STAFF REVIEW of Tribes of Midgard (Xbox One)

Tuesday, August 23, 2022.
by Adam Dileva

Tribes of Midgard Box art Released on PC just over a year ago, Tribes of Midgard is finally opening the door to Valhalla for console players. Developed by Norsfell Games and published by Gearbox, Tribes of Midgard is not only finally coming to console, but also coincides with its latest and largest Season update yet, Inferno Saga, adding plenty of new content for even the most veteran players. I’ll admit, I’m always a little hesitant and cautious when a popular PC game comes to console later on, only because they don’t always have a great track record of being ‘console-fied’. How many times have you played a game that was first on PC but when you go to play it with a controller it simply doesn’t feel great to do so, or it’s overly complicated? Well I’m happy to announce that isn’t the case here. Not only will Xbox players finally get to jump into Tribes of Midgard with a slew of content to play with, but it feels natural with a controller in hand as well.

An interesting blend of building, combat and survival elements with a Viking inspired backdrop, Tribes of Midgard is a lot to take in initially. At first I felt quite lost, unsure what to do even after the brief Tutorial that really only shows the core basics. With three Seasons of content, there’s plenty here to uncover and figure out, but the game instead does a very hands-off approach and lets you and your friends simply figure it out. That said, I was a bit confused and discouraged in the beginning, as I wasn’t sure what I was really supposed to do, where to go, or better yet, why. That said, eventually grasping some of its concepts and mechanics, it eventually fell into place, made sense, and then I was starting to enjoy my runs.

While I don’t normally gravitate towards survival based games, being able to play alongside with up to 8 friends sure does make it more bearable and fun. You must do everything in your power to protect the sacred Seed of Yggdrasil tree, the only way you’ll prevent the end of the world from occurring. The nightly invasions of Helthings are trying to do what they can to destroy the sacred tree, as are the massive Jotnar, so you’re going to have your hands full. If that all sounds like too much and you want a much more relaxed experience, the latest Survival mode update may be up your alley instead. Here you can play at your own pace without having to worry about protecting your tree nightly from invaders. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself, so let’s start with the basics first.

There are two main modes you’ll play solo or alongside with random players or friends, Saga or Survival Mode. Regardless of the mode you play, you start with nothing but the clothes on your back, so you’ll need to scrounge around looking for sticks and rocks so you can craft some harvesting tools to harvest stones, ore and different types of trees. Gather enough materials and you’ll finally be able to craft items like weapons, armor and more. Each world is procedurally generated, so it’ll be a different experience each time you play in this roguelike adventure.

Regardless of the mode you play, you’re constantly progressing in some way with your overall Season XP, unlocking new items and bonuses as you climb the 50 ranks. The longer you survive, the more rewards you gain. Crafting is a very large component to your success but isn’t terribly convoluted and can be quick to get the hang of. Each item has certain material requirements, and if you have them on hand in in storage you’ll be able to create them without issue. Of course the best items are going to reward unique and hard to get items, so you better work on your combat items and skills to take down the harder challenges the world entices you with.

As I said above, there’s a basic tutorial but it really doesn’t do nearly enough to fully explain all of the different elements and mechanics. As someone who normally doesn’t play games like these simply because of the lack of hand holding or explanation, I felt quite lost and confused at first. The beginning portion is usually focused on gathering materials so you can craft better items, which will then push you further from your home base to find the higher tiered materials so you can continue the cycle.

The first mode to try out, and I’d consider the main or most campaign-like, is Saga Mode. This is where you’ll eventually have access to 8 different classes, each play quite differently but most are locked behind certain progression milestones that will take some time to get through. Saga has you having to defend your Seed of Yggdrasil or else Game Over. Each night you’re attacked by evil forces and becomes more challenging as time goes on, so the challenge becomes greater the longer you survive, but the rewards become greater as well as you can take on some massive and epic bosses.

Once you’ve found the basic gather basic sticks and flint, you’ll be able to craft your Lumber Axe, Pickaxe and Fishing Pole. This will allow you to start gathering from any nodes you final along your exploration on the sizable map. As you gather materials you’ll then craft a weapon such as a sword, axe, hammer or spear, along with a full set of armor. This gear will allow you to take down enemies for other resources and survive the further you go from your home base, eventually finding the next tier of materials and so on.

As soon as the sun sets though you better head back to your town, as Helthings will spawn all around, trying to destroy the Seed at Yggdrasil at its center. You start with some basic gates to keep enemies out, but after a night or two unchecked, they won’t hold back the onslaught much longer. You should be spending your days exploring, gathering and fighting so that you can come back at night to defend your village until the sun rises once again. You can even spend precious resources to build Archer Towers as well if you deem it fit to do so.

You’ll also be able to upgrade each of the vendors which is how you’ll craft the better weapons, gear and items. This takes many materials as well as Souls, essentially the game’s currency that is earned from killing enemies and collecting resources. Each tier of course takes more materials, so there’s a balance of what you want to upgrade first so you can craft the better items. Upgrading these vendors also makes them more powerful when they pitch in to help with the Helthings that makes it through the gates, so it’s worthwhile to do so even if you won’t be crafting much from them in the long run.

Given that Tribes of Midgard is now on Season 3 of its content update, that doesn’t mean the original content is gone. On the contrary, as you can choose any of the main quests, almost like chapters, so you can experience all of its content at your own pace without having to worry about rushing through before a new Season drops, which seems to be roughly every six months or so.

