Northgard Review (BUY/WAIT/AVOID?)
Winter is coming. Do I have enough firewood and food to survive? This is Northgard, a city-building strategy game based on Norse mythology. And it’s good.
I previewed Northgard last year and Shiro Games finally released the final version on March 7th, 2018.
In the campaign, you will follow Rig’s sage as he seeks revenge for his father’s assassination. Rig’s tale of revenge will bring him to Northgard, a land filled with mystery, danger, and harsh winters. During the eleven chapters of the campaign, you will play as all six clans to tame the unforgiving wilderness of Northgard and hunt down your father’s killer. Even though eleven chapters may seem short, the campaign should last about 10 hours or more as each chapter increases in difficulty.
Northgard is a strategy game in which you build your settlements and assign your Vikings to various jobs. To gain more of said Vikings, you must keep your settlement happy. The Happier your Vikings are the faster you will gain new villagers. The jobs range from Farming, Hunting, Woodcutting, Sailers, Healers, Soldiers, Scouts, and many others. By default when a new villager arrives they will gather food. You will then have to build structures and assign them to the different jobs mentioned above. But some buildings can only be built on specific territories. Northgard is not like other strategy games where you build your bases near resources. Instead, you will have to scout the area to find territories to declare as your own. So you can’t just build a farm and assign your villagers to it. Once your scouts discover new territories, you will then have to spend food to purchase those said territories. Each plot of land has their own benefits and even dangers. Once you have purchased a territory, it may have a section to build a farm or a pond to fish or a forest to cut wood. Except for your starting territory, each plot of land will only allow you to build two to three buildings on them. Forcing you to ever expand. Expanding not only costs more food but also brings some happiness to your settlement. Maintaining that balance between expanding and increasing your resource production is a battle of strategic planning. Grow to fast and you will run out of food, but never expanding will mean your settlement can never grow and conquer your enemies.
To be able to purchase the surrounding territories around your settlement. You must first rid that new territory of any enemies. Enemies can include the NPC dangers on a map such as wolves, undead, giants etc and other Viking clans seeking to conquer you. Villagers can fight on their own but are pretty weak. To conquer new territories you must create soldiers, as they are better suited for combat. Soldiers are a part of your Warband which is a lot smaller then you may think. To create a soldier you must have a villager who isn’t already assigned to a job. Build one of three soldier buildings on any territory owned by you (The three different types of soldiers are Axe Throwers, Warriors, and Shield Bearers). Select a standard villager and assign him/her to one of the three soldier producing buildings. That villager will then become a soldier and is ready to fight. Like I mentioned above, your Warband is smaller then you think. You’ll start off with only having a max of two, but as you build more soldier producing buildings and upgrading them your Warband can grow. But be careful not to create too many soldiers, they cost a lot of food to maintain and food becomes even more scarce during the winter months. Having too many soldiers could starve your settlement.
Victory in Northgard isn’t always just by Conquest. You can achieve victory by Economic gains, Fame, or Knowledge. Each has their own set of goals to achieve to win the game. So if you are not one to building armies to conquer your enemies, then don’t and destroy them in another way. But always remember to manage your resources carefully and survive the harsh winters. Because sometimes victory can be won by allowing your enemies to freeze or starve to death.
To achieve that victory you will want to pick one of six clans. They are the Boar, Raven, Bear, Wolf, Goat, and Stag. Each clan has their own strengths and weaknesses. For example, the Bear Clan is less affected by winter penalties and can summon an armored bear for defense. The Raven Clan can purchase territories with Krowns (money) instead of food and can hire mercenaries at the harbor building. So find a clan that suits your play style and conquer Northgard.
Northgard is an interesting take on your standard RTS genre. It is one I haven’t seen before with purchasing territories instead of just mining resources and building to conquer your enemies. I rather enjoyed the campaign as you get a sense of how each clan works before going online. Northgard even allows co-op or ranked play with other human players.
During my playthrough, I didn’t run into any bugs but there was a sluggish performance each time winter was over. Nothing to really get upset about. The strategic gameplay was rather well balanced between the clans allowing different ways to play the game. So if you are a fan of RTS games, I would highly recommend Northgard be on your list.