My plumed helmet and heavy armour feel weightless; my axe cleaves through the air before embedding itself deeply in the grey matter of my foes. I feel like a god on the battlefield, striking down those who oppose the Yorkists in the most visceral manner possible. Each step I take shakes the ground and shudders the spines of the weak. Here I am mortals; take my girthy, syphilis riddled 15th century cock. I hope this was the feeling Paradox Interactive wanted you to have when playing a round of deathmatch on their new multiplayer 15th century Hack N’ Slash because I am loving it.
I first started looking at War of the Roses before the announcement of Mount and Blade 2 and expected this to serve as the sequel to the best medieval war game ever made ever. Now that M&B2 is definitely coming into being in the near future it seems that WOTR has become more and more Arcady in its gameplay. There is no single-player, no last-man-standing rounds and sieging is no longer (for the time being) in the game. At first I was a little annoyed that WOTR would come out so barebones in content but when I got my hands on the beta I realised how it exists perfectly well as a multiplayer death match (and point capture) experience. Let me spend the next few minutes trying to convince you my opinion is right.
The combat system is the same as it was in Mount and Blade with a few extra twists. For those who haven’t played the medieval masterpiece melee combat was controlled by movement of the mouse and clicking. Clicking while gesturing to the left or right resulted in a directional slash, pull backwards for a stab and move forwards for a devastating overhead swing. Parrying was controlled in the same manner making high level duels a true spectacle of reaction times and careful manoeuvring. One wrong move and you die, there was very little room for error.
There is only one change to controls and that is there is no longer a kick function for THIS IS SPARTAing your team off walls at the start of the game which is a shame for hilarity but combat wise there is a shield bash or push for 2-handeded weapons, this serves the same function of stumbling people holding their shields up or opening them up to attack if you have a slow swinging weapon. It was a little buggy whenever I tried to do it, often ending up with me pushing them and them spitting my chest cavity asunder before the push was registered.
The main change comes from armour v. weapon types, a swing from a sword won’t penetrate heavy plate meaning you deal around 2-8 damage unless aimed at the joints which can range from 15-30. A stab to the vulnerable sides of the chest will reward with a critical hit dealing anywhere up to 80 damage depending on the sword. Maces will crack open a knight skull through his helmet like an egg but are far slower and don’t benefit greatly when attacking light armoured while their slashy counterparts do. Arrows bounce of plate armour but aim into an open visor and you will turn their face into a bloody casserole. Bolts penetrate all armour types but crossbows take about three times the time that a bow takes to reload and fire making archer v. crossbowman fights very one-sided.
At first I hated the new armour system. It was change and I’m not a huge fan of things, ugh… changing. I wanted the old system back from M&B where if you don’t score a good hit is just makes a ‘DOOF’ sound and you either get decapitated where you stand or, god-willing, you get to try again. This initial response was just because I didn’t understand where I should be aiming for, given time I’ve realised how much this affects the combat for the better. Spear users have now become seriously hard to take on without a shield just like they would be, their vulnerable parts are hidden behind a pointy stick, 3 feet of distance, an inch of plate metal and I’m sure a whole lotta pride and ego however against multiple opponents they are pretty hopeless. I could go on about how each weapon type and play style has its negatives and positives but then you might beat me online and I want you staying a scrub for as long as possible.
Characters have far more health than they did in M&B, I don’t think I have ever been one-shotted by a melee weapon since they patched poleaxes. In some ways this, along with no Last-man-standing mode and the fact you can resurrect your teammates from a downed state takes a lot of the tension out of the combat. This is where the game starts to feel more Arcady and less h4rdc0r3 which personally I don’t mind, you won’t find me raging at War of the Roses in the same way I raged and M&B because the penalties death (waiting 6 seconds before spawning on your squad straight back in the action) aren’t enough to get me to the point of face reddening, blood boiling and alt-F4ing that I’m so used to in multiplayer games.
After downing an enemy in what I’m sure was a great and very fair fight and totally not you and your mates ganging up on an unsuspecting archer, you must execute them while they lie there moaning so their team can’t resurrect them which keeps their ticket count and may result in your team losing the game but more importantly because it earns you points and points mean prizes which I will go into later. The execution involves standing over them and pressing E which then leads into a 5 second animation of you battering, gouging or slicing their already mutilated body with your weapon of choice. These executions are great to watch from either the killer or the killed but are easily interrupted by being hit by both the enemy and your own team making them practically impossible to do in the middle of a fight where everyone (my team) is swinging round their halberds like twats. After executing the archer you may want to bandage yourself (Key B) and revive your two fully armoured friends that he slayed with his dagger which is done the same way as if you were executing them but it only takes 3 seconds.
Points mean prizes and there are a hella lot of prizes. Weapons, armour, horses, perks and plumes are up for grabs for those that perform well in battle, all changing up the way you play and the way people play against you, especially the plumes, nothing says “I’m rich! Kill me!” than pink feathers coming out your head. Perks are purchased for your custom classes and while their initial levels may not seem to add much they are upgradeable and at max level really diversify classes. When your soldier is fully kitted out with all the weapons, armour, horses, perks and plumes (especially plumes) he becomes a real bugger on the battlefield. It takes a while to get there though so you may find yourself playing the 4 premade classes (heavy armoured knight, crossbowman, archer and Sword and Board basic soldier) who are much stronger than what you can afford for your custom class. The grind is long but the results are worth it with one of the expansive character customisation kits I’ve seen in a multiplayer game.
“In conclusion it’s different and I like it. I should probably stop comparing it to M&B but it’s so similar it may as well be a sequel.”
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.