On paper, Vikings: Wolves of Midgard sounds like the perfect formula. Take the road-less-traveled theme of Vikings, and mix it with the combat-heavy, loot-collecting formula of Diablo. This flavor of game is almost always fun, and Vikings certainly delivers that early on. This action RPG borrows heavily from other games, but also brings a few wrinkles of its own. I had a good time hunting down wolves and trolls, but it didn’t come without some nagging issues.
Wolves of Midgard uses its setting to tell a tale of Viking folklore, and it works. The story is interesting, but some of the voice acting and lines are downright eye-rolling. Still, it is cool to see them put forth the effort. The variety of enemies also benefits from the setting. Giants and wolves are the norm, but there are also trolls and plenty of magical creatures to take down, although some physics leave a bit to be desired.
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $29.99
Let’s start with what is unique to Vikings. For starters, the game doesn’t assign characters to just one class. Classes are all based on weapon types, and can be changed at will. Each weapon type is assigned to a deity, and they each have their own skill tree. Leveling up is also different, players collect blood and then sacrifice it to the Gods in between missions, which then unlocks points that can be distributed to any of the classes. It is a neat system, and helps break up the monotony of using a singular class.
The game is broken down into areas where players play through the story bits, then can return to perform challenges to earn resources. These resources are then used to upgrade the altar where I leveled up, as well as the village itself. New shops and crafting stations unlock over time, all of which will be familiar to anyone who has played Diablo. Players can break down armor, forge new weapons, and of course slot gems. All of the intricacies of the genre are present.
Each world also has a chance to have an environmental effect. For example, the snow levels slowly fill a meter of being cold. Once it is full, players freeze and start to lose health. Finding campfires will remedy this issue. It is a neat touch, but ultimately one that simply drags down the exploration. This is easily one of the skill points I upgraded early on, resistance to elements.
The rest of the game play feels standard fare. Powers are assigned to face and shoulder buttons, and the combat works off a sort of combo system that increases damage, which is necessary when playing on anything but casual difficulty. This game is tough, and simply standing in front of enemies whacking at them will surely end in death.
Probably the biggest crime the game commits though is in its multiplayer. Online is here, but it is limited to two players. Local is nonexistent. Sadly, when playing online whoever is hosting the game is also the only one gaining story progression. Whoever joins the game gets to keep their character, level, and loot, but their progress is dormant. That also includes Achievements on Xbox One, which is a real shame. We also had connection issues while playing. My partner would suddenly be kicked from the game, which I guess would be more annoying if they kept their story progression, but as it is, it just remains frustrating.
Visually the game looks fine, but it comes with plenty of caveats. The overall presentation is kind of blurry on Xbox One; it is certainly not as sharp as Diablo. The levels are designed well, but there simply aren’t enough of them. We also ran into several glitches and weird physics, while never breaking the game, they did cause some hilarious captures. Collision detection seems to be the game’s biggest issue, and I found myself stuck on objects far too often, never where I couldn’t get out, but it was annoying.
Viking: Wolves of Midgard is a solid clone of the genre, but ultimately feels half-baked. The asking price feels a bit too steep when compared to other games, but I did have a good time playing co-op. I just wish there was more, and it was more polished. This will be a great game when it drops in price, but for $60 it is hard to recommend it over others doing similar things.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.