War of the Vikings: How do you stand out from the crowd?
Paradox Interactive has always released games that aren’t afraid to stand out. Magicka is far from your typical co-operative dungeon crawler. War of the Roses, published by Paradox but developed by Fatshark, is far from your typical online multiplayer experience. Fatshark is looking to refine that experience with War of the Vikings, trading in the medieval era for a Viking/Saxon conflict. It helps that the game’s producer, Gordon Van Dyke, knows how to make a Viking game.
Don’t take my word for it; that’s how he opened the press meeting.
It’s evident that Vikings are important to both Van Dyke and the Fatshark team. As he described how they went the route of ensuring they had authentic Icelandic voice actors, I asked him how important this was to him.
“We didn’t think about that. We just did it. We had to have them be able to speak that language. It was kind of like ‘okay, we need Icelandic voice actors. Let’s get them and have them speak in English.’ It was more just circumstantial. We have a small team so we hired unknowns and save on budget, but they’re still super awesome because they’re Icelandic and they know what they’re saying. They typically have great voices…It just kind of happened organically.”
What isn’t circumstantial, however, is how the game will portray the Vikings. Van Dyke talked about how people seem to view Vikings in a certain way when in actuality it couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, all Vikings (male and female) were trained in combat from a young age, but they weren’t savage brutes. “They were importing silk…they wore lots of jewelry,” Van Dyke added. It shows in the game. Yes, the two factions look similar, but the Vikings carried this presence that translated to not only larger than life beings, but elegant ones as well. It shows how important it was to Fatshark that they accurately portray the characters in their game.
Of course, a game isn’t just about how it looks and sounds; it was to play well too. Take the game’s Conquest mode, one that the press stayed after the Q&A session ended to experience. While many will draw immediate comparisons to something along the lines of a Domination mode in Call of Duty, Conquest is more linear. This is a good thing.
“It’s kind of a rework of our Conquest from War of the Roses,” Van Dyke stated. “We’ve added more elements to enhance the linear-ness of it and kind of create this more objective based game mode where you’re pushing along a supply line, more or less, and you’re pushing along and trying to push the enemy back towards the last control point and then take that over to ultimately win that entire round.”
While we’ll talk more about how this affects gameplay next week, the decision to keep the linear Conquest mode helps War of the Vikings stand out. As does the “circumstancial” decision to bring in Icelandic voice actors and commitment to properly portray the Vikings.
War of the Vikings is currently in a free-to-play weekend on Steam. We’ll have gameplay impressions next week.