Tribes of Midgard has built up a loyal, buzzing community for itself over the last year or so. But now, the cooperative survival game, with roguelite elements, has finally made its debut on Xbox consoles, along with the Nintendo Switch.
This also coincides with the release of the third season of Tribes, Inferno Saga. It boasts new content and features such as enemies, runes, armors and the Volcanic Spire biome which really turns up the heat. The great news is that Xbox owners will get access to all the previous content for Tribes of Midgard when they jump in with Season Three. Nice.
However, for those of you struggling to make sense of the previous two paragraphs, let’s rewind a little for a more gentle introduction to Tribes of Midgard.
This is a game that submerges you deep in Norse mythology, your primary role being to prevent Ragnarok (the end of the world) which you take on as the Einherjar. You must lead your tribe in the fight against swathes of enemies who are solely focused on destroying the Seed of Yggdrasil (the tree of life). Your ultimate aim is to track the elite world bosses to their lairs, before vanquishing them in an often challenging showdown.
Things kick off with a fairly brief tutorial which is designed to show you the basics, as well as give you a shot at taking down one of the bigger baddies.
The gameplay is a fairly balanced mix of action, in the form of hack and slash combat, exploration, which leads to gathering resources to craft tools and cook food, and basic sim elements in managing your settlement.
Crafting weapons, shields and armor is essential for taking on enemies, especially those with chunkier health bars. Heading out and finding the correct raw materials is the best way to start, because you’ll need to craft basic tools before you can harvest the most important resources and tool yourself up.
All sorts of creatures, such as ghostly nightlings and gigantic Jotuns will march upon your town during the in-game night and day cycle. You’ll get a heads up when a Jotun giant is approaching, and it’s advisable to head out and intercept it before it gets anywhere near your village.
In between attacks on your settlement, you’ll have time to wander out and complete your main objectives, as well as personal ones you can choose from the notice board back at base. Each area you venture into will be measured against your offensive capabilities, giving you a good idea if entering such a region is a clever idea or not.
You’ll come across camps and outposts that contain loot, but these are usually heavily defended. These encounters are always a risk, but usually yield worthwhile rewards.
Different shrines will offer buffs, such as health, mana and energy. Others can be activated to allow fast travel between regions which is often the safest way to get around. Merchants are out and about too, offering cash in return for your loot. It’s a big wide world out there.
You will occasionally get a night off from being attacked by the nocturnal nasties, so making the most of this is key. This breathing space will allow you to bolster defences by building turrets or level up both tradespeople and the structural integrity of your settlement. This is important because your village vendors can fight back too, as well as running essential services in the fight against the enemy.
Souls are the main currency in Tribes of Midgard and these can be sacrificed to your tree to keep it alive and well, alongside buying items, upgrading facilities such as weapons stations and building defences for your village. These are earned in numerous ways, such as defeating enemies or scavenging resources.
Managing your settlement on a day to day basis is a pretty simple but extremely important task because if your tree is destroyed, it’s game over.
This is where the roguelite element comes in. At the end of your run, a game over screen (refreshed for Season Three) will run through your stats and summarise your seasonal XP, rewards and unlocks. All other progress resets ready for your next run. You can also exit your playthrough via the bifrost at certain points if you wish to bank what you have earned rather than risk going any further.
Golden horns are also up for grabs. These are rare tradable items which you can go shopping with too, and are usually awarded for completing quests. Platinum coins can be purchased with real cash to get your hands on more items if you should wish.
Achievements that you unlock will also earn you further rewards that you can access via the main menu. It’s here you can look through your gear, recipes, weapons and much more.
The main way to play Tribes if Midgard is in the Saga Mode, which presents you with different seasonal missions that play out over randomly generated maps. Alternatively you can give Survival Mode a whirl, which has been overhauled for Season Three. It’s here where you build your settlement completely from scratch and work with looser objectives. It’s a way to play which feels like it’s aimed at longer sessions and leans more towards the sandbox strategy genre. You can save and quit when you like however, which takes the pressure off compared to Saga Mode.
I personally preferred Saga Mode as it feels a little punchier. The combat is fairly simple but works well in the overall gameplay setup and in all honesty, the more time I spent with Tribes of Midgard the more I enjoyed it.
You can tackle the game solo, or with up to nine other players. After playing with friends, it quickly became clear that the bigger your party, the more fun there is to be had (as well as things feeling a little easier). This also speeds up the beginning phase as death or defeat can come suddenly, so starting from scratch can become repetitive after a while, especially if there’s just one or two of you working on recovering your progress.
In terms of looks, Tribes of Midgard shows off an attractive cel shaded world. It’s an interesting but deadly environment to explore, and each map is pretty sizable. In fact, the maps in Survival Mode are pretty huge. The small matter of your village coming under constant attack also prevents you from discovering everything too quickly.
As you may expect, you can customise how your Einherjar looks at any point after the tutorial by hitting the customize tab. You can also change features between missions which is welcome, so your choices aren’t set in stone.
I did come across some performance issues however. Glitchy enemies sometimes fell through the floor or resources such as iron and stone deposits ended up floating eerily above me. I also lost all sound on one playthrough, which was odd. These rough edges are minor in the grand scheme of things, but still need ironing out.
Tribes of Midgard gets a lot right, but the hybrid style won’t appeal to everyone. Despite what on the surface may look to be a limited to-do list, there’s plenty going on (certainly too much to go into here) and thanks to the continued support from the developers and players, it feels like this relatively young game has plenty of life in it yet – all thanks to a steady, cumulative build up of content.
If you’re not too bothered about objective based gameplay and prefer forging your own path, you’ll likely enjoy however much time you decide to spend with Tribes of Midgard.
Tribes of Midgard is available from the Xbox Store