by Preston Dozsa
previewed on PC
When in Scandinavia, act like the Vikings do
When an RPG presents a variety of options to deal with a situation, I’m usually inclined to find a peaceful, beneficial solution that hurts the least amount of people possible. When I got the chance to try out Expeditions: Viking, I instead settled on the time-honored tradition of murdering everyone between me and my goal. When you’re a Viking, might as well act like one, right?
Expeditions: Viking, the follow-up to Logic Artists Expeditions: Conquistador, places you in command of a village of Norsemen fighting to grow and survive in Scandinavia. From a top-down perspective you control a party of villagers, including your own customizable hero, as you try and accomplish a variety of objectives that will grow and bring notoriety to your home. In my demo, I was tasked with infiltrating a crypt to secure a few items.
But the local villagers weren’t too keen on my visiting the crypt, requiring that I appease the spirits within the grave before I enter. But, in my rash decision to roleplay how I thought a Viking would act, I instead killed the guards outside to skip any religious ceremonies. Not my best moment, but it gave me a first-hand look at how combat works.
Fight like a Viking
Battles play out like they would in other hex-based games, and similarly to Expeditions: Conquistador. You click to move units, attack and use special abilities, all while trying to predict what the enemy will do so that you can counter it ahead of time. The combat is intricate, requiring you to understand how to control the flow of battle so that you can make out of it mostly intact. Having never played the previous title, it was a functional system that made it fun to strategize how I was going to survive fights under overwhelming odds.
Upon entering the cave, I fought off impoverished, drugged humans who had gone a bit crazy from the fumes in the area. Because my character was rather intelligent, I passed a skill check and surmised that the enemies were actually humans instead of elves or other spirits. These skill checks appeared periodically throughout my demo using different stats, including strength, intelligence and dexterity. Depending on how you create your character, you may have thought you killed several mythological beings instead of weak men. In any case, I grabbed what loot there was and made my way out of the cave.
Be cunning like a Viking
The thing is, I could have played more diplomatically and arranged a sacrifice to enter the grave freely. Had I talked to the village leader, I could have started a ceremony where I sacrificed a party member, slave or if I was cunning enough, a villager. The variety of ways you can solve quests is promising, and I wish I could go back and find a more creative solution.
Upon exiting the cave, I was confronted by the rather angry villagers whose ancestors’ graves I’d just looted. The options presented included leaving the treasure behind, hiding as much of the treasure as I could on our persons, or killing them all. I decided on the latter approach, easily defeating the poorly-equipped farmers before my demo ended.
My decision to kill everything also brought forth consequences I could have avoided. The more peaceful members of my village and party looked down on me for slaughtering innocent villagers, though my aggressive fighters and warriors approved of my decision. Were I to take another route, the opposite could have occurred.
While I did not see what the consequences of my decision would be in the demo, it would have an effect beyond this one mission.
Expeditions: Viking is certainly a promising strategy RPG, and I look forward to checking out more of the game before it releases later this year.