DLC REVIEW: “The Legend of Beowulf” is Hardly Worthy ‘Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’ (Xbox One)

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The Legend of Beowulf - But Why Tho?

“The Legend of Beowulf” is the first DLC mission arc included in the Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Season Pass. The game is developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. Most Assassin’s Creed games in recent years have featured DLC missions where you get to enact historical moments from an Assassin’s vantage, or encounter famous figures and do fun missions with them. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood had DaVinci and his incredible machines while Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate boasts Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Jack the Ripper in its DLC. The DLC historically range in quality, but the prospect of a launch-day Beowulf mission set was exciting.

The excitement, however, was for naught. Beowulf is one of the most seminal works of literature in English history. This Old English epic poem was written sometime in the 10th or 11th Century stars hero Beowulf as he fights monsters, becomes the king of Geatland, and eventually, slays a dragon to whom he is mortally wounded. “The Legend of Beowulf,” unfortunately, features almost none of this.

I get it. There’s a popular trend in storytelling where you take a well-known story or trope and invert expectations by making the monsters human and the human hero the monster. Sometimes, it’s an effecting turn. In the case of this DLC, it just results in a massive letdown. In the few short missions you take on in the “Legend of Beowulf” arc, Eivor is called upon to investigate animals that have been mauled by a giant. You must discern the source of this monstrosity and stop it.

Alas, Grendel, the giant monster Beowulf must first prevent from attacking the local mead hall in the classic epic, is only a man covered in mold. In part, the mold has left him deranged, but he is also described as a man whose body grew big but whose head remained as a child. The trope of a big man whose destructive behavior is blamed on his developmental disabilities is not only awfully tired, but it’s insulting and ablest. Could this type of character be well-written and made a tragic version of Grendel? Absolutely. But this depiction was far too sudden, poorly depicted, and inappropriate.

When Beowulf slew Grendel, Grendel’s Mother, an even more terrifying monster than her son attempts her revenge. In “The Legend of Beowulf,” Eivor basically only happens upon the very non-threatening Grendel’s Mother because she was searching for the source of the mold Grendel was covered in. Why is she looking for her though? Simply because Grendel mentions her existence, basically.

When you enter her lair, your senses are assaulted by the mold and some other cursed objects. It makes navigating the dark cave a tad of a challenge and gives Grendel’s Mother a bit of a creepy aura during your fight. But it’s over in a flash, because she is very easy to defeat, and it’s revealed that she is merely a pauper who was scared for her son’s life and her own when you entered her abode. When you kill her and end the story, Eivor feels remorse, but playing as female Eivor at least, the emotional weight of the moment didn’t carry through.

Then, it all just wraps up. An abbot who you defended from Grendel earlier vows to write your saga in poetry, changing your name of course, and adding flourishes to keep your anonymity. And so if you go about your business and return later to your settlement, you’ll find a letter from the abbot saying she has completed the story and has enclosed a copy. Eivor chides how the story even managed to sneak a dragon in and then, that’s it. You can’t read the story. You fight no such dragon. Your much-too-easy quest is over.

I don’t know what expectations I had of this questline going in, but regardless, I was left severely disappointed. I had hoped, midway through, that I would at least fight some sort of metaphorical dragon, or something. But the most epic part of the whole tale was left for a punchline in some forgettable post-mission dialogue many players may never even hear if they don’t check their in-game mail. Not to mention that the story of Beowulf doesn’t even take place in England, despite it having been written there. I guess having Eivor be the inspiration for the Beowulf character, being a Dane themself and all could be justifiable. But considering that none of my feats in this story felt worthy of an epic saga, it just comes off as a lame facsimile of would could have been an epic questline fighting monsters and dragons and becoming a true hero.

“The Legend of Beowulf” is maybe worth playing if you’re already buying the Season Pass or Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s Gold Edition, but certainly do not buy it just for this mission. It’s far too short, easy, boring, and offensive.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is available on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5 now.

The Legend of Beowulf - Assassin's Creed Valhalla DLC
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TL;DR

“The Legend of Beowulf” is maybe worth playing if you’re already buying the Season Pass or Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s Gold Edition, but certainly do not buy it just for this mission. It’s far too short, easy, boring, and offensive.