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Tribes of Midgard

Tribes of Midgard

Written by Elliot Hilderbrand on 8/9/2021 for PC  
More On: Tribes of Midgard

The premise is anything but simple. Tribes of Midgard is a hodgepodge of genres morphed into its own thing. Your village houses a seed of Yggdrasil, the world tree. The seed is what stops evil from attacking other realms and bringing about Ragnarok, total destruction. It’s up to you to keep the evil back. By upgrading what you wear, weapons, and villagers, you can explore further, take down tougher foes, and not allow the eternal winter to take you out.

Explore during the day, but make sure you come back at night as the forces of darkness will come to attack your village. Every now and then a giant Jotunn will show up somewhere on your map as well. Think of them as an elemental titan that wants to destroy your village and world tree. These bosses are fun to encounter, and also fun to see. Taking on Jotunns was my favorite part of Tribes.

I was lucky enough to play Tribes with a handful of people that I personally know on several occasions, and let me tell you, it’s like playing a completely different game. Tribes rewards teamwork, plain and simple. When players communicate what they are doing and work together, Tribes of Midgard works exactly how the developers intended it to. I had so much fun planning with fellow Gaming Nexus members that I went on to convince five other friends of mine to pick up the game because I wanted to play with them. Everything's better with friends, and this game is no exception. The problem is that Tribes really suffers when you can’t play with people you know.

The biggest problem is that I have yet to play a game with all five of my friends at the same time. The older I get, the more life gets in the way of doing just about anything. When playing with strangers I’ve found that there is very little cooperation. No one says they’ve found a chest so that you can come and share in the loot. No one uses the community chest, which is an excellent mechanic when you’re playing with people you trust. I would like to see an incentive to donate materials to community chest, like receiving souls for doing so. Most people play the game by themselves, and you just hope for the best outcome.

Tribes of Midgard excels with its controls. A keyboard and mouse have tight controls in this game, however, playing with a controller is my preferred style. This game feels like it was created with a controller in mind, and being able to remap anything onto a controller as I see fit is a great benefit.

The pace of Tribes feels frantic and fast, but that also feels like it’s done on purpose. When first starting out you are led through a short ten minute tutorial which teaches the very basics of gameplay, and then sets you off to the main version of the game, the Saga mode. Saga is the meat and potatoes of Tribes of Midgard. It’s where you earn most of the experience to level your account, and it’s also how you unlock the remaining classes in the game. You can play in survival mode, which is great to adjust the settings to the game world to make it easier or more challenging, but isn’t the real intention of the game. I felt like I was running out of time before nightfall constantly. There is so much to do, and little direction given on how to go about getting through all of it, that I felt like I was playing incorrectly at times. Once a Jotunn spawns, you have to drop what you are working on and seek it out, or your world tree will most likely fall. This is especially true when playing by yourself, or with strangers. In a prepared group it is easy to send someone out to hunt for it, but playing without much communication within the party means no one goes out looking for the Jotunn, and before you know it they’re knocking on your village door.

The crafting system allows for the crafting and upgrading of most things you could think of in a game like this. Weapons, potions, armor, buildings. The system is easy to understand, but collecting materials needed to upgrade past the basic level items requires a lot of foraging, especially if you are playing solo or with random people. Most upgrades feel like they carry little weight and the more powerful weapons never really feel much more powerful. You know they are more powerful because the damage numbers you put out are higher. I would like to see them look like an upgrade instead of the damage numbers simply being higher than the previous weapon.

Tribes of Midgard has a lot of roguelike features to it. The problem is that dying yields very few tangible benefits for following runs. You may learn more about how to play the game, but all the rewards you earn are almost completely cosmetic. At the start of a new run I’m weak and chopping trees again. It can feel repetitive, especially when playing without friends. I understand I keep harking back to the play with others part, but it was very crucial to the gameplay experience for me. I did little to no grumbling when my world tree would die and I had to start over, as long as I had a friend or two to play with. But when in a random group I would question if I wanted to get back into another match with them.

Another problem I can see happening is the lack of explanation. The tutorial explains some of the basics to get players started, but there is a lot left out. To be completely transparent I was given a Google Doc from the developer that gave more detail about how to go about making my time in Tribes a bit more enjoyable, and boy did it help. I can see how someone picking up the game without that information would feel lost very easily after the first few in-game days. Having to figure it out I needed to kill a certain person, in a specific zone to get a certain material to craft a weapon that does more damage required a bit of luck. The fast pace of the game doesn’t really allow for me to take a breather and figure some of these things out on a single run. You have to have a game plan in place when you start.

Tribes of Midgard can also be a study in patience. You will not win the first time you play, or the second, or the third. It takes practice to learn the ropes. A good team can make that easier. Also I think it would be hard to beat the game in a single sitting, requiring you to save and come back. It's hard enough to get a group of friends to play at the same time once in my situation, but several times is next to impossible. Unlocking classes also requires a lot of time. You start out with two classes unlocked, and as you complete specific requirements in the Sage mode you can unlock more. As of writing I only have four of the eight classes unlocked. I feel that some of the requirements are pretty daunting. I would love to be able to try out all of the classes without having to meet some requirements.

If you can find a good group, Tribes of Midgard is an absolute blast to play. Every session I had when I knew a couple of people was a fun one, and I didn’t mind having my world tree destroyed. But therein lies the problem with the game. Tribes is best enjoyed with friends, and if you find it hard to get a group of four or five people to play along with then Tribes is just OK. It’s a problem most MMO type games fall into, and Tribes has the same issue. Gameplay mechanics are solid, the game looks beautiful, bosses are fun and unique. But it requires an outside force to be present to work. By myself mechanics become a chore, bosses are too difficult, the fast pace becomes too much for one person.

Tribes of Midgard struggles with an outside force it has no control over that prevents it from being near perfect; it requires friends to play with. Alone, or with strangers who don’t work together there is just too much going on at once, making the game feel like an endless assault of chores that need done right away. But if you can get a regular group, taking down the seasonal boss is totally worth the effort.

Rating: 8.5 Very Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

I'm pulled towards anything that isn't driving or sports related; having said that, I love a good kart racer. I Can't get enough RPGs, and indies are always worth a look to me. The only other subject I pay any attention to is the NFL (go Colts!).

While writing about games is my favorite hobby, talking is a close second. That's why I podcast with my wife Tessa (it's called Tessa and Elliot Argue).

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