Vikings: Wolves Of Midgard is an Action RPG hack’n Slash set in the world of ancient Norse mythology.
Genre: Nudity, Violent, Gore, Action, RPG
Developer: Games Farm
Publisher: Kalypso Media Digital
Release Date: 24 Mar, 2017
Type: Single-player, Online Co-op
In this game, the player will impersonate the Chieftain of the Ulfung Tribe, a mighty and brave Viking clan, that one day was brutally attacked by the Jotun, a tribe of ice giants. Lusting for revenge, the broken clan gathers men and resources in order to rebuild the village and defeat their enemies. You will have to cross distant lands and battle many enemies to get the favor of the Gods and be victorious, will you make it?
The gameplay of Vikings is the one typical of ARPGs. First of all, this title is not properly Open World but instead it is divided in Raid Zones, which are different maps the player will be able to access each time a particular mission, called Raid, is selected via the dedicated menu. The centerpiece of gameplay is The Village, our base of operations, that comes with various facilities like Blacksmiths, Traders and Runecrafters to aid us in getting better equipment, but also Altars and Portals to call the power of Gods to our aid and undertake special challenges. Almost every structure in the Village is upgradeable, giving access to better items and features, but the price of upgrades will increase every time, so you will have to complete many Raids and Trials to get your hands on enough materials.
The most important facility is perhaps the Altar of Gods, that will allow our character to level up once the Blood (aka XP) quota has been reached and sacrificed to it. Each level up we will receive 1 Passive point to spend in a passive attribute like Armor % or Crit Chance, and also 2 points to spend in one of the 5 skill trees, each one featuring a different weapon style and unique skills both active and passive. The fact that skills and bonuses of each tree are restricted to a specific weapon (example: Odin skills are for 2-handed melee, so if you use a 2-handed bow you won’t have any bonus or skill from that tree) greatly limits the possibilities of cross-classing and combinations, tying players to make a “pure” class type for each character.
Equipment and inventory are pretty much straightforward and typical of any ARPG, you have 2 weapon slots, armor slots, 1 ring slot, 1 trinket slot and a healing slot. The only particular thing is the Healing Crystal, which is alike a potion, but can be used a limited number of times and to recharge it a blood altar must be found during the mission.
Notable in levels is the presence of environmental hazards such as cold or poisonous gases, that will affect characters over-time and their condition will worsen if they do not find a safe area to mitigate these effects once in a while. Dying of freezing or intoxication is not uncommon in Vikings, as even the environment is against you.
During missions you will always have 3 optional tasks to undertake, namely often finding a certain number of items, destroying a certain number of specific constructs, or killing a specific number of enemies. The side quests for missions are pre-determined, often offer little variation, but have suitable rewards and are worth completing to expand the Village. Often these tasks will be tedious in the end because you will maybe have to cross the entire map multiple times to find a little item or construct you may have missed during the fight, but patience is rewarded as they say.
The combat in this title is not particularly complex nor elaborate in anything. There are no MPs but instead there is Stamina, a yellow bar that regenerates very quickly and allows you to use Skills, but it is also used to Dodge and attack so keep an eye on it or you might not be able to use some skill when you just need it. Enemy variety in combat is sufficient, you will face Norse mythology monsters, crusaders preaching a different faith, and even creatures of the underworld. Generally enemies will just charge at you without any fancy tactic, only a few Support mobs exist and generally will do a good job in casting shields and healing their allies.
Combat is mostly fluid and good enough, the feeling of hitting the enemies is accentuated by the physics given to many elements on screen, you will often see dismembered pieces of enemies flying away, or dead bodies rolling down a cliff, that is quite satisfying and helps taking off the “staticity” combat sometimes has in this kind of games.
Mainly there are only Melee and Ranged classes, things like Support classes, (proper) Mage classes or Summoning classes are not found in this game, so do not expect a very deep multiplayer experience based on class combinations, because you will not find it here. Any class is generally suitable for any role as long as you build it with suitable armor and equip.
Multiplayer compartment supports 2 to 4 players. Enemies will scale to the number of players present and increase in difficulty. The missions and challenges you will face are exactly the same as you would in single-player mode, which is expected. We have noticed that enemy scaling with adding players is not very well balanced, the game will become relatively easier the more player add up, while it is far more challenging in single player. Connections and netcode are alright and we did not encounter any problem in this aspect, game also supports LAN which is a welcome feature not always seen nowadays.
Content speaking, Vikings: Wolves Of Midgard is set on sufficient levels. Weapon variety is not very wide, you will have 1H Melee, 2H Melee, Bows and Magic Staves, each of those weapons is very similar in usage and does not offer a really different feeling or particular advantages to it, apart from different animations and in some cases attack speeds. enemy variety is decent, though many enemies will repeat many times and soon they will all feel “already seen”, since there is no Attributes, or Random Generation applied to any enemy, they are standard types and that’s it, apart very few special ones who act as Mini Bosses, which are very uncommon.
There is a very high recycling of Maps and Enemies in side quests (Side Raids), expect to play a map you already cleared in the Main Missions again if you are there to do a side quest, which is a separate raid and so must be done separately after the main mission, exact same maps will be proposed multiple times.
