Welcome to the War of the Roses Review. War of the Roses is a newly released medieval combat action game developed by FatShark Studios and published by Paradox Interactive. Pitting players against each other in team-based and objective based combat, players will battle on the front lines as a medieval peasant, fighting for glory and Knighthood. Having played since beta, I have watched this game grow in to its current form – playing enough now to finally write a review.
When you mention WotR to most people, they don’t really get what you are talking about. It’s easy to call it a medieval combat game, but what exactly does that entail? Basically it’s like any first-person or third-person shooter, you have various competitive game modes in which players compete as one of two sides. In this case, players fight in the historical civil war between the House of York and Lancaster for control over the throne of England.
Featuring a combat system that resembles the likes of Mount & Blade – which is from the same Publisher – players can choose from a variety of weapons before hitting the battlefield. Everything from daggers, to broadswords, to crossbows – it’s all here and available in a very COD-like progression and unlock system. With a few preset classes and access to basic weaponry, players work their way up the ranks from filthy peasant to noble Knight.
Attacking with a melee weapon requires a player to left-click and hold their mouse before dragging it in the direction they wish to swing from before releasing to deal the blow. From slashing, to stabbing and overhead strikes – players have a dynamic combat system at their fingertips that is complimented with features like active blocking, parrying and dodging.
Ranged players aren’t left out of the mix either, with Archers and Crossbowman lining the bushes and striking from afar. Archers must draw back their string, waiting for the notches on their crosshair to touch before releasing for the perfect shot. Crossbowman on the other hand have to manage a reloading minigame, which allows players to speed up the extremely slow reload time of this powerful weapon.
At first the combat can feel extremely awkward, even down-right wrong at times – but before long the beauty and the depth available in the combat begins to show, and you just get it. The combat may feel a little basic at first, and it’s common to come across players just rushing at each other and slashing madly till someone falls, only to then complain that the game is just “all about slashing”.
In the middle of this group of low-breed peasants will be a player who has figured it out, utilizing the very precise hitboxes and variety of attacks to slaughter through entire groups. Once players break free from the initial pitfalls in the learning curve, you can begin to see that this is more than just a game of mindless slashing and bashing where combat can be intense when the right people are in the heat of the battle.
Fatshark have done a brilliant job with the visuals, giving War of the Roses a very unique style that is executed perfectly across all the maps. With various locations and backdrops like villages, castles, and tournament grounds – there are many locations for players to fight and die, and they all look great. It’s refreshing to play on new maps in a new genre, you see level design that hasn’t appeared in 500 other similar games.
A lot of attention has gone in to the little details, from allowing players to customize their armor and even create your own crest – fight on the battlefield under your own banner. The game feels more arcade than simulator, but all the weapons and armor are based on their real-life counterparts, giving players the ultimate choice in how to deal out death.
Progressing through the ranks, players will slowly unlock more powerful weapons which can be bought with gold earned for fighting in battles. Not only is there a large selection of weaponry and armor to customize your character with, but there is also a huge selection of individual customizations that can be made. Everything from the type of metal your sword is made from, how it is sharpened, to how you use it – everything can be customized when selecting your loadout.
As the weapons become more powerful, the accessories more grand, they will begin to cost more gold and gold is earned in blood. War of the Roses has done a brilliant job of fleshing out a genre that has received far too little attention in this day and age – to put it simply, WotR is a brilliant game purely for existing. But more than that, it’s a logical successor to Mount&Blade, and does a great job at offering what was fun about M&B in a competitive multiplayer environment.
War of the Roses isn’t without it’s flaws however, and I would go on to tell you more about how amazing the game is – but I can’t. Currently after release, WotR feels like it is in a worse state than it was in beta – with lag and bugs making the games sometimes unplayable. While the developers have done an outstanding job with this game, it feels like it just needs a little more time in the oven before it’s ready to serve.
If you are a Mount&Blade fan who just needs more, this game won’t disappoint you. If you are on the fence however, it might be best to wait until the developers iron things out a little – there’s still some work that needs to be done before I can fully recommend this game because for now it feels like they rushed to release.