War of the Roses: Impressions from the multiplayer beta

War of the Roses

By on September 7, 2012 at 10:57 am

With the beta test for War of the Roses now in full swing, we’ve been getting a lot of hands-on time with it – it’s Paradox’s flagship product for this year and the game that they’ve spent the most resources on, ever, and we’re beginning to see why.

If you’ve played Mount & Blade (another third-party Paradox product), you may have a general idea of what’s in store here, but it’s more apt to call it a medieval Battlefield game (it even has a former DICE producer on board, Gordon Van Dyke).

The basic gameplay involves you choosing a team (York or Lancaster, Red or White), then choosing your class (Footman, Bowman, Knight, etc) and then just getting stuck in, literally. Combat is directional, so if you move your mouse right when clicking, you attack with a right swing, left swing with left, and then over hand with up and a straight thrust with down.

Defending works the exact same way (unless you have a shield, which just blocks everything), and you need to keep an eye on what your opponent is doing so you can block from the right direction.

Combat gets more complicated though, when you start using different weapons. Take bows for example: easy to load and fire, but relatively weak (although someone with enough skill and aim can do serious damage). Crossbows have more base power, but trade off in that they take a while to load. You also have spears, polearms, two-handed swords, axes and maces.

In terms of dealing damage though, the effect is always the same – barring a headshot with a bow, take enough damage and you get knocked down. You can either surrender, or wait to be revived by a teammate… although wait too long and an enemy might chance upon you and perform an execution, in which case you re-spawn anyway.

Beyond combat, the main draw of War of the Roses is in its progressive unlock and customization elements. You earn experience and money for successful hits, kills, executions and so on — and once you get to level 4 you can create your own custom load-outs, which is where it really gets intense.

Make no mistake, this is no simple choosing of primary and secondary weapon stuff you’d find elsewhere. When you choose a weapon in War of the Roses, you then need to choose the hilt, what metal the blade is, how sharp it is, what fighting style you’re using, and a whole host of subtle options that affect how the weapon performs… and that’s just on one weapon. You’ve also got a secondary weapon and a dagger you can take with you.

At the moment, it’s easy to be impressed by what War of the Roses has to offer. The combat mechanics are challenging, which means that you feel like you’ve really earned all those kills, and visually it looks stunning, as well as very atmospheric.

I’m not entirely sold on the customisation thing right now – there’s really not a lot available to you at the early levels, means you’re stuck with the pre-sets for far longer than perhaps you should be. Additionally, earning money for upgrades feels like a bit of a grind right now. Still, it’s early days yet, and constant balancing tweaks mean it is only going to get better as time goes on.

Beta signups to War of the Roses are now closed, but customers who pre-order the game can continue to play.

26 comments (Leave your own)

This looks pretty cool. Any GONers out there in the beta? What are your impressions? I like the sound of the combat system with the swordplay strokes depending on how you move the mouse. Sounds intuitive and will be fun to play around with :)


Gameplay sounds very similar to Mount and Blade. Which is a good thing, Mount and Blade suffers mainly from outdated graphics, this could be a good replacement :)


As mentioned above me, gameplay is similar to M&B, but feels more realistic without being TOO realistic.

While attack directions are cool its not a ground breaking addition, however i do find it quite nice and it really shines when you come to 1 on 1 with another player, blocking and attacking in direction in a life or death. That makes the game for me.

That, and crossbows! :P

If anyone is considering it, i would suggest you go for it! It’s a great game at this stage and it is only in beta! (Hopefully) it can only get better!


Got into the beta yesterday and played around for a fair few hours last night!

First impressions were great! It seemed intense and grisly with great combat mechanics. The unlock system seemed nice and all the preset weapons and classes were great fun and varied in play style.

About two hour later my view on the game had changed to a long sword or hammer spam-fest where heavy armor was the only option to survive, and combat seemed more revolved around getting the most hits in as possible rather than working on statergy, targeting and blocking.

Don’t get me wrong, the game is still fun and while the graphics are not the best, its not too noticeable when in the middle of a match. I still intend to play about for a bit tonight, but unless the melee mechanics become tighter and more precise I doubt I will be buying.

In my opinion it’s totally worth checking out if you can, but I would be hesitant to pre order without playing it for yourself first.


I’m a huge Mount & Blade fan, with over 30 hours played across the various versions according to Steam. I assumed I would love War of the Roses as a result, because surely it’s the same magic of M&B with an updated engine and new great features, right? Wrong.

War of the Roses is M&B run through a Call of Duty filter, and it really suffers as a result. Inheriting the horrendous spawn-on-team-member system means you’re constantly dealing with enemies spawning on top of you in the middle of a fight. The revive mechanic only makes this worse, as a rolling zerg is near impossible to stop once it gets going.

There are also severe balance issues with some combinations of weapons being completely overpowered. Why fight with a sword when you could wear full heavy plate armour and plink arrows at people with a crossbow? It’s like an awesome FPS tower defense game where you’re the tower! Except it’s not awesome. While this could easily get fixed by some balance patches, that’s not going to stop the second biggest problem.

