War of the Roses Review

In War of the Roses, brutal medieval combat hits a grisly crescendo.

After you lose too much blood and collapse to the ground, there's nothing as unsettling as watching helplessly while your foe towers over you and proceeds to stab a broadsword through your ribs to finish the job. Or hoists his shield over his head before bringing it down on your skull. Or uses a knife to gouge a bloody hole through your face. Or battle-axes you in twain. For the victims forced to become first-person spectators to their own murders up close, War of the Roses' grisly executions are downright horrifying. But blood feuds tend to be messy, and the ferocious vigor that you bring to the battlefield makes the hyper-violent, merciless 15th-century combat in this medieval multiplayer brawler often electrifying.

Executions are delightfully gnarly.

Pared down and brutal, War of the Roses lets up to 64 armored warriors clash in sprawling battles as the Lancaster and York factions work to slaughter one another en masse. Large-scale multiplayer matches are the main focus. Insane free-for-all brawls unfurl in each match as large mobs of swordsmen, armored footmen, mounted knights, and archers collide across the beautiful countryside. Whether you're plugging barbed arrows into enemies from distant rooftops or thrashing through an alleyway mob in close-quarters melee combat, a frenetic energy punctuates every chaotic encounter. The structure and flow of combat feel much like a shooter: you select a class loadout complete with unique weapons and perks, dive into the fray, hack up your adversaries, and respawn when you get clobbered. However, using ancient weaponry to slice up your enemies up close and personal puts a different, quite cool, spin on things.

The complex fighting system takes practice and skill to master, but it's easy to appreciate the depth it adds to battle when you get over the initially awkward training-wheels phase. Melee combat is a dizzying dance of angled attacks, blocks, dodges, and parries as opponents circle each other. Clicking and holding the left mouse button charges your attack, and moving the mouse in the direction and at the angle you want to swing lets you adjust your blow before letting it loose. Blocking with a shield or weapon is handled in much the same way. It's not always the smoothest process, since delivering attacks and executing blocks take precise timing--and that can be tricky to pull off when you're in the middle of a mob swinging swords, axes, spears, and halberds around like lunatics. That said, every successful blow or parry is gratifying, and the adrenaline really kicks in when you're going toe-to-toe with an opponent hell-bent on gutting you like a Thanksgiving turkey.

Archers and crossbowmen add another layer of chaos to the mix. They're different animals altogether and perhaps the most fun classes to play. Turning foes into pincushions from across the battlefield is ultra-satisfying, but you have to lead moving targets and take distance and arrow drop into account with every shot. Archers can hold a drawn bow for only a few seconds, which helps to keep them from being overpowered, and cranking a crossbow is a painstaking task. While long-range warriors are somewhat capable with a blade in a pinch, their weaker stature and limited weaponry mean they also can't hold up long against more heavily armored foes.

Melee combat gets chaotic in a hurry.

Regardless of your class, taking a moment to revive fallen comrades or finish off prone enemies introduces a risk-vs.-reward dynamic that earns you bonus coins and experience but leaves you vulnerable. Executions are particularly awesome, as is taking down an enemy who's about to execute a comrade and then reviving your pal so he can turn around and send his would-be murderer to his doom. It's almost comical how fast and frequently the tables turn, and the fluidity of matches keeps things exciting.

War of the Roses' authenticity even extends to the realistic interplay between different weapons and armor types. Some blades bounce off heavy armor leaving a mere scratch damage-wise, but putting an arrow through the thin visor in your foe's helmet or jabbing a weak spot between armor plates can be lethal. Prepare to experience utter panic the first time you face off against a tanked-up adversary you can barely injure with your weaker weapons. The starting arsenal and available loadouts are limited at first, though you unlock more options as you level up and earn coins for kills.

Once you open up several custom character slots, the ability to tweak your warriors for maximum killing effectiveness is a great time sink between battles. Applying perks that increase your fighting prowess in different ways is only the beginning too. You can even go as far as picking the actual materials for each weapon--right down to the wood and metal types--which subtly affects their effectiveness. The level of depth is commendable. It's also a potent lure to keep you diving back into matches to test out your new gear and earn coins to score better equipment.

Using a bow requires patience--but with great patience comes great reward.

