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PAX East 2012: War of the Roses hands-on

War of the Roses  - 1099794

Paradox is no stranger to historical games. From games based on World War I, down to the Warring States of Japan, they have a game for just about any history buff that wants to try their hand at managing a country and its resources. War of the Roses is a different beast entirely. This time, the focus is shifted from being a strategy game, into a third person action game that is heavily focused on multiplayer.

The idea of the game is simple, choose from a variety of knights, outfitted with different weapons such as two handed longswords, to polearms, to bows and even crossbows, and take to the field and try to vanquish the enemy team. In this demo, we were only able to try out a single map, but it was quite expansive.

The biggest change here was the combat. Instead of simply relying on a click to attack, you first have to click to raise your weapon and then select a direction to swing it. Only be releasing the mouse button will you actually swing it. This of course only applies to melee weapons and not ranged ones. For example, if I wanted to swing my sword over my head, I would click and hold the mouse button, then slightly move the mouse in an upward direction, and release, which would then swing my sword down on my enemy.

This also opened up some very strategic maneuvers. For instance, when holding Shift, your knight will also sprint, giving your attack some added damage. I was able to charge my sword up for a thrust attack and then sprint towards my enemy, unleashing it into a devastating attack, assuming I didn't miss.

Ranged attacks were slightly more standard, as the right mouse button brought up your view in first person, and then the left mouse button fired. Though it seems like ranged knights have the advantage over melee knights, you'd be dead wrong. There is a risk and reward for using knights with ranged weapons. Since their reload of arrows are quite slow, they are usually susceptible to damage if they miss. It's also easy to miss since your enemies know they're being targeted, and then zig zag or jump in order to try and avoid your incoming fire. Though if you do score a hit, it does good damage, while keeping you at a distance and out of harms way.

The most satisfying feature however is the execution. When you kill an enemy, it remains in a downed state until executed by you, or revived by a teammate. The executions are always a blast to watch, not to mention the person who is being executed gets to see it from their first person view. Awesome!

Though the game is still in pre-alpha state, it looked damn good. The environment was richly detailed, and even every knight had some impressive detail to their armor, right down to the mesh. What's also important to note is that the environment is just as much part of the gameplay as your enemies are. Obstacles in your way when swinging can negate your damage, and therefore can be used for defensive positions. Enemy and friendly positions need to be taken into account as well. You can't simply charge in swinging into a group of enemies engaged with your team, since a wide swing into your teammate can kill him just as easily as you would an enemy.

War of the Rosesstill has some time until release, as it's projected to launch on Steam either late August or early September. Make sure to stay tuned for our continued coverage of War of the Roses, as well as upcoming Paradox games.

Charmander
Mike Splechta GameZone's Editor-in-Chief, retro game enthusiast, savior of kittens. Follow me @Michael_GZ
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