Paradox Interactive’s War of the Vikings is an aggressive, violent videogame in which players vie to defeat each other in as brutal a manner as possible. On the surface it’s all about who can aim their bow the fastest or swing that axe the heaviest, but there’s far more going on below. War of the Vikings is vicious and uncompromising, but it’s also deeply tactical.
Electronic Theatre’s time with the videogame has been limited to one-on-one skirmishes, but even here the depth of War of the Vikings’ combat gameplay is proven to be near-immeasurable. Players choose their class of warrior and enter battle, bringing with them skill, agility and brute force. Of these traits, it’s up to the player to decide which is their greatest asset. Like a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, War of the Vikings determines that a axe wielder will be no match for the speed of an archer, or that a swordsman’s reach will allow them to get under the swing of that heavy and in for the kill. A skilful player will always be able to down their foe in just one or two blows – regardless of their chosen weapon – and so War of the Vikings proves to be just as much about knowing your enemy as it is about knowing yourself.
Going up against an equally skilled player (or team thereof) is what War of the Vikings is all about, and engaging in such challenges is both invigorating and addictive. Knowing that one slip could spell your downfall makes each moment of each round of combat tense, but also knowing that you’ve got a plan up-your-sleeve that your opponent most probably doesn’t have the means to counter is one of the best feelings of any direct-competition in videogames. The fact that success weighs so heavily on every single manoeuvre pushes War of the Vikings closer to the likes of ShadowRun than Halo or Call of Duty, and it’s third-person combat is more certainly less about button-mashing than the average beat-‘em-up.
The tactics you can employ are altered drastically depending on the arena in which you battle. The vantage points for an archer are always numerous, but the close quarters fighters are never faced with no alternative other than to run head-on towards them. Even in an open courtyard there’ll be cover to duck and weave through as you approach your target, making their job as difficult as humanly possible. However, a word of warning: just because you’re hiding behind a false wall or other obstacle it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re safe. Skilled archers can find weaknesses in cover and plant a deadly arrow with ease. The same applies for any weapon; you can duck and weave but that axe has a mighty wide arc, but in return swinging too early can leave a heavy vulnerable to the agility of a swordsman.
The build of War of the Vikings available to Electronic Theatre was limited, and yet in a very short space of time it was obvious that there’s much more to the videogame than simply charging towards the enemy with the hope of overpowering them. War of the Vikings is a deeply tactical experience, with the variety of attacks for each weapon offering distinct advantages and weaknesses, and keen gamers can now get the chance to experiment for themselves with the Steam Early Access programme. Electronic Theatre will keep you updated with all the latest details on War of the Vikings as it approaches its official 2014 release.