Assassin’s Creed Valhalla proved to be so popular that Ubisoft decided to extend its DLC support for a whole year, the first of which is arriving in the form of Dawn of Ragnarok.
This upcoming DLC for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is the biggest that Ubisoft has ever endeavoured to create. As such, GameByte sat down with Georgi Popov, the game director on Dawn of Ragnarok. He explained what players can expect to get up to in Odin’s latest adventure and why you should consider returning.
What is Dawn of Ragnarok all about?
“Dawn of Ragnaok is the ambitious continuation of Odin’s story from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla,” Popov explains. While the main game explores the character of Eivor in Midgard, Dawn of Ragnarok will be firmly focused on Odin. Those who have played Valhalla will know the significance of Odin’s character, though we won’t spoil too much here.
“The culture of the Norse is so vast that we just knew that there is more to say. And we wanted to explored these myths that Norseman held in in much greater detail,” says Popov. “So this gave birth to Dawn of Ragnarok where players will follow the desperate quest of Odin to save his son, Baldur.”
How does Dawn of Ragnarok change up the Valhalla gameplay?
The recent Assassin’s Creed games have seen a transition to more RPG-like combat mechanics. In Dawn of Ragnarok, Ubisoft is taking the series back towards its roots. “In terms of gameplay, we really wanted to embrace all the different types of players that love Assassin’s Creed”, Popov explains. “There is a huge variety of such players – some prefer combat, some prefer stealth, some prefer exploration and discovering session secrets. We wanted to give them a new gameplay that is relevant for all.”
As it turns out, it’s hard to please everyone while making a game that caters to a wide audience. Popov shares a development anecdote that shows even the team couldn’t agree on which is the best way to play an Assassin’s Creed game. “During the development of the different powers, several different members of the team came to me and said ‘this power is super powerful, and everybody’s going to play just with this one’. But then on the same day, another member of the team would come and speak to me about a different power saying the same thing.
“So I think we managed to find a very, very good balance. This gives players the possibility to express themselves and find what really works for everyone.”
What new areas can we expect to see in Dawn of Ragnarok?
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla surprised players by offering a suprising amount of open world content in some of the mythical Norse realms. While we got to explore plenty of Midgard, Asgard, and Jotunheim in the base game, Dawn of Ragnarok is taking us to some new locales too. “In Dawn of Ragnarok our players will explore Svartalfheim which is the mythical realm of the dwarves from the old myths and sagas. It’s the forge of the old mythology and where all the mythical artefacts were crafted and created.”
Svartalvheim isn’t often explored in modern media depictions of Norse mythology, so it’s great to see the realm get some recognition. It sounds like we’ll get to uncover plenty of mythology for ourselves, too.
Popov explains that players can discover plenty of the famous artefacts from the legends: “For the fans of the original Norse mythology you will find a lot of things which are from the true sagas. But you will also find a lot of information that has been bent through the Assassin’s Creed lens and saying ‘okay, this is what the Sagas tell you, but this is what really happened in the Assassin’s Creed universe’.
“So I think both fans of the franchise and fans of Norse mythology will be satisfied.”
Why should players come back to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla?
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was a meaty game in its own right, never mind its additional DLC packs. After pouring so much time into one game, why should players come back for more?
“I will say two things,” Popov begins. “We all really bring a new dimension to the gameplay with the addition of the powers granted, Ragnarok really changes the pace of the gameplay and the way that you experience the game. It’s going to fundamentally be altered and given new possibilities to express yourself.
“And for our fans that play the game mostly for the story. I think we have something really cool to say to them. For those that are really into the story we’ll have sprinkled these connections around the world, it’s something that they are going to discover and start wondering ‘ok, so this is this character – who is she in the story?’”.
It certainly sounds like Dawn of Ragnarok is going to introduce big things for fans of the extended Assassin’s Creed lore. “For the whole Isu lore, we try to be a bit vague and not very open to what we say. But I feel that stoking the fires of imagination and letting the players discover these connections for themselves is super powerful, and something that they will enjoy a lot.”
While Dawn of Ragnarok is intended as endgame content for Valhalla, it’s still approachable for newcomers and story lovers alike. Popov explains that the difficulty settings can be adjusted accordingly. There’s even an option to start from a levelled up save so you don’t have to grind your way through the base game first.
What makes Valhalla’s Norse mythology stand out from the crowd?
If you’re a fan of Norse mythology, it’s certainly a good time to be around. The Marvel movies have arguably rekindled a love for the stories, and the God of War reboot also opted for a Norse setting. With such a saturated market, how did the team at Ubisoft ensure that their depiction stood out from the crowd?
“We basically lived and breathed Norse mythology especially during the very initial phases of the conception of the game. We got our teeth into our different sides of the different stories that were told by the Norse. And we really wanted to immerse ourselves in this culture to bring those sparks of inspiration.
“Assassin’s Creed is a very very good medium for these kinds of stories because we want to tell the story in the Assassin’s Creed way. We call our approach a documented mythological fantasy, so it is based on all of the Norse myths and legends, but it has to make sense inside the greater lore of the Assassin’s Creed franchise
“So we offer a different story – our unique take on it – and different gameplay from all of the other competitors in this space. I think it is a very interesting proposition for our players.”
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Dawn of Ragnarok is set to release on March 10th 2022. Will you be returning to Asgard? Let us know across our social channels.
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[Featured Image Credit: Ubisoft]