Stronghold progression is gained by adding NPCs and their services to the Stronghold (which is done automatically during the story) and upgrading their stations for them to provide better wares. Remember those resources (wood, gold, and iron) that I mentioned earlier? These are also used for upgrading vendors. Only the host can upgrade vendors, and since players can’t trade resources, this is a little annoying. My co-op partner was often sitting on a wealth of resources and wanting to level up a particular service, but unable to give me the funds to do it.
As a whole, Vikings understands what people enjoy about ARPGs (beating up enemies, skilling up their characters, getting loot) and gives them that. It also provides some fresh mechanics (to the genre) that I feel were implemented fairly successfully. The missions feel suitably different from each other and completing the optional challenges feels satisfying, yet also truly voluntary, since there’s no penalty for not doing them. I also never had a problem getting my co-op partner into the game and connecting to games was easy and quick.
The game is not without its missteps, however. On the general gameplay side of things, pathing and collision (both with the environment and with other players) can sometimes be a nightmare. On PC, the keyboard and mouse controls handle a bit awkwardly and after playing with both keyboard/mouse and controller set-ups, I could tell that the game was definitely designed with a controller in mind. For example, when using a bow it can often be difficult to move around without shooting at every destructible item you happen to click on. From a graphics standpoint, there were some occasional strange graphic stutters that were annoying, but weren’t so frequent as to be a big issue.
From the co-op aspect, some of the design choices made seem strange. First off, a 2-player limit on an ARPG seems very odd. Most ARPGs scale up to 4 players, and since Vikings already scales with the addition of a second player in co-op (the game notifies you of this when Player 2 connects), it seems like adding more players should have been possible. Campaign progress only being tied to the host player is also in poor taste, as Player 2 is unacceptably entirely dependent on Player 1. This is further compounded by the fact that players cannot trade anything between each other, which is frankly the most baffling design choice to me in the entire game.
Pros and cons taken together, all-in-all I found Vikings to be a decent addition to the pool of PC, Xbox One, and PS4 ARPGs. From a design perspective I appreciated the unique gameplay experience that incorporated mechanics from other genres, despite its stumbles. Though there are certainly games of this genre that I enjoy playing more, I think this one is worthwhile for any ARPG fan who appreciates genre innovation at the expense of some polish.
The Co-Op Experience: Team up with a friend and journey to the Shores of Midgard together in an epic two player online co-op mode. Choose between four difficulty levels to suit your skills and talents. Do you dare attempt the unrelenting hardcore mode? With the 2.0 patch on June 21, 2017, two player local co-op is now supported on the PC version of the game.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.