From developer Fatshark, creator of previously-released War of the Roses, and publisher Paradox Interactive, War of the Vikings is the second title in the "War" franchise of online multiplayer combat games. This time around, players alternate between the Vikings and Saxons in brutal close quarter combat that favors strategy over button mashing. Following in the popular trend of other PC games, War of the Vikings is available through Steam's Early Access program and as usual, those who purchase the game now will receive the full version upon completion. The developers have also provided a detailed roadmap of the upcoming game updates and additional features along with expected release dates, which is fairly uncommon for early access titles.
As with other online multiplayer games, War of the Vikings has players select from classes that vary in equipment and weapons. Players looking to avoid the close quarter combat of swords and axes can opt for the ranged class which utilizes a bow and arrows. Death is around every corner in online matches as encounters with groups of characters only intensifies the situation. The quick death and respawn model encourages experimentation with the game's classes for players to ultimately find one that works for them. With the recent influx of online shooters on the market, War of the Vikings is both a refreshing change of gameplay and setting. Players weary of early access games on Steam can rest assured as War of the Vikings already has an excellent foundation in place for future content and improvements. Community Developer on War of the Vikings John Rickne recently provided additional details regarding the development, gameplay, and upcoming milestones in the early access roadmap.
Interview with John Rickne
Could you introduce yourselves and talk about your various roles with the development of War of the Vikings?
Hey there! My name is John Rickne and I am the Community Developer for the War Franchise. That means I work with everything regarding community communication, marketing, contact between players and the development team as well as making sure our players feel like a part of the game. I am also part of the daily testing and keep up to date on everything regarding development so that our Early Access customers are as up to date as possible.
For readers unaware with War of the Vikings, can you provide an overview of what the game is all about?
In short: War of the Vikings is a historically inspired, skill based, third person, close quarters combat game taking place in the general Viking era (700-1000 AD). The game is heavily based on the premise "easy to learn - hard to master" and features a deep combat system with functionalities such as directional striking, free hand shield blocking, dodges, combo attacks and special moves as well as tons of both cosmetic and functional customization.
What were some sources of inspiration behind the game's setting? What kind of research was involved for the game's development, in particular the character and weapon designs?
Taking into consideration the fact that we are two Scandinavian companies working on the War Franchise, a Viking age game came pretty naturally to us. We also felt that this incredibly interesting and compelling period of time hasn't been explored enough in games and should be given its time in the spotlight. The Viking era also perfectly fit the goals we had for the next game in the War Franchise, as we wanted to approach a more fast-paced and visceral type of gameplay compared to the more strategic and slower pace in War of the Roses.
Research-wise we have been involved with several scholars in areas such as Viking & Saxon age weapons/gear, culture, language and lifestyle. We want to portray these mythical warriors as they actually were in real life, giving them a chance to get away from the "primitive warriors with horned helmets" stereotype that plagues Vikings in modern media.
What are some of the major upcoming milestones in the game's development roadmap? What kind of additional features can players look forward to?
We aim to include something interesting in every Early Access update and have organized our development time to work on and test a few functionalities at a time. In the upcoming early November patch, Bloðorn, we will include two very interesting features: weapon looting and blood effects. The earlier means you can pick up weapons, shields and throwable items from the ground to use them yourself. This adds an additional level of strategy as your character will be ever changing depending on how you move around and interact with the environment. The latter is a graphical immersion increasing system that adds blood splatter to your character, weapons and environment as you deal and take damage. So a Viking on a killing spree will be covered in blood both on his armor and weapons creating a fearsome look that will grant you respect on the battlefield.
Can you describe the various nuances of the game's battle system, both melee and ranged? Any particular combat tips for beginners?
War of the Vikings consists of a large variety of different combat techniques and styles so describing all the various nuances without writing an essay would be difficult. Players need to use the directional attacking and blocking systems, dodging, footwork, special attacks and the large combinations of different gear and perks at hand to find a way they are comfortable playing in. This means everyone's experience is very varied and individual.
My best tips for beginners would be to first get the hang of basic sword and shield combat. It's pretty straightforward since it basically consists of aiming the shield in whatever direction you are being attacked from and attacking back whenever you have an opening. Try to keep out of your enemies' range when they are attacking you, as they will stagger after missing an attack giving you an opening to deal a "free hit." The most important thing is to not be afraid of experimenting and making mistakes to find your own way of dealing with combat, be it ranged or close combat.
How has the experience been thus far with releasing War of the Vikings through Steam's Early Access program? What have been some benefits from direct communication with the community of players?
So far we have received an incredible amount of positive feedback, well backed criticism and tons of constructive thoughts and suggestions. The community has been super engaged in testing out new features and the information we gather from them is very valuable to our development process. As we are only a small team Early Access gives us an unique chance to get feedback and criticism that we would have never seen ourselves, granted such a demographically varied and large amount of testers. Even better is the fact that they are also our actual players, all Early Access owners will get the finished game at launch, so we get a chance to work with the people who will play our game in the end.
Is there anything we missed that you would like to mention about War of the Vikings?
There's always more to mention about War of the Vikings, like the interesting development process of maps when dealing with a close quarters combat game that features ranged weaponry or how we have balanced skill with accessibility. But to cover all these areas I'd have to go on a very long rant; so instead I recommend that you check out our forums and media channels for more information regarding the game, as well as the video developer diaries released with every Early Access update.
We'd like to thank John for taking the time to answer our questions as well as Jesse for coordinating the interview. War of the Vikings is available now through the Steam Early Access program.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
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