War of the Vikings – PC Review

War of the Vikings was released on April 15th, 2014, for PC, after spending time as an Early Release Steam title.  The game was developed by Fatshark and published by Paradox Interactive.  A download code was provided for review purposes.

Viking legends tell the tale of Sven Jkamper, whose desire to be the greatest Viking of all was only eclipsed by his inability to make proper use of his weapons. Try as he might, his axe, his sword, even his shield seemed ineffective against the Saxon warriors.  Sven learned that his only talent eventually lay in firing arrows from a far.  He learned to sneak off to remote areas and unleash his never ending barrage of arrows.  Through history his story was told but the years wore out his first name, and eventually he was known only as Kamper, that silent J fading into the mist.  And of course this is where the modern derivation of Camper, the hated scourge of the gaming world, comes from…

Ok maybe not, Sven is really me, and I must start this review with the admission that I suck at this game. War of the Vikings is a third person Close Quarter Combat (CQC) game comprised of several multiplayer modes pitting the Vikings against the Saxons. The weapons at your disposal include axes, knives, swords, bows, spears and javalin.  It is Fatshark’s spiritual successor to their earlier title, War of the Roses.

The game has 5 preconfigured classes:  Warrior, Champion, Skirmisher, Shield Maiden and Berserker.  Different weapons are used for each class to provide some variety in the fighting, and four of the five classes have a ranged weapon.  Control of your Viking (or Saxon) warrior utilizes the left mouse button for attacks, and the right mouse button for blocks/parries.  Pressing the right mouse button and moving the mouse slightly to the left will block attacks coming from your left, moving slightly to the right will block attacks from the right, and moving the mouse up will block an overhead attack.  Your warriors attacks are similarly controlled with mouse movements left right and up, in most cases a meter will slowly fill to indicate the amount of strength used in the swing.  The challenge with this control scheme is that your view is also controlled by the mouse, so to be effective you have to learn how to move the mouse only enough to get the desired direction for the attack or defend, without looking away from your opponent.    A special attack is also available to each class, unleashed by hitting the F key.

Additional mechanics within the game are bandaging (healing) yourself or team mates, and the ability to help up a fallen teammate, if the opposing team did not finish them off.  Ranged weapons were limited, though if there was a limit on arrows for the bow, I never reached it before being struck down.  Coins are awarded after a match for your performance which can be used to customize the look of your warrior.

Modes in the game include Team Deathmatch, Conquest, Arena, Pitched Battle and Domination.  Arena is 3v3 fighting with no respawns, Pitched Battle is Arena with larger teams.  Conquest includes a series of locations that have to be controlled to deplete the other teams points, taking control of all the locations wins the round as well.  Domination includes 3 capture points which must be held.


Atmospheric no?

Atmospheric no?

The maps in the game are nicely rendered and atmospheric but the game is entirely about the combat so don’t let the eye candy distract you from the axe or javelin thats been hurled at your face.  Animation of the combatants is OK but you do occasionally see some odd jarring movement.  What I found most comical in the game was the attempt to model the projectiles you are hit with.  You may be watching as your character runs at full speed with a couple arrows sticking out of his head or a javalin stuck in his back.

The combat system attempts to make this game a cerebral ballet of attacks and parries but unless you are in a one on one fight, it devolves rapidly into gang warfare where which ever team has more people in an area will win the fight.  Engaging in a fight with one player leaves you wide open to attacks from any of the others, and the ensuing chaos is further enhanced by team damage as your teammates try to attack as well.


Everybody was Viking fighting!

So a typical game will either see you wading into the fray, where you will be chopped down or possibly beheaded in rapid fashion, or hanging outside the circle of death where you are safe but ineffective.  There is a severe lack of players playing this game, which will sadly diminish the fun you could have with it.  The couple of servers you will typically find populated are going to have players that are accustomed to the control scheme, and their skill level will cause the game to have a much steeper learning curve than you are likely to want to endure.

I can say that I think this game would be amazing fun, played at a lan party with friends, where you are all equally as bad at it.  Good fun in small doses, but I don’t think there is enough here to reward the hours needed to master the control scheme.  The hit detection can at times feel amiss as well which can lead to further frustration.  If you can master the control scheme, you will find some fun with this game, but if not it really doesn’t offer anything else to bring you back to the game.



About the author

Dave is an old school gamer that grew up on a steady diet of Atari 2600. He waits patiently for that Star Raiders HD remix that is due any day now and aspires to be a world famous Gunter (please read Ready Player One). Several Pizzas were harmed in the making of this review.