No doubt, Mordhau and Chivalry 2 are fun, but what about gamers who aren’t into the whole careful-control-of-the-blade thing? What if some people just want siege warfare with wizards that feels vaguely mediaeval? Wallander is a free-to-play, third-person, mass slayer and magicker, therefore the prayers of those people have been answered.
There are two completely arbitrary camps in the game, much like in the other greats of the genre. The blue guys must be good, and the orange ones must be bad, right? Both sides, down to the uniforms, seem the same but the colours. Despite their many shared values, however, the only thing on the minds of the troops of either side is how to best demolish their enemy’s fortress while protecting their own. Capturing strategic towers could help speed up the arrival of reinforcements at the front.
A trinity of fantastical elements
That being said, in Warlander, you can choose to play as either a Warrior, a Cleric, or a Mage. Glass cannons specialise in ranged and area-of-effect damage, whereas melee tanks specialise in dealing damage to a single target, and support melee characters provide healing and other utility spells. Not that Warriors and Clerics can’t use other weapons except the sword, hammer, and board. The only problem is, as full-auto weapons, low-damage crossbows aren’t exactly fun to wield.
In case the phrase “full-auto crossbows” didn’t give it away, Warlander is a very ridiculous game. The use of historical accuracy is inappropriate. The warrior is a typical fantasy soldier, outfitted in plate armour with a sword and shield. All clerics are dainty women who wouldn’t be seen dead in the field without their plated stilettos. The robes and pointy caps your sorcerers wear are simply the tip of the iceberg; they cast a full-auto spell by pointing their fingers like they’re holding a machine gun.
Even more so than Chivalry 2, it places a premium on quick reflexes and dexterity. To survive, Warriors and Clerics must quickly transition between offensive and defensive strategies (the shield stops all attacks) and, most importantly, must not allow their opponents to flank them from behind. Magi must learn when and how to employ their abilities, as they will perish if they are caught in the melee.
You’ve got walls surrounding your castle, and you can break through them with gates and build your own defences. Rams and siege towers can be constructed (and reconstructed) to aid in offensive efforts. and call up a five-person robot? Sure. Aside from the importance of keeping your reticle in the centre of the building circle as your character hammers away, none of these would be really noteworthy. It’s not a huge adjustment, but it improves what in most games is merely an exercise in button mashing to fill a bar with some fun and challenge.
Warlander does not simply reward accuracy in this way, though. When you use melee attacks and cause an opponent to be staggered, a white heart shape will show on their health bar for an instant. Those who have the foresight to locate the heart and the self-control to strike at it will unleash a lethal combination. Rarer still is the occurrence of a melee character using a finisher on a severely injured foe in exchange for further Valor. Most of the time, it’s more efficient to just kill them in the midst of the chaos.
Currency is another pointy topic! Count Warlander as a dual-wielder. To upgrade or replace your existing equipment, silvers are required. It’s the standard currency you get through doing things like fighting and recycling. Gold, the premium currency, can be used to purchase things like cosmetics, various income enhancements, and season passes. So there’s no “pay to win” per se, but considering that players who spend gold on passes and potions will have to grind significantly less… In this case, the situation becomes slightly murkier.
Wars are never pretty.
However, Warlander’s mediocre visuals are more likely to turn me off than the actual gameplay itself. The aesthetics are serviceable yet unremarkable. In the absence of graphics and sound effects, they would suffice. When compared to other games, Warlander lacks the visual and auditory impact of more serious titles. This is especially true of the game’s many ridiculous ranged weaponry, such as its full-auto crossbows and other such nonsense. Chip damage dealt by recoilless high-ROF weaponry never felt pleasant.
Character customisation is a peculiar option. There isn’t a lot you can do to change the colour of your armour, and even when you do, it barely registers. So even if you use glamours that alter the form and material of your equipment, your character will still look dull and dreary. Your tabard will take on your team’s colour even if you change the pattern. Any single symbol (not fantasy suitable, such as sports numbers or Pusheen) you choose will remain white and will be put far too low on the tabard. This is all really strange.
It’s true that Warlander contains some intriguing concepts, but unfortunately, the actual gameplay isn’t all that impressive. People had a significantly better time eating dirt in Chivalry 2, despite the fact that they had less agility and dexterity. Additionally, the experience is more aesthetically spectacular and audibly satisfying. There should have been more games of a similar kind that gave me the opportunity to pilot a gigantic robot.