War of the Vikings comes to us from Fatshark - the makers of War of the Roses. With that game selling well enough for Paradox Interactive to turn it into a franchise, Fatshark has decided to dip its toes into Viking warfare rather than the classic English Medieval warfare we’ve all become accustomed to over the years with games like Chivalry, the Total War series, and Crusader Kings.
War of the Vikings is a third person online multiplayer game which places you on either a Norman or a Saxon team and tasks you with battling it out with the opposing team in set game modes. In my 3 hours of play so far, I’ve come across two game modes: conquest and deathmatch. The former consists of attacking enemy markers on the map, holding each long enough for it to become yours permanently. The latter is a traditional deathmatch, where each team skilfully kills more of the other before the time limit expires or the set kill count has been reached.
The control mechanics are unique and offer a lot of opportunities for persistent players to master and hone their skills. To attack, you click and hold the left mouse button after moving the mouse in the direction you wish to slash. You hold the mouse button down to charge the strength of your attack, meaning you’re always checking how long you’ve held down a click to ensure you don’t over-do it and accidentally weakly attack an enemy. To defend, you right click and perform the same motion to block in a given direction, allowing you some degree of flexibility when encountering other players.
There are no strength bars or stats to change, even when levelling up, meaning everyone on the field must rely purely on their own skill and teamwork in order to win the match. There are, however, 3 set classes (Warrior, Champion and Skirmisher), and 4 custom ones. The only thing that changes with each class is the weapon(s) you use, so the Skirmisher has a bow and arrow along with an axe, Champions have two-handed axes and not much else, and the Warrior has a one handed sword and a shield. You can chose whatever weapons set-up you like with custom pre-sets though.
My lone-ranger playthroughs went well enough in one-on-one battles, but I would get annihilated in all out attacks on enemy strongholds, especially when the opposing team would change their weapon/class sets so that there were multiple archers firing into the mass of bodies. The choosing of classes certainly makes the game dynamic, and allows for the tide of the battle to potentially change at any moment (there's typically lots of yo-yoing between the teams).
The game supports up to 64 players playing simultaneously, but in my short time with the game so far I’ve only ever happened across 24 player servers. This standard may change with the game's official release on 15th of April, but only time will tell. Even on the 24 player servers, everything is very hectic, so I can only wonder at the chaos and confusion that 64 player servers will create.
Graphically, Fatshark have done a brilliant job of making the game appealing to look at, whilst not being too taxing for systems. I was easily able to max out all the settings on my 3-year old rig without any problems, which should enable more players to take advantage of this addictive world.
Matches are short and engaging, meaning you can burn through lots of games without even realising the time you’ve invested. You never get thrown back to the main menu, so once you’ve finished one match, you stay on the same server and jump straight into the next one, selecting your player build and carrying on with bringing death to the opposing team.
War of the Vikings looks set to become an extremely tempting buy for all fans of online multiplayer games that don’t involve guns. Based on both Fatshark and Paradox’s history of supporting games well past their release dates, War of the Vikings is set to only get better over the next few years.