As thrilling as the game's massive medieval bloodbaths can get, War of the Roses isn't without its flaws. A few bugs, ranging from minor visual glitches like indoor rain, to bigger problems like midair respawns that send you plummeting to your death, pop up from time to time. They're a minor nuisance. The sparse play modes or other ways to experience the combat are the bigger issue. This rivalry between warring houses is certainly worth exploring outside of the online battles, but nothing really touches on the historical aspect behind the conflict. And with only two modes--Team Deathmatch and Conquest--battles grow repetitive over time.

Limited though it may be, War of the Roses delivers a grisly, realistic take on third-person medieval combat that hits most of the right notes. More than just a refreshing change of pace for the genre, it captures the raw kinetic essence of the period's turbulent warfare in an exciting way. Fatshark's plans to roll out additional modes and updates will eventually beef up the content available for you to chew through, but even right now this is a satisfying multiplayer experience.

The Good
Combat is chaotic and fun
Tons of weapon customization options
Beautiful map designs
The Bad
With only two modes, battles can grow repetitive
7.5
Good
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bhyesilnil
bhyesilnil

Take Mount & Blade port it to multiplayer. There you go War of the Roses

Justforvisit
Justforvisit

I guess in one point we can all agree: Europe has a far richer history background than US :P

(Please, nobody mention that Maya's etc. existed)

BradleyAPC89
BradleyAPC89

Love to buy this game. Saw it on tv show "Good Game".  Melee looks extremely chaotic, players randomly slashing all over the place. The chaos reminds me of Runescape's castle wars except this looks way better and more difficult to master.

Retro-Ninja
Retro-Ninja

Cool concept, I wish it were on consoles.

 

GetafixOz
GetafixOz

Played quite a few hours of this on the weekend and Im pretty impressed. Combat is a lot of fun and for some reason I cant help laughing when I get executed LOL its just a very cool thing to be able to do, but it is better to give than receive! I can see myself putting in some time on this game as it develops, assuming Xcom doesnt take over my life.

TheKeef
TheKeef

The thing is, out of the box, Paradox games are less impressive than they are say a year down the line.

 

They stand by their releases with patches, new content (free and paid, in good balance), and for long periods. I see good things ahead for WotR in these regards.

Marsh87
Marsh87

"in twain" is that a combination between two an pain..hehe

 

Starsail0r
Starsail0r

the thing is, it needs optimisation <:

SkirkRidgeEX
SkirkRidgeEX

Right, for everyone who is arguing about when the English Renaissance period was, here's a Wikipedia article I found in 5 seconds.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_renaissance 

 

Here is the opening paragraph:"The English Renaissance was a cultural and artistic movement in England dating from the late 15th and early 16th centuries to the early 17th century. It is associated with the pan-European Renaissance that is usually regarded as beginning in Italy in the late 14th century; like most of northern Europe England saw little of these developments for more than a century later. The beginning of the English Renaissance is often taken, as a convenience, to be 1485, when the Battle of Bosworth Field ended the Wars of the Roses and inaugurated the Tudor Dynasty. Renaissance style and ideas, however, were slow in penetrating England, and the Elizabethan era in the second half of the 16th century is usually regarded as the height of the English Renaissance." 

 

Case closed, stop arguing. All Wikipedia articles of this nature have sources at the bottom, in case you were thinking this was updated by someone who doesn't know!

Caldrin
Caldrin

Not a bad review i think i would have marked it as an 8/10 even tho as stated there are only two battle types.. The game itself is so much fun i totally forget about that every time i play..

 

Saying that the devs have stated on the offical forums that they are going to be working objective maps.

 

 

antoniobandino
antoniobandino

Lannister and Stark? I hate to admit it, but I know more Westeros history than European, ha.

Ishiban
Ishiban

Uh, GameSpot, the game is set in the 15th-century which means it's a Renaissance game, not a Medieval one.

WolfGrey
WolfGrey

It is a 30 Dollar game mate, i wonder why the maps are a bit limited eh? If it was full price that would be valid but it isnt.

 

Plus we are getting plenty of free content on the way.

