EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access
by Robert Thomas
previewed on PC
Fun in the Afterlife
Valhalla awaits for those who died gloriously, only for the heroes to rejoice in more battle in the afterlife, in Bierzerkers. The early-access title has classes battle it out in two teams for the glory of Odin. Shield Break Games has created a cartoonish and silly battle game that doesn't take itself seriously, letting the player avoid frustration and just have fun. Although enjoyable, there are a few things I'd like to see get fixed before it comes out of early-access.
As I said before, you play as heroes all sent to live glorious lives in Valhalla, engaging in revelry and battle. Teams duke it out for glory in an open arena, with characters that all have a unique personality. Their witty remarks will make you smile and even laugh aloud, once in a while. Bierzerkers has some very funny writing, setting the tone for a game you can just have fun with.
Simple Online Play
Outside of the online versus mode, there is some light single player content. There's a small tutorial that lets you run through the basics of the controls and establishes the fun world you are in. Not only that, but Bierzerkers has a brief, but satisfying story mode, with optional co-op.
The real meat of the game is, of course, the online portion. As of now, it's just death matches between two teams, but we might see more on the release of the game. There are several characters to choose from, and each has an interesting way to play. Generally, online battle games, such as these, tend to have balancing issues between classes, and considering this is an Early-Access game, I'm surprised to see the game as balanced as it is.
Games are short, but they help to keep the game simple. Bierzerkers isn't the kind of game with long matches that you need to take time to plan ahead. Instead, you pick your class and jump right in. You don't need to be an expert to play the game against most people. The demand for skill in Bierzerkers is pretty low, and it won't take long for you to figure out the smooth controls and start having a blast. Bierzerkers is not complicated; it's light and fun.
Not devoid of strategy, however, as each class has skills and abilities that you need to keep in mind. Thanks to the classes being very unique, there are a lot of options to play with, creating your most optimal play style. If you're the kind of player who likes to strategize a bit, the game rewards you for checking class skills and making sure you're using your character to the best of its abilities.
Like a Saturday Morning Cartoon
Shield Break Games plays to the Unreal Engine's strengths, using a cartoonish art style that makes the game look great. Coupled the visual design with the funny characters, the whole game feels reminiscent of a Saturday morning cartoon. Another bonus to the visuals, is the silliness of it all, reminding the player that the game is meant to be fun, not frustrating. The whole thing is like a nostalgic kids show you get to play.
As I said before, the characters' voice actors all have a unique tone to them. It really sounds like each person had fun recording their dialogue. The music is fairly solid. Although not unique, it's what you would expect to hear in this kind of game. The soundtrack is filled with Viking action songs, that are plenty cheesy, creating the appropriate mood for Bierzerkers.
Too Small of a Community
Regardless of the quality of the content, online team versus games need a lot of people to play them. Otherwise servers will be empty and finding a game will be difficult. That's how it was for me. As of now, there are just not enough people playing this game. Matches with people in them were sparse enough, let alone games with a full crowd. Since I couldn't play it without other people, getting a feel for the game was not easy. Bierzerkers needs a good sized crowd of interest in order for the game to take off.
The time I got with Bierzerkers was a lot of fun. Game modes are quick, characters are easy to play, and the skill level to get into it is pretty low. It's not the kind of game you'll get frustrated with, unless you can't find a server to play on. Until a larger community is formed for Bierzerkers, I wouldn't say it's worth buying right now. If despite the small community, all I've said is really interesting to you, you might want to give it a try, otherwise, wait until launch and watch if more people start playing.
The game has potential, but we're not ready to jump in with both feet. If the game interests you, look, but don't touch - yet.