By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor)
The medieval setting has been brought back to life a few times in the past years. Though one in particular has peaked our interest more so than the others. Gloria Victis is set to take a hyper realistic take on the dark ages of the Polish region, with a focus on the mysteries of nature and brutally real player versus player combat. Starting out you aren’t the great hero or a powerful wizard, just a simple soldier trying to make it in a lawless world of knights. Your choices are simple, who do you give your sword and what do you fight for? With structural RPG elements, players will have to battle their way up to improve stats, or work on their craft to unlock the best weapons to stand above the clutter as the strongest knight on the battlefield.
Though don’t be fooled by the RPG progression, as Gloria Victis is built around reactive heavily skill driven combat, as well as group battles. With an unusually limiting stamina system and plenty of real follow through weapon physics, protecting your flank is nigh impossible. Thus partnering with allies and working in formations is the key to victory in group PvP.
Right now the game is still undergoing heavy development changes in the later side of its pre-alpha build. As such it can be hard to pin down a perfect description of gameplay, as it was changing drastically roughly every week I logged in. One common theme pushing forward though is making the world feel alive. There have been nearly daily improvements to textures, and additions to the world to make it all feel a bit more believable.
Starting off in Gloria Victis, I was immediately given the choice of joining one of the currently two available sides. Small starter cities are already in place as hubs for alpha players to meet up and get their bearings in. Right away you can get the feel that this is clearly still an engine test build, as the NPCs stand around static; even most NPCs you encounter out in the fields to battle don’t have battle animations in place yet. But they serve their purpose nonetheless, offering you exp, money, and crafting materials. These zones are protected from PvP so you can adjust to the rather unique control scheme. Once your character has the basics, and you’ve got the guts to try, you can enter one of several locations in the world capturable by either faction. The zones are recommended based on level requirements to try to keep combat in them on fair grounds. While you can still explore these zones prior to reaching the correct level, the guards mobs in the zones are designed to be a fair match for those within the level. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself ground into the dirt in no time.
After the peasants you kill, you get the wolf. After the wolf you will find the bear. It is the circle of life and everyone in Gloria Victis wants a piece of you. That is why roaming in groups is recommended. You’re too vulnerable while fighting mobs solo to fend off an equal PvP competitor. When you consider the requirements to take a full zone, going it alone is just not a reasonable task if you don’t have a full day on your hands. Unfortunately its all still in the concept stages though as the current test phase remains extremely limited in allowed population. At one point I saw a gathering of fifty people, but the levels of them are too sparse to set up any real competitive environment in the alpha. Though the huge numbers backing this game have me believing some epic battles will be going down on the regular in the future.
If you ever have played the Mount and Blade series or games like it, then Gloria Victis will make you feel right at home. Not only does it have the same type of style, the combat and almost everything feels exactly the same. Bashing your weapon into something is easily done with a mouse click, but you can also charge up your attack to make it deal more damage. With the rightclick you will block attacks, but only ones coming in at you in the direction you’re looking. From a gameplay perspective, this makes positioning of vital importance, as two enemies catching you from opposite sides will put you in a bad way.
So again, you can see the problem here if you roam alone and get surrounded; you either have to pay with coin for your life, or pray to the gods you make it out of there running. And honestly this is what makes games much better, sure it might be a little boring when you start out, but essentially RPGs are made to be played with others. You can’t hold your ground against the big groups just like in Mount and Blade. Gloria Victis maintains its realism while offering proper rewards for the grind should you put the time and effort in. You can either buy yourself a nice new sword with some of the coin saved, or you can choose to craft your ultimate custom weapon with components you can find all over the world.
As I’ve said earlier, the game is still getting a lot of features every day. And one worthy of mentioning is the arena that came out last month. This area is great if you want to duel people and test your skills against either the experienced, or the new. Since the game is far from done, I expect to see a lot more features, and hopefully the world borders will expand to offer more room to wander. Right now the world is a bit small, but since there are not a lot of people playing yet, it hasn’t really been an issue yet. But all expected pre-alpha limitations aside, the game visually is about as beautiful as MMOs come. You can see the power of the Unity engine really coming forth in this game. Though animations are limited, you can see all the motion capture work and attention to minute details the devs have put into each blow to feel authentic and impactful.
To Pre-order or Not?
Gloria Victis is a promising medieval game making progress each single day. Yet the concept of throwing money at an unfinished product has burnt quite a few gamers in recent times. It spoils the development, and doesn’t exactly motivate them to either finish what they’ve started, nor are you guaranteed to get what was promised to be delivered. Right now Gloria Victis is in a playable state. The game is fun as it is, but has some warning signs on it that make me uncomfortable forking money over yet. Maybe wait a few months to see how things continue to pan out. If you’re an avid alpha tester of old, and believe in the product enough to consistently test it, then have at it and leave feedback. But if you’re just looking for something new and fun to pass the time, Gloria Victis doesn’t have enough there to keep you interested for the long term right now. Given the speed of progress though, short of something catastrophic happening, I could see giving this game a serious shake in about half a year from now.