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War of the Vikings: Brutish fun, but not quite ready for Valhalla

Hayden Dingman | April 23, 2014
I lock eyes with the Saxon scum from across the battlefield. He's one mean-looking warrior, crimson garb and rusty sword. With a grunt he comes charging at me, but I've packed a surprise--my trusty hunting bow.

I lock eyes with the Saxon scum from across the battlefield. He's one mean-looking warrior, crimson garb and rusty sword. With a grunt he comes charging at me, but I've packed a surprise — my trusty hunting bow.

I notch and fire my first arrow. It sails harmlessly over his left shoulder. I barely notice, as I draw another back. This one skitters off the rocks to the Saxon's right. I loose a third — he catches this one on his shield.

And then he's upon me, all whirling metal and foul-smelling clothes. I try to pull out my axe but he chops off my head before I can do so.

I am a terrible Viking. Even I wouldn't let me into Valhalla.

Wars with no name

War of the Vikings is Paradox and Fatshark's follow-up to 2012's War of the Roses. Like Roses before it, War of the Vikings is a third-person, multiplayer-only, medieval combat game. It's similar to playing a multiplayer shooter — team deathmatch, conquest, et cetera — except instead of rifles you're hauling swords, axes, and longbows into the fight.

Bows pull you into a first-person view to fire, while melee weapons utilize mouse movements to direct your blows — click the mouse and move it right, for instance, and you'll set up a right-to-left swing. A right-click will pull up your shield, if you have one, or set your weapon to parry.

It takes a fair bit of getting used to, though you can have just as much luck in most matches wildly swinging like some sort of Viking Hank Aaron, hoping against hope that your blade makes contact with some soft, fleshy part of your opponent instead of the shield for the umpteenth time. Hit detection seems to rely a bit more on prayer and a bit less on skill than I'd like.

If you get really lucky, you might even chop some poor guy's head off. Makes you wonder why he even bothered wearing that helmet.

Wins net you coins, which can be redeemed to customize the look of your soldier. Upgrades are all purely cosmetic, but there's a lot of them if you're really invested in your character — new shield designs, beards, weapons, and even a cloak if you hit Level 30. Your Saxon and Viking characters are upgraded separately, though the custom class slots are shared between both — your sword and bow class is accessible no matter which team you're placed on.

War of the Vikings is not Dark Souls. It's not the Viking equivalent of Arma III. It's Call of Duty with medieval weaponry. It's an arcade-like, chaotic mess. I'm sure there are players out there that take the game deadly serious, and those players are probably a lot better at the game than I am. They're probably a lot more angry at certain parts of the game than I am. Me? War of the Vikings is the perfect palette cleanser. It's a game you can pop into for ten minutes, de-stress, and then hop out again secure in knowing that Vikings are still rad.

 

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