Northgard Review – A Unique Take on Classic RTS Games of Old

Shiro Games

It’s sort of sad that the classic real-time strategy games of yore have pretty much disappeared. Tween-bait MOBAS and E-Sports games have pretty much taken over and see no sign of letting up, at least anytime soon. I used to play Age of Empires 2 (and it’s expansion Age of Kings) until the wee hours of the morning. Even though it was a real-time game, AOE 2 had that addictive “one more turn” type of appeal. It was basically cracknip.

Developer Shiro Games just recently debuted their Viking-themed real-time strategy title called Northgard, which definitely reminds me of AOE 2. It’s been in Early Access for about a year, and you can really tell that this game is a labor of love for its dedicated development team.

Northgard is reminiscent of both the Age of Empires and Settlers series’. You have a selection of six different Nordic clans with which to seek your fortune, in strange new lands. Just like the aforementioned games, you’re tasked with establishing a basic settlement, and then sending scouts out to explore the surrounding areas while your citizens gather resources. Any fans of classic RTS’s will be right at home here.

Once your territory gets large enough, you’ll want to expand into neighboring regions. However, first these areas must be cleared of any native denizens. This includes such threats as wolves and undead creatures, and even giants, which you may befriend or become enemies with. What I really liked about Northgard is that there is a PvE aspect to it, not just PvP. Also, the very weather itself can be your worst enemy.

For instance, during my first game, I had my colony steadily growing. There I was, collecting all sorts of resources, growing my population, when all of a sudden it hit. A dragon you ask? A giant? No, the winter storms. In Northgard, one of your first primary concerns that should be on your radar is how to adequately preparing for winter, because when it arrives, you’re in for one heck of a freezing time.

Another thing that sets Northgard apart from its fellow RTS peers, is that each game unfolds at a much more leisurely pace (besides those horrific winters!) than your usual RTS fare. Part of this is due to the fact that the game is all about limitations. Instead of being able to pump out legions of workers, in Northgard you have a small number of citizens to work with.

Although you can increase your population by building more houses, you can also construct particular buildings which can attract more specialized citizens than your average farmers, woodcutters, and healers. And your population isn’t your only limitation; neighboring regions are organized piecemeal and are in limited quantity as well.

In other words, once you explore and clear a nearby zone, you can then expand into it and begin the entire settlement process over again. But there’s only so far you can go with your development aspirations, and that’s where careful planning comes in handy. You must always keep an eye out, however, for any enemy clans that might have their own aspirations of expansion.

As previously touched on, Northgard has six different clans to choose from. The ones included in the game (so far) are the Fenrir, Clan of wolves; Eikthyrnir, the Clan of Stags; Heidrun, the clan of goats; Bjarki, the clan of bears; Slidrugtanni, the clan of boars; and Huginn-Muninn, the clan of the ravens.

Each of these clans has their own distinct traits and starting bonuses along with is known as a “Lore Tree.” The Lore Tree is basically your technology tree which your clan can use to provide additional bonuses once the proper knowledge is gleaned.

Another thing that I really liked about Northgard is that might isn’t always right. In other words, in this game, smashing your foes into the ground is but one victory condition. You may also conquer your enemies through Fame, Trading, Lore, and other special conditions that can be found throughout each map.

Northgard is a very refreshing take on real-time strategy games that I think is sorely lacking in the gaming world right now. It has a relaxed pace, but also is just plain fun to play as you develop your clan and occasionally wage war against your adversaries.

It also has a dedicated development team who seem very intent on following through with the game’s further development. The entire game reminds me of a carefully hand-crafted piece of art.

SCORE: 85%

Northgard features outstanding graphics that make its strategy gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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