Gloria Victis is a low-fantasy medieval open-world MMORPG, that takes a lot of inspiration from games like Planetside 2 and Chivalry for its combat and world PvP sieges. That’s initially all you had to say to grab my attention. To hold it though, is another story entirely.
If you read our review in progress of Gloria Victis, then you probably have a solid introduction to what my initial experience was like with the game. If not, go read it first! While I would have liked to have published this article a few weeks back, there were just too many bumps in the road that prevented me from doing so. It almost felt like the stars were aligning to keep me from putting this review out.
Making a character is fairly straightforward in Gloria Victis. There were several servers for me to pick from - a few of which have been merged as of this review (including mine) to keep the economy healthy. The MMO has your standard character creation options, from skin tone to hair style. Thankfully, my go-to look in a game - pale skin, dark brown hair and blue-grayish eyes - was pretty easy to make.While you don’t see your hair most of the time, because it is hidden behind a helmet, I still like having the option to select a decent hairstyle. I like having realistic armor, but I’m not always the biggest fan of bucket helmets.
I was then faced with the task of picking from one of three factions: the Midlanders, the Ismirs, or the Sangarians. The Ismirs are a viking-esque people of large stature that specialize in blacksmithing and armorsmithing. The dark-haired Sangarians value artistry and share similarities closest with the Roman Empire. Because my group would tend to gravitate towards the more traditional, medieval European aesthetic, I chose the Midlanders as my faction at the start.
Factions are great and all, but I’m far more interested in class identity. Gloria Victis presents players with an in-game class quiz to help determine which class would likely fit me most. For me, I ended up a Scout, which I thought was pretty fitting. I got a bow and some starting bonuses and skill points divided up according to the theme.
Classes are more archetypes, though, and are really just there to get you started and hand out your beginning equipment. As indecisive as I am, I was really glad to see that these archetypes aren’t set in stone at all once you get into the game world of Gloria Victis.
Stick Em’ with the Pointy Arrow
With bow in hand, I set out into the world to claim territory for Midland - albeit a little slowly. Using an Action Combat system, the way battles flow in Gloria Victis is very slow and deliberate. After a bit I spied my first target: a Sangarian NPC causing trouble at the wall. I right clicked to pull back my string and aim, then clicked to release. It hit with little to no drop. Click. Release. That’s combat for the bow. There isn’t an epic battle of flashing steel or the clang of shield on shield. Oh no, that is saved for melee friends.
Unfortunately, since my character moves so slowly, there wasn’t much kiting to be done. I almost always ended up in melee combat, and because of this felt like I was wasting time using a bow in the first place.The bow is probably the easiest weapon to wield and can do a truck-load of damage depending on what enemy you’re targeting at higher levels, but it’s mind-numbing to use in practice. If you just want to sit in the back and deal damage (and have a wall of friends to protect you) the bow is fantastic.
Swapping to melee combat felt infinitely better. Like Chivalry 2, Gloria Victis uses an aiming reticule that lets me attack and block by moving my mouse up, down, left, and right with a melee weapon. I also discovered in my flailing panic that you can click and drag to elongate a strike and hit more enemies or players.
Level Up and Embrace the Meta
The leveling experience in Gloria Victis is okay, albeit a bit boring. It didn’t take long to progress, with just about every main story quest giving me a level up until level 45. I tend to read more into story quests when it comes to MMORPGs because I want to feel involved in the world. Unfortunately, with focusing on quests to level, I found myself skipping through text dialogue more often than not because the story just couldn’t hook me. There are more than likely better ways to spend your time leveling, but it’s one of those cases where I don’t think I would know how to best optimize my time until I hit max level. By then, that knowledge only benefits new players or alts.
While I appreciate the effort in developing an initial storyline to introduce my character to the world and the faction conflict, I stand by saying that I wish the writing would have been a bit more engaging. I realize that story isn’t the main reason that players would be interested in Gloria Victis. It is most certainly more focused on the PvP aspect, and balancing that experience probably takes priority to developers.
