Vikings Wolves of Midgard - A Norse ARPG That Both Hits & Misses
Vikings: Wolves of Midgard is an upcoming action RPG for Windows PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox One and PS4. It will set players on adventure through the world built around Scandinavian mythology sprinkled with fantasy and filled with many familiar characters and memorable places from it. As far as I am concerned, there are not enough Viking games out there. Ever wanted to visit Niflheim or take battle to the Jotans? Then this might be just the game for you.
Leading the Wolves
Players get to choose the gender of their character – it can be either a vicious Viking or a merciless Shieldmaiden. After that, it is time for some divine powers, the game’s variant of character classes. The creator offers a deity to choose from which would give the character specific benefits, like proficiency with bows.
The game’s story centers on the prophecy of Ragnarok. As the unbearably cold winter descends on Midgard and the Jotans return to fight against the Gods of Asgard, it is up to Ulfung Clan to save the day. After a brief first mission where the players get to repel an attack on the home village of the Wolves’ clan, the honorable position of chieftain falls to them, making this mission players’ direct responsibility. The village also offers players an ability to create armor and weapons as well as use a special altar to sacrifice enemies’ blood (and level in doing so, receiving points for Gift skill-tab).
The developers promise that campaign will take around 20 to 30 hours, depending on the game’s difficulty, players’ skills and playstyle. It will feature such locations as freezing Niflheim and boiling Balheim as well as multiple zones scattered around Midgard. That includes frozen tundra, tropical islands, marshlands, active volcano and much more. Each zone has multiple unique enemies and some offer hazards such as biting cold, poisonous mist or unbearable heat. If you do not manage to find out a way to reset the Hazard bar, your character will simply vanish.
Into the Fray
With the player’s leadership established, it is time to show how things are done with personal example and head out into the field. This is where the better part of the game starts. The combat does not start looking like much, but it gets much deeper and increasingly bloody as your character unlocks more skills, traits and gets better equipment.
First thing, players will surely notice right off the bat is that spamming auto-attack is not going to work for long, especially if you chose a melee character. Even on lower difficulty settings, the enemies are incredibly fast and hit like a truck. Add to that environmental hazards present in the first area via chilling cold that you shake off around fires, and venturing from checkpoint to checkpoint becomes a thrilling experience. Additionally, all you get are three healing potions that can be replenished at healing wells scattered around the locations (once per well). Health also almost does not restore out of battle. So choose your fights carefully.
To add to the specific skills and traits players will be able to choose while leveling, the game also offers Dodge / roll (default: spacebar) and Rage (default: R) to all characters. Evasion allows quickly getting out of the way of projectiles and AoE effects or putting some distance between the player character and melee-enemies. The further you move through the world of Midgard, the more you will find yourself using it. Rage, true to its name, slowly builds up as your characters hacks away at enemies. Once the rage bar is filled completely, players can make use of short period of time during which the character’s damage is greatly increased. There are also totems and amulets that can affect your gameplay in a similar way: adding life leech, an AoE freezing spell, etc. Down the quest line players will also get access to Rune master to infuse weapons with additional power.
The game awards exploration. A lot of buildings and constructions can be broken down and will yield a certain amount of resources or gold or even some gear. Similar thing can be said about treasure chests. The collected resources can be used up for crafting or for upgrading the village’s buildings such as the altar which will grant your character more powerful effects or shipyard which will open more raid locations.
The most thrilling parts of the game are boss fights. Get prepared to always have more than couple of things going on at the same time that you have to adapt to or start anew. That is the Vikings’ way. Each location ends with a boss. Do not expect the mobs around to be the indicator of the boss’ power or strategy – you can all but slide through enemies, quests and mini-bosses, and then die a dozen times on the boss until tactics set in or you luck out.
Hunt as a Pack
Vikings: Wolves of Midgard plays out especially nicely in a 2-player co-op mode. Having a second person around smooths certain difficulty spikes while also adding more fun to the less thrilling and more drought-y hacking parts of the game. If you ever wanted to head out into unfriendly tundra with a loyal companion at your side and submerge into Scandinavian mythology, Vikings: Wolves of Midgard will offer you that and much more.
No matter what difficulty level you play on, the trash mobs and bosses will grow in strength as your companion joins you. There have been some minor problems with connection between my partner and me but altogether we had a blast. Besides the usual campaign mode, the game also offers so called “Raids” – a mission set in already finished location. It comes with a main goal and a side quest that usually requires players to kill certain amount of enemies, destroy some structures and find couple of chests. While not particularly exciting, it rewards much needed resources that players can spend on upgrading the village or constructing equipment.
The controls of the game are smooth and easy on PC, yet I have a feeling that it might play even better if you were to use a gamepad.
Vikings: Wolves of Midgard is a game that can suck you in for a while. The more you gear up your Viking, the more you want to head out into the field to smash some giants or wolves around. The game will throw you (and a friend, if you so wish) into a frenzied action with only hazards to briefly slow you in your carnage. All of it is spiced with humor and loud yells of thickly accented voices, offering their kills to the glory of Asgard. There are some minor technical problems, but nothing that can spoil your game session. So, if you like action RPGs and / or have always wanted to dive into a Viking adventure, this game is for you.
- Interesting setting built around Scandinavian mythology
- Dynamic combat & environmental hazards
- Co-op mode spices up the fun
- Character progression & crafting
- Fragmented story that's hard to keep track of
- Difficulty feels spike-y
- Certain technical problems
- Not much to set it apart from other ARPGs