Skill amount is quite limited for an ARPG, each tree (or class as you would call it) has only 5 Active skills and many passive skills which will often increase Critical, DPS or Rage, which is a circular meter charged by slaying enemies and that will grant a great combat boost when filled and activated. Abilities are not very varied among skill trees and are often Single Target or AoE DPS or Stuns, with no really particular or original ability around. As far as Longevity goes, Vikings will end when you are around level 30 if you do everything, so it’s safe to assume that 26-30 hours tops is the longevity you will get from it depending skill level and completitionism. There is a New Game Plus mode.
This game is fairly balanced in its start and as a single-player game, but as said before, enemy scaling in multiplayer is not hard enough even at maximum difficulty and players will soon overpower almost any enemy of the same level without difficulties. Loot balancing is alright, there is not a heavy random factor in drops, which are not very influenced by RNG so the possibilities of unbalanced drops are rare. Some special legendary items are far more useful than others and a few of them we found particularly overpowered, like one which gave an Active skill to players which allowed to spawn a field that restored 10% of total HP per second and lasted 10 seconds, with 60s of cooldown, and also usable by multiple players at the same time. Very unbalanced.
Vikings as a single player hack and slash at max difficulty is a fairly challenging game, loses much of that challenge in multiplayer. If you are the roguelike type, there is Valhalla Mode, in which when you die, your character is lost forever, for masochists only!
Visually, Wolves of Midgard is excellent for being an ARPG. Dynamic shadows, advanced environmental effects, destructible environment (partially) and well made models and textures make Vikings a very pretty one of its kind. The norse mythology environments and creatures are depicted with high fidelity and are believable, gore effects are plentiful and enjoyable. Animations are quite good and each enemy will have its own set. We did not notice any low quality or degraded elements, and at max settings it’s a solid game by a graphics standpoint.
Sound design is fairly good, music is coherent with the setting, as are the voice scripts of characters and enemies, even if the character ones are a bit few and repeated excessively, you will hear your character saying the same line because he/she is freezing a lot of times. We did not notice any problem with audio compartment, and we can give id a decent rating, albeit nothing of extraordinary is to be found.
Optimization of the engine is good, physics may give some problems to older machines but we never experienced any performance drop with unexplainable reason or anything like that. On performance side, it is solid.
The game can crash seldom, especially in multiplayer when shopping. It is unclear what causes this crashes but they are quite rare. During missions we never experienced crashes. Overall, there are rare stability issues and crashes will not be common at all, but are there lurking in the shadows. Not a perfectly stable experience, but not unstable enough to be a problem.
AI of enemies is the one you would expect from an ARPG, aka CHARGE! Very few enemies will be of support type, but will do their job well and heal / shield allies with criteria. All the other mobs will just charge you recklessly. Normal for this kind of game, a more complex system could have been done but has not, so expect average enemy AI.
Quality Of Life
Now the painful parts begin, so prepare yourselves, all you who enter here. The first thing to be said is that Wolves Of Midgard has been designed primarily as a Console game. This is the reason of the quite reduced Skill Bar, the absence of Quick-Use items to put in a Quickbar that would overwhelm the limitations of gamepads pretty quickly, and so on. Based on this, we find out a whole bunch of problems regarding quality of life, primarily in the User Interface, For example, there is no Quick Sell items at vendors, for each item you will have to double-click on it, and then click YES, I want to sell this, and on and on for each item. Also, there is no Buyback, a common feature, so if you mistakenly sell some important item, it’s gone! We can clearly see the developers created a PC-friendly interface or tried to do so, but they failed, as basic console-tied interactions and limitations still remain.
Bugs / Issues
The bugs. There are more bugs in this title than in the whole Starship Troopers trilogy (no there NEVER was a fourth). The user interface is riddled with problems: many times it happened us to not be able to change equipment, the interface simply was not working anymore without reason, or to click an item to equip it only for another random one to equip instead! A vendor once asked me if I wanted to sell him my legendary belt, I said yes I do, but then he said I did not have enough MATERIALS to SELL it, then even if I clicked No, that kept coming and had to manually close the game and restart it entirely, only to lose all the progress I made with selling and buying, which is as said before a very tedious thing to do. Other times, I sold an item only to realize another item sold instead of that one for no reason. No buyback, so you can imagine the results. The UI is definitely broke and needs many fixes because right now it will dramatically affect your experience with these issues.
Quests are also bugged. More rare than their UI cousins, Mission Bugs are there still and when they strike they strike hard. It happened to our team to play a mission and just not find that one missing altar or collectible necessary to complete the mission, even after meticulously searching the whole map many times. It simply was not spawned, but this happened just a few times. More severe bugs, aka game breaking ones, can also happen: in rare cases our character will get stuck and be unable to do anything, has to be killed to then be revived and be restored to normal. You say you are playing Valhalla Mode? Ah that is unfortunate! The worst to happen was during a very long and surprisingly hard mission late in the game, we arrived at the Boss Room and there was no boss, just some minions. We waited and looked everywhere, but nothing happened. We were trapped there, without possibility to return, the mission had to be restarted from the beginning.
Definitely, Vikings is much bugged in these aspects and needs a payload of fixes, and quickly. Could be a good ARPG but the amount of bugs and problems found are unacceptable for a full price title which is not even Early Access and created by a developer of this level.
Vikings: Wolves Of Midgard is a very mediocre ARPG overall, which lacks many depth feature and so will not be well regarded by veterans and enthusiasts of this type of games. Bugs and issues with the technical part ruin the experience in many ways and will harass you constantly, while not making the game unplayable, they certainly make it less enjoyable, by a lot. For the stunning price of 45 euros or around 50 dollars, there are much better ARPGs around at less than half this price and triple the content.