The main saving grace in my leveling experience came from the talent tree system and passive bonuses gained from leveling up. The talent tree system is very similar to that of World of Warcraft, but I didn’t notice any active abilities while agonizing over which node to select.
At first, I just picked what I thought might work best together for an archer, but I eventually made a mess of things. Thankfully, resetting skills is easy with the click of a button and free until you reach level 90. With that weight off my shoulders, I did a little digging and looked up some builds that some of the veteran players of Gloria Victis like to use. These builds are called: Siege Archer, Breaker, Bruiser, Shieldman, Medic, Light Skirmisher, Melee Cavalry, and Ranged Cavalry. Since I started out with Scout, I decided to take a look at Ranged Cavalry.
Cavalry or Death
Against my better judgment, I did start experimenting with Ranged Cavalry and got stomped into the ground. But, I’m no quitter. Currently, I feel like I’m driving drunk with a bow and arrow because turning on a horse is like wading through molasses. Even with points allocated into turning!
Because I was left with just the passive bonuses from the talent tree, combat ended up feeling tedious and frustrating. Since I was on a fairly active server, sieges were happening almost all the time and I started to see some combat issues crop up when in a large-scale battle.
For example, body blocking for teammates is awful. I can’t stand when you’re trying to defend a point of interest, and aren’t able to contribute because your team has decided to form a living wall and block the only escape route to the room.At that point, I just had to wait until the enemy finally broke through the line and ended my suffering. I’ve also noticed this same blocking limitation in town. I’ve lost track of the number of times where I’ve actually been held hostage at the auction house NPC because I’m surrounded by other players and can’t freaking move.
Using medic skills in a battle also doesn’t feel that rewarding. Not only did I have to deal with the usual ungrateful teammates, but I never noticed any PvP rewards or monetary benefits from healing players. It felt like you only got credit for killing, which definitely shouldn’t be the case. I guess I’ll just sit in the corner over here and pat myself on the back.
Crafting: Because I can’t cook IRL
When I was tired of fighting or questing and needed a mental break, I fell back to look at the crafting system. That…was not what I should have done if I needed a mental break. The crafting interface is extremely intimidating, but if you put in the effort to learn to craft it can be incredibly rewarding.
Due to enemies claiming gear when it drops on the battlefield (yep, that’s a thing), there is always a use for crafters and I enjoy feeling useful to my friends. It seems like in every game I play, I gravitate towards fishing and cooking. Food is a vital resource in Gloria Victis for the buffs it provides, so I was more than happy to focus on and provide some good, southern, Midland cookin’ for my buddies. And let me tell you, the enemy always goes for your stacks of food first. Why? I don’t know. You can’t fight on an empty stomach.
Recently, crafting tutorial quest boards have been added, which I’m incredibly excited to look at and take advantage of. With how overwhelming crafting looks at first glance for new players, this kind of hand-holding was definitely needed. Good on them for listening to feedback!
Beating Around the Bush
What helped make up for some of the tedium during crafting and leveling are the graphics and the music of Gloria Victis. Gloria Victis isn’t comparable to games with graphics like Black Desert Online by any means, but that also isn’t their main objective.
The worldbuilding is simple and immersive enough to draw your eye to other nooks and crannies and really encourages that exploration aspect that I adore. The world almost calls to you, begging you to ride out and see what’s around the corner or hints at what trouble you can get into. When the sun started to go down, and the lighting was just *chef’s kiss* perfect, I managed to snap some really gorgeous screenshots. And, the developers are still making improvements. The trees in the world just recently got a nice overhaul that make the forests feel more alive and unique. This is just the beginning of a massive graphics overhaul, and I cannot wait to see more of it.
And how else are you to experience the world and these lovely graphics than on horseback? When it comes to the open world aspect of Gloria Victis, I thoroughly enjoyed exploring and riding around on my beautiful horse, Sunflower. She is a gorgeous brown with white patches, and a golden mane. In the open world, I found a variety of lovely horses in different color patterns and varying ages.
