What can’t be ignored is Vikings’ depth of combat. Using a standard one-handed sword I quickly learned that spamming an attack just won’t do. Over the course of a 20-minute stage, it leveled up from simple slashing to more complex skills like a projectile shot, an area-of-effect stun, and devastating dash attack. It was all quite necessary given the many hostile creatures ruling over the icy tundra; be it ravenous wolves, pesky bats, demon warriors, and mammoth ice giants. I found myself constantly keeping an eye on each power’s cooldown and the layout of enemies on screen, prioritizing stronger attacks for tougher opponents. It all lead to a showdown with the icy ruler of this dominion who rained down torrents of ice and summoned wolves as I unloaded attacks on its throne and eventually felled the giant beast (I assure you it happened just after we finished recording the 19-minute hands-on gameplay shown above). Those adversaries weren’t the only hardships my shieldmaiden faced, as the world’s plummeting temperatures require constantly finding firepits to prevent death by exposure. On one hand, it was kind of annoying having to worry about depleting health outside of combat, but it kept me proactive in battle as I had to think quickly about how to dispose of a group of enemies and find respite.
I was able to get a bit more of a grasp on the variety of combat in Vikings during a second run-through of this tundra with a giant two-handed sword. The shieldmaiden’s attacks were slower, but enemies that took several swipes from the standard sword could be slain with just a single slice of the bigger blade. However, certain skills varied as I unlocked a new batch for the two-handed sword, as the dashing attack was replaced with a melee kick due to the lumbering weapon. As I concluded the demo I knew I was only scratching the icy surface when switching weapons as a trip through the hub world showed multiple options for armor and weaponry (like bows, magic staffs, and multiple blades), along with a rune system that can alter your equipment’s status like Final Fantasy VII’s Materia.