 

Decent review but certainly not the best and kinda ignorant of the fact this is a smaller game.

emacdaddy08
emacdaddy08

No single player unfortunately, I'd be all over this if there was..

jabbamorse
jabbamorse

 @Ishiban The Middle Ages ended around 1500. Look it up if you don't believe me. The term refers to the period between Ancient History (pre-500), and Modern History (after 1500). The Renaissance is therefore not a separate epoch, but a cultural movement (and by extension the period) overlapping the late Middle Ages and Early Modern period. In England's case it would be very odd to term the Wars of the Roses "Renaissance" as the Wars represented the dying off the great medieval Plantagenet dynasty - the end of an era. The term is more apt for the Tudor period that came afterwards, which is when art and literature flourished. Look up "English Renaissance".

Tokugawa77
Tokugawa77

 @Ishiban

 There is no definitive point at which the middle ages become the renaissance. In any case, the term Renaissance refers more to the acedemic and artistic changes that  occured to the upper classes in western Europe, rather than military ones; nothing changed at all for the common man. The Wars of the Roses took started up directly after the Hundred Years War, which no on would ever say took place in the Renaissance, not to mention that the northern Renaissance took place later than that of Italy, and was more religious rather than intellectual in nature. I would thus call this game a 'Medieval one".

capper64
capper64

 @Ishiban The Renaissance was a movement that occurred during the beginning of the Early Modern Era.

Stabba_The_Kutt
Stabba_The_Kutt

Did you learn history from Assassin's Creed? This game is set at the end of the middle ages (medieval times). The Renaissance period was more defined by cultural revolution than by specific date. Ie, people didn't wake up on January 1st, 1500 and say "hey its the Renaissance!"

 

And by no means has this game demonstrated a Renaissance theme of curltural revolution, so I really don't no where you're coming from with that whole "this is a Renaissance game, not Medieval one." comment.

Ishiban
Ishiban

 @Tokugawa77 And there is no definitive point when the Classical World became Medieval.  If we use a relative reckoning of time, would the Vikings still be considered Medieval considering they were pagan well into so called Medieval times?  Or, how about tribes in Papua New Guinea who still live in Stone Age societies?  Are they living in the Stone Age or the Industrial Age?  Oh, wait, I thought it was the Information Age?

truckingpete
truckingpete

 @Stabba_The_Kutt I'm gonna wake up on Jan. 1st, 2013 and be like "HEY! It's the Modern Renaissance!" I called it first, so let history books show that 200 years from now.

Ishiban
Ishiban

 @Stabba_The_Kutt The Renaissance began in in the 14th-century, so the time period of the game is well into the Renaissance hence why it is not Medieval chronologically speaking.

Ishiban
Ishiban

 @Gelugon_baat The enlightenment of the Renaissance was found squarely in academic and fringe circles.  It certainly wasn't to be found at court or in the monastery, at least not in the majority of such places.

Rat_King
Rat_King

 @Gelugon_baat   ...Like what??

 

Again, some of us have to consider review with price. When a $60 game gets a 7.5 it's a huge difference between a $30 game getting the same. Considering this game sounds pretty decent, probably had a much smaller budget, and is only $30 with upcoming free content, as opposed to a $60 game full of glitches with release day, payed DLC and no estimate on patches...I think smaller games SHOULD be placed on a different level.

 

Time you realize there are opinions other than your own. It's great if you have one, but you don't need to reply to every person with some redundant argument, stating it in an incredibly arrogant manner, which you probably don't even realize you're doing.

alioli
alioli

 @Gelugon_baat  @WolfGrey True.

 

However, yes - few maps, but after 14 hours of playing, i feel like the maps still have plenty of joy to give to me!

 

And as they have stated - they are working on additional content - like gear, maps, game modes etc.

Tokugawa77
Tokugawa77

 @Ishiban

 Yes, different time periods apply to different areas of the world at different times. You wouldn't say, "during the Renaissance, China...." because the Renaissance is a time period that only applies to western europe. Time is not the only factor when describing a period in history- often location is far more important. This is true at least until globalization in the 18th century.

talshiarr
talshiarr

 @Ishiban  @Tokugawa77 This is a game about the waning medieval period in England using medieval weaponry, tactics, and stereotypes. Calling it "Renaissance" just because in Italy the movement was underway around the same time changes none of that.

