War of the Roses First Look

Published on January 28th, 2012

What’s the story?

Some games are created out of necessity while others are born out of love; is undoubtedly the latter. Developer Fatshark has recruited some impressive talent with former Battlefield guru Gordon Van Dyke and Mount & Blade’s Mikhail Yazbek on-board to put together a fast-paced PC only medieval multiplayer arena which can, they hope, hold a candle to the likes of Call of Duty and Team Fortress 2.

How will it work?

War of the Roses will emulate grand medieval battles in massive arenas ranging from castles, forests, moors and period stadia with an emphasis on melee-based combat. Every medieval weapon you can imagine will be featured, be it swords, daggers or the mighty two-handed Halberd, and they all cause different damage with slashing and piercing modifiers. The result is a nuanced fighting system which involves players selecting either heavy, medium or light armour roles which sacrifices protection for speed. These kinds of trade-offs are the bread and butter of competitive online experiences, but Fatshark has gone one step further by adding a really interesting dual mechanic which forces players to not only charge their attacks but also select a quadrant of an enemy to target via the HUD. It’s a bit like rock, paper, scissors with the ability to block if you anticipate an opponent’s selected target area.

In addition to this highly tactical system there’s also the added challenge of degradable weapons and load-out selection. Every weapon in War of the Roses has its own advantages and drawbacks. Take the Poleaxe for instance, it’s fantastic at penetrating heavy armour, but it takes both space and time to properly swing. Perfect for exterior combat but take it instead the tight corridors of a castle and you’ll be screwed. Every player will have access to a short stubby dagger for when their weapon falls into disrepair, but we were told this weapon is best used as a last resort. There’s also a counter and parry system in play with shields which can block all attack quadrants at once at the sacrifice of a little damage and equipment degradation.

This kind of depth should make melee combat much more exciting than more traditional approaches and when coupled with accurate archery ballistics, mounted combat and several different ticket-based game modes, fingers crossed for capture the flag, War of the Roses should have all its multiplayer bases covered.

Anything else to declare?

Currently player count is still up for debate but Paradox have already committed to funding dedicated servers and the maps we witnessed seemed like they could accommodate up to 64 players. Also there will be a single-player campaign, but Fatshark were unfortunately tight-lipped on the details. Although War of the Roses producer Gordon Van Dyke did admit his admiration for the way Call of Duty introduces core multiplayer concepts via a compelling single-player narrative. The plot thickens…

War of the Roses will undoubtedly prove just the ticket for fans of medieval combat, but its fast pace and easy to understand mechanics might just tempt a few COD fans into the fold as well.


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    1. Posted by Morten Modda Amdal on March 7th, 2012, 17:51

      Looks promising, this could turn out to be quite interesting :)

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