Expeditions: Viking, the indie RPG about raiding, pillaging, and excellent beards, is out this week and it’s worth your attention. No, really, go check it out. See, as a game’s media, we have a habit of collectively talking pushing what’s new and exciting only to turn to the next shiny game with a marketing budget. The little guys tend to get left behind. That shouldn’t happen here. Expeditions: Viking is something special and I’m having a blast digging into it.
If you’ve been following the site for a while, you probably know that Viking has been cooking for a good couple of years since it’s announcement in 2015. If you’ve never heard of it, Expeditions: Conquistador might ring a bell. If you’re still in the dark, then kindly allow me remove this rock and introduce you sweet, indie dev sunlight. I’m just as guilty. I saw Conquistador in the Steam store a dozen times and never bought in. After previewing Viking last November, I immediately went out and bought it. You should too. It’s usually only $5 if you catch it on sale and worth the usual $20.
What makes these games special is their settings. That sounds trite, simplistic even. Every decent RPG has an interesting setting, does it not? Here though, Logic Artists throws the swords and sorcery out the window and instead focuses on what it might be like to be a real Viking lord. That’s actually novel when virtually every other isometric RPG has you throwing fireballs and slaying dragons a millions years after the bombs have dropped and America is a wasteland repopulated by sentient robots. There’s something damnably cool about being a viking - which is awesome all by itself, really - and deciding what kind of lord you’re going to be. I’m going for the loyal brother in arms type that will so raze your village if a point needs to be made.
Playing a viking in this context is also interesting because of how well Logic Artists embeds norse mythology into the mix. Odin, Loki, Thor - the whole pantheon loom over characters like invisible hands, not because they’re actually there, but because they’re part of the character’s belief system. In the quiet moments of conversation, you see these beliefs rise up and pepper your interactions. The superstitiousness of the Norse people laces quest lines with supernatural questions, hinting at magic and the afterlife in ways that tease at the unseen, not unlike real life. It’s compelling stuff because these characters believe, and combined with our own knowledge of video games, it draws you to know more about this lost world Logic Artists has re-created for us.
I’m also a big fan of the core RPG systems so far. I adore this game’s turn-based combat, even if it’s not exactly revolutionary. Battles take place on hexagonal grids and characters are limited action points to use for movement or attacks. There are classes and skills, but also environmental hazards. Fighting on an icy surface might cause your enemy to fall down, which you can exploit as they move in to attack you. This all leads to a very fun strategic interplay that has me itching to get back in and play as I write this.
There’s equipment, and gear, and character progression, but we’ll get to all of that in my full review next week. Instead, let’s talk about death. I’m not ashamed to say that this game has already put me in my place. Some of this is due to learning its systems, but it’s also not afraid to challenge you without feeling unfair - so far. What I appreciate even more is that defeat is simply another path forward in the game. If you lose, the game is prepared to continue forward without kicking you back to a game over screen, instead reacting to the loss and changing around you. That bodes well choices and consequences down the line.
If you haven’t yet, check out November’s preview. My time there was cut short but I was able to interview a development lead and really dig into what makes this game so neat.
The beta for Diablo 3’s upcoming Necromancer class is underway and we took a look, playing as the most non-damseled heroine this side of Kill Bill. Check out our gameplay video of a female necro and her horde of lovely skeleton friends.
Marvel Heroes: Omega’s PS4 beta is underway. I had a chance to play it on our Twitch channel last Friday. It’s a blast. Our own Michael Bitton gave his list of five reasons to check the game out and they’re all pretty solid.
Remember Two Worlds 2, the ill fated open world RPG from 2010? Vaguely? Maybe just a little? Well then, hold onto your butts… there’s new DLC on the way next month! IGN reports that the DLC will drop May 25th. As for the inexplicable 6 year delay, well, it’s actually completely explicable if you consider Two Worlds 3 currently being in development. Priming the pump, gauging interest, and gathering feedback all seem to be the names of the game here.
That’s all for this week! Grind on, RPG fans!