Ubisoft launched the new River Raid mode in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on February 16. It introduced a “new” method for players to raid villages, monasteries, and military encampments, venturing into the three new maps that came with the mode. But these AC Valhalla River Raid maps are, sadly, yet another example of Valhalla‘s lackluster free content.
In December 2020, AC Valhalla received an update that launched the Yule Festival event, but this also introduced several game-breaking bugs that prevented players from engaging with the event altogether. While the River Raids aren’t as buggy, they have other glaring issues.
For months now, AC Valhalla fans have been asking for new, high-quality content, as well as new rewards to keep the game alive after its initial release. River Raids introduces one new outfit, the St. George set, which is just a re-skin of an existing outfit. Ubisoft’s Helix microtransaction store, meanwhile, has continuously pumped out exciting new outfits that look different from anything in the game. These are occasionally obtainable in-game through Reda’s shop; however, this is very rare, and when they are available, they are far too expensive to obtain without hours of grinding. Unfortunately, River Raids’ lack of creativity runs deeper than AC Valhalla‘s problematic microtransactions.
The new River Raid maps have no depth whatsoever. There isn’t a single activity to engage in, other than raiding. In fact, at one point, a crew member on Eivor’s longship notes just how quiet it is, since even the sounds of chirping birds can’t be heard. It’s evident Ubisoft realized this, and while a self-aware joke is at times appreciated, it does nothing to solve the problem.
Adding to the list of issues is that engaging in River Raids is not rewarding. After gathering the St. George outfit pieces, there’s nothing more for players to gain other than “foreign supplies,” which is just a re-skin of materials from the base game. Players also receive a new weapon and shield as part of the St. George’s set, but outside of that, there are no new weapons, longship designs, or anything that would incentivize playing River Raids mode. It’s a shame, as Ubisoft could’ve used this update to add new and exciting loot for players to hunt down.
With River Raids also came a somewhat new mechanic that is, for all intents and purposes, useless. Players can now take Jomsvikings to assist in raids. Each has a level-one ranking at the start, which means they’re relatively vulnerable. As players level their Jomsvikings, they might expect them to become more impervious to injury or death, but this appears to not be the case. Regardless of what level of Jomsvikings players take with them, they’ll almost always manage to die by rushing into a swarm of enemies alone – a consequence of AC Valhalla‘s bad companion AI.
The new River Raids mode adds little to no substance to a game that badly needs it right now, and it only emphasizes Ubisoft’s aggressive monetization model. Since launch, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla hasn’t received a single free content update that adds anything truly interesting.