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Expeditions - Viking

Expedition: Vikings | Game Review

I spat on my rival’s corpse, glorying in victory. Nefja turned away and muttered something about disrespect, but I ignored the shieldmaiden’s grumbling. The past year had tested my mettle like never before.

I’d earned a moment of spitefulness.

The man had thought me incapable of rule, a whelp chasing after her father’s fool dream of lands laden with gold. Now I’d proven them all wrong.

Northumbria and Pictavia took to the knee after my brutal raids across the sea. Warriors like the tides, so unstoppable they called us the “Great Heathen Army.” With two vast territories beneath my boot, no others dared dispute my claim.

No longer was I merely a thegn. I was a queen.

I was a viking.

Lead an Army and Become a Norse Legend

AKA Introducing My Axe to Your Face, and Oh, This Game Actually Does Roleplaying Right?

Listen up, you bikkju-sonr! If you haven’t played Expeditions: Viking, it’s time to strap on some armor and make like Ragnar Lothbrok.

HISTORY Channel’s Vikings is one of my favorite shows, and this game lets you in on the action: looting churches, protecting your clan, making uneasy alliances with backstabbing Christians (and then backstabbing them later).

 

Expedition: Viking - Blacksmith
You can craft powerful weapons and armor with enough scrap resources

If you love Norse history, tactical combat and great writing, this is a must-play.

Expeditions: Viking hit all the right notes at first blush. Isometric RPG with a branching plot? That’s usually my jam, but recent disappointments had me concerned whether Viking could hold my interest.

Let’s just say the game took a cue from its inspiration and smashed my expectations.

Honestly, you don’t really have options. The name of the game is Viking. You’re going to cross that ocean, honey.

After the standard character creation process of tweaking appearances and allotting ability points, you find yourself in a great hall surrounded by family, friends and supposed political allies.

The reason everyone’s gathered? Your father has died.

Since you’ve inherited his role as thegn, folk are wondering whether you’ll attend to the clan’s faltering strength or follow in your father’s footsteps, leaving them behind in hopes of returning with a larger prize.

 

Expedition: Viking Lantern Men
Pretty sure Ketill’s response was, “Sounds good, why don’t you go in after them?”

Honestly, you don’t really have options. The name of the game is Viking. You’re going to cross that ocean, honey.

Yet whether you conduct yourself as a peaceful trade envoy or a bloodthirsty raider (or a bit of both) is entirely up to you.

You have one year to organize after your father’s departure for Valhalla. Another, more seasoned thegn wants to claim your title, and you must defend your right at the upcoming Althing.

As you move between map points, your hird (party) will become hungry and tired. As would anyone going without mead.

All that involves is gathering a group of seasoned huskarls, building a seaworthy ship, sailing to the very place your father died and dealing with the small matter of the two pre-existing kingdoms.

No big deal, right?

Surviving the Passage

It’s no surprise you’ll be spending much of your time exploring and fighting, though Viking does something unique with overworld travel. As you move between map points, your hird (party) will become hungry and tired.

As would anyone going without mead.

Where most games simply have you use a campfire item, Viking makes resting a more elaborate affair. You must go to a camp location, clear it of enemies and then assign companions to different shifts. A number of tasks require attention, from standing guard to hunting for meat and repairing equipment.

 

Expedition: Viking Camp
Camping requires you to assign your hird members to shifts

If you neglect scavenging or trading for resources, you’ll find it difficult to keep your hird’s morale high. Their performance will suffer accordingly the more they think you’re an idiot.

Paired with the random events that can occur, these survival elements add an extra layer of realism to the game, though once you start rolling in valuables the experience is less harrowing.

Combat is turn-based and offers a range of tactics involving positioning, cover, attacks of opportunity and resistances. The robust system is made gentler by the fact you can often take advantage of your party’s initiative to drop several enemies before they can respond, though my predilection for ignoring gear upgrades kept the fights challenging.

You can utilize a variety of weapons for your pillaging pleasure, each with a different skill set. Traps and even the Norse and Christian faiths provide boosts or debuffs on combatants.

Not only Norse, but a female warrior? The knights I encountered were clutching their pearls—or rather, crosses—double time.

The option to turn lethality on or off was an interesting addition. If you remove your hird’s ability to land critical hits, they’ll only incapacitate enemies instead of killing them. While this resulted in a few extra comments from NPCs, it felt underutilized since it never swayed quest resolutions in a large way.

Your Father’s Daughter (or Son)

Where Viking impressed me the most was its writing. For an RPG not especially hyping its dialogue, this game put the smackdown on its peers. By tracking a bevvy of personality traits, every decision and comment you make influences your companions’ opinions of you.

My thegn could be sarcastic, kind, religious, clever, or honorable from moment to moment, leaving me free to play her as I saw fit. And she actually got dialogue! It’s nice to feel like a real person instead of a plot potato.

