and it feels like over each hill there is something new to see and explore. These include secret areas, lush pastures, towering cliffs or in true Assassins Creed style, a sad note left by a forgotten person. For all the beauty (and there is a lot, those rainbows) there has to be the ugly side of things being set in Ireland and that would be the accents. Going into the game I was dreading this part as will probably every Irish person that is going to play it. I am sure the voice actors and the scriptwriters did their best but when the very first Irish person you meet, Aoife the Blacksmith, says the ancient Irish greeting “What’s the craic?” my heart sank.
Now I have looked at interviews with some people involved in the DLC and how they researched and they seemed to put the time in but did they? I do know there is a lot of tongue in cheek and humour in the latest games but could you imagine if the first time you met Ezio he was talking about pizza and doing the stereotypical Italian hand gesture, well know you know where I’m coming from. Other than that and the fact Dublin is called Dublin and not Dublinia as the Vikings called it at the time (there is literally a Viking museum in Dublin people) it rarely puts a foot wrong.
The map itself covers most of the provinces of Leinster, Connaught and Ulster, which is two-thirds of Ireland and is about 25% of the size of the main game map. This makes Wrath of the Druids very manageable and a good 10 hours of gameplay which includes the storyline. It was great just riding around the countryside taking it all in and visiting places that I have in real life especially the Hill of Tara where you meet the High King and Viking lover, Flann Sinna.
Wrath of the Druids give me more
Wrath of the Druids big addition is the trading system, which are in ring forts scattered about the map that you will need to discover and take over. To do this you will clear the enemies out but as an added annoyance you will need to search for the deed so your trade post is official. When all this is done you can recruit some workers and start upgrading to improve your goods and rewards. Your forts then send their goods to Azar in Dublin and from there onward to other Assassin’s Creed lands like Egypt and Constantinople. I really enjoyed this part because it brought something extra to the table plus the rewards of armour, money and other goodies was a bonus and a great way to show off to the ladies back in Ravensthorpe.
As well as the trade system Wrath of the Druids also brings you interesting new characters, like Bárid, his son Sichfrith and the beautiful bard, Ciara. It also introduces a new enemy and secret society in the shape of evil druids called The Children of Danu. They are a death cult that can summon Púcas after drugging you with some fear toxin. This is not unlike the potion you receive in one of the side quests in England. The best new addition I think is the ability to summon an Irish Wolfhound and if you are a dog lover like me you can equip both the Irish wolfhound and the Man’s Best Friend ability at the same time, and summon two doggos at once, so happy days.
All in all, Wrath of the Druids is well worth the money and time. Also if you like ancient Irish history like myself you will thoroughly enjoy every second.