Online medieval slasher Warhaven is almost upon us

Taking to the online battlefield with your arsenal of forged steel has become a popular pastime on PC in recent years. Medieval warfare sims have well and truly arrived, but with their often highly technical move sets and intricate systems for defending attacks from all directions, these muddy, bloody battlefields aren't always the most welcoming to new recruits.

Wouldn't it be great if lopping heads and swinging swords was just a bit simpler, and you didn't have to learn multiple stances to go out there and have some fun?

That's the goal of Warhaven, the new combatant in the online slashy swords-and-spears-and-shields-and stuff arena. With two teams of 12 players wrestling to control vibrant fantasy battlefields, the game is large enough in scale to capture the mayhem of battle, while not so large that you're constantly overwhelmed by enemies from all sides.

(Image credit: NEXON)

Each team will have access to a variety of classes that cater to different playstyles, and finding the right synergies between these will be key to victory. There are your classic sword- and spearmen, of course. But there's also a hammer-wielder, a magic-flinging healer, as well as the battering-ram like maceman, who can barge through swathes of enemies with his shield. Each class has its own masteries and strengths, but beware that a skirmish over a checkpoint can be quickly turned on its head by whoever takes control of one of the mounted cannons tactically positioned around the battlefield. 

Everybody's got a plan until they get blown away by a cannon.

Get yourself on a kill streak, and for a short time you'll get to wreak even more carnage as a haloed super-soldier, summoning a horse to charge through enemies like a bowling ball, or get out of a sticky situation by turning into a magical raven and flying away.

Warhaven's atmospheric battlefields range from storm-soaked Germanic castles to dusty desert townships, always offering alternate routes to a given goal. The Moshabarg map, for example, has a sewer system connecting the two different ends of the castle, making it just as important to control the underbelly of the battlefield as well as the surface. With dazzling spell effects from a team's mages, ash from cannon smoke coating the armour of those who pass through it, and little details like bloody footsteps after you pass over the bodies of the fallen, no detail has been skimmed over by the development team. 

(Image credit: NEXON)

Beyond the Battlefield-like Onslaught mode, where you fight over multiple control points on a map, there's also Skirmish mode, where the whole battle takes place over a single objective. This is Warhaven at its most chaotic, as both teams collide in the middle while distant cannons rain indiscriminate hell down on everyone. There's still room for tactics here of course, as control of the respawn points and cannons will provide vital support for those fighting over the middle.

Whether you seek to swing wide and wild, madly hacking down everyone in sight, or you're looking to single out a powerful opponent on a streak and carve out a duel amidst the chaos, Warhaven matches flow between the epic and the intimate. It offers an entrypoint into a sometimes daunting genre, where there's satisfying progression for those who pursue it, but also quick thrills for those looking to forget the world and get lost in the blitz of battle for a few rounds.

Warhaven is coming to Steam Early Access on September 21. You can wishlist it now on Steam, and follow the game's journey on YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, and Twitter. There's also a Discord community, where you can get your voice heard and play your part in helping Warhaven realise its calling.