Viking: Battle for Asgard Impressions

From the people who brought you the Total War series comes a new action game with Vikings. Lots of Vikings.

For a studio that made its name in strategy games, it's quite a risk for Creative Assembly to take on the action genre. However, Viking: Battle for Asgard made a successful debut at Leipzig this year, and the developer has been hard at work improving the game since. We attended a recent Sega UK preview event to see the game running on the Xbox 360 and talk to the British developer firsthand.

Skarin is able to dual-wield weapons. Here, he's modeling a rather lovely sword-and-axe combo.

Currently running in alpha form, the demo showed the main character, Skarin, as he explored the large gameworld. The islands will be around 1 km in size, so you'll need to make use of portal stones to move quickly. The main portion of the game will be small quests in which you'll build your army by liberating people such as quarry workers and farmers. Eventually, you'll take them into battle against six boss characters, and it's these epic 1,000-soldier battles that are set to be Viking's calling card.

Our demo gave us a good chance to check out both elements of the game. It started with a typical quest, in which Skarin is tasked with liberating a group of captured men. He can take the aggressive approach and just fight the patrolling troops, or he can take a more considered route and sneak into the quarry and free the men without anyone noticing. The Creative Assembly representative showed us the latter method, and after a successful rescue mission the men immediately join Skarin's army. The representative then chose to show off some of the smaller battles, and while they're much less grand in scale than the boss fights, they can still feature around 100 soldiers.

The larger battles play out like the epic conflicts seen in films such as Braveheart and The Lord of the Rings. The way that the two sides charge into battle will be familiar to fans of these movies, and although the game's set in ancient times, the designer isn't beyond employing a few Matrix-style camera techniques. The game features slow-mo replays featuring you hacking off enemy limbs, while some of the atmospheric fog and foliage effects really make this a nice-looking game up close. Zoom out, though, and you begin to appreciate the full scale of the battles, with hundreds of men fighting hand-to-hand while dragons soar and rain fire from above.

Thanks to Creative Assembly's history in the strategy genre, there are tactical elements to the combat. You'll have to order dragon attacks while in the thick of the battle, and these special attacks can be bought by collecting tokens in the field. The biggest number of tokens will come from destroying the larger enemies, especially the berserkers, assassins, and giants that appear once the battle starts to get under way. Creative Assembly claims to have created an advanced artificial intelligence system that responds dynamically to trends in the battle. It's described as a butterfly effect model, where one grunt can change the course of the entire battle.

Epic battles with up to 1,000 soldiers are the main attraction for Creative Assembly's Viking.

Close combat is based upon a combo system, with moves linked together according to the buttons that appear above Skarin's head after each successful strike. You'll be able to practise your moves with none other than the ghost of Valhalla, who will train you and allow you to spend pips earned in the game on more advanced moves. The main tactic in battle is to take care of your shaman, who sits at the back of the battlefield and heals your men. The shamans are pretty easy to kill, though, and it's your job to find the one on the enemy side, break through his shield, and kill him to stop the army from healing. Eventually, you'll come up against a character called Draken, who is pretty much your evil equivalent and the ultimate baddie in the game.

At this stage, Creative Assembly looks set to make an interesting debut in the action genre with Viking. The main attraction of the game is definitely the epic battles, but it looks as though they'll be relatively few and far between during the main campaign. We're also sorry to hear that there will be no multiplayer mode in the final game, but if the single-player can marry a strong story and engaging combat, then hopefully we won't have much to complain about. We're sure we'll see more of the game before its Q2 2008 release, so keep an eye on the site for more on Viking as we get it.

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Discussion

38 comments
kweeni
kweeni

they shure can make great strategy games just look at the total war series, they are great and one of my favorite pc games hope they can do the same with adventure games, if so i might buy this one, as soon i get my ps3....in august....long wait :(

xerono
xerono

I suppose it looks interesting...reminds me alot of the old LOTR action games on the last gen of consoles, only bloodier. After watching some of the gameplay movies, though, I just kind of doubt this game will make any sort of impact in a post-Ninja Gaiden II world. Now, if this were Vikings Total War, then that would really be something!

Cookie2-0
Cookie2-0

woha I think I speak for anyone with half a brain that this game is a must get

eddieham13
eddieham13

did he say it was Free-roam or not. he did say something about 1km of exploring to do

ronnet
ronnet

Why do people assume that thsi will eb bad because Biowulf was bad? Beowulf was a horrible moviegame, this comes from a great studio, unfortunatly they dont have a lot of experience with these kind of games.

dutch777
dutch777

when are gamespot going to give us an in depth review of this wicked looking game."Epic battles with up to 1,000 soldiers" now that is what we are talking about. come on gamespot give us more info.

silent_riku
silent_riku

You can't really blame me for saying this cuz it's true... Beowulf:The Game sucked ridiculously bad... I hope this game doesn't turn out the same way that abomination of a game did... I didn't even bother giving Beowulf a review cuz I know I would've been banned for a month if I had... good luck creative assembly...

generalbigmac
generalbigmac

so is this like the lord of the rings return of the king game or is it a combo game, it would be sick if it was like LOTR return of the king game

Wii360boy
Wii360boy

this game looks sick! cant wait until it comes out! :)

22GHOST22
22GHOST22

This game looks cool but I have a feeling that critics will be giving it bad scores,but players how liked the spartan total worrior game will like it.

