War of the Roses preview

Rich McCormick at

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As he fell from his horse at the battle of Bosworth Field, Plantagenet king Richard III called out “lol wtf gief horse”. This Richard III will be sitting at his PC, playing medieval multiplayer-focused battler War of the Roses. Developers Fatshark, who made Wild West shooter Lead and Gold, are including a cursory singleplayer campaign in their upcoming game, but as studio head Martin Wahlund explains, the emphasis is on multiplayer.

“We want a huge skill component like Mount & Blade, but we’d also like to make it a bit more accessible. It should feel natural: like the way you start playing Battlefield or Modern Warfare. You don’t have to be a pro before you start playing, so when you get attacked you should get a feeling for how to defend yourself.”

How you’ll both defend and attack is still being hammered down this early in development, but Fatshark are set on using Mount & Blade-a-like mouse motions to swing, jab, or fire your weapons. Martin outlines lots of depth in his combat explanations, and the game is filled with potential weapon combinations. Armour can affect the speed of your character and their ability on horseback, and shields can parry attacks but may also break under sustained axe-y onslaughts.

Would-be knights who want to try their hands at the Middle Ages’ pointiest toys will be spoilt for choice: players can use swords, axes, spears, bows, and maybe even guns. “They had some gunpowder weapons at the time, but we haven’t decided yet if they’ll be in the game.”

'He marched them up to the top of the hill...'

Historical accuracy is important in War of the Roses, and that means period battlefields. Martin won’t commit to a playercount yet for fear of over or undershooting the end result, but it’s safe to say we won’t be playing with the Grand Old Duke’s ten thousand men.

Our Bosworth battles will be on smaller skirmish maps: still sizeable enough to manoeuvre heavy horses around, but given a definite War of the Roses flavour, something Martin says is “very important”.

The core multiplayer mode will be objective-based, and Martin’s keen to emphasise team play in achieving these. “We’re looking into a squad spawn mechanic like Battlefield’s: if you’re an archer, join an archer squad; if you’re a knight, spawn in the middle of the field.”

Whether you’re archer, knight or village idiot depends on your unlocks and your levels. “We level you in a horizontal way. We’re trying to avoid high-level players always winning against low-level players. Levelling should be more about variety and new types of styles.”

Poor Richard III. If only the doomed king had bought into War of the Roses’ unlock system earlier, he’d have had time to level up his mount. His kingdom for a horse of +2 armour.