When Shiro Games started teasing Northgard, I got excited. Not because I’m an RTS or a city builder fan, but because I’m not. Let me explain. “Northgard” offers epic real-time city building in bite-sized portions. They took classic influences like “Warcraft” and “Command & Conquer“, streamlined the gameplay, and laid it across the framework of modern MOBA games. The result is a fast-paced strategy game that balances resource management, exploration and battle.
The whole thing takes place on a randomly generated island populated with Viking clans. Draft scouts to explore the regions of the island to colonize. Most regions have some perk or special feature like fertile soil or mineral deposits that can be mined and exploited. Scouts can also explore shipwrecks, ruins and other features to recover bonus resources. The bulk of gameplay is balancing food and lumber production during fruitful warm months to prepare for the harsh Nordic winters. During winter, food production plummets and wood consumption skyrockets. Players are encouraged to “prepare for winter” through most of the game because the winter mechanic can be truly unforgiving. Build silos to store food and stockpile wood to keep villagers warm.
Resource shortages cause unhappiness and when happiness falls too low, growth stops. That’s bad. Especially in the late game where enemy clans begin encroaching on your domain, and people start dying. Trained warriors are great for fending off player enemies as well as wolves and monsters, but every trained warrior is one villager who doesn’t produce food or wood or minerals. So during times when there’s nothing to fight, a standing army (an “army – usually – of less than 10) becomes a serious liability.
There are many ways to win this game. Unlocking enough of the tech tree or defeating all opponents are just a few of the ways. Additionally, maps may offer unique win conditions, such as forging a mythical sword, that keeps the game interesting and encourages players to keep exploring into enemy territory. The graphics in this game are extremely clean and polished smooth. The countryside is lush and fully fleshed out, with detailed grass, many different tree and rock models, sheep and other wildlife. The look is very nice, but simple enough that I can keep my framerate around 50 frames per second, on highest settings, on a mediocre rig.
Games are relatively short, and this is made for multiplayer. However, this early-access version does not have any multiplayer implemented. So, is that a bad idea? Well, I think so. Some players are disappointed and already saying so on Steam. And with a $20 USD price tag, many players would strongly prefer to get the entire game at once.
That said, once multiplayer is implemented, I think this game will be one to remember and highly recommend it.
+ Pretty graphics
+ Should run well on most machines
+ Fast-paced game play
– No multiplayer yet
– Too expensive in current state
Gameplay: 3/5 for now, 4/5 pending multiplayer
Sound and music: 3/5
Replay value: 5/5
Shiro Games “Northgard” is simple, addictive, engrossing and pretty. The implementation of multiplayer will make this a memorable game worth thousands of play hours.
Developer: Shiro Games
Genre: RTS, city builder
Resolution: Highest possible for PC
Release date: 2017-02-22 (Early Access)
Spent time: +6 hours
Average grade internationally: XX Gamerankings.com
Price: 19 Euros via Steam
Robin Ek – Editor
The Gaming Ground
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