I’ll be honest, even though I now know what I’m supposed to be doing and the general flow to the game, I still find Saga Mode quite stressful with its ‘time limit’ of sorts, having to constantly defend your base each night. Yes the big boss fights are cool, but I find it quite challenging, especially solo. While I normally avoid survival based games, I was quite skeptical that I was going to enjoy Survival Mode here, but surprisingly I ended up enjoying it the most of the two modes. Dubbed as Survival 2.0, it’s been completely revamped and improved to coincide with the Season 3 and its console launch. This is more of a sandbox mode, allowing you to play at your own pace with any out of the pressure of Saga Mode since you don’t need to defend your village. You start out with nothing just like before aside from your ability to build your own settlement however you like, should you even choose to. Here you’ll build the crafting stations you want, where you want, and even build the walls and buildings however you choose.

Instead of having to come back nightly to defend, you no longer have that stress and can explore to seek out the massive Jotnar bosses for great rewards. You can still access the main Saga quests here so you have an overall goal, but aren’t pressured by a specific timeline. Better yet, you’re able to start an online Survival Mode and the server will stay up for anyone or your friends to join. For example, you quit playing on the fifth day but your friends continue to play on your server until day 20, when you came back it’ll be day 20 (or whenever they left it unattended). This was quite surprising, as normally for games like these to do that you need to purchase a rented server, so kudos to the devs for making this a reality. The catch is that you can only have two online matchmaking game saves at once, so you’ll need to leave one of the servers if you want to join a new one after that point. You’re constantly always working towards your overall Season XP, so you’ll get the bonuses you’ve earned to that point regardless.

Combat overall is quite basic with you having to simply press ‘X’ to swing, but depending on the weapon you might have other special attacks. Higher tiered weapons will cost more materials to craft, but will have special properties or abilities, so they’re generally worth the investment. Attacking enemies builds up a gauge which can then be used to use your special moves if you’ve filled enough of the meter. You can dodge with ‘B’, an important and necessary skill to master if you want to survive. You can craft food and potions to help replenish your items, but lose all your health and you’ll die, having to run all the way back to get your corpse.

There’s also a skill tree system called Blessings. In Saga Mode you first make the choice of the 8 different classes you want to play and you’re locked to the choices that class gives you. In Survival Mode though it’s more freeform, allowing you to choose from 90 different skills, allowing you to really make a unique class with a variety of skills you want to combine with a higher level limit of 50. With so many skills, I was trying new ones and combos each game that I started to see what works best with my playstyle, so there’s plenty to experiment with.

If you’ve previous played Tribes of Midgard on PC and are simply wondering what’s new in the Season 3: Inferno Saga content, well, there’s a laundry list of additions, fixes and changes. I’m not going to go through everything, but at a very high level you can expect a massive amount of new content, with Survival 2.0 being one of the main highlights that I just spoke about. Inferno Saga adds a new Ancient Surtr, essentially a final boss, a completely new biome (volcanos are fun but don’t run through the lava), fishing, the new spear weapon that’s simplistic to craft and much more. To explore a volcano you’re going to need a lot of protection from the heat, so do you craft fire resistant gear or opt for some specialty potions instead? I won’t spoil the boss fights, but they were quite challenging but fun to do with a group of fellow adventurers.

I quite enjoyed having the new spear weapon as my first choice since it only requires wood to craft. Because of its length you can fight from a slightly longer distance which is always great as you’re learning the combat and enemy patterns. Fishing poles are also new, a way to not only pass some time, but gather resources needed for specific crafting recipes. When you do finish a game or decide to leave a server you’ll get a new Game Over screen that gives a lot more information such as what you earned XP doing, how the team overall did and a leaderboard-like screen that shows who was best at what specifically, such as healing, crafted items, enemies slain and more.

Being able to play Survival Mode at your own pace was easily the highlight for myself, as I didn’t enjoy the constant pressure of Saga Mode. If I want to spend a few hours simply exploring and gathering resources so I can build my village up or upgrade my crafting stations, I can do so. The building mode itself is quite simple to use, choosing what item you’ve crafted you want to place on a grid scaled to 1x1x1 for ease of use, even able to change height levels if you want to create ramps or stairs. Since there’s no other villagers, all the crafting will be up to you and your friends playing alongside you. The magical Allforge can be placed anywhere and where you’ll also spend your Souls for repairs as well.

You’ve probably noticed I’ve been talking about Seasons, and with many games that use this type of progression, there’s usually some sort of store as well where you can purchase other items. It’s no different here. You’ll earn coveted Golden Horns from doing certain feats and accomplishments in-game, almost like a premium type of currency which can be used in the Shop to purchase items. Most items are basically really cool skins and aesthetic items, though there are a few of the skin packs that I really liked, but can only be bought with a Platinum currency that you have to spend real money on. Normally I don’t mind cash shops like this as it’s for aesthetic skins, but that’s when a game is free-to-play. Problem is, Tribes of Midgard isn’t free, so you’ll be paying more on top of the game’s price if you want the coolest looking gear.

As for Tribes of Midgard’s visuals, they use a cel-shaded aesthetic that somehow works decently with the Viking backdrop. Each biome varies from one another and their environments look distinct. The map itself is quite large, so there’s plenty to explore and find along the way. The highlight is easily the massive Jotnar bosses that really make the world appear to have some scale to their might. As for the audio, there’s not much to mention or that stands out. The background audio serves its purpose of breaking the silence, and enemies will make sounds, but there’s not much else of note.

Tribes of Midgard did a great job of transitioning to console, feeling natural on a controller without feeling overwhelming like many PC to console ports. There’s a mountain of content to get through for the most dedicated but you’ll have to get over the learning curve hurdle before it all makes sense. While playable solo, I highly recommend finding some friends to play alongside with, as I wasn’t enjoying myself playing alone, but with some friends it made a world of difference.

**Tribes of Midgard was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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