War of the Vikings Review
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Platform Reviewed: PC
Release date: 15/04/2014
With your sword held aloft you hastily close distance on your foe, arrows and spears narrowly miss their target as you get ever closer to your quarry. Your swords meet with a shuddering crash, you back away preparing to strike again, the enemy raises his shield, pondering his next move. Battle has commenced.
War of the Vikings is multiplayer only game brought to us by the same studio who were behind War of the Roses. Thrust into battle as either a Viking or Saxon, combat takes place on a bloody battlefield somewhere in Britannia and you are on the frontline. Played entirely in the third person, this gladiatorial style conflict can be swift and brutal.
The way in which you approach each skirmish will depend heavily on your choice of loadout. Play it safe with a single handed weapon and you may carry a shield. Feeling brave, then maybe a devastating two handed great axe is your preference or how about staying out of range completely and choose a bow and arrow. Let’s not forget your secondary weapons, from small axes and throwing knives to large spears and javelins, all vary in their speed and destructive capabilities.
Holding down left click whilst moving the mouse in any of four directions readies your main weapon for attack. Careful timing and a precise aim can result in a fatal blow, this will take some degree of skill and you will need to be accurate. Parrying is achieved by holding right click as you match the direction of your opponents strike. This can lead to a tense stand-off until you consider that friendly units can also cause you damage. A wayward arrow or a clumsy strike from a nearby ally can be infuriating and can often make the difference in such close quarter combat.
There are currently five game modes on offer, each can host up to 64 players. The usual Team Deathmatch, Domination and Conquest make an appearance. Whilst Arena and Pitched Battle offer a change of pace. You are limited to a single life, bring your enemy to their knees so you can deliver the killing blow, fail and they can be resurrected by their teammates, free to hunt you down themselves.
Joining a game is a simple process of choosing a server and jumping straight into battle. None of the usual matchmaking here. Dueling servers are particularly interesting. Generally played in the Team Deathmatch mode, these games are limited to one versus one clashes. Put away your bows and arrows, these encounters are for those who want to see the light extinguish from the eyes of your foe as you best them in battle. These are very tense and tactical exchanges and lie at the heart of what War of the Vikings has to offer.
Environments are rich and varied. Mountain villages feel claustrophobic and with limited lines of sight combat is often directed to well-placed choke points. Barren and frozen shores feel empty and lost to the elements, traversing these areas can be challenging and often rely on swift movement to close the distance on your foes without being taken out from afar. It certainly adds to the authentic and brutal feel of the game.
There are elements of customisation, from general appearance to the colour of your shield. It doesn’t go quite deep enough and more choice in this area would be very welcome. There is also no real discernible difference to which faction you are fighting for either. Neither Viking nor Saxon have any particular advantage as weapon choices are very similar. That being said there is something incredibly compelling with regards to the combat. Rushing your target and swinging blindly will often cause your swift demise. You will need to consider your surroundings and plan your next move accordingly.
War of the Vikings does have its faults. Poor optimisation is a problem. A lack of weapons and the shallow customisation make the game feel a little stale after a while. It can be fiendishly difficult and very intimidating, especially if you are new to this style of game. That being said, War of the Vikings is not without its charm and appeal. It offers a somewhat unique experience. It stays true to its source material. Graphically it’s very respectable, complimented by the admirable audio. Plus you can be a Viking, and Vikings are awesome.
Reviewer – MrBadDog