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Not So MMO: Hands On with Northgard, the Viking-Themed RTS

Previews By Garrett Fuller on February 28, 2017

Hands On with Northgard, the Viking-Themed RTS

This past week I have gotten addicted to Northgard. The Viking RTS where you expand your village and build out your raiders in a fun graphical setting. Made by the team behind Evoland, one of the most innovative mobile RPG games on the market right now, Northgard is a throwback to resource management RTS games with a fantastic Viking twist.

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You begin the game choosing a name, clan, and color, all very simple to get you right into the action. Once you begin, it all starts with villagers and resources. It did take me about 2 tries on easy mode to get the hang of the game. However, once involved you quickly become addicted. I played a single player campaign against four other virtual chieftains and this was plenty to keep me occupied and awake the past few nights.

You’ll begin by gathering food and building certain structures which allow for different types of Vikings to be created. Scouts are a great beginning because they will clear the map for you. You only need one to start, as my first mistake was making 4 and realizing I did not need to explore that quickly. Houses are also important to expand your clan. Next you will go for woodcutters who happily build your lumber and unlock more options when creating buildings. The fundamentals for a clan are all there at the beginning, miners, fisherman, hunters, etc. will make your life much happier, and by Baldur that is the whole point, keeping your clan happy.

The tricky part comes in converting your villagers into the various trades they pick up. If a resource is used up, it is time to put them back to work as regular food gatherers. I took me a while to get the hang of this, but once you figure that part out, you realize that even the basic food gatherer is critical during the summer and going into winter. The weather system in the game does impact you resources greatly. Winters are tough and blizzards can come through and hit your village hard. Having enough food and wood to get through is important, because your clan can freeze to death.

Combat is a blast in the game. Again it is all about gathering your resources. I chose the Fenrir clan and was able to get some boosts in this area. Build a training camp and you will be able to assign villagers to become warriors then boost them up through a Lore tree (more on that later). If you upgrade your Training Camp you will then be able to create a Warchief for your band. He is very tough and will win battle for you single handedly. Although, when I was able to create a Berserker, he was a beast. Not as fast as warriors or the chief, but once he joined a fight it was great fun to watch. Towers also play a critical part in the game, once you colonize the border zones you’ll want towers to protect your extended village. It is not just the other clans you are fighting. There are wolves, Draugr, and corrupted Valkyries as well roaming the lands. Valkyries are found usually protecting lava flows which can lead to creating a smithy and making much better weapons.

Threats do pop up all the time and portals will open to the other realms where monsters can spawn, even in your own camp. Not to mention the other clans attacking you. There are multiple victory conditions that seem to come into play around the game. Trade, fame, and war all become viable options. While playing one of the AI clans won with a Trade victory. The best part is you can keep playing, so I sent my berserker and warchief to crush his lands.

Northgard has a fun art style and great background music. It puts you in the mood right away and the building up of your clan will win you over quickly. We really enjoyed this game, so there is a strong reason why it leaped to the top of Steam so quickly in early access. The team continues to work on the game and we’ll be meeting up with them next week at PAX East to bring you more coverage. For now, if you are a fan of old school RTS games and want a change from the fast paced shooter arenas, then Northgard is a fantastic option.  

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