The real War of the Roses was a bloody event in the annals of English history, a war of succession that embattled the country for 30 years in the late 1400s. Paradox's take on the famous conflict does little for you in the way of back story, sorry history fans, you won't be able to play this game instead of doing your homework, and over the coming paragraphs you will come to see that you more than likely will not want too.
As mentioned above, this game has little to no exposition, all that there is can be located in the tutorial; which comes in the form of Richard III narrating the tutorials and the basic setup of houses York and Lancaster fighting for the crown. This is a game that strives to realism and fails miserably at it.
War of the Roses has no single player content to speak of outside of the tutorials, which is just as well as it is really glitchy (NPCs running into fences, getting stuck on terrain, and crashes galore). For a pure multiplayer game, it has barely any offerings to play and only seven maps from which to choose. Only two games modes are present: Deathmatch and Conquest. Deathmatch is a 32 vs. 32 player free-for-all whereas Conquest is just simple capture the flag, originality is not on display here. Respawns are unlimited so the objective boils down to either one team having the most kills or flags captured at the end of the time limit.
This game is brutally difficult at the start, given that it aims for realism. Most attacks are based on subtle movements of your mouse, and it is far more challenging than one may expect. To perform power attacks you have to hold down the LMB (Left Mouse Button) until a circular gauge hits the sweet spot. Conversely parrying requires holding down the RMB. This might sound so complicated in theory, but if your timing isn't perfect you will die very fast. You also have to aim the reticule in the direction you wish to power or parry, whereas a basic sword swing involves you having to swipe the mouse in the direction you wish to swing the weapon. It should be compared to trying to use the mouse as a pseudo Wii-mote, and it is just as clunky as you might otherwise expect. I can see what the devs were going for, but it has missed the mark by a wide margin. Melee combat is clunky and broken, however the archery on the other hand fares a little better.
The attempts at realism come across better with the archers as plate armor deflects arrows easily enough, and youâ€™ll see it in the way that extremely well-placed arrows can fly through the visor of a combatantâ€™s helmet to deliver horrifying wounds to the face. Overcoming these armor-based obstacles yields satisfying kills, made all the more enjoyable by a downed state that both gives you a few seconds to execute your opponent or time for allies to bandage them.
The executions themselves are decently animated and can be likened to Skyrim's Kill Cams. If you perform an execution move, you will be vunerable to enemy attacks so take caution when using them. Some people (mainly archers) have been using downed allies as bait so they can pick them off if someone comes to bandage them. In this game archery with a longbow requires using a realistic arc when shooting an arrow and a crossbow shoots straight and true, but takes an ungodly long time to reload. In a twist that is actually kind of cool, in a limited way, is that if an execution is performed on you, you see yourself stabbed in brutal ways from a first person perspective.
In War of the Roses, you don't start out as a knight, instead you start off as a lowly footman and work your way up through gold and XP unlocks. This might sound like the norm for multiplayer games and it is to some degree, but the limited modes and maps make this nothing short of a tedious grind. You can eventually access perks for customizable classes that let you mix and match among the abilities and ride horses as well.
The game also allows you to create your own coat of arms which allows you to make your enemies readily identifiable. On top of the bugs, the game is also heavily unbalanced in favor of heavy armor and horses. And the worst bug of all is there are several points where your character can fall through the floor of the battlefield. War of the Roses also suffers from extreme framerate issues when the battlefield gets hectic. The graphical optimization also leaves something to be desired as well.
War of the Roses is a game that may become better with time through patches and new content, but until that time it is a game that is not worth experiencing unless you have a masochistic streak within yourself. All in all, another one to throw in the dust bin of gaming history.
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