War of the Roses preview: A violent time in merry old England

Do you fancy something different from the generic modern shooters with all their glorious hi-tech weapons and gadgetry? Then War of the Roses is right up your street! It can be compared to blockbuster franchises like Call of Duty and Battlefield, but instead of a current or futuristic setting it?s been taken back a few hundred years. War of the Roses has the potential to drag serious gamers away from their multiplayer matches of CoD while also drawing in new players for the historical factor.

War of the Roses is a brand new experience but also very similar one at the same time; it transports players back to the bloody battle-ravaged time of the 15th century in lovely old sunny England. During this time there were two main rivals who fought viciously against each other, the house of Lancaster (the Reds) and the house of York (the Whites). Noticeably from the images War of the Roses is in the third person perspective, but this didn't really seem to ruin the deathmatch experience in any way.

Even being a multiplayer focused title there will be a single player campaign, however multiplayer was what was shown. Multiplayer is the heart of the game, while offering a single player so you can hone your skills. The multiplayer is a team based combat experience which takes you toe-to-toe with your enemies, making it a more personal battle as you swipe you sword to survive. If you think running into a group of guys swinging or poking your polearm around trying to be a one man army will win you the match then you're mistaken, sticking with your team mates is the key to winning.

A lot of research has been undertaken in order to deliver the best possible experience for players and historical fans. Weapons have been fully researched and War of the Roses boasts over 60 weapons across 15 weapon types. With such an array of weapons I'd love to name them all but it'd take an age to list them all, but it does include lances while atop a horse, long bows, battle-axes, swords, pole arms and many more. However you don't have to stick with a bog standard default weapon, you can change the smallest of details from the type of arrowhead, the type of blade on a sword or even the pommel of the sword to make sure you have the correct balance, making the customisation feel almost unlimited. The signature of the game really boils down to customisation, Fatshark have tried to allow you to customise every detail possible that the Whites and Reds would have back then, giving you the chance to have the best medieval warrior around. The types of customisation available to you are dependent on what you want to change, some options are just purely cosmetic, like crests, feathers and plumes or you can play around with the weapons and armour to increase your attack, make yourself more agile or put yourself in a more defensive position. An interesting addition to the game is the use of a visor which slightly obscures your vision; however they then increase your defence, making your face a little less permeable to an attack.

When creating your own class you should also think about what armour pieces to wear, these are divided into two slots, body and head, it also comes in three different weight categories, light, medium and heavy. These are then divided into four different materials; cloth and leather, which are lightweight but don?t protect you that much. Or there's chain mail and plate which of course offer very good protection but is a much heavier armour, weighing you down. It's very detailed and has such a huge variety of possible changes which should suit anyone?s specific needs. As well as your primary weapon and armour you can also pick a sidearm, should you be sick of a two handed weapon, or not wish to use your bow. Or even for a little close-up combat, however the main reason for a sidearm was as your last hope for survival, something for your fall-back plan.

These are just titbits of information on the broad array of features that the customisation process lets you control, so if you think you spent a long time customising your Spartan in Halo, or even creating a sim in the Sims you've no idea how addicted you're going to get to War of the Roses, hours can pass before you even make your way to the game, and even then perhaps you made a bad choice on that heavy armour with the coif and bassinet. However if you prefer to get stuck straight into the action and have no time for looking into different types of metal and making your soldier's helmet plumage look bad-ass then there are a selection of pre-made classes to choose from that are equally balanced.

Currently within the game there is no way to change weapons for something you'd rather have on the fly, but similar to your standard team based shooter when you die you can change the class you spawn in as. However one feature that you can pick up from other players is a horse, if someone's left their horse when raging into battle you can mount the house and use it to your advantage, even if your class doesn't come with a horse by default.

The controls take a little getting used to if this is your first ever foray into medieval history, as it isn't a standard hack and slash when you pull your sword out. You're required to put more control into your motions as when you click and hold for a certain amount of time it affects how powerful the move is and as soon as you release you slice into your opponent in the direction your mouse moved. Once you get used to this way of playing it becomes second nature and you'll be hacking your opponents to pieces in no time. The multiplayer currently has the capability to house 64 players in total (32v32) which really does show you the effect of a medieval war, which if playing with friends can be extremely skilful and well thought-out.

This is one of Paradox's biggest games to date and you can tell they've obviously invested a lot of time to make one of the best historically interesting games to date. As a strong rival against all other multiplayer focused PC games, War of the Roses definitely has impressed us; this game has the potential to be massive. War of the Roses is currently scheduled for a Q3 release on Windows this year and we can't wait to see how amazing the final game will be.

2 comments
Comment from: David G. Paul [Visitor]
David G. Paul

*like*

64 simultaneous players would be good, though would probably end up as a bit of a Mongolian horde I guess rather than a coordinated attack in formation

it'd be like having a Total War game where every one of your soldiers do whatever they want and get slaughtered

3rd May 2012 @ 19:02
Comment from: Christopher Alexander Berg [Visitor]
4 stars
Christopher Alexander Berg

Liked indeed, and in response to David's concerns about the slot count: Mount & Blade Warband has a very large modding community with many servers of different mods inhabiting over 100 players simultaneously. In my experience this has not been a problem and as the players are evenly distributed across the teams, the ratio of player on player is evenly balanced. Much like it would be in real warfare. :)

Good article and even better game, albeit a bit lacking in smoother animations (from the looks of Totalbiscuit's gameplay videos from the alpha). The potential is great in this one!

8th May 2012 @ 11:12