Video games draw on themes from throughout history to inform their stories and gameplay, and one of the most fruitful periods for inspiration is the medieval epoch.
Of course with so much choice, it can be difficult to work out which of the titles based in the Middle Ages is worth playing. To make things easier, here is a quick rundown of the games in this genre which are worthy of your attention.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
The latest and greatest entry in this long-running third person action-adventure franchise has received critical acclaim for its improved systems, next-gen graphics and engaging gameplay.
While it follows the same formula of many earlier entries, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla manages to refine its framework even further, while embracing the medieval setting fully, with a richly detailed setting populated by memorable characters.
There are even period-appropriate mini-games to indulge in, with the most popular of the bunch being a dice game called Orlog. This is intriguing because gambling was a widespread pastime in the Middle Ages, and there are lots of fun facts about medieval gambling to learn which no doubt inspired the developers of this triple A hit in the 21st century. Dice games like Zara, Hazard and Raffle were all played many centuries ago, and their influence is still felt to this day.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance
With gorgeous visuals, visceral combat and an impressively compelling storyline, this RPG is a lot more realistic than Assassin’s Creed’s take on the Middle Ages, as well as being more emotionally subtle.
Like all good RPGs, player choice is key to shaping how things play out, and whether you want to focus on brute strength, stealth or a mixture of all abilities and skills, you can follow your own preferences.
This choice is not just for high level elements of Kingdom Come: Deliverance, but also for individual missions. Objectives can be completed in whatever way you please, and this is made possible in part thanks to the extensive arsenal of era-appropriate weaponry.
Dark Souls: Remastered
While not specifically set during the historical periods we know as the Middle Ages, there is no questioning that From Software’s Dark Souls is intrinsically influenced by both the aesthetic and the mythology of this time.
From the armour sets and weaponry to the focus on dragons, demons and all manner of other fantastical beasts, this tough-as-nails RPG is drenched in European medieval lore, and made all the more interesting because it was created by a Japanese development team.
The fact that Dark Souls went on to influence an entire generation of games, and that the remastered version fixes all of the technical issues found in the original, makes it well worth diving into to this day.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Like Dark Souls, this is not a game which bases itself in historical reality, but is rather a fantasy RPG that picks and chooses from the best real-world influences while integrating a whole heap of new and fantastical elements that are fitting for a video game.
With a sprawling storyline and a seemingly endless number of side quests and distractions available, it is possible to sink hundreds of hours into Skyrim while barely scratching the surface of what it has to offer.
While it may be something of a running joke of gaming culture that Skyrim is regularly re-released on new platforms, this does make it one of the most widely available and accessible titles based in a medieval-style setting. Whether you play on a high end PC or on a Nintendo Switch, the same experience is available.
Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition
The original version may be over two decades old, but Age of Empires II still stands up thanks to the excellent turn-based strategy fun it offers.
Furthermore, with the revamped version released on Steam and made compatible with modern hardware and operating systems, there has never been a better time to play, with resolutions of up to 4K supported for pixel-perfect tactical entertainment.
Controlling different civilizations from across the Middle Ages as they build towns and cities, struggle over resources and enter outright war is the name of the game here. So as you can see, there really is a medieval video game to suit everyone.
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