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War of the Roses Preview

War of the Roses Preview

With this information, you'd imagine that there's a typical sort of rock-paper-scissors table charting damage to protection - and you'd be mostly right. Piercing damage is best suited to breaking through Heavy plate or mail armour, as is the default thrust attack type, while horizontal doses of Slashing work best against Light armour. Blunt damage is universally effective and is best administered in vertical blows, while Hacking/Chopping is intended to break Shields.

Things get more deliciously involved when you extend the discussion to covering specific weapons, however. It's no surprise to see that bows deliver the best Piercing damage, nor that swords and axes specialise in Slashing and Hacking/Chopping respectively - but the world of medieval weaponry was only rarely this black and white.

As such, War of the Roses features a number of advanced weapons which combine two or more types of damage into a single weapon, such as halberds which feature an axe blade on one edge, a lance tip in the centre and a hammer head on the reverse. Each of these damages is then mapped to a direction of attack; a right-to-left sweep attacks with the hammer, while the reverse uses the blade and a thrust favours the tip.

War of the Roses Preview War of the Roses Preview
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It'd be tempting to think that the trade-off of using such a weapon would be explicitly gamified by upping the cost or the unlock requirement, but in fact War of the Roses balances these polearms by their physical size. A halberd is an excellent weapon on an open plain, but allow yourself to be drawn into a castle's tight corridors and you'll struggle be capable of nothing but easily-parried thrusts. This allows wily soldiers the chance to get in close and stab at gaps in your armour with their daggers.

It's this level of thought and extensive balancing which promises to make War of the Roses such an interesting and exciting game to play, we think. Even the dagger, so often a thoughtless addition in other games, is here made all the more important by the fact that weapons degrade through use.

The knife is powerful too - one short stab through the visor is worth more than twenty cuts on the arm, though bleeding damage will rack up on these too if you aren't careful. This is just another reason why it's so important to customise your character with intelligent armour and weapon selection, not to mention perks.

War of the Roses Preview War of the Roses Preview
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'The perks only really give small advantages to enhance your avatar,' says Gordon. 'It's not like you're getting a heartbeat sensor and suddenly becoming godlike - we want the combat to stay very tense.'

What's most impressive about the game though is to see these intricate details balanced off against huge scale too, even at this early state. The handful of levels we saw were massive, with a number of day/night and weather variants. Paradox has invested in dedicated servers to make sure that these levels work smoothly and fairly too - though both Mikhail and Gordon resist being pulled into a slinging match with other multiplayer titles.

'Dedicated servers cost more money, but they give a better experience for this scale of game,' says Gordon. 'There's nothing else to it than that the game technically benefits from having a neutral hub for all the information, rather than a P2P approach.'

War of the Roses is being developed for PC by Fatshark Studios and will be released later this year by Paradox Interactive.

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