The unlock system leads to some incredibly stupid rewards for putting more time into the game, leading to new players getting insta-killed by someone who’s rolling around in xXx_420_n0sc0pE_pWnb0w_xXx armour. At least in Call of Duty you can pick up the l33t pro gamer’s weapons and fight fire with fire, but not in War of the Roses.

Game issues aside, my biggest concern is with the lack of dedicated servers. The multiplayer servers are run by a single hosting company, who offer us the privilege of renting War of the Roses servers at $40 USD p/month. Of course, if there’s any issues with that server host (which happens frequently) then every single War of the Roses server goes offline. Wicked sticks.

If you’re considering War of the Roses, I highly recommend picking up M&B Warband instead. With Fire and Sword is more recent, but it tends to make things a bit crazy. All the cool stuff it adds doesn’t counteract how much it sucks to get shot in the head by a musket-wielding NPC on the horizon.

Besides the appeal of multiplayer siege gameplay, I really got into the M&B single-player campaign for how much of a jerk you could be. I don’t think I ever did more than one actual “quest”, instead spending my time raiding caravans for supplies and sacking castles. It’s like Skyrim: Bandit Edition, if Skyrim had the graphics of a game developed in a Turkish indie dev’s basement.


Matt ‘El_Funko’ Long:

Game issues aside, my biggest concern is with the lack of dedicated servers. The multiplayer servers are run by a single hosting company, who offer us the privilege of renting War of the Roses servers at $40 USD p/month. Of course, if there’s any issues with that server host (which happens frequently) then every single War of the Roses server goes offline. Wicked sticks.

This is what I hate most about new games these days.


I was under the impression this was still under NDA? I know I signed an NDA when I accepted the beta invite, are GON exempt?


is there a single player campaign?


Matt ‘El_Funko’ Long:
I’m a huge Mount & Blade fan, with over 30 hours played across the various versions according to Steam.

wow 30 whole hours? That’s a typo and you mean 300 right?

It is a bit disappointing now, as a person in full plate armour wielding a massive 2 handed sword, can out run someone in rags with nothing but a bow and a dagger. The current balance is very poor, with people stacking particular items to swing their weapons every .5 seconds, even on hits / blocks.

Could get more interesting if the balance is done right, would also like to have a go at siege. I’ve also seen various hidden bits indicating AI.


spawneh: wow 30 whole hours? That’s a typo and you mean 300 right?

No, I meant 30. Unfortunately a full-time job running game servers doesn’t involve ‘sperging out on RPGs all day.


30 just didn’t seem like a big number for a huge fan. Have you tried out any mods? Some are quite good. Prophecy of Pendor is great.


Have they fixed the infinite length bandage yet? Haven’t played it in ages.


There is an NDA guys, all we can say is we’re in beta (even if we couldn’t it goes through Steam, so having that as NDA would be pointless as people would know we are playing it lol)

But it’s good, I played a couple hours last night.


I was under the impression this was still under NDA? I know I signed an NDA when I accepted the beta invite, are GON exempt?

Um, yeah………… We’re under NDA, either GON got permission or just did something really, REALLY stupid.


It’s fine, lots of sites have beta impressions up… http://www.pcgamer.com/previews/war-of-the-roses-beta-impressions/


Ive been playing for the last few days, let me tell you i stop playing bf3 for this, so much fun nothing like the feeling when you land a blow with your 2 handed sword on a horse and you see the rider goes flying….i love it.


Can get into beta just be pre ordering, aren’t NDA’s usually gone when this happens.


After having the Beta for a fair while I cant say I see much longevity in this game unless the balance of the game is improved and they can add new content regularly enough to keep people interested and not get bored of the game. I think its logical to compare M&B but its not a good comparison if you judge realism. WOTR is an arcadey game with some elements of M&B such as blocking done in a more fun way.


Played for 30 hrs so far and while the game is fun the melee and mounted combat mechanics have already been done better in Mount and Blade. Though I find the archery to be more fun in WotR. Horses change direction to easily and abruptly and any pole arms and spears are much to short to be an effective strategy against horseman.
Though the upgrade and perk system is nice to give you something to work towards the items are not well balanced yet. The combination of spear and shield is over powered in damage, speed and ease of use compared to all the other weapons.


Gotta agree completely with Matt ‘El_Funko’ Long there.

After playing quite a lot of M&B, WotR has a hard time meeting my expectations.
It just feels too much like an arcade game to me. Especially those game mechanics like reviving and execution which seem to take a very important role in the game, they’re just weird.

What’s worse: You get a shitload of XP for executions. As a result, many teammates would rather kneel down to stab a downed foe than help you fight the ones that are still very much alive. Some (few) players (to which I am very grateful) don’t do that and fight alongside with you, and as reward for their courage… they earn less XP.

In one the rare occasions where I myself tried an execution, it even happend that some smartass teammate struck me with his sword just to interrupt the animation, so he could perform the execution himself and get the XP.

Of course many things are still subject to change, it’s a beta after all. But I’m afraid that this probably wont be enough. Not for me atleast.

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