 

Expedition: Viking Drink
I would say my thegn was more Ragnar Lothbrok than Ivan the Terrible. Wry sense of humor, but thrashed people as needed.

It was particularly fun playing a woman in an early historic setting. My thegn encountered zero sexism when she began her journey in Denmark, though her gender wasn’t ignored either.

This was a stark contrast to her reception in Northumbria. Not only Norse, but a female warrior? The knights I encountered were clutching their pearls—or rather, crosses—double time.

I appreciated that Logic Arts avoided the easy approach, i.e. having NPCs outright bash my character’s gender. Instead, the Anglo-Saxons responded with an appropriate mix of wonder and confusion.

Even though there aren’t many opportunities to initiate conversations with hird members, they frequently commented on my actions and involved themselves in the journey.

The other group you’ll encounter are the Picts, and I deeply enjoyed getting to dabble in their world. Celtic settings aren’t something you often see in games and I wish I could’ve spent more time there.

The Viking soundtrack was another big factor that added personality to these locations. Logic Arts must’ve borrowed Mjölnir to knock this one out of the park, because there was a moment I was so blown away by a particular song that I had to close my eyes to take it in.

The battles, too, are far more exciting when it feels like a group of bards are blaring hymns to your greatness.

Bargaining and Backstabbing

As you navigate Britannia you’ll have plenty of chances to make new enemies and allies. While it’s possible to blaze a path to victory, I recommend engaging in a bit of politics before attacking outright—otherwise you’ll miss out on some great adventures.

You gather most companions during the first half of the game in Denmark, but you just might find some foreign friends down the road. All of them were nuanced enough to be memorable and had their own motivations for joining the group.

Even though there aren’t many opportunities to initiate conversations with hird members, they frequently commented on my actions and involved themselves in the journey.

 

Expedition: Viking Monastery
I hear you. But the gardens aren’t so bad, yeah? Have some lavender.

You’ll find opportunities for romance between your thegn and certain party members, with both straight and queer options available. This involves raising your love interest’s morale high enough and hoping for their events to trigger while camping. While not a major focus of the game, I found them sweet and worthwhile.

Rationed Resources

If I have any complaints about Viking, it’s simply that I wanted more. More chances to dig into companion dialogue, more ways to run my settlement and more opportunity to get involved with the cultures I encountered.

Craving more opportunities to interact with Viking just shows that what Logic Arts did manage, they did right.

As it stands there are some quests which start strong before petering out, as if the team realized they’d bitten off more than they could chew.

The time limit on the main quest provides decent opportunity to raise your power or wealth scores high enough to defend yourself at the Althing, but it’s best to focus on one of these routes from the start.

If you split your focus, you’ll end up a few point shorts of your goal by the Britannia quest lines’ end, forcing you to wander aimlessly as development projects complete in Denmark.

I grew attached to my thegn, my hird and the time period. The music swept me away. I actually learned more about history.

There are a few different ways you can conclude your business in Britannia, and the finale brought a sense of deep satisfaction to my frosty little heart.

 

Expedition: Viking Steinn
You aren’t the first to think you’ve got what it takes.

Early reviews knocked Viking for bugs, but I only encountered a handful of issues on the 1.03 patch. While it’s unfortunate earlier players had to deal with these problems, Logic Arts seems to have addressed them quickly and efficiently.

Valhalla Can Wait

Considering the goals Viking set out to accomplish, I think the game more than succeeded. The combat is polished and enjoyable, and even though the writing falters in a few side quests, I was 100% engaged with the plot from start to finish.

I grew attached to my thegn, my hird and the time period. The music swept me away. I actually learned more about history.

The biggest compliment I can give is that Viking manages to evoke the feeling of great Norse sagas, balancing rugged survival with heroic hubris and a colorful band of roving adventurers.

Don’t miss out on this smart, streamlined and fulfilling journey.

Óðinn á yðr alla!

 

 Good Effective story based on real history Survival mechanics during travel Versatile combat with a variety of build options
 Bad Some quests end too abruptly, missed plot opportunities Potential power/wealth grind near end A few straggling bugs that required reloads

 

Pillage Expeditions: Viking for Yourself

 

Rhylan Dane

Rhylan Dane

Formerly a freelance copywriter, Rhylan now manages Armorbelle and creates marketing thingamajigs for personal clients. She has wanted to be a pirate since the age of 3, and although she still has no idea how to sail, she’s become very adept at stabbing and plundering.
Rhylan Dane

2 thoughts to “Expedition: Vikings | Game Review”

  1. Good to see this review from you, Rhylan! I finished the game for the second time a few days ago and was going to pen a review myself too 🙂

    I didn’t find it as spectacular but definitely fun game I would recommend to others as well.

    1. Thank you, Sheri! I’m glad you had fun with it, and I’d be happy to share your thoughts on the game too. It’s always good to offer a second opinion.

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