Justforvisit
Justforvisit

@Stabba_The_Kutt It never came out, 21.12.2012 the world ended will be written in the history books in 200 years. Don't ask me how that'll work, but with generations getting dumber every century, chances are, it will :D

Stabba_The_Kutt
Stabba_The_Kutt

HA! Great idea, but unfortunately, there will still be people arguing in gamespot forums 200 years from now about whether this game came out during your modern renaissance or the previous era. :P

Tokugawa77
Tokugawa77

 @Ishiban  @Stabba_The_Kutt

 That is blatantly false. The Renaissance is not even really an "age' or "era" so much as a movement. For example, you wouldn't call the protestant reformation an "era". The Renaissance also affected different areas in different ways in different periods. Yes, the Italian Renaissance began in the late 14th century, but the northern one took hold much later, and the east is devoid of one completely.

Stabba_The_Kutt
Stabba_The_Kutt

The end of the War of the roses marked the beginning of the ENGLISH renaissance. Thus the war of the roses took place during medieval times. This is a well known fact. So even from a chronological perspective, this is NOT a Renaissance game.

 

So here's what we have so far:

 

Chronologically: Medival

Weaponry: Medival

Game style/theme (history aside): Medival

A handful of mistaken people think: Renaissance

 

Seriously though, I'm not trying to be facetious. Just google English Renaissance. You'll get all the answers you need.

SingletreeAve
SingletreeAve

 @Gelugon_baat  @wizardboyus Is this thread an example of an enlightened battle?  Just curious, because the whole thing seems a bit silly, and not a huge improvement over bloodthirsty brutality.

wizardboyus
wizardboyus

 @Gelugon_baat considering i don't even read replies to my messages usually, no i didn't know they didn't faze you. i apologize for my lack of understanding your idiocy, i hope you can forgive me! in the world of the internet last word wins the argument to you it seems, if that's the case then you're right and there is no reason to try and enlighten you. i just wish most (such as myself) didn't let our anger seep into our comments, otherwise you may have learned from your mistakes and provide more insightful comments. 

Stabba_The_Kutt
Stabba_The_Kutt

No this is not a difference of opinion. You are factually correct.

wizardboyus
wizardboyus

you are bad at defending your points, which are as ambiguous as you like to make them by saying things like "you are reading too much into my statement" or "you are over analyzing what i'm saying." why dont you just stop trying to protect your intellectual ego and just admit your wrong sometimes? theres obviously some reason why you seem to annoy half the fuckin forum on any mid-high profile topic. sorry but i have a low tolerance for stubborn bigots

capyvaraepg
capyvaraepg

 @EvilShabazz  @Gelugon_baat " Battles belong to the historical annals of war. The Renaissance is more associated with the historical event known as cultural movement/revolution"  So why did you compare apples and oranges? I agree with you, Renaissance is not about the war but the cultural movement, so what kind of battle would "resemble the enlightenment that the Renaissance brought"? You said the game did not do it, my only interpretation was that it was a critic, as the battles in the game should be able to "resemble the enlightenment that the Renaissance brought". How? A bunch of soldiers get around to argue about classical art? Or should Leonardo Da Vinci be on battlefield with a prototype cannon? 

EvilShabazz
EvilShabazz

 @Gelugon_baat  @capyvaraepgYour argument was that the battles were bloodthirsty while the Renaissance period was enlightened, thus it does not belong in the period.  His counter was that battles are bloodthirsty regardless of the enlightenment of the period, and thus it does belong in the period.

capyvaraepg
capyvaraepg

 @Gelugon_baat Ok, I will draw it for you. Why should the enlightnment of a people or an age be a factor to define how bloodthirsty their battle are? Information age would be more "enlightened" than Renaissance and Medieval times, but the battle is equally brutal (or even worse?). You not even see the face of the enemy. Just shoot and take their head off. And kill some inocent people in the process. Oh yes, it is a bloodbath. No academic circles there.

War of the Roses More Info

  • Released
    • PC
    War of the Roses is a new IP that transports players back in time to the battle-ravaged dynastic civil war era of 15th-century England.
    7.2
    Average User RatingOut of 132 User Ratings
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    Developed by:
    Fatshark AB
    Published by:
    Ascaron Entertainment UK, Paradox Interactive, CyberFront
    Genres:
    Action
    Not yet assigned a final ESRB rating. Appears only in advertising, marketing and promotional materials related to a game that is expected to carry an ESRB rating, and should be replaced by a game's rating once it has been assigned.
    Rating Pending
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