previews\ Dec 15, 2013 at 8:00 pm

War of the Vikings hands-on preview

War of the Vikings Hands-On Preview

I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. Running across the battlefield, I raise my axe towards the sky, attempting to strike the enemy. Instead, I only cut through the air as I feel the pain of a sword cutting through my body. I drop dead, respawn, and repeat the entire process.  Eventually, I decide that I’m not cut out for Viking-era melee combat and choose an archer class.

Things were a little bit better from a distance. I was able to watch advancing troops meet at contested choke points, pick off enemy Saxons from afar, and gain an advantage on the battlefield for my team. This isn’t your ordinary multiplayer game. This is War of the Vikings.

Anyone who has played War of the Roses will feel right at home. The medieval setting has been traded in for a Viking era battle featuring Vikings and Saxons. We talked recently about how the game tries to stand out, but the gameplay takes it to a whole new level.

I’d like to make it abundantly clear that the skill cap is a bit steep for newcomers. It’s not just about running into battle and clicking your mouse. There’s an art to it: you’ll have to move your mouse in a certain direction as you click in order to prepare your attack. Moving the mouse left or right sets up your sword to attack from the left or right. This is important because you’ll need to correctly guess the proper angle to hit your enemy with a successful attack.

War of the Vikings

Choosing the proper angle means you’ll hit your opponent instead of their shield. The last time I checked, hitting an enemy instead of a shield is pretty important. While this all seems frustrating (and believe me, it is at first), it all serves a purpose -- to add strategy to combat. It’s no longer just about running towards a group of people and clicking a button. How will they block? Which way will I need to swing? In what direction will they move? Does this leave me open to a counter attack? What does this mean for my team?

These are the questions you’ll have to constantly ask yourself in War of the Vikings. Typically, you’re not thinking about things of this nature in a multiplayer game. One normally looks for a favorable vantage point to aim and shoot. Good luck using that type of strategy here. After playing through a few rounds, it’s easy to see why the combat system is in place. It becomes less and less frustrating and more of an art form. Over time it eventually clicks.

Sometimes, however, it just doesn’t click. Sometimes melee isn’t your cup of tea. Still, that’s not the end of the world. There’s still great satisfaction from playing an archer class. Despite it having a similar feel to, say, an FPS, I still have to pinpoint my shots to ensure they don’t hit an enemy’s shield. I have to actively avoid friendly fire.

I have to think. There’s nothing wrong with thinking in a multiplayer game. 

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