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War of the Vikings Preview

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History has been one of the biggest influences in media, books, TV shows and movies have pretty much covered every major and most minor historical events to the point where most people know more about them than they would like. Of course the same happens with Games, and anyone over the age of 18 will remember when every damn FPS was based in World War 2, or every RPG had to be a tolkin fantasy based story. Of course not every piece of media in these settings are bad, and it can add some familiarity when it’s a well-known piece of history, but this helps even more when the setting in question is closer to home. So war of the roses did this, it was popular game based on, well the war of the roses between Lancaster and York, it was one of these games that had a very devoted fan base, it’s controls were strange to get to grips with, but once you did it was a fantastic game.

If you have never played War of the roses, the control system may seem a bit strange to you at first, it is the same control shared with the Mount and blade series, which does take a while to get used too. When you swing you need to also move your mouse in the direction that you want to swing in, so click and drag up, to do an overhead swing, and the same for all directions, actually caring on the movement can help. There is also a 2nd control scheme where instead of moving the mouse, the attacking direction is determined by which way the character is moving at the time, so w,a,s or d. Both controls are a little awkward to use at first but after a time it becomes very natural, I actually found it a little tricky to go back to Chivalry medieval warfare after playing this too much.

Now War of the Vikings, it is more of a universal name I think, not many people outside of England will know what the war of the roses was, let alone where York or Lancaster is, everyone has heard of the Vikings. Of course there is no rape or pillaging to be found here, if you looked at both games on the surface you would assume it was the same game, in a different mode, you have the Vikings against the Saxons in this 800~ad based game. This game is in early access though, so if you do decide to purchase and try the game remember this, at the time there is only your standard Team death match, no introduction needed it’s the mode you’ve played in every multiplayer game ever. The other mode is Arena, which is nice, you have your team of 8v8 and once your dead that’s it, and it’s off to Valhalla with you, until the match restarts of course, your life does matter and your team mates need you to be on the ball.

On the weapon side, well is Vikings so there are Axes, lots of axes, if you look at the list of weapons in War of the Roses you can expect a great range of different weapons on launch, too many to unlock unless you put a lot of time into the game. There are currently three basic classes, Thane, Huscarl or Hirdman, these are all that are available right now, but they all give a distinct idea of what will be available in the full game. Hirdman is your archer, you have a ranged weapon capable of killing in one hit if you aim for the head, though you have no backup shield and all you have is a small axe to protect yourself. Huscarl is your melee power house. Sporting a two handed axe that with the use of a skill is capable of killing in one swift move, but with no shield and slower movements you can be an easy target of bows.

Finally the Thane is an all-around class, with this class actually having a shield, it helps when approaching the archer or protecting from a well-placed hit from Huscarl, the skill also helps, that being a dodge and slash type move. In this build though I found it all too easy to get kills repeatedly with Thane, the skill just recharges too fast, allowing me to run in, get a kill then back off and then repeat again, this is a balance that should be fixed. To compare War of the Vikings to war of the roses is hard, the gameplay in Vikings feels faster and more action oriented, the developers seems to of been a bit more lax on the realism side and focused on more action. Swings and unit movement feel faster and the matches seem more fun, one of my biggest problems in war of the roses was running around so much with little to attack, I don’t know if this is due to smaller or more well designed levels though. On the levels, as you would expect from this developer they look the part, everything feels like it is from the era of the Vikings, and of the levels that are currently playable it was really enjoyable seeing little touches on the outer sides of the map.

If you like historical games that are very loyal to what happened both war of the roses and war of the Vikings are great games for you, they both take a while to get used too, due to their control system but once you do, you find a fantastic game with a lot of depth and unlocks.

The ongoing Viking/Saxon conflict can be joined now on Steam Early Access at http://store.steampowered.com/app/234530/.

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A teacher of computer Science, Daniel enjoys spending time gaming to relax when not in the classroom. Gaming over many generations, and enjoys classic style games more than recent AAA titles.

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