War of the Roses – Review
Follow Genre: Action
Developer: Fatshark
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Platform: PC

War of the Roses – Review

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Good: Original and rewarding gameplay.
Bad: Difficult to master, could use more content.
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Let’s be clear about something, I usually don’t ‘do’ multiplayer.  Sure, this gaming gig has had me dabbling in both Call of Duty and Battlefield matches and the occasional MOBA has kept me busy from time to time as well. But when it comes to my own spare time, I’m a single player-kind of guy; flying solo suits me just fine.

War of the Roses might change that. If anything it’s managed to keep me coming back long after I wrote the review below.

Maybe it’s the swords. I do love swords.



Lancastrians and Yorkers are fighting it out. Whichever fiefdom survives will receive the King’s blessing and prosper, dooming the other.

There’s not a whole lot of story to be told. Sure, the Lancastrians and Yorkers did actually fight, but just like we did with our Battle of the Bulge review, we point you to the appropriate wiki for an in-depth history.


War of the Roses won’t push your PC to the edge. Not many multiplayer games do so anyway, it would just stress servers. A lot of detail did go into level layout and armor design, so developer Fatshark does deserve praise for that achievement.



Nothing special in this department. The music is tranquil and bombastic at all the right times and steel-on-steel-action produces the corresponding klings and klangs. No memorable tunes to speak of, but all I require from music needs in this kind of game is to not distract.


Let’s liken War of the Roses to Battlefield. You along with thirty-one other players are thrown in a giant arena, set among the plains, hills and castles of the United Kingdom’s Middle Ages. Only instead of rifles, snipers, shotguns and sever variations of a traditional AK-47, you fight using Bows, spears, halberds and swords. Trustworthy steeds replace tanks and no need to worry about camouflage; a decent suit of armor will protect you just fine.

To ready an attack you move the mouse in the direction you want your sword to start cleaving from. The left mouse button unleashes the actual attack and it’s right-sided counterpart blocks or parries depending on whether or not you’re carrying a shield.

Timing your attacks this way requires skill. A smart player chooses his or her favorite weapon early on. Better to master one than be mediocre at all, because the competition is brutal.


If it isn’t entirely clear yet; War of the Roses is played online. A traditional server browser lets you pick your fights on your own. At time of writing there seem to be a dozen of thriving servers, making it easy to boot the game and start playing.

Once you start a match you can earn XP and Gold by dealing damage, capturing areas and executing fallen enemies before they get a chance to surrender. Remember, the Middle Ages had no such thing as gentlemen.

XP levels your character, unlocking the ability to create custom characters and allowing you to use gold to buy more weapons, armor and Perks.

Which brings me to the next point. War of the Roses is a semi-free-to-play-game. On one hand you pay about 30 euro upfront – € 35 for the deluxe edition -. On the other hand you can get extra coins in return for more cash.

There’s no logical reason to do that though, Perks and weapons only unlock on certain levels and chances are you won’t be strapped for cash by that time.

Truth to be told, there’s a lot to upgrade. Weapons can be made from different materials, affecting things like damage output, reach, encumbrance and how sturdy your weapon becomes.


This all makes for a very tactical game. Never mind the fact that some weapons are more suited for thrusting than slashing; or vice versa.

Let’s talk about game-modes next. Other than a tutorial there’s no single player content to speak of. Multiplayer is where it’s at, offering Conquest, Team Deathmatch and Pitched Battle. Conquest is your typical capture-and-hold-the-base type of match, Team Deathmatch puts Lancaster’s troops against York’s and Pitched Battle is a Team Deathmatch-clone without respawns.

Those three – rather basic – modes will keep you entertained for quite some time. Whether or not War of the Roses will keep gamers entertained, will depend on future content updates, but for now there’s enough to keep you busy.



War of the Roses gloriously passed the exam. Anyone looking for an original take on online medieval warfare should look no further. Just ignore the free-to-play-side of the game, it’s unnecessary in the first place to buy additional coins. Be prepared for a rough learning curve though. This might be a game that’s easy to get into, but it’s just as hard to properly master.

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