What is it about Vikings that is just so hot right now?
From the hit TV show Vikings, to Marvel superheroes, to the popular animated film series How to Train your Dragon, and even to hit slot machines, it seems that Norse mythology is everywhere these days, and video games are no exception with the eagerly awaited Project Wight set to arrive in 2017.
Project Wight, developed by the Stockholm-based indie team The Outsiders, is an open world RPG based on the Nordic saga of Beowulf, or more specifically on John Gardner’s acclaimed novel Grendel, which reimagines the story as told from the point of view of the famous Norse monster. Given that the developers of this game come from the Battlefield and Payday 2 fame, you can bet your monstrous ass we’re excited!
The upcoming ‘Project Wight’ puts you in the shoes claws of a murderous Norse monster being hunted by Vikings.
But while we wait for Project Wight to make its way to our PCs, let’s take a look at our 5 favorite Vikings games that can quench your thirst for blood and conquest.
Viking: Battle for Asgard (Action-Adventure, 2008)
Developed by Creative Assembly (the team responsible for the hack and slash hit Spartan: Total Warrior), Viking: Battle for Asgard tells the story of Skarin, a Viking warrior recruited by Freya, the Norse Goddess of war, to stop Ragnarok from occurring.
After being expelled from the heavenly kingdom of Asgard, the Goddess Hel- daughter of Loki- has raised an army of undead Viking warriors and is looking to release the ancient wolf-god Fenrir, who is foretold to bring Ragnarok. And it’s up to you to stop her.
To do this you must travel throughout the land looking for enemy camps to infiltrate stealthily, in your quest to free enough imprisoned warriors to raise an army for your cause. Once you’ve got yourself an army and have completed a series of quests to prepare for battle, comes the big set pieces of the game: War. Massive battles featuring seas of undead Vikings, dragons, giants, shamans and more.
Needless to say, if you’re a fan of visceral violence and massive amounts of blood, Vikings is faithful in recreating the mythical Norse warriors bloodthirsty ways and ruthlessness.
Volgarr the Viking (Platform, 2013)
Insanely fun and yet maddeningly unforgiving, Volgarr the Viking is not a game for anyone other than a true warrior. Developed, appropriately, by Crazy Viking Studios, Volgarr is an 80s style side-scrolling platformer inspired by classics like Ghosts ‘n Goblins, Contra and –given its unrelenting nature- most appropriately the famously unbeatable Rastan.
Although Volgarr boasts simple controls, gameplay is truly anything but. Throughout each level you will be swarmed with enemies that get increasingly harder to kill, as well as obstacles that will require close observation and ingenuity to surpass unharmed. This game will require you to truly master your skills if you overcome your enemies with enough items to face off against the boss at the end of each level.
With infuriatingly frustrating features such as having only one check point per level, Volgarr is set to really bring out the ruthless Viking out of you. Once it comes out though, nothing is more rewarding.
Rune (Action, 2000)
Developed by Human Head Studios, the 2000 title Rune has certainly aged quite a bit since its graphics received unanimous praise 17 years ago. That being said, there are still countless reasons for fans of Norse mythology to revisit this well rated title described by many as “the best Nordic game for PC” at the time of its release.
Playing as Ragnar, a young warrior who is thrown into a quest to prevent Loki and his cohorts from finding and destroying sacred runestones whose destruction will bring about, you guessed it, Ragnarok. Chosen by Odin himself to guard the runestones and combat Loki’s army of fallen souls, led by his corrupted Viking chief Conrack.
This quest will lead you through the Underworld, the land of the Dwarves and even Loki’s castle buried in caverns deep below the earth, fighting man-eating fish, goblins, undead warriors, Norse dwarves and other Vikings warriors that have fallen pretty to Loki’s words.
While the game also offers a Multiplayer mode, you’re better off just sticking to the Quest mode as, much like other maligned Viking multiplayer efforts, it falls short of the mark.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Action RPG, 2011)
At last we arrive to the beloved critical and fan favorite, Skyrim. Developed by the legendary Bethesda Game Studios as its fifth installment in immensely popular The Elder Scrolls series, Skyrim was released to great acclaim across the board, even snagging the much coveted “PC Game of the Year” award from both IGN and GameSpot, as well as the “Readers’ Choice” award from the latter.
While Skyrim boasts its own complex lore and mythology which is definitely not canonical of Nordic myths, it’s impossible to deny the Norse influence and traditions exhibited by the people of Tamriel.
In Skyrim, you find yourself in control of a Dragonborn prisoner who is saved from execution when the town he’s in is destroyed by the Alduin, the Nordic dragon god of destruction who is prophesized to destroy the mankind and eat the world. Escaping, you will travel the land of Tamriel defeating enemies with magic, stealth or weapons and learning to perform shouts that will allow you to defeat dragons themselves, in your quest to thwart the evils plans of Alduin and vanquish him once and for all.
The standout feature in Skyrim is the removal of the character class system present in previous entries in The Elder Scrolls series, allowing players to experiment with the eighteen different character skills without needing to make decisions about joining a class early in the game. This allowed players to fully tailor all-around characters for themselves based on their preferred play style, leading to previously unheard of levels of customization. If you want to make yourself into a gifted Viking warrior, you will not find a better game to do so than Skyrim.