Vikings: Wolves of Midgard: Being a console action role playing game is quite hard in this day and age. Everyone knows of Diablo and pretty much everyone loves it, too. On the other hand, on the PC there are a few other games that are worth a play but when it comes to consoles, you literally only have Diablo. So releasing an action RPG on the Xbox One and PS4 (as well as the PC) could either go two ways: it could be a massive hit or a massive flop.
I’ve never considered myself a historian (even though I am a teacher) as history has never been an area I particularly enjoyed. I remember being 13 and telling my history teacher that history was in the past, like him. He then threw a dictionary at me! Ironic, really, because I ended up reading said dictionary improving my vocabulary (joke’s on him). What he got wrong all those years ago is not letting me sit and play historical games (although this one may not be historically accurate) since it has me interested in the Viking times. Fighting, pillaging and killing definitely links closely to everything I know about the Vikings, therefore this game suits me down to the tee.
When it comes to the storyline of this game, you won’t be treated to anything ground-breaking. Tis a tale of misogyny, love, betrayal, heart break, revenge…. Nah, basically the story unfolds that your village is burnt down and you need to take revenge. As you rebuild, it becomes your hub and the place you to where you keep returning. There, you’ll build your armour, fix your weaponry and regain your health etc. If you have ever played Diablo, then you will understand that this runs through exactly the same. This will be a common theme throughout the review but, personally, fair play because why would you change something that really isn’t broken?
I will say before you get far into this review that if I was reviewing Diablo 3, then I would easily give it a 10 and I have also spent around 200 hours playing that one, so I feel I am in a good position to review Vikings: Wolves of Midgard. I know some will argue with this and say I shouldn’t compare the two, but it only makes sense to compare this game to the one which currently dominates the market.
Graphically, Vikings has pretty much hit the nail on the head. The view is the same as Diablo and Starcraft (parallel projection), and that completely makes sense for this game. You have a range of different characters you can be and they all look slightly different – of course I chose to make an attractive Viking lady then opted to create a strong/rough looking Viking male (a little bit like my own reflection…). Enemies range from wolves, trolls, birds and a number of other weird looking things. The textures are all clear and they all look different. When I first came up against a giant, I was reminded of my first time playing Elder Scrolls. Although the game is completely different, it was quite a wow factor.
Throughout the game you will find yourself scrolling through a range of different terrains; snow caves, forests, villages (you will find yourself wondering whether the maps are just the same regenerated with slightly different foreground). Saying that, they all look pretty cool, yet one of my issues was how white the first map looked as it reminded me too much about what Christmas should be like as, well as actually making me feel cold!
Unfortunately I was much less impressed with the sound, to the point that at times, I decided I would be having more fun if it was turned off… which I did. As soon as you begin the game, you’ll notice it all really lacks any sort of quality. One of the biggest problems is the footsteps. They sound more like Gary Linekar searching for the last crisp in his packet than someone walking through dangerous terrains. The voice work leaves a lot to be desired, too. They’re very flat and uninspiring, and the narrator suffers from a serious dry throat condition.
Interestingly, if you pause the game for long enough, you will actually hear some quite decent songs. The problem with them is they never seem to be uplifting enough to keep you going. Also, you will find times when you are actually treated to silence… which is rather golden, in this case. Frustratingly, this part of the game just doesn’t offer you the enjoyment offered by Diablo.
If you have played Diablo then you should anticipate exactly the same style of gameplay and should skip to the slow-motion part and the rage section. If you haven’t played it, then I’ll explain the whole details. Basically, you take control of your character who will come up against a range of different enemies. There are main missions as well as extra side missions (sadly lack any fun or enjoyment) which you can choose from your Longship. You don’t choose a class, but you do choose a type of character who is better at using certain weapons. I opted for Thor as he had a big hammer (of course). You have a range of different attacks which scale from physical/magical and all-out absurd. You can constantly change your weaponry and, even though I chose Thor, I could use a bow, sword or the standard hammer. There are 8 different attacks: L1, L2, R1, R2, X, O, square and triangle; plus Rage Mode where you hit R1 and L1 at the same time. This gives you a bit of extra power and is a pretty decent addition to the game.
A big problem with the attacks is the constant frame-rate drops throughout. This makes the game feel a little disjointed and also means you miss key things. Once, facing one of the bosses, I missed an attack as a result of this. I’m aware that this game has a lot of things happening at once and they clearly aren’t using such a good engine, say, as Blizzard do with Diablo. I’m not sure if this issue can therefore be patched, but if they can, it will make a significant difference to the game. Either way, Vikings will take you around 14 hours to complete, but then you can up the difficulty to keep playing. I’m sure if the game does well then they will release extra missions to keep the story going.
Similar to Diablo, you can upgrade and install perks to your weaponry. This is all relatively straight-forward and doesn’t leave you with a headache. It has to be said that this is also pretty standard for this type of game and would have been criminal if they hadn’t included blacksmiths.
One of my major gripes with this game is the lack of coach co-op. My wife loves Diablo and when I asked for this game I was pretty sure that it would have coach co-op, I was pretty distraught to find that it doesn’t. Yes it does have online co-op but my experience of that was disjointed due to the frame rate and the lack of people to play with.
Overall, I have had quite a good time playing this game and do enjoy it. It just falls a little flat compared to the other big game in the genre. Don’t get me wrong, if some of my friends decide to purchase this game I will continue playing. Yes, the story isn’t all that, nor is the sound and the frame-rate is a little annoying. However, this is the closest to a Diablo game I have played and I am personally a little bored of that one at the moment. So let’s be Vikings!
Thanks to the Youtube channels featured for the gaming footage.
- Publisher: Kalypso Media
- Players: single-player
- HDTV options: up to 1080p
- Sound: DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
I have been a video game player since 1993 and a music fan since I can remember. I studied Film and Journalism at university and ended up becoming a Primary School teacher. Video games changed my life and sent me on the right track and have stayed with me ever since.