War of the Roses Beta Preview

War of the Roses is an upcoming team-based medieval combat game set in 15th century England. The house of Lancaster and the house of York are in the midst of battle over the throne, both fighting for the chance to rule England. Players must pick up their weapon, charge in to battle, and fight for their house to the death. The description of the game alone was the kind of game I have dreamed of since I was young, it’s the answer to my much-repeated question of – why is there no Battlefield: Medieval? – Now I have finally played it and can share my experience with all of you.

WotR is somewhat a medieval combat simulator, putting players in the role of a soldier fighting for their king and giving them combat mechanics that allow for advanced control over their weapon. Anyone who has played Mount & Blade before will have a pretty good feel for the combat system straight away, but if you haven’t then it may take a little getting used to. Players have full control over how they use their weapons, and there are some very flexible mechanics behind it.

Using weapons isn’t just a matter of clicking a mouse or key, to swing your sword you must click the left mouse button and then drag your mouse in the direction you wish to swing from. Up, down, left, right – players must control the direction of their weapon with each swing. There are over 30 different types of weapons based on real historical counterparts – each controlled in a somewhat realistic manner. The game features weapons such as swords, bastard swords, longbows, crossbows, lances – the list goes on.

For an archer, they must time their shots with the strength of their pull, while a crossbowman must deal with slow reload times and an active reloading system. The playstyle varies from choice of weapon, but that also extends to blocking with a shield, or parrying a blow by right click and dragging the mouse in the direction the player is being attacked from. It’s active, gives the player full control, and is completely epic. It fits the game perfectly, it’s quite easy to grasp but offers a lot of depth and skill-based gameplay for the more hardcore players. Oh and yes, there’s mounted combat for those cavalry fans.

Combat feels great, and it’s definitely a good move for the game but it would be nothing without true customization to refine your skills and further define your style beyond the combat system. War of the Roses definitely hasn’t failed to deliver on this front, giving players the choice to customize each weapon and armor with multiple options for each. Choosing a weapon consists of more than just the type, but fighting style, blade type, metal type, and more individually changeable features for each of the items available in the game. To help create a certain style of play, the game also offers 30 special perks to choose from, allowing two perks per category – offensive, defensive, supportive, movement, officer.

To unlock these perks, weapons, and armor players will need to level up with WotR’s progression system. Receiving XP and gold for killing, executing, reviving, completing objectives etc – players can unlock better equipment and spend gold to customize their weapons. All players start out as weak, peasant like soldiers; because that’s what you are. Given a few pre-defined classes, players will eventually work their way up the ranks and become a full-fledged Knight. There are a lot of weapons currently in the game, and it will be interesting to see what more are added in the future. For now there are plenty of choices available, no matter what your medieval heart desires.

The battles currently consist of 32 players (16v16), but will be bumped up to 64 players (32v32) at launch. Playing on 3 of the 7 historically inspired maps, 32 player matches already feel pretty chaotic – in a good way. It will be interesting to see what 64 players is like, already there are epic battles that run three lines deep at the start of matches, and they are insanely fun. The game has really grabbed me so far, and everyone else in the office that has played – we simply can’t get enough.

From moments like slicing cavalry down off their horse, to several minute long duels between players – even in beta there’s already a spark here. It is Battlefield meets 15th century England in the best way possible, and I must say I am utterly impressed. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still work to be done, polish to be added, and some balancing of weapons of course – but they are on the right path and the game feels solid, there’s no doubt in my mind that I will be playing this constantly for the rest of the beta and after release. It’s f*cking amazing.

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