“Always rise to an early meal, but eat your fill before a feast. If you’re hungry, you have no time to talk at the table” That was a quote from Havamal or the Book of Viking Wisdom. I thought this quote would be fitting for Bierzerkers: a game featuring death, visceral explosions, Vikings, and beer – lots of beer. Bierzerkers may look like an average run-of-the-mill sort of game, but it has far more depth and features compared to most team-based titles such as Team Fortress 2. Bierzerkers has not been released just yet, but I had the opportunity to get some hands-on gameplay, and to tinker around with some of the mechanics of the game.
There are seven Viking heroes to choose from and each one has their own unique ability and class assigned to them. These are the Raider, Scoundrel, Huntress, Valkyrie, Shaman, Highlander, and Drunkard. I was only able to try out four out of the seven characters available in this alpha.
First off, the offense heroes are the Raider and Scoundrel. The Raider is a short, stout, bearded tank-like Viking with a shield and ax. Every character has three active powers; Raider’s are Shield Throw, Charging Stab, and Tornado Blade. The Shield Throw has the Raider throw his shield and smack hard to reach players from afar. Charging Stab can break opponent’s defenses and do a fair amount of damage while at it. Tornado Blade is a special attack and does the most the damage by causing the Raider to spin like Tasmanian Devil to maintain a damaging area of effect on opponents caught in its radius. Tornado Blade can also be used to reach high-up ledges: using Tornado Blade in mid-air will turn the Raider into a gyrocopter. Two attacks – basic and heavy – can be used on all characters in Bierzerkers. Basic attack is activated by left click and consists of normally smacking opponents with an axe or blade (depending on character) whereas heavy attack is used with the scroll button and brought down with a striking blow doing lots of damage.
Next is the Scoundrel – my favorite of all the classes. The Scoundrel is a tall, sly and slender man dredged in black attire and carrying six throwing daggers. The tricky thing about Scoundrel is that his basic and heavy attacks work as a combo. For instance, Scoundrel will be fighting an enemy and slashing with his dagger, but switching to a heavy attack afterward will deal much more damage than it usually would. As for his abilities, he has Camouflage, Sticking Bomb, and Corkscrew Lunge. Camouflage will create a decoy of the Scoundrel and cloak the real one for a few seconds. Sticky Bomb is self-explanatory, but Corkscrew Lunge is Scoundrel’s special where he lunges at an enemy in a corkscrew motion, drilling him/her to dealing massive amounts of damage.
Huntress and Highlander (unavailable) are the defense classes, coming with passive-aggressive attacks that also support the team. The Huntress is an Amazon-looking Viking with bow and arrows as her weapon of choice. Her three abilities make use of frost and trapping enemies in ice. These include raining arrows from the sky to slow down any enemy hit by them, an arrow wave of ice freezing anyone nearby, and her special where she jumps high into the air and instantly cases nearby enemies in ice. The Huntress’ basic form of attack doesn’t freeze the enemies but when slowed down by her abilities the basic and heavy attack becomes just as deadly as the powers usually are.
Lastly, there are the Support classes which are the Valkyrie, Shaman, and Drunkard. Alas, the Shaman and Drunkard weren’t playable so the Valkyrie was the only choice for support, but boy does she pack a punch. Valkyrie is a medium set woman dressed in garnishes resembling a barmaid. Her abilities are obviously focused on supporting her team, so attacking enemies or doing damage is not an ideal idea of how to play the Valkyrie. Regardless, she can do a decent amount of damage with her javelin. Her three abilities include launching a bubble at a friendly player granting them protection for a short period of time, a wall of inanimate soldiers – a barrier for any opponent trying to attack and lastly her special which is a gigantic force field that gathers up all affected enemies in one place.
Bierzerkers has two game modes at its core: survival and matchmaking. The survival mode is the basic concept of throwing scary minions onto the field and getting to bash them with whatever Viking you choose. The minions keep growing in power as time presses on and as you kill more enemies. Survival is entertaining and engaging but I felt the true purpose of this mode was simply to try out all the Viking heroes.
Matchmaking is the main portion of the game, as it offers a chance to battle against other players in two modes: Battle Royale and Capture the Point. In Battle Royale, each team is given 100 lives that are split amongst all the players. Once the lives are down to zero on one team or both the sudden death match is initiated granting players one life to settle the game. Capture the Points is a basic king of the hill where you want to capture three markers – A, B, and C – by holding those points. The more areas held, the more points are received.
Now, I’ve mentioned everything except for one thing, and that’s the beer. Where does that come in? Beer can be found in certain areas of the map and when ingested can enhance health even further by adding another layer to the bar. Think of this as of an equivalent of the Juggernaut from Halo. Also, there were some other features under development that may show some promise in the later beta releases. These features were Armory, Shops, and leveling up. I was more intrigued with the leveling system than the other two features because leveling means more talents and goodies. But we’ll get to that some other time.
Bierzerkers is certainly an extraordinarily and exhilarating team-based battle that may well give Team Fortress 2 a run for its money. With seven classes, upcoming armory and shop, a possible leveling system, survival and matchmaking should be enough to grasp the gamer’s attention – not to mention beer. Bierzerkers has no announced release date yet or a website to even check the game out, but we will try and keep you informed with later updates in the near future.