Last weekend at PAX East I got the chance to demo Expedition: Vikings, the follow-up to Logic Artists Expedition: Conquistadors. Set in approximately 700 AD, you play the Chieftain of a small Viking village, in search of glory and wealth to improve and expand your village and your standing in the Viking world. You recruit raiding party members from within the population of your village, and then you lead them out into the world in search of adventure. You can raid neighboring villages, or cross the sea and raid Britain, with it's rich monasteries and villages, or you can set up trade routes and try to acquire wealth and power by political means.
Characters are built on five statistics: Strength, Endurance, Finesse, Perception and Sense, and these stats are used in all sorts of situations. Successful attribute checks can provide extra information, more conversation options, or even additional potential actions. Failed checks result in your options being limited. Weapon and armor choices are limited to what was available to the Vikings historically, with armor topping out at chain mail, but swords, single-handed axes, daggers, spears, shields are all available. The only two-handed weapon I saw was the Danish axe, an axe blade attached to a long haft, and devastating when used properly.
Exploring the world takes place in real-time, until combat begins, when it switches to turn-based, with players actions based on action points. It took me a couple of turns to get it down, but once I did I found it very intuitive and easy to plan my attacks. Characters have access to several weapon-related skills, dual-wielding, sword and board, archery and even extended range spear attacks, and it pays to plan your approaches tactically, and isolate your opponents as best you can.
Much like its predecessor, Vikings is pretty historically accurate, and the devs have taken great care to be sure that when you encounter fantastical creatures, there is a plausible, real-world explanation for the encounter. For example, in the climax of my demo, my party was tasked with entering a “haunted” tomb, but when we finally broke through into the interior the air was bad and full of fumes. So the “ghouls” haunting the tomb, were actually just the desperate and starving remnants of the previous raiding party that was trapped in there. The reason for this makes perfect sense, the people of that era absolutely believed in all the magical and fantastic things that pervaded their lives, and the devs wanted to give the player both the historical fiction and the historical truth, and let them choose for themselves which they would believe. I thought that was pretty cool.
As a big fan of Viking culture this game really appealed to me on a personal level, firmly grounded in historical accuracy and dripping with Viking trappings. Though the build I played was still in pre-Alpha, the graphics were nice and conveyed the darkness and gritty realism of the world very capably. The animations were smooth and the transitions from exploration to combat flowed very easily.
Expedition: Vikings is planned to release in the Fall of 2016.