It’s not news that people love Vikings in video games. Over the past two years, we’ve seen Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla become Ubisoft’s Biggest PC Game Launch Ever and crush the indie survival game Valheim sells millions of copies in early access. The interest in having more Vikings on our computer screens also extends to city builders, like 2021’s strategic city builder Frozenheim and the next (and quite crudely named) Viking city builder (opens in a new tab).
Well, don your historically inaccurate horned helmet, because there’s another Viking city-building game out there and it’s launching in Early Access today on Steam. In land of the vikings (opens in a new tab) you are a jarl in charge of a small northern camp with high hopes of turning it into a properly formidable northern colony.
Land of the Vikings is suitably gridless, so you can place your buildings unconstrained (though roads snap to existing buildings) and watch your workers cut down trees and gather rocks to build them. In the first two hours, I built the usual starting materials: hunting camp, gatherer’s cabin, carpenter and stonemason, a warehouse to store resources and some rudimentary shelters so that my Vikings do not have to sleep outside. But soon enough, I was able to build my first wheat farm, a windmill to turn grain into flour and start producing bread, a small goat farm for hides and wool, and a firewood station. heating so all my homes can stay warm when winter has come. And then, finally, a shipyard so I can build fishing boats and one day start visiting (i.e. looting) other villages.
Progression is handled by a tech tree, in this case called the Tree of Life, because it wouldn’t be a Viking game without a giant tree somewhere. As your settlement grows, your villagers earn collective XP which can unlock new buildings or be used to give them an overall buff, such as faster movement or higher productivity in their work. The early branches of the tree are nicely balanced between new unlocks and villager buffs, and XP pours in at a decent enough clip that it doesn’t take long to have a few points to spend.
When I started building my village, I made sure to assign workers who best suited the job, which is almost like a little mini-game, because each Viking that roams my settlement has their own set of skills. and attributes. Everyone (except babies) has a score for luck (handy for fishing and gathering), strength (any job that requires muscles like chopping wood or building), speed (good for farmers and market workers) and intelligence (useful for blacksmiths, tailors and shipbuilders). Before assigning someone a job, I always made sure they had skills that would help their productivity.
These skills are influenced by their attributes and quirks, which range from charisma and bravery to laziness and cunning. It’s a good system for people who really want to micromanage their Viking community and feel like every little person is a real person. I became mildly obsessed with finding the best person for each job, sometimes swapping multiple Vikings in and out of different positions until I was sure I was functioning at peak efficiency. It also gave me a little affection for them. “Oh, Erp Bjornsson is dead? He was the perfect carpenter. How am I going to replace him?”
As for the game itself, there are some things I’d like to see improved in Early Access. Scrolling the map with the WASD keys is very sluggish and sluggish, and there are some issues with the UI and menus that could use some work. It could also use a more robust notification system for events like villager death (RIP Erp) since I usually didn’t notice when someone collapsed at their post. Developer Laps Games said they plan to keep Land of the Vikings in Early Access for about a year, so hopefully some of that gets better.
It’s a nice Viking city builder, though, and I can’t wait to play more and see how trades and raids work. land of the vikings spear on Steam Early Access today (opens in a new tab).