Ever since its initial announcement back in 2016, there was something that really drew me towards Northgard, a brand new real-time strategy game soaked in Norse mythology. Having entered Early Access I’ve taken a glimpse into Shiro Games’ latest entry into a genre full of big hitters, and I’m absolutely infatuated.
Northgard launched into Early Access on February 22 and quickly rose to the top of the charts beating the likes of For Honor, Counter-strike, Ghost Recon, and Rocket League, and there’s a good reason too. The game, while it seems like a fairly generic RTS, harkens back to the genres roots.
I must admit, I faded away from the RTS genre when it started to demand too much attention from players. I preferred the more simplistic approach of Age of Empires and Command & Conquer, and that’s exactly the feeling I get from Northgard. Currently in Early Access, the game really only offers a Single Player quick play mode which throws you into a randomly generated world with a select number of opponents. There’s only one objective in this mode: win. However, winning is easier said than done.
In Northgard there are a number of ways you can achieve Victory and it’s entirely up to you to figure out which way you’d like to go. These Victory Conditions range from simply defeating all the other clans in Northgard, becoming the most infamous clan, or forging the Sword or Odin. Each condition ranges in difficulty too, however it often depends entirely on the area in which you start.
Aside from building your clan there’s a lot of management involved in becoming successful, this is because rather than having buildings laid out on a grid, Northgard actually limits the amount of buildings that can be built within each territory block. Some allow one or two buildings, others allow more, so you really have to be careful where you place your buildings, otherwise later in the game you could find yourself in a bit of a pickle.
Jumping straight into the game you’re greeted with the game’s simple yet charmingly cartoon-like visuals. While the setting is often dark and dismal, there are pops of colours which keep you glued to the screen. Much like any other RTS the idea is to build a settlement, expand your rule, and train an army. However there’s an element of survival present too. As the game goes through the seasons winters are particularly harsh depleting your food and wood resources quickly. So you have to find the right balance between expanding your empire, ensuring all of our kingdom is happy, and you have enough food for the winter.
It’s this mix of strategy and survival that makes Northgard so appealing to me. I just want to keep playing over and over again. The replay value in this game so far is insane. However I’m really looking forward to having a more solid campaign put in place as well as the multiplayer mode as taking on two to three other players in real time is bound to be exhilarating.
As far as the game itself is coming along, Northgard has crazy potential. While only one game mode is available it played really well and I found no real issues. The instant transition from Winter to Spring did often glitch out slightly, but it’s more of a teething problem than a game breaking bug.
The AI in Northgard is also fairly impressive as they’re not just idiot CPUs just being walked over, they actively fight back not only during combat, but also with territories. I had a difficult time trying to secure a territory from one clan as once we’d decolonised one area, they’d take it back within seconds.
All in all Northgard is quickly becoming one of my favourite RTS games and one I can see myself returning to over and over again, even if it is to play almost the same scenario over and over again.