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Early Access Review – Northgard (PC)

by on April 18, 2017

Before I dive into my thoughts on this game, here is the trailer and press release. I will pick up below the press release.

The new Viking strategy game Northgard will be available today on Steam Early Access for $19.99, bringing a unique mix of exploration, village building and combat heavily infused with Norse mythology.

Being developed by popular indie studio Shiro Games (Evoland 1 & 2), in Northgard players take control of a Viking clan who arrive on unknown and unforgiving shores, where they have to establish a village, gather resources, grow their society and defeat their opponents. In their quest to conquer this new and mysterious world, clans will face off against undead warriors, giants, dragons and other foes while surviving the harshest environments.

The Early Access version of Northgard allows players to:

  • Build settlements on the newly discovered hostile continent of Northgard while assigning and commanding vikings to various jobs (Merchant, Farmer, Warrior, Sailor, Loremaster…)

  • Manage resources carefully to survive the harsh winters and vicious enemies

  • Expand and discover new territory giving unique strategic opportunities

  • Achieve different victory conditions such as Conquest, Fame, Lore and Trading

“We have always been fans of strategy and simulation games, and with Northgard we have taken what we think are all the best bits, and added a lot of cool Viking themes and fantasy to the mix,” said Nicolas Cannasse, co-founder of Shiro Games. “Launching on Early Access will allow us to get direct feedback from our players which we’ll use in fine-tuning the development of Northgard. Not only that, we’ll also be bringing lots of cool new features to the game in the coming months, like new clans to play around with and a story driven campaign amongst other things.”

Early Access is just the start for Northgard, with Shiro Games continuing to add new content to the game during development. Extra features planned for Northgard include a full dedicated multiplayer mode, a story driven campaign mode, new playable clans and a host of new features such as an improved trading and diplomacy system, and more victory conditions.

 **NOTE** At the time of this writing Northgard was in version v0.1.4404-beta. If your version differs from this your experience may differ.

I am just going to come out and say it. Northgard is a damn fun real-time strategy game considering it is still in early access. It’s also fairly clean (not many bugs and graphics look great) for being in early access. Right off the bat, there are two major components missing from Northgard, the campaign and multiplayer. The only mode available at the moment is ‘Single Player’, which is basically ‘Skirmish” for those old RTS fans.

To start off you pick a name, a clan color, a difficulty, how many AI you want to face, then finally the victory conditions. There are five victory conditions: Domination (Defeat all AI through war), Wisdom (Defeat through means of knowledge achievement), Trade (Defeat through meeting trade goals), Fame (Reaching a certain level of fame), and Map Special (I personally have yet to see this one completed. I’ve worked through the other conditions). Once you get your single player setup you move onto choosing a ‘clan’.

Currently as of the version stated above, there are four clans: Fenrir (Clan of the Wolf. You start with Weaponsmith knowledge and units eat 30% less food), Eikthyrnir (Clan of the Stag. You start with +75 Food, Wood, and Krowns (currency) and Hall of Skalds replaces the brewery and produces additional fame), Heidrun (Clan of the Goat. Start with 3 sheep and can build the Sheepfold, also your clan members eat 5% less food), Huginn and Muninn (Clan of the Raven. You can colonize with Krowns instead of food, and can build the harbor to explore and later send Mercenaries attacks). These are basic run downs of each clan. There are also Fame bonuses you can get if you reach a certain level of Fame. It’s also good to note that under these it says “Unknown. Coming Soon…” meaning there are more coming, which is awesome.

Ok on to the game. Like I mentioned before it is a Real Time Strategy game. Northgard takes its theme based off of Norse mythology in where you take control of a clan of Vikings that are competing on a newfound continent. I can’t wait to try out the campaign to see how that goes. But single player is damn fun. It’s a little overwhelming at first, luckily for me I had a great viewer who’s played the game a bunch and gladly helped out (Thanks NidoLvl6!) He gave some great tips, always hit ‘V’ to pull up the victory conditions to make sure you were on the right track to win. Always make sure you watch your ‘Lore’ and be sure to upgrade what’s best for your clan. You get lore different ways, from population and Loremasters mainly. The more you have the quicker it builds and the more advanced you get.

You don’t get to choose to build military or workers or have to manage individual classes, like in other RTS games. As long as your village has ‘Happiness’, the Town Hall will spawn villagers. You then can designate what you want them to be, a gatherer, hunter, scout, fisher, merchant, military, healer, really whatever you want as long as you have the correct building to attach them too. You start off in a single area and cannot lift the ‘fog of war’ until you have a scout do it for you. It is the only way to explore, and yeah sometimes they die poking their head in the wrong area and getting wrecked. Also each area only allows so many buildings on them. Usually three, but depends on your clan and Lore you have. I was able to unlock the option for four buildings and it helped drastically. You will get attacked from wolves or by Draugr. Depending on if they border your areas you may need to build some defenses or go on the offensive and clear them out of their area and ‘sealing’ the area so they stop spawning. There are also other fun things around the map that can help you. I was able to trade enough food so that a Jotun would accompany me (they kick ass so I’m glad they did), There are also ruins your scouts can interact with to gain the treasure. There was also a Wyvern on the map if you’re feeling frisky, dropping it nets you 250 Fame.

The gameplay was smooth and welcoming. Even on normal I lost every person and still was able to come back with a win, so depending on what stage of the game you are in it is somewhat forgiving. For being in VERY early access this game is already extremely fun and fully believe worth paying for to help the developers finish this amazing game. Single player will not hold some people over for very long, unless you are the competitive and want to learn all aspects before the multiplayer drops. But I will 100% say this, any strategy fan should pick this up or have this on their radar. It’s different and much welcomed contender in the strategy genre, I cannot wait to see where it goes!

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