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Northgard

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Northgard Game Poster Image
Let loose your inner Viking in this fantasy strategy game.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The main focus of the game is simply to build and expand your Viking settlement in a new land while defending it from attackers. Fame and revenge are a main focus of the campaign mode, and the motivations for the player's actions there.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most characters don't get a lot of character development. While there are some elements of "good vs. evil," for the most part, the characters are simply following their beliefs.

Ease of Play

The game requires a lot of planning and forethought, as you build your settlements to meet the requirements of the people and prepare for both defensive and offensive tactics. You've got to hold your ground against enemies while simultaneously looking to expand for resources and other gains.

Violence

Units meet up and clash in fantasy battles, with a variety of weapons and magic abilities at their disposal. Defeated units collapse on the battlefield, leaving bodies behind for a bit before disappearing, but there's no blood or gore shown onscreen.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One of the options/requirements when building your settlement is a brewery, outside of which you can occasionally see characters drinking alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Northgard is a fantasy real-time strategy game available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch consoles, as well as Windows, MacOS, and Linux-based computers. The game's based on Viking history and Norse mythology, with players building, maintaining, and expanding settlements while facing the threat of rival tribes and other creatures. It requires patience and micromanagement to play effectively, with players using forethought and strategy. Although fighting is a constant part of the game, with lots of fantasy weapons and magical abilities, there's no blood or gore shown during combat. Players can build a brewery, and figures are shown outside drinking alcohol, but otherwise, there's no inappropriate content.

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What's it about?

NORTHGARD is the name of a new land discovered by the Viking clans after years of exploration. This new land offers fame, fortune, and conquest to those brave warriors willing to take it. As the leader of one of seven great clans, it falls to you to bring glory to your people by building a settlement on the Northgard shores and expanding your influence throughout the land. You'll raise an army and challenge the threat of dire wolves, undead warriors, and rival clans, even the will of the gods. You have the option to play alone in a single-player campaign, following the son of the High King on his personal quest of revenge, or choose your clan and prove your dominance over the others in epic battles that will be spoken of for all of eternity in Valhalla.

Is it any good?

The Vikings have been known throughout history as warriors tied to a rich mythology. Northgard beautifully taps into the tales of these mythic people when challenging players to build and sustain their clan strength. On the one hand, players deal with the real-world issues the Vikings face, like making sure to have a bountiful harvest in the summer to carry your village through the harsh winter to come. This part of the game plays like a classic town/city builder, as you delegate responsibilities to your people, order the building of key structures, and provide a safe haven for your clan to thrive. This part also requires a lot of micromanagement, as players try to keep aware of the villagers' wants and needs to keep their community thriving while still exploring and expanding to the lands beyond.

Once the real-time strategy part of the game kicks in, that's when the fun of the Norse mythology comes into play. Exploring the different areas of Northgard means running into creatures of legends. Rather than killing everything, though, it's possible to sway some to your side. And there's little more impressive than charging into battle with a literal giant as backup. If you earn the favor of the gods, you can carve a swath of destruction through any that oppose you. Of course, yours isn't the only clan on the island. Multiplayer matches can be frantic races to build up in preparation for an inevitable attack, but be careful not to neglect the needs of your people or you won't have much of a village to defend. It's a constant juggling act to keep your people appeased, your village fortified against the elements, and your forces ready to attack and defend at a moment's notice. Northgard can be brutal at times, but then again, so was the Viking way of life.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Northgard affected by the lack of blood and gore? How does the romanticized fantasy of games like Northgard compare to the brutal reality of the violence in Norse history? 

  • What are some of the ways that Viking expansion and colonization affected the rest of the world? What are some ways the Norse culture influence people today?

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