We look at each other across the bloody and disorientating mess that the battlefield has devolved into.
He casually raises his shield and then bows. I bow in return. There is a brief almost serene pause (punctuated slightly by a wounded-man running between us) and then we charge.
Who’d have thought it with all the looting and pillaging; Vikings are sticklers for etiquette, at least this is the case in War of the Vikings.
War of the Vikings is a team death match game where you play as a Viking or a Saxon and then set about trying to introduce your opponents to various sharp things over four game types (arena, team deathmatch, pitched battles and conquest) . You initially only have access to a warrior class, but you will eventually get access to a champion and skirmisher. The differences between the classes are based on the weapons they carry rather than anything deeper. Once you reach level four you can customise your own character but again, I never really noticed a difference in play once I did.
The combat is a nuanced affair. It’s directional, so you simply move the mouse left to swipe left, right to swipe right and so on. You can quickly pick up the basics, but it is quite difficult to master. More often than not you’ll find randomly swiping just as good as trying to land the perfect blow, but there is scope for mastery there and a skilled player will usually best someone who just swings randomly. The inclusion of blocking and a fairly realistic stamina gauge prevent the game devolving into a complete farce at times, but only just. There’s a fine degree of fidelity lurking under the surface, but it’s a very murky and highly resistant surface that you’ll really struggle to get through.
Which brings us back to the etiquette. There’s a degree of structure to matches, but more often than not the players completely ignore it and end up having one on one duels. No one tells you this is the case past the ubiquitous “stupid noobs” comment you’ll receive in the chat channels, but after the third or fourth time you’re killed (often by your own side) something will sink in. It’s a slight worry, but players have invented their own game within the game. You find another player who looks slightly lost and then raise your weapon and bow – if they bow back you wait a beat and then attack.
Most players that I encountered recognise the ‘sanctity’ of this battle and won’t intervene (save to revive you at the end), those that don’t are usually brutally murdered by the first player to spot it- regardless of whose side they’re on. This can be confusing to begin with to say the least.
This doesn’t happen on all maps, or with all players but it occurred enough for it to pretty much define the game for me. Aside from that, the game looks and feels good. The engine is clearly struggling in places, with the odd texture blip here and there, but in the middle of a heated battle you won’t notice a thing. The levels look good and are actually pretty well designed when you get used to the layouts.
At the moment there’s a reasonable amount of players on the servers and to be perfectly honest I think there’s enough life in the game to keep people coming back, and as I mentioned earlier a hard-core community has already cropped up.
I really want to like this game and it is definitely NOT a bad title. If it’s on sale I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it (assuming the player numbers stay reasonable), I just feel, at the moment it’s slightly off. Though the fact that a perfectly aimed swipe decapitates your opponent is a joy to behold. It’s just a shame that the swipe is usually more luck than judgement.
Verdict – On target
Platforms Available/Reviewed – PC
Please see this post for more on our scoring policy. Review based on Steam code supplied by PR agency.