Sometimes I found a grizzled war horse who I imagine participated in a multitude of battles before me, and other times I found some that were so young they had to have been newborn. It really is completely RNG at that point as to what stats the horses have, but I learned that training them at the stable can help increase their stats. It still didn’t help me with my drunk turning, but any increase is better than none. With the world as big as it is and fast travel costing an arm and a leg, horses are a welcome addition to traversing the world.
Coat of Many Colors
I had no clue where else I could introduce this in the article, but Gloria Victis has an incredible custom heraldry feature that allows you to create your own coat of arms to display on shields. There are a variety of free options available to customize your heraldry without having to dip into the supporter shop, and with positioning and sizing you can make just about anything you’d like.
Alternatively, if you aren’t feeling creative you can just wear your guild’s heraldry on shields. Seeing a large group of players all wearing the same design is pretty sweet. On my main character, I created a heraldry design that I felt resonated with me personally: the fleur de lis in the center for my home of Louisiana, the fish because I love fishing (in-game and out), and the stag because…well it looked nice and was a good nature symbol to throw in there.
A Break from the Journey
Unfortunately, my journey had to pause around level 54 for Gloria Victis. Like I mentioned before, it genuinely has felt like all the stars aligned and the world was against letting me play through this game. On the initial launch, there wasn’t enough room for the sudden surge of players, so I wasn’t able to get in to play with my friends. A few days later, we finally got the answer that they would add in a few more servers. Once those servers were up, we saw countless DDOS attacks that made it nearly impossible to play, and server lag is not ideal for massive combat encounters that rely on skill to execute precise directional attacks.
After the first two weeks, I thought things would get better, but I got the dreaded “character corruption” bug. This meant that a vast majority of my character improvement interface was broken, and I couldn’t use any of my weapons. So with my character utterly broken, I tried to reach out to the Gloria Victis discord and support. The developers are incredibly kind and responsive and pointed me towards the support email, but it was another two weeks before I saw any movement.
At that time, the only solution was to create an entirely new character and start leveling again. It isn’t hard to level, but it’s definitely disheartening to start over. I leveled back to 30 on an alt and decided to take a break. I did get my character back recently, but I’m still trying to find the drive to log back on and continue the grind. With that being said, all of the new quality-of-life changes being added and graphical updates could definitely be the push I need to log back in. I’m a sucker for pretty trees.
Despite all my troubles towards the end, Gloria Victis is rather enjoyable to play when the servers aren’t falling apart and you have a working character. In fact, most of my aggravation comes from the fact that it is a really interesting and fun game to play and it’s disheartening to see the developers struggling with all of these initial connection problems.
I do love that the current model for Gloria Victis is buy-to-play, so you don’t have to shuck out the typical high-dollar game price to play with friends. There is a shop in the game, but outfits are extremely expensive. If they dropped the prices even a little, I think they might see more financial success because players would be able to afford them. I love outfits and transmog, but there is just no way I can justify paying almost $60 for a complete outfit for one character.
All things considered, Gloria Victis is tons of fun with a group of friends or a dedicated guild. As with most MMOs,Gloria Victis is really meant to be played with friends, so it can get a little boring when you’re just questing or fighting on your own. You’ll almost never find a fair duel out in the open, so dying repeatedly on your own to enemy groups will probably lead to some frustration (as it did a few of my friends).
The developers are very active in Discord and are generally responsive and positive towards players. Combat on its own just doesn’t feel satisfying enough to hold my attention-I’d kind of rather hop back onto Planetside 2 or Chivalry 2 for that. But, the combat combined with all of the features I mentioned earlier really come together to create something special-it still just needs a lot of work and polish. I especially love the concept of taking a large faction-based map and adding mmorpg elements to it, so I will absolutely be keeping my eyes on Gloria Victis over the next few months. If the developers keep making steady improvements like they are now, I’ll more than likely keep dipping my toes in every now and again to scratch that PvP itch.
If you want to give Gloria Victis a shot, you only have to pay $19.99 on Steam and can occasionally catch it on sale. If you’re not sure about the current state of the game, definitely keep an eye out for the upcoming Steam Summer Sale, as it may likely pop up there.
Full Disclosure: A copy of the game was provided by PR for the purposes of this review.