Snifbask
Snifbask

Omg... this is just hilarious... I love it when people who know next to nothing of real viking mythology make games like this... Its the same thing as with Spartan, it seems. I might be wrong, since I never played it... but didn't Sparta have city walls in it? (In real life it didn't) Anyway... I hope they make a nice soundtrack of viking metal:D

Maxwellmurder
Maxwellmurder

sounds like a nice refreshing idea the only thing i dont like about it so far is that you cant choose a class or something and progress and control your army. id love to be an archer or something and stand back let loose some arrows and control my armies. LETS GET SOME MORE GAMES LIKE THIS.

bryanlbs
bryanlbs

Vikings are sweet. Something about rape, pillage and plunder seems very American these days.

Giant_Zealot
Giant_Zealot

Finally a game with VIKINGS! I LUV VIKINGS!

tikiz
tikiz

This game doesn't look so good. I think that they overdid it on the blood and gore, it just looks really lame to me.

JB2B
JB2B

Look fun. I hope there will be 2 player co-op (local) so I can play with friends. Still looking for an action adventure/rpg to play with 2 to 4 friends local. This sounds like fun, big swords and axes, massive battles.

dutch777
dutch777

this just looks like an amazing game. being a viking, big swords and axes, bring it on !!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Redhairboy491
Redhairboy491

The total war games are awesome, never played spartan personally, but this looks a lot like it. Anyone else notice there seem to be a bunch stuff coming out with norse mythology in it?

kaeden555
kaeden555

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Eraldi
Eraldi

You know i looked at this game and it does look like spartan tw . But if you have played other games , then comes lord of the rings the return of the king on the original xbox . I just don't think that this game is going to be that great , but its to early for me to say what this game is going to be good or bad . But i know for sure i don't want another lord of the rings type of game and expect me to pay $60 plus tax on that .

Krusnikzero2
Krusnikzero2

Spartan was a great game but didn't have enough large scale battles. It looks like Viking is making some huge steps gameplay-wise so hopefully this won't just be Spartan 2.

juggalo
juggalo

More vikings games please!!!

XxorigxX
XxorigxX

Seems like an awesome game..!!,cant wait...

FlashCharge
FlashCharge

Looking forward to this game and hope that it become a winner. Love the Total War series on PC. Will keep looking in.

eric1320
eric1320

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Shinkada
Shinkada

Spartan was a pretty good first action game. I can only hope this'll do for Norse what God of War did for Greek (as has been said by a few others, hur hur, I'm so original), but if they want to go that far, they'll have to improve the engine a lot. Spartan was good, but not that good.

dutch777
dutch777

waiting to have a closer look at this one!!

BustNak
BustNak

"interesting debut in the action genre" eh? What about Spartan total warrior? CA's last action scored a respectable 7.1 in gamespot and 8.3 from user votes.

morrow4
morrow4

ele975 I hope they are Norwegian Vikins, i'm Norwegian and i know a danish dude, i want to rub this in his face. Also, time for a check list 1) massive battles? Check! 2) Creative Assembly? Check! 3) The massive battles may go up to 5000 troops each side? maybe 4) Creative Assembly is holding something back which will be a suprise? hopefully... I wish I was fully norwegian I'm only 1/4 dang it. Vikings are freakin awesome

ele975
ele975

I hope they are Norwegian Vikins, i'm Norwegian and i know a danish dude, i want to rub this in his face. Also, time for a check list 1) massive battles? Check! 2) Creative Assembly? Check! 3) The massive battles may go up to 5000 troops each side? maybe 4) Creative Assembly is holding something back which will be a suprise? hopefully...

ff7isnumbaone
ff7isnumbaone

I like it. you guys should try total war sparta its a good game made/published by sega

DPumbliQ
DPumbliQ

This game looks like it's gonna be great, after God of Warr 3 was announced i was very happy, now i are happiest :P

SlashDementia3
SlashDementia3

I think this game will easily be in my top 10. Hopefully it lives up to the review, I liked Spartan: TW, a bit and this looks like it will be better in every way.

mikeodb17
mikeodb17

This game looks like the balls. Its gotta be better than Conan at least. I am also looking forward to checking out Beowulf. 360 needs a God of War caliber action game