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War of the Roses

By Bis18marck7009-10-2012
Leigh Cobb (editor)
StuntmanLT (editor)
War of the Roses

The Defence

Paradox Interactive
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Quad Core
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce GTX 460
AMD Radeon HD 5870
4 GB
5 GB
10, 11

The Case


Following the success of the Mount & Blade series, War of the Roses comes to us as the next big “let’s-dress-up-as-knights-and-bash-the-snot-out-of-each-other” title. Greatly anticipated by the fan base and building upon a solid foundation with lots of potential, will War of the Roses truly deliver us the medieval action we have hoped for? Read on to find out.

The Trial


The War of the Roses isn’t really a much debated topic in today’s history classes, so it would come as no surprise if most of us are oblivious of it. In layman’s terms, think about the throne of England in the 15th Century. Now, sitting upon that throne gives you a great ego boost. Now think about all those people that would want to wield the power that comes with placing ones royal buttocks on this wooden frame. Well, there we go – two rivaling branches of the House of Plantagenet, the houses of York and Lancaster, want to have their guy sitting down. What follows is a series of skirmishes, battles, betrayals and all the bloodshed that comes with it. Heralding the end of the medieval age in England and the ‘death of chivalry’, the war only ended after Henry Tudor (no, not the fat guy with the six wives) of the house of Lancaster defeats Richard III, marries Elizabeth of York and thus unites both houses.

Those who will die, Salute you.

Now with the Background settled – and yes, I just had to give you the history, it’s my bloody degree – let us go to the actual trial. For those that hope for an epic singleplayer campaign in which you swear your allegiance to one house or the other and battle out this little disagreement on the fields of England, I can only bring disappointment. War of the Roses is essentially a multiplayer game with a rather suboptimal singleplayer experience.

Indeed, the singleplayer does little more than show you how to swing your sword by gently moving your mouse, shoot a bow or load a crossbow. While you can visit every map, only one actually lets you try out the various classes in a competent way. The rest are extra bytes that should have ended up in the recycling bin. What’s the gain from having to play a Longbowman when you need to capture points infested by enemy bots, even if they have the average IQ of a fly. It’s frustrating, pitiful and this harms the whole game experience. No wonder people skip the tutorial and launch themselves into the virtual battlefield wholly unprepared.

Told you I'd end up in a Penthouse

The rotten fruits of this debacle that is coined ‘Singleplayer’, can be seen every time you get online. Players are wholly unprepared, have no idea how to block, correctly time their swings or know that you can revive fallen comrades. The amount of times I lay in the middle of friendlies, crying for a revive while nobody bothers to even look in my general directions, is simply astounding. The funny thing is, the game is actually set up to reward supportive play. Tagging enemies will yield extra experience and reviving or bandaging an ally will bring you more experience than an execute or knockdown ever would. Indeed, since you can interrupt an execute, people actually fight over these meager 200XP while another teammate is on the ground 5 meters away from them, with a free 300XP there for the taking. That’s right, do the bloody math. Since the enemy can yield after a short countdown – well, he’s just going to wait, click and laugh his arse of while you two still fight each other over the ‘honour’ of finishing someone off who is lying helplessly on the ground – that is, if an enemy archer hasn’t already picked you fools off.

Now, this is more an issue of the player base and not the game itself which is, as previously said, actually set up to reward team play. However, with no tutorial that would care to explain you the importance of a revive and the rewards this bring, how can anybody be likely to know? Nearly everything is left for the player to find out by himself which is not bad necessarily, but trusting in the ability of mankind to unravel the details of a game, especially in a Multiplayer title, is like putting ones money on the lame horse.

I'm not interupting anything, am I?

Sadly, the entry problems often prevent you from seeing some of the games good sides. The developers have actually done a great job at addressing the issues of the beta and to balance the game - Just for reference to all the whiners: heavy armour is meant to weather a storm of blows and arrows. To see it though, you need to know what you are doing and not run headlong into a fight you can’t win or stubbornly refuse to block. I’ve seen individuals running around in light armour, killing heavily armoured knights on more than one occasion, which gives testimony to the importance to skill, speed and precision required in this game and its overall balance.

It really is a sad thing, that because the game does not explain the combat in detail and thus so many choose to take weapons that are arguably easier to use, you are never encouraged to find your own particular class. Instead, the natural reaction to the difficult combat is to also don heavy armour, equip the two-handed-sword of doom and, with no stamina system, proceed to wildly swing it until someone’s head gets chopped of. Any sign of actually trying to learn the tactics, parrying or timing? Nein, Nein und nochmal Nein! Personally, I rained death from afar for quite some time with my precious crossbow, yet after trying out the melee and getting my ass handed to me quite a few times, I finally found my calling in the true religion of the Warhammer. Now that I have found my place in the War of the Roses, I immensely enjoy my time in it. I block, strafe, switch weapon grip and time my swings. BAM, there goes your reproductive organ.

Case Review

  • Visuals and Sounds: Looks good, sounds good
  • Customization: Become a unique knight on the battlefield
  • Hit detection: Learn to aim, time your swings and see them fall before you
  • Game modes: Little variety bring forth repetition
  • Patience is a virtue: Learn by doing – bite your teeth and see it through
  • Price: Slightly on the price side of things
  • Disconnect: Occasional Server issues
  • No real tutorial: Unprepared we march into the gates of hell
Score: 3.5/5
A great medieval action game pulled down by a few hammers to the face
Comments (3)
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Posts: 1548

It seems paradox is determined to give it strong support so maybe it will get better and with enough free content people might stay around to see it.

Posts: 19

I didn't buy the game, I played the beta to the very end.. and for me the game always felt like it was alpha.. the hit detection was bugged, the animations were all over the place, the text looked placeholder, there wasn't enough customization and it was terribly balanced. Which is a shame because a medieval multiplayer game has so much potential.. if it dies out simply for being released too early I am utterly bummed out.

Posts: 596

Great review Bismarck!
I must say I am a bit disappointed by the game, it needed more to really be what it is and keep a long and healthy MP community.

A lot will depend now on whether or not the devs keep adding content to it or not (and it damn well better be free content!!!)