REVIEW: WAR OF THE VIKINGS / DEVELOPER: FATSHARK / PUBLISHER: PARADOX INTERACTIVE / PLATFORM: PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Promoted as a standalone entry in the War franchise, War of the Vikings turns from the 15th century to the age of the Saxons. Built on the same engine, the game sees players taking up axes either as marauding Vikings or Saxon warriors as they attempt to plunder or defend coastal villages. While sharing many traits with War of the Roses, the title is hardly the old game with a new coat of paint. Which is unfortunate as it would almost certainly be all the better for it.
Let's be clear, War of the Vikings does have its strengths. It’s a solid title which offers brutal combat, fantastic attention to visual details and treats PC users especially well with a great options menu. The problem is that many elements which worked so well in its direct predecessor are entirely absent or have been stripped down to the bare minimum.
Take customisation for example. Weapons are limited to only a handful of types and you learn little to nothing about new ones you are buying. What there is beyond this consists almost entirely of cosmetic options for your character, none of which improve fighting save for perks. Already this is a major step down, but then we get to the combat. Mounted fighting has been removed entirely, executions are gone, and many maps simply cannot support large fights. A 64-man deathmatch rapidly devolves into a messy zerg rush as a result, with areas transforming into teeming mosh pits. The second you spawn you might as well kiss your Viking rear goodbye, as you’re almost certain to be dropped into the midst of players hungry for your blood.
This is the real problem here: it feels like an extremely simplified version of War of the Roses with little of value to really justify you buying this over the previous game. The new dodging system, a vast improvement over blocking, the better animations and a risky unique special attack are all solid additions, but they don’t make up for the lack of variety of weapons or modes. Without that, the game rapidly becomes repetitive, unless you are absolutely focused upon levelling up. Even then, you run into the problem of the levelling being unrewarding as the progression system focuses almost entirely upon cosmetic items.
Ultimately War of the Vikings is a game which asks too much from the player’s wallet and offers too little to buy it over Chivalry or its predecessor. Wait until a few developments have been made or the price drops if you’re dead set on buying this one, otherwise look for gore-strewn feudal fun elsewhere.