by Joseph Leray
Paradox Interactive and Fatshark have announced "War of the Vikings," a follow-up to last year's competitive multiplayer hack-and-slash "War of the Roses."
Like its predecessor, "War of the Vikings" is a third-person combat game with a heavy focus on hand-to-hand fisticuffs and period-appropriate costumes, similar to TaleWorlds' "Mount & Blade" series (also published by Paradox, incidentally).
"Vikings" also includes "a variety of beard options," a videogame feature I didn't realize I wanted until just now.
Players step into the reindeer-skin boots of a 9th century Viking horde as they attempt to conquer England. Speaking to Polygon, executive producer Gordon Van Dyke explained that "War of the Vikings"' historical setting has big implications for its mechanics and systems.
Shields were often made out of wood, for example, and metal weapons were often too brittle to withstand drawn-out duels. As a result, expect "Vikings" to offer a faster, more direct style of pugilism than the knights and yeomen on display in "War of the Roses," which takes place much later, in the 15th century.
"During the time of 'War of the Roses,' it was more about precision — they had handbooks, they had training and lessons. A lot of things were written out and there were rules to that sport," explained Van Dyke. "But at this time, there was none of that. It was pure aggression. It was viking culture versus other cultures, and they were very pragmatic, devious and cunning. They would use other people's cultures and rules and standards against them, like attacking monasteries in England."
"Nobody would attack somebody's monasteries, but the vikings didn't care," he concludes.
On a less bloodthirsty note, Van Dyke also described being "inspired by the possibilities of the close-combat genre" in a prepared statement. "It's clear to us that there are many more experiences we can share with our players, and 'War of the Vikings' is our next step in establishing Paradox and Fatshark as leaders in the art of online war."
As expected, "War of the Vikings" will offer up large-scale multiplayer battles for up to 64 players, as well as a 32-player "Arena mode" that does away with respawns.
What's not clear is how much "War of the Vikings" will cost -- "War of the Roses" eventually went free-to-play less than six months after its October 2012 release.
"War of the Vikings" will release early next year, but you can already sign up for access to the closed alpha test. Happy pillaging!