Wednesday, June 24, 2020

First Impressions of Vikings: Wolves of Midgard

On a whim I picked up Vikings: Wolves of Midgard from Steam. It's an ARPG like Diablo where you play a Viking. It's set in a Norse mythology setting with Frost Giants trying to bring about Ragnarok.

It's not a AAA game, but it's pretty decent. The developers put a lot of effort into the Norse setting and themed the mechanics of the game to match.

There are no classes, but weapon-styles are tied to the Norse gods. For example, 2H is Thor, 1H+Shield is Tyr, Dual-Wield is Loki, etc. As you kill things you gain Blood (basically XP). Once you have enough Blood, you can sacrifice at an altar, level up and gain Gift points. Each God has a skill tree where you spend your Gift points for abilities and bonuses. The important part here is that each tree is only active while you wield a weapon of the matching type. You have two weapon sets, and can switch sets with X. For now, I'm just putting all my points in Tyr's tree, 1H + Shield.

There are 3 resource types: Gold, Iron, and Wood. You collect resources to upgrade your village. One interesting thing is that each map has 3 secondary objects (kill X goblins, break 10 flags, etc) that reward a large amount of materials and encourage you to explore the map.

For gear, you can wear all armor types, but different type have different properties. Cloth gear has less armor, but faster cooldowns. For healing you have a totem (which is an item like the others), which acts like a potion. It has three charges, but can be refilled at cauldrons on the map. There's also a dedicated 'relic' item which has a special effect, but only a few charges and a minute cooldown. For example, my current relic freezes enemies and deals damage, and started with 9 charges.

Another mechanic is that in the wilderness maps, you are exposed to the cold and can only survive for so long before you freeze to death. This is shown as an icy-blue bar under your health. You can warm up at campfires across the map. The locations of the fires are shown. As you get colder, your character starts commenting on the cold and screen takes on a frosty tint. So the map plays in an interesting fashion where you move from campfire to campfire, and you have to judge if you will make it to the next fire in time, or if you should go back to the previous fire.

The best thing about the game is that it leans heavily into the Viking mythos. For example, in the first main quest you rescue a shipwright. He builds you a longship, and you promptly set out to raid a neighboring village. No reason other than the fact that it is there. Your character even yells out, "Time to bathe in the blood of fisherfolk!"

I was quite taken aback at that. It is certainly very Viking.

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