Today I’m very happy indeed to be taking a look at the Viking lightweight Base Bulding RTS Northgard. Those who’ve been watching my xbox timeline may have seen that I’ve got a little bit addicted to this one of late, and have been spending a good deal of time on Northgard over the last few days, courtesy of the developer Shiro games.
In Northgard you play as one of a good little selection of Viking clans, which each come with their own perks and starting bonuses. You’ll use these through the single player skirmish mode, as well as spending time with them on the Story mode. I’ve enjoyed taking a read through the different if brief descriptions for each, which are drawn from Norse Legend, as well as spending time with a fair few of them through the story and single player modes.
It does include multiplayer and I have to assume that you’ll also get to select them here, however in honesty, the many times I’ve gone to search for a game on Xbox one, I’ve not found anybody else online. There are many options in setting up a game, very reminiscent of one of my first experiences with online gaming, Command and Conquer Tiberian Sun, however sadly even when searching all regions my list of games to join has come up empty (again, it’s the same with C&C but that’s around 20 years old at the moment)
The single player mode has a few different win conditions, and you can clain victory by amassing wisdom, trade, fame, or domination, though if you like you can set this to domination only to allow a win only by being the last clan standing. You can also choose from different types and sizes of map, including the end of the world Ragnarok map which will see further natural disasters and beasties for you to battle.
Overall it feels like a very legitimate love child of Civilization and Command and Conquer, which has been brought lovingly to consoles with a fairly decent control scheme. It’s not perfect in all areas, however most of the time you should find the things you need within a click, and splitting up your warband while a little limited, generally gives enough options for some tactical planning
Northgard is rated by PEGI at 12 and above, and by the ESRB at Everybody 10 plus. This does include references to alcohol and some very mild language in the written dialogue, and of course being a real time strategy some violence. Generally speaking the cartoon armies fall to the floor with no blood or gore and so for me, while I can’t say this is 100% child friendly, it probably is one which I probably wouldn’t mind my 6 year old having a bash on as he’s a fan of the genre.
The Run Down
Visuals – Great: The cartoon visuals are well created and I’ve found no visual bugs or glitches. The only slight issue I have is that we lack the ability to rotate the camera, a feature which would work well on the otherwise unused x axis of the right stick. Even with the lack of rotation, it’s rare that you’ll find the angles getting in your way, and the cheery and bright visuals serve very well to take off the faint hints of depression that a Viking winter should bring with it.
Audio – Good: The various calls and effects are worked well in the game, and the music is absolutely on point, and I’ve had the menu on in the background here in the PB office just for the soundtrack. The only reason that this is marked down from Great is due to the lack of voice acting, which would have worked really well within the otherwise silent dialogue. It does have some voice acting (and good stuff, too!) between levels in the cut scenes, but could really have benefitted from being in game also.
Narrative – Good: Again only marked down due to the lack of voice acting and immersion, the narrative you find within the story mode is actually pretty good, and sees you as the heir of a murdered high king, making a new life for your clan on the Northgard shores. Trying not to give too much away for those who are going to be taking the story mode for a spin (probably most of you), but expect some enemies, some friends, and a good pasting of Norse Mythos over the top
Replay – Good: The single player and story mode are great, and I have no doubt that the multiplayer would also be on point if I had been able to find a game. Without being able to find any games I’ve marked this down from great, though if you arranged a game with a friend or friends I’m pretty sure you’d have an excellent time. The single player mode, and different play styles and relics available for each of the included clans give a nice little change between modes, and while it’s not as in depth a management system as most titles there’s still a lot of fun to be had with it.
Overall the Pixel Bandits score on the heavy oaken doors is Grab It. This is a fairly cheap title compared to the Triple-A titles, and is going down as one of my favourite new releases this year, and possibly for the last few years. It could use a little more nuance within the armies and battle system with a limited number of units, but the changing playstyle required with different clans, and even during the different in game seasons are a really nice touch. I have had a great time with Northgard and if you’re a fan of real time strategy titles and Vikings, I’d definitely recommend it.