Whack Dudes with Hammers in War of the Roses

Whack Dudes with Hammers in War of the Roses

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Squad-based medieval combat comes to life.

I'm no stranger to hitting enemies with blunt weapons, but it's usually behind the conceit of rolling a twenty-sided die. The few moments I spent this afternoon playing War of the Roses from Paradox Interactive and Fat Shark Studios made me regret that I haven't picked up a warhammer for real. Recently defected from nearby DICE, Gordon Van Dyke serves as producer of this third-person multiplayer bloodbath, and he brings his special skills keeping his team hitting their milestones, but he's also pretty dang handy with a greatsword. Between chopping down knights and longbowmen together, Van Dyke promised the PC-exclusive War of the Roses would be out in 2012.

There are several archetypes to choose from, at least in the alpha build the Paradox folks had ready to play at PAX East 2012. The Northerner is covered in mail and wields a claymore-sized weapon, while the footman has a shield and longsword. Several ranged types are available, but the crossbowman has a seriously broken user interface right now. "We're fixing that," Van Dyke said. "That's what having this kind of playtesting at PAX can help with."

Whether it was by design or a happy accident, different players will find success with different weapons, just like men did in medieval times. "I could tell when you started playing that you were frustrated," Van Dyke said to me, and he was right. I started out with the Northerner and just couldn't land a blow. The team concentrated on making the physics of actual melee combat come to life in War of the Roses. By moving the mouse to the left or right, you change the direction you swing, and your opponent can parry and reduce the damage to nothing. Also, objects such as pillars or even clotheslines can block your swing if you are careless. No matter what I tried, I couldn't hit anyone with my big sword.

"You are deadly with that hammer!" Van Dyke said after we successfully fought off three players together. It's true, once I tried playing the hammerman, I was an unstoppable force of blood-letting. Lancasters and Yorkshiremen fled before my wrath.

It was hard to tear ourselves away from playing the game, but we eventually stepped aside to discuss Van Dyke's new role at Paradox. He was producer for big EA-funded titles like Battlefield: Bad Company 2 but he jumped ship last year to head a team at the smaller PC-centric Paradox. "I have a lot more freedom now," he said. "I can make the call for how my game will look or play without having to get 10 people's approval. On the other hand, we don't have the resources that EA had."

The smaller team suits him. "I knew a lot of good people at EA, but we were spread out and I didn't see them very often," Van Dyke said. "At Paradox, it feels like a tight-knit team."

As for the future, Van Dyke is excited to make War of the Roses a franchise. He's interested in standalone expansions and even adding the next step in technology in the middle ages - gunpowder - through updates.

Despite the similarity to Mount & Blade - another favorite of mine from Paradox - there is no world map view or an economic system. Still, I have high hopes for the focus on multiplayer for War of the Roses. The strategist in me might have a desire for an over-game of taking strongholds or political intrigue, but there is just enough satisfying about nailing a charging knight in the head with a hammer. Does that ever get old?

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It looks like if Dark Souls had a baby with Mount and Blade!
What I mean is it looks good!

Stabbing people in the face? Oh, you tease...

Blunt weapons are stoooooopid! Gimme a halberd and a shortsword :|

FINALLY! A realistic medievil combat game, with full online! Oh glorious day!

*Pc exclusive*

...

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH! Oh well. It looks good. Have fun PC master race. *sob*

Are you sure the guy's name is not Van Dijk? It sounds Dutch. And if it's a Swedish company, it's unlikely to be an Americanised version.

This should be interesting, I'll be looking into it if I come across some spare cash. Unfortunately, spare cash is in limited supply at the moment.

I loved Mount & Blade to death, although I was never particularly good at the combat. I'd be up for having a go at a more balanced multiplayer version, provided it has a good tutorial and maybe some AI for me to test myself against before getting teabagged online.

Paradox has a lot of good will in my book. Take my money!

If I actually get to play as a Yorkshireman I'll be a very happy soul indeed.

You know the other day I was thinking, "Why don't they make a medieval-based Multiplayer game with advanced and balanced combat system! They'd make a killing!"

Hallelujah my prayers are answered.

So it's Mount & Blade's combat in a multiplayer deathmatch?

Ehhh... could work I guess. M&B's combat was always awfully clunky though. I really don't see it carrying a whole game without some serious polish.

I can see this going about like MnB's combat did, or even PVK did.

Neither are actually good signs =/

Between the unrealistic bunnyhopping, the laughable animations, and the deplorable implementation of weapondry, Paradox proved to me that they can make a great singleplayer game, as long as you don't spend all day trying to figure out the physics.

You haven't picked up a warhammer for real? Why not? They're not terribly expensive. A decent carbon steel one with a good temper (never buy stainless weapons if you ever intend to hit something with 'em) should run you around $80 plus shipping... just... if you're gonna buy the Cold Steel one, don't do it from their site. Their markup is completely insane. **edit** I take that back, I just checked, and they brought it down to about the industry standard.

As for War of the Roses... I never did try out Mount & Blade, but it looks like fun and I'm a pretty big fan of A Song of Ice and Fire... I'll have to keep an eye on this.

Great news for those of us who enjoyed mount and blade and thought "all this needs is a little more polish..."

I loved Mount & Blade.

I loved Mount & Blade Warband.

I'm currently playing Crusader Kings II.

PARADOX, Y U NO LET ME HAVE A LIFE?

Seriously, this game looks boss. I absolutely LOVE English history, and this period in particular. Did you know that Henry VI sat on his mother's knee when he first opened Parliament?

Another cool fact: Every single Monarch of England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom has been a direct descendent of Matilda van Vlaandaren, William I's consort, who herself was a descedent on Alfred the Great?

This sounds fantastic and I'm sure I'll be getting it when it comes out.
History nerds unite!

I just saw this movie a few days ago, but I don't remember any knights and monsters in it. Where's Danny DeVito playing the sleazy divorce lawyer?

That looks fucking badass. I want it! Any game that involves halberds gets my vote.

Greg Tito:

Lancasters and Yorkshiremen fled before my wrath.

The correct term is Lancastrians, Lancasters is the plural of the Lancaster bomber form WW2. In the unlikely event that you ever visit Blackpool please remember that. On a Friday night your life may depend on it.

What do you mean "Squad based"? Multiplayer or like an RPG where people follow you around?

Because I always found lone ranger by default more enticing in an RPG format with the option of others joining in, but its its multiplayer then I can dig it. Would that be like Monster Hunter then?

Thats another thing, why arent there any Monster Hunters on the 360?! Do they not know how many people have LIVE, and I vaguely remember online play being a big deal on the first one.

Kinguendo:
What do you mean "Squad based"? Multiplayer or like an RPG where people follow you around?

Because I always found lone ranger by default more enticing in an RPG format with the option of others joining in, but its its multiplayer then I can dig it. Would that be like Monster Hunter then?

Thats another thing, why arent there any Monster Hunters on the 360?! Do they not know how many people have LIVE, and I vaguely remember online play being a big deal on the first one.

It's squad based in that the game will excel with teamwork from your counterparts. No word on whether there will be AI bots or not.

Greg

Well I liked the combat in Mount&Blade only it was a bit off. But still, I could defeat almost everybody as long I had a greatsword. Good times. Those castle sieges were a lot of fun once you had a good bottleneck. Keep on slashing and killing :D.

So looking forward to this. I would love to have a try at some Piking business and Greatsword swinging. If this is as good as Dark Souls and M&B I'll buy on launch.

If you want to know more. Here's some more info on this game.

Still a bit old.(25 january) but very interesting.

Considering that Mount and Blade kind of took a nosedive with the latest expansion, I may be looking into this game if they brought tight production values and control to this one.

Really looking forward to this game! I kind of like how the combat plays out, I understand the animations are a bit stiff, but it's still an alpha build so they'll have some time to polish it out.

I was a little disappointed when I read that this is PC only - when I first read the title, it instantly struck me as something that would be cool with Kinect. Making the swinging motions of a warhammer would be really fun with that. It still looks pretty cool, though.

Since I didn't see any pictures of the actual hammer killing (though I could be blind) I'm wondering if this game features the fantasy "big huge hammer" warhammers, or more realistic "metal bullet on a long wooden handle" type warhammers like you see in armory museums? Just wondering because the latter rarely if ever shows up in gaming.

Greg Tito:
I was an unstoppable force of blood-letting. Lancasters and Yorkshiremen fled before my wrath.

Some more nitpicking.
The House of York actually had very little to do with the North, Yorkshire actually fought for the House of Lancaster.

Not that Yorkshire and Lancashire ever get on at other times though. We even call cricket matches between the two The War of the Roses.

This looks like it'll be great fun though. Greatsword and plate armour for me.

Hell yeah.

I am sick to death of military shooters having a monopoly on mindless violence. Hand-to-hand medieval combat shouldn't always have to come packaged with RPG or tactical elements. This looks perfect.

hazabaza1:
It looks like if Dark Souls had a baby with Mount and Blade!
What I mean is it looks good!

That's what I was thinking when I was looking at the screenshots.

Blablahb:
Are you sure the guy's name is not Van Dijk? It sounds Dutch. And if it's a Swedish company, it's unlikely to be an Americanised version.

More likely he is called Van Tyke. This is Yorkshire propaganda if ever there was one.

AmrasCalmacil:

Greg Tito:
I was an unstoppable force of blood-letting. Lancasters and Yorkshiremen fled before my wrath.

Some more nitpicking.
The House of York actually had very little to do with the North, Yorkshire actually fought for the House of Lancaster.

Not that Yorkshire and Lancashire ever get on at other times though. We even call cricket matches between the two The War of the Roses.

This looks like it'll be great fun though. Greatsword and plate armour for me.

Neither Lancaster or York were main supporters of either Kings. Henry did hold his power in the north though. Also: LANCASTRIANS GODDAMNIT!!!

Zhukov:
So it's Mount & Blade's combat in a multiplayer deathmatch?

Ehhh... could work I guess. M&B's combat was always awfully clunky though. I really don't see it carrying a whole game without some serious polish.

Might be an idea to read the article before commenting on it?

 

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