War of the Vikings is an action game released last week for the PC. It has been developed by Swedish studio FatShark who also released the War of the Roses two years ago. This game is basically a follow up to War of the Roses, following the primarily over the shoulder 3rd person action perspective, only changing to first person if you are equipped with a bow. It is basically Call of Duty with Swords and Arrows instead of Guns and Grenades and like the aforementioned series it can be frantic running around the battlefield just trying to stay alive long enough to get your bearings.
With this game being an online only multiplayer title there is no single campaign and no story mode for you to play, it doesn’t even try and shoehorn one in like Titanfall. There is a tutorial mode for you to get to grips with the basic controls and mechanics of the game and this is entertaining enough, although in my case it made me think that it would be quite easy to play as you have plenty of time to practice,but time is one thing you will rarely have in the game. This game can only be played with the Mouse and Keyboard, there is no controller support, or at least if there is I didn’t get it. So it’s worth remembering this if you are thinking about playing this game and struggle without a controller in your hands.
The controls are basic in premise but in reality it can be tricky and frustrating to master them, you have to click and swing the mouse to swing your sword and in the first few rounds I found this a struggle, hitting air, walls, trees, pretty much everything but the enemy. In your defence if you have a shield equipped you can deflect arrows and blows quite well as long as you are facing the enemy, if you lose your shield then it is highly likely you won’t last too long as you have to use the other mouse button to deflect everything coming at you. I found it nearly impossible to block more than the odd swing aimed at me using just my sword or axe as my defence, my advice would be to ensure you have a shield to hand!
Once you do get the hang of the combat mechanics it can be a real joy to play, I found it very satisfying taking on a few enemies blocking their blows and getting strikes in when they were vulnerable. I found myself primarily using the melee attacks and having a bow as my back up. Using the bow was straightforward but I did find it very underpowered, even a clean head shot often saw the enemy keep on running, normally it would take three or four shots. But it has to be said that it would be difficult for Fatshark to make the bow and other ranged weapons more powerful as at times it was bad enough with many players hanging on the fringes of the map firing an unlimited number of arrows.
In my hours of playing this game I did not once encounter any problems with my connection, no games ended or froze for no reasons and this is vital when it is only a multiplayer game. I do have big reservations on the respawning aspect of the game, there was several times where I would respawn right in the middle of either a battle or a group of enemy soldiers and as such I seemed to be stuck in a cycle of instadeath. Whilst this is not game breaking it is massively frustrating and in a mode where the aim is to get the highest number of kills it certainly spoils the fun. There also appeared to be no match making in use. All you do is pick a server and hope that you dont end up in a battled against fully levelled up enemies.
The core game play is fun but it is quite light on options, there aren’t too many different weapons to choose from and when you consider that I couldn’t tell the difference between the varying types of swords it makes the options feel even smaller. There are many options when it comes to changing your soldiers appearance but these are generally aesthetic and have no real impact on the game.
Visually the game looks OK, I didn’t notice many jitters or screen tears, I did though notice a few areas where I would go into the scenery or get stuck between objects where the only escape seemed to be an axe to the head and respawning again. The world you are in does look convincing and the variety in the maps was good enough for me, and I would think that down the line more maps may be added. One aspect I would love to see improved is the conquest challenges, I would love to actually have to take a fort or tower instead of just markers on the map, I feel this would just add to the authenticity this game is trying to create.
Overall I have to say I have enjoyed this game, I found it fun and frustrating at the same time. It can definitely do with more variation in weapons and armour as there just doesn’t seem to be much difference between them inside the same classes. If you are willing to bear with it and work on the initially frustrating controls then I think you will find the battles in this really entertaining, there isn’t too much to keep you entertained long term but underneath all the problems is a fun game that I am sure many will enjoy.
Reviewed on PC