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This is not the case in Viking. You can have a couple of warriors with shields and a bunch of archers, you can create an impenetrable shield wall, or you can get creative and have one or two high-damage units supported by a bunch of healers with the Leadership skill that allows you to take bonus turns. It's quite rare to find a game where so many approaches are viable and at the same time feel unique, and because of that, Viking's combat is pretty much its best quality and something I never got tired of during my playthrough.
And when it comes to difficulty, Viking has four difficulty presets and an optional Iron Man mode, but on top of that you can customize the difficulty to your liking when you begin a new campaign. However, since you probably won't know what any of those sliders mean during your first playthrough, you should keep in mind that the game is quite easy on the Medium setting and if you want a bit of challenge, you should probably just start on Hard right away.
And finally, while your hird is fairly large, you usually control only six characters in combat, but the key word here is usually – on some occasions you will need to use your entire hird and for those rare moments, it's wise to have everyone decently equipped.
Viking uses the Unity engine and as a result its areas are usually quite small, and when they aren't they're not exactly packed with objects or encounters. Even so, the game takes its sweet time loading and while it's nowhere near as egregious as some other Unity games, over the course of a playthorugh these loading times add up to the point where they actively discourage exploration. Around the time I was about to complete the campaign, I caught myself thinking, “do I really want to do this side quest or should I just skip it and not deal with all the loading involved?” This isn't what you want to be thinking when playing a game about exploration and discovery.
Additionally, a couple of times during my playthrough the loading screen got “stuck” and the game refused to load, forcing me to restart. Thankfully, unlike some other Unity games, saving in Viking is pretty much instant, so there's nothing stopping you from hitting F5 every few steps and using several manual saves on top of that just to stay on the safe side.
Some other annoyances include the fact that at times it may be tricky to find the right pixels that allow you to interact with items, and a few minor bugs too many for a game that's already received its last major update.
The music is good, even great, but I would have preferred there to be a bit more of it. Voice acting is pretty scarce and consists of some banter between your companions and a few instances of voiced dialogue, usually during character introductions.
Expeditions: Viking sits in a curious spot where it could have benefited from being both more and less focused. It should have packed its locations with more quests, NPCs, and things to do, and at the same time it should have tightened the existing quests and made them more engaging and complex. With a limited budget, it may have been impossible to do both, but at least one would have made Viking a much better game.
As it stands, I can't really call Viking a great RPG. It has a great setting, great combat, and a role-playing system that's a lot of fun to figure out, but its derivative story, wonky engine, and some questionable design decisions make the overall experience less enjoyable than it otherwise could have been. But even so, I think there's more good than bad in Viking and I can't help but recommend it to anyone looking for a decent RPG. Just don't set your expectations too high and you won't be disappointed.
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