War of the Roses: Kingmaker Edition Review
This game was reviewed on the PC.
Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, there lived a royal family. This royal family was the House of Plantagenet, and they ruled the throne of England for over three hundred years. Like all families who hold unreasonable amounts of power, controversy inevitably arose among them, and the house was split into two warring factions: House Lancaster and House York. Everyone in the House of Plantagenet was divided into these two factions, and even began wearing either white (House York) or red roses (House Lancaster) to show their loyalties. From 1455 to 1485, the two houses fought in a bloody and chaotic war, until one victor remained and all other members of the opposing family had died. Sound familiar? It should! This is the story of the War of the Roses, which is not only a true tale etched into our history books, but a game developed by Fatshark and published by Paradox Interactive: War of the Roses: Kingmaker. Do you have what it takes to jump into this third-person action MMO, slaughter your enemies, and obtain ultimate power? Or will you falter and fade into the footnotes of history? Let’s prepare you for the challenge with a brief look at what the game has to offer, and you can decide for yourself!
You may be taken aback if you jump into this game headfirst as either house Lancaster or House York, so new players should check out the Tutorial before even venturing online. Aside from the Tutorial, there is no single player – no storyline that will compel players to push forward or defeat enemies by themselves. This is strictly an online multiplayer game, which can thoroughly discourage people who are new to the type of gameplay in Kingmaker. So, if you want to develop your skills and not look like a newbie in front of the online community, you’ll be spending a lot of time going over and over the same Tutorial in a monotonous loop, until you’ve mastered the game – before you’ve even truly played it!
Many players will instantly understand why the Tutorial is so important, as the controls and mechanics of War of the Roses: Kingmaker are extremely unique. If you were hoping for a tab-target or mouse-click play-style, you will be completely surprised. The controls still use the WASD keys to move (which will be all too familiar for PC gamers), but your fighting abilities rely on both the mouse buttons and mouse motions. As an example: if you have a sword in your hand, the direction that your mouse moves, coupled with the location of your pointer on the screen and the length of time that you hold the left mouse button down, determines how you hit your enemy. Each hit is lined up and calculated, instead of auto-completed or button-triggered. If the angle and direction of your hit is off even a little, you could bounce off of a Shield (or a part of your foe’s Helmet) and waste valuable time! These blunders also create an opening for your opponent to stick you in the eye with a Dagger, or enough time for their friend up on a rooftop to skewer you with an arrow!
What makes the mechanics a little harder to control is that the mouse movements not only control your strikes, but they also control your camera view. This can be slightly disorienting and can cause players to take longer to get into the swing of things. Matches can be played either in a group of 32 (16 versus 16), or one-on-one with another player in a duel, so there will be a good variety of tactics that people can create to utilize each person’s playing style. Even with these different options, remember: there is a huge learning curve to Kingmaker that players will have to overcome, as the game revolves around fighting skills instead of “gearing out” like most PVP games. This will really entice players to keep improving, instead of getting lazy due to overpowered equipment.
To further these fighting mechanics, Kingmaker has no shortage of weaponry to level the playing field and complement each player’s style. Up-close-and-personal players will have Daggers, or One Handed Axes, Clubs, and Swords. For those who enjoy ranged combat, Crossbows and Bows will be your best friends. In case that wasn’t enough, players can enjoy Two Handed Axes, Clubs, Spears, Lances, and Swords. Each weapon is true to its nature in real life, so they work as you’d expect them to! For example, when you use a Crossbow, it’s ranged and it’s powerful, but it is slow to load, which can leave you vulnerable to melee attacks or other ranged opponents catching you unaware. The Dagger is great for close-quarter’s combat, but more effective against someone who, for instance, has already taken a swing with a Two Handed Axe and is slow to hit a second time, otherwise you’ll want to stay out of the way!
Weather in Kingmaker is exactly as it should be in England: foggy and cloudy sometimes, sunny and inviting other times. Even the sunlight peeking through the clouds shimmers down in the background, as it would in reality. On sunny days, players and objects cast realistic shadows based on where the sun is in the sky. During foggy days, farther-away enemies are harder to spot, making it perfect to camp. Different maps provide much needed diversity. You’ll find yourself storming castles, or running through wheat fields nestled beside an old church. There are even points where you’re jumping on village rooftops to take out enemies below. The game’s true-to-life scenery and character design make for a real medieval experience that only adds to the epic feeling that you’ll get as you mount a horse and thrust your lance through an opponent. Top the excellent graphic quality with the sounds of steel colliding with steel, the distant military drums in the background as triumphant violin music adds to your engagement, and you have yourself an adventure worth bragging about!
While there are obviously stunning graphics, Kingmaker is not without its issues. An example of this would be disappearing and melting opponents: there are times when an opponent on horseback will start melting into the ground and then disappear, only to pop up a few seconds later. There are also times when you’ll lose control of your character, and it will either stand still waiting to be slaughtered, or if on horseback, you’ll just keep going in the direction that you were headed, with only the ability to move the camera around. While the loss of control example is more a mechanical failure than a graphical glitch, the disappearing act of your opponent should be considered both. With the intensity of gameplay and the need for real-time control, these types of issues can cause a loss of subscribers. Thankfully, Paradox Interactive has been constantly patching the game in an attempt to fix bugs, and as MMOs are always in a state of flux, players will hopefully not have to suffer these effects for too long.
So, what’s the difference between the original War of the Roses game and War of the Roses: Kingmaker? Kingmaker is the same game, but it adds all of the DLC released for War of the Roses to date, including the new Assault mode. Assault mode is a new game mode that puts players in teams against each other in siege-like warfare. You will either be on the team defending your home, or storming your enemies’ castle. If all of the DLC content and the new Assault mode wasn’t enough, Kingmaker adds voice actor Brian Blessed (Tarzan, Start Wars: Episode I, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) as narrator and announcer during the battles, playing the historical character Richard Neville (16th Earl of Warwick)!
War of the Roses: Kingmaker is the type of game that PVP lovers will become easily addicted to. For those of you who prefer PVE or RP, this game will probably turn you off. If you’ve stuck around this long, however, grab a friend or two and download this game on Steam, as you get a discount when you buy this Paradox Interactive goody for your friends!
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