It’s hard to put into words exactly where Tribes of Midgard stumbles and excels, as the game takes many satisfying core concepts but expands on them in a way that only appeals to a very specific core demographic. It’s a satisfying simplicity that some will love and others warn – in a way that has the same appeal as Minecraft – but tailored for anyone who likes to check off tasks from a list.
Tribes of Midgard puts players in control of heroes sent from the heavens, tasked with defending the world tree from attack nearly every night, using each day as an opportunity to gather resources and build defenses. It has the Nordic flavor that has become more prevalent in gaming over the past few years, drawing comparisons to the likes of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and God of War.
During the day, Tribes of Midgard plays like a classic Zelda game, giving players an open realm to explore with encampments of enemies and bandits scattered throughout. Players are free to roam around and gather resource nodes, which are crucial to building a player’s base and keeping them alive beyond the first few nights. Free exploration is welcome, but the randomly generated maps of the Midgard tribes are not that varied.
The game world’s problems don’t stop there. Besides not feeling particularly unique, the game’s handling of different heights leaves a lot to be desired. Many of the mountains and hills in the game use a layered system rather than smooth slopes. It’s possible to jump up and down these jagged slopes, but it’s not a smooth way to get around obstacles. The tribes of Midgard do have a way of building ramps and bridges, but it’s easy to get stuck in one of the cracks in the structure.
In addition to exploring the world, players will also spend most of their time battling monsters. Hordes of Midgard’s combat system isn’t particularly complex, but there’s at least some beauty to its simplicity. Standard normal enemies populate the world, usually in the form of goblins and wolves. However, the game also includes larger, more challenging enemies for players to take on. Most large camps will have mini-bosses for the player to deal with, which can increase the difficulty considerably if the player is unprepared.
The real star of the show is Jotun who invades the world every few days. Giants Giants are giant elemental creatures that spawn far from the player’s camp and slowly come towards them, intent on taking down the World Tree. If left unchecked, the giant is a great threat to the player, and it can easily destroy the player’s fortifications if the player manages to reach the camp. The fights with the Jotun are some of the most fun of the Midgard hordes, though they happen a little too often and become more and more annoying as time goes on.
For killing a giant, the player will be rewarded with a healthy soul. Souls are an essential currency when upgrading a player’s camp, as they are needed to fill the world tree’s health bar, upgrade vendors so they can sell higher-level gear, and build defense and resource structures. All of these are key to making sure the world doesn’t end, which makes protecting their little treasure troves all the more important as time goes on. Players lose their souls when they die, though their other items drop from their corpses like in Diablo 2, which adds a satisfying edge to every combat encounter, even skirmishes.
Still, it’s hard to ignore the balance issues that permeate some of the core concepts of Tribes of Midgard. Certain resources are vital to staying competitive, but finding enough of them can be a little too hard considering how important they are to the overall experience. For example, elemental weapons become more and more important for fighting Jotun as the game progresses, but some resources used to build Tribes of Midgard elemental weapons rarely drop. This can make crafting a weapon a multi-day job, as some resources are only readily available at night.
The Midgardian tribe shines best when played with a close group of friends. The game supports co-op for up to 10 players, as well as a matchmaking feature for those looking to mingle with strangers. Playing Tribes of Midgard with friends makes the whole experience more enjoyable, as it allows the group to delegate certain tasks and focus on efficiency. It makes enemies tougher, but the tradeoff is worth it.
With a steady group of friends to play with, the appeal of the Midgardian Horde is obvious. It’s easy to join a game, play for a while, and then let everyone go their separate ways when things start to go stale. The solo experience, on the other hand, isn’t as engaging because managing everything can start to feel tedious after a while by yourself.
The quality of Tribes of Midgard depends a lot on what players like, but not in the traditional sense. It’s an all-or-nothing treat, and those who like to make to-do lists and scramble through goals will find it worth spending hundreds of hours on, while those on the other end of the spectrum will find it tedious. If the player is that specific type of person, Tribes of Midgard will be well worth the investment, but if not, things can start to get a little tense.
Tribes of Midgard is out now on PC, PS4 and PS5. Game Rant obtained the PC code for this review.