Vikings seem to be in fashion these days. The success of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla might have set the stage, but the ground-breaking release of Valheim has both struck the match and lit the fuse on the genre.
If you’re a fan of playing as a Scandinavian pillager roaming the lands in search of glory, then it’s one hell of a good year to be a gamer.
For those on a Viking buzz, then there’s no mead to let yourself go cold turkey (get it? Mead? Because it rhymes with need?). We’ve listed the best Viking games of all time for you to get lost in, whether you’re looking to explore Midgard, Jotunheim, or the even more fantastical lands of long-lost Europe.
Developer: Games Farm Publisher: Kalypso Media Digital
Top-down action RPGs seem to be the dominant genre when it to comes to Viking-inspired games. You’re going to notice a lot of Dragon Age and Diablo inspiration, but that’s far from a bad thing.
Vikings – Wolves of Midgard is one such game, and it also happens to be one of the best Viking games ever developed. It was created by a Slovak studio which added some much-needed credibility to the genre.
It feels quite similar to Diablo when you play. It’s got a decent character creation system and is more or less fully open world. Despite that, the progression system is rather linear, and a lot of the replayability relies on gimmicks that were honestly ahead of their time.
It sits at a positive rating on Steam and a 66 on Metacritic, which is about right. It’s a fun title to pick up if you’re bored, but it’s not what we’re recommending if you’re craving that true Jotunheim and Midgard experience.
14. Mount and Blade: Warband – Viking Conquest
Developer: Brytenwalda Publisher: TaleWorlds Entertainment
Despite being over 10 years old, Mount and Blade: Warband remains one of the community’s most beloved medieval RPGs of all time. Viking Conquest is a DLC that adds, well, Vikings into single-player and multiplayer.
You get a cutesy little storyline, something out of the ordinary for what is otherwise a sandbox title, but that’s nothing to write home about. Instead, you’re going to want to pick up this DLC for the ludicrous number of additions to the world space. Factions, cities, and characters added numbers in the 100s, making this a comprehensive package considering how cheap you can get it for these days.
At the end of the day, though, Viking Conquest is Mount and Blade with Vikings. If you like that style of game, you’ll love this DLC. If you don’t, you’ll probably hate it.
13. For Honor
Developer: Ubisoft Publisher: Ubisoft
For Honor is among the most well-known games to feature Vikings ever made. It’s not so much a Viking game as it is a game that features Vikings, on account of the lack of meaningful single-player and streamlined multiplayer experience.
For Honor is a Ubisoft game, so expect the usual Ubi shenanigans right off the bat. Once you cut through all of that corporate nonsense, though, a truly spectacular multiplayer game lies under the surface.
The game is built on a unique but well-put-together tactical combat system. You’re going to be dueling your opponents, and it’s really going to feel like that. Speaking of opponents, For Honor also features characters from other cultures such as Ancient Mandarian and the Japanese Dynasties.
As I said, this is only a game with Vikings, but it’s a good game with Vikings.
12. Expeditions: Viking
Developer: Logic Artists Publisher: THQ Nordic
What is it about Vikings and top-down action RPGs that developers seem to love so much?
Expeditions: Viking is another entry into that genre, but even I’ll admit that it’s a bloody good one. It’s a 30-hour fast that’s rich with depth, something that is only highlighted by its turn-based combat system.
The premise is quite a good one: you’re a newly appointed chief, so, naturally, you set sail to plunder the West in order to prove your strength and acquire new riches. It’s a simple plot that gets better the longer you play.
Expeditions: Viking is a sleeper hit if ever there was one. If you’re a fan of those mid-2000s RPGs, you’re going to love this.
11. Volgarr the Viking
Developer: Crazy Viking Studios Publisher: Adult Swim Games
Forget about the 2000s; what if we were to tell you there was a phenomenal Viking game made in the 80s? You’d probably call me a liar, and you would be right. Volgarr the Viking came out in 2013, but it’s styled after those pre-90s era games.
If you hate old-school sidescrolling games, first of all, have you ever heard of Mario? And second of all, get out. I don’t want you here.
In all seriousness, Volgarr the Viking is an indie masterpiece of a sidescroller. Although don’t let the whole indie premise turn you off of it, Adult Swim Games published this title, so that should tell you everything you need to know about its quality.
In the game, you’ve been charged by Odin to go out on a quest to defeat an evil dragon. That’s really all there is to it. It’s a simple experience that delivers far more than it has any right to, all for a budget price.
10. Dead in Vinland
Developer: CCCP Publisher: Dear Villagers
Dead in Vinland is unique if nothing else. It’s a survival management game that’s got some RPG mechanics splashed in, which isn’t where my issue lies. However, it’s got that “free Facebook game” aesthetic, which I’ll admit I’m not too big a fan of.
If you’re like more, please, for the love of Odin, do not let that put you off buying this game. It’s got 81% positive reviews on Steam for a reason.
The game is actually a sequel to a previous title called “Dead in Bermuda,” but I wouldn’t worry about playing that before picking up Dead in Vinland.
The story is simple and well put together, which seems to be the norm for Viking games. You’re leading your family on a survival journey after being exiled. However, where this game shines is in its gameplay.
Combat is built off a row-turn-based skill system with RPG elements. It’s a near-identical system to Darkest Dungeon, so if you’ve played that, then you know what you’re in for. If you haven’t played Darkest Dungeon, by the way, do me a favor and fix that.
In fact, the overall gameplay experience is remarkably similar to DD, with a character management system that keeps your nerves on edge at every turn.
It’s not a game for everyone, but it reminds me of Marmite. You’re either going to love this title, or you’ll hate it. There is no in-between.
9. Ancestors Legacy
Developer: Destructive Creations Publisher: 1C Entertainment
And just like that, we’re back to top-down gameplay. Unlike the majority of this genre, though, Ancestors Legacy only came out in 2018, with a PS4 release in 2019 and a Switch port in 2020.
That kind of timeframe means that the game is able to deliver an old-school genre title that has modern tech backing it. This combines into an RTS that offers one of the smoothest PC to console ports that I’ve ever seen.
Its story is what stands out to me. It’s a well-waived Viking tale that actually manages to keep its gameplay objectives relevant to the plot, which is something that is underappreciated these days.
What I will say is that its gameplay is remarkably unremarkable. It’s built on an infantry-based rock, paper, scissors system, but if we wanted gameplay like that, we would go and play Pokémon.
Regardless, it’s still a solid title, especially on PS4 and Xbox. If you’re looking for a gritty Norse experience, though, you’re arguably not going to find it here.
8. Crusader Kings III
Developer: Paradox Development Studio Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Let’s be honest, half of you are here because of Valheim and AC: Valhalla, and the other half of you are here because of Crusader Kings 3.
Crusader Kings isn’t a Viking game, but like For Honor, it lets you play as Vikings. Unlike For Honor, though, rather than having a game solely built on PvP combat, CK3 is like Civ on steroids.
I’d be shocked if you haven’t played either this or any of the Civilization games, but that just means you should rush out to pick up this title even quicker.
There’s no major plotline, as is the case with most grand strategy games. Instead, each individual run is its own self-contained story. The way you build up your Viking clan and deal with other nations is going to be unique each time you play, especially given just how deep a lot of the systems in CK3 are.
Crusader Kings III only came out in 2020, too, so the game is still very much being supported by Paradox.
Developer: Paradox Development Studio Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Now we’re talking. While a lot of the games on this list use Vikings as nothing more than a window dressing or as one of many featues, Jotun isn’t afraid to immerse itself into specific parts of Norse mythology. Specifically, the game sees you traveