Vikings - Ready to Compete for the Hearts & Minds of ARPG Players
Vikings: Wolves of Midgard is an upcoming ARPG from Kalypso media. Set in the era of the Vikings, both on Midgard and into the realms of Norse myth, Wolves of Midgard aims to compete with the likes of Diablo for the attention of PC and console gamers in early 2017. We went hands on with the game at PAX West. Did it enrapture Bill’s inner most desire to be a bearded Viking braving the cold and downing mead?
In some ways, yes - in other ways, it’s clear to see that there are still a few months of development left. Running on a PC but playing with an Xbox 360 controller, Vikings played admirably but suffered from sluggish framerates and visible dips and stutters. At the game’s outset, you’ll choose either the Viking Warrior or the Shieldmaiden. The latter of the two was causing some major bugs, so Kalypso’s PR directed me to the Warrior for my hands on.
Appropriately badass, I waged into battle with barely any clothing as my village was under attack. I helped fight back the Jotun and goblins, and was immediately taken aback by how good ARPG combat feels on the controller. I’d also note that the game limits your amount of health potions, so death is a real possibility, even early on if you’re not careful. You can block attacks with your shield, dodge-roll, and more. But the fun begins when your Rage is filled up and you unleash it to go berserk in combat for a brief time. In a lot of ways, playing Vikings is like playing a Diablo game where the main crux of the story is all about the Barbarian before Diablo ruined everything.
You gain experience like normal to gain levels, but you also loot blood off of your enemies which you’ll sacrifice at altars to purchase gifts from the Norse gods. It essentially the game’s magic system, where you’ll get powers from Loki, Odin, Thor, and more. The maps I played were interesting enough in that you can actually take environmental damage from the bitter cold of Niflheim (and presumably the boiling heat of Balheim). To keep from freezing to death you need to find a fire to warm your bones, so the level I played had me trying my best to make quick work of enemies and Jotun ice shrines while also seeking out a place to warm up. It’s a nice mechanic that adds a sense of urgency to the usual ARPG fare.
What ARPG would be complete without gear? You’ll get plenty in Vikings, though it doesn’t just drop constantly as it would in Diablo or Torchlight. You can also level up your prowess with each weapon type and get new skills for them, as well as equipping amulets which will tweak the abilities granted to you by the gods.
Vikings: Wolves of Midgard is due out in early 2017, and it’s currently on sale for less than $35 on Steam (normally priced at $40), but seems to be running for the full $60 on PS4 and XB1. PC Master Race, eh? I wish I could tell you more about the story, but frankly my 20 minute appointment wasn’t enough to do more than play it and take in the beginning moments. There is local and online co-op, so that’s a plus for those of you who like to game with a buddy. It’s still too early to tell how good Vikings will be as a finished product, but what we played held plenty of promise. Look for more details on the game as we heard towards its launch early next year.