Tribes of Midgard on PC
After coming down from my month-long Valheim high, Tribes of Midgard seemed the perfect excuse to get lost in the incredible world of vikings once again, just from a slightly different perspective this time around.
Going into it, I wasn’t sure what to expect aside from a top-down, Diablo-like action game where I scavenge for resources, upgrade my gear, and fight cool bosses with friends. The game even starts you off at a stone circle spawn point when you load up the world. Just like Valheim, right? Except for one key difference: every second you spend in this world is crucial. Failure to understand that results in one of the most intense time crunches you’ll experience in a video game.
The mandatory tutorial that starts up when you boot up the game helps with introducing the basic mechanics, and it should all feel like familiar ground right from the get-go. You start with nothing on your person, and you can pick up flint and branches to craft axes, which then allow you to chop trees for wood and mine for ores like iron and silver. Gather enough of those, and you can start to craft weapons. And with weapons, you can fight enemies and animals for more materials to craft armor and other useful tools. You get the idea.
The path of progression is simple and straightforward enough, but Tribes of Midgard quickly throws a wrench into your well-laid plans by having Helthings invade your village every night. See, in the center of your village is the Seed of Yggdrasil, a legendary tree that you have to protect at all costs. Each night, a horde of Helthings will spawn outside your village and slowly make their way inside to try to attack it.
Hopefully you’ve gathered enough resources during the day to craft some good gear because you’re going to need it. If you’re woefully unprepared, you won’t be able to hold off the Helthings for long, and they’ll destroy the tree before you know it, resulting in a Game Over screen.
To put even more stress on the players, there are also Jotunns that spawn in the open-world after a couple of in-game days. These are huge Giants that will slowly make their way towards your village; it might take a few days, but you’d be dreadfully wrong to assume that you don’t have to worry about them until they get closer. The Jotunns are on a whole other level from the Helthings, and once they breach the village, they’ll attack the Seed of Yggdrasil relentlessly. If you’re unable to stop them before they actually enter the village, it’s almost certainly a game over.
Add the fact that Helthings get progressively stronger as the games goes on, and it becomes very easy to get overwhelmed very quickly in Tribes of Midgard. All of this is to say that preparation is key in this game; if you’re not constantly planning two steps ahead and thinking about what your next move should be, you’re going to have a tough time.
If this all sounds frustrating and unbearable, it is, especially when you’re just getting started and if you’re playing solo. Tribes of Midgard was designed with co-op multiplayer in mind, and that’s where the game starts to shine.
Yes, enemies do seem to get a little tougher with more people in a single session, but exploring the open-world with nine other players is a blast, and also makes it much easier to gather resources to work towards upgrades. There are a handful of different biomes in the world, all housing different enemy types and resources for you to fight and collect. The idea is that you’ll spend the first two in-game days in the Bright Forest biome gathering iron and stone to craft some gear and raise your power level, then work towards those tougher biomes to get rarer materials to craft better stuff.
Aside from just crafting better gear, you can also pour your resources into fortifying your village defenses. Tribes of Midgard feels like a more intense tower defense game during the Helthing invasions, especially since the enemies tend to go straight for the Seed of Yggdrasil, with a few exceptions that will turn their attention to you when you attack. It then becomes crucial to build gates that will keep them out, along with archer towers to help with killing them quickly.
Of course, you’re then forced to balance between crafting gear and spending time scavenging for resources to fortify those defenses. Tribes of Midgard is a very delicate balancing act that you have to manage, and it’s honestly exhilarating, if not a little exhausting at times. Truly, whenever my group completed a run (or suffered a very tragic game over), it felt as if I could finally breathe and heave a sigh of relief. When you’re in a run, you have to be completely focused on what you’re doing.
At the time of writing, Tribes of Midgard is currently in the season of the wolf. If you play a run in Saga Mode, which is kinda like this game’s semblance of a story mode, you’ll fight your way through various Jotunns before facing off against a powerful wolf boss. Norsfell promises to update the game throughout the course of the year with more seasons, and presumably even more interesting bosses.
Of course, this game isn’t without its flaws. While I haven’t run into any significantly game-breaking issues, there are a few bugs that can hinder the experience. For instance, text boxes would remain onscreen even after exiting out from the menu and trying to navigate to other tabs, and my character would sometimes get stuck on invisible obstacles, forcing me to waste a few precious seconds to go around.
Tribes of Midgard could certainly use a few quality-of-life improvements as well, such as the ability to repair all equipment at once when you’re at a repair bench, and being able to keep weapons in their equipped slots even if they break. These are all just tiny niggles in the grand scheme of things, though, and while they are annoying, they never truly get in the way of the unbridled fun that Tribes of Midgard offers. Even if you’re gonna be stressed out and looking at the clock every couple minutes you’re playing.
Tribes of Midgard isn’t going to be for everyone. The solo experience features all of the intensity that comes with the time crunch, but very little of the fun, and it’s certainly not for players who might be looking for another chill Valheim-like viking experience. But for what it sets out to do, it executes it well. Tribes of Midgard successfully evokes that feeling of setting out as a united tribe in its multiplayer sessions, and the heart of the game lies in sharing the burden of fighting that ticking clock and hoping that you can all pull together in time to beat the odds.
- Every run feels intense and exhilarating.
- A tough balancing act between upgrading your character, and upgrading the camp.
- Lots of potential for even more exciting content down the line.
- This game is built for multiplayer and it excels at that, but the solo experience languishes a little as a result.
- Could use some quality-of-life improvements.
July 27, 2021
PS4, PS5, PC