If you are a fan of Norse mythology and anything Viking, then you need to check out Northgard, a new strategy game from acclaimed independent game developer Shiro Games.
As the game starts you are a small settlement of Vikings in an unknown land called Northgard. The player must gather resources, expand their settlement, defend their lands and survive harsh winters to conquer the new continent. A game can consist of up to four different players trying to master this new, unknown land.
There are four different ways the player can achieve victory in a game. The players may run a bloody conquest over their rival clans, generate enough fame to become king of Northgard, gather enough Lore so the gods give their favor or by becoming a master trader so all other clans must rely on you.
Each playable clan has certain advantages over their rivals, making their play style unique and challenging. For example: the Stag Clan starts the game with more resources (food, wood and Krowns, a.k.a. money) and has a special building called the "Skald," which helps generate happiness for your clan. On top of starting bonuses and special buildings, each clan also has special fame generation bonuses which can help dictate your play style.
The Stag clan gains more fame the more their settlement expands and increases productivity, depending on the clan's overall happiness. If you are a more aggressive player, the Wolf clan is probably for you, since they get special warrior units and can generate Krowns with each kill. If you seek an easier time surviving the harsh winters, the Goat clan will help since they can generate more food early on in the game.
Every game will have a different randomly generated map. Food, resources, treasure and monsters will be waiting to be discovered. As you explore, every plot of land will have something of use for the players and room to expand your territory by constructing new buildings. Each new building can offer a new job to help your society grow and flourish.
With land being colonized by different clans, the world shrinks little by little and the risk of war or trading opportunities grow as the game goes on. On top of managing your resources and your neighboring rivals, the world will throw curve balls at you from time to time that can affect all the players. Sometimes, there will be earthquakes, maybe a plague or rat infestation, and the players must plan ahead to deal with these circumstances or suffer a loss.
The most common of these world events will be the shifting of seasons. Northgard is a harsh land with extremely harsh winters. Productivity will go down for all resources, especially food gathering, as the winter sets in. During this time, it is smart to slow down expansion and focus on survival.
The next big update Northgard has in store is a brand new clan called Huginn and Muninn, or the Raven Clan. This clan was shown off at PAX East this past weekend for the first time and they have an affinity for trading.
The bonuses they have at the start is the knowledge of Trading, which increases your Krown production, and a special version of harbor building called the "Seafarers Hall". The "Seafarers Hall" is a special upgraded version, because not only will it generate lore knowledge or fame, but it will also act as a scout and discover coastal lands around the island. This can give the player a distinct advantage of spying on his enemies early in the game. Their fame bonuses let the clan colonize new plots of land with Krowns, instead of food, which is the norm for other clans, and hire special units called "Mercenaries" that work in the "Seafarers Hall" to raid coastal regions that have been discovered.
Another new feature that was promised at PAX East was the introduction of Female units. No specific date was mentioned. In the early access build of the game, all the sprites are male. While this isn't a make-or-break aspect of the game, it does hint at possible warrior units, such as the famed Valkyrie or Shield Maidens to be introduced down the line.
Northgard is on Steam for early access already and has received plenty of positive feedback, ranking it No. 1 for early access. The game currently has only single-player skirmishes that can pit the player against AI opponents with different difficulty settings. With three large content updates coming in the near future, the game will add multiplayer, single players campaign and new clans to play as by the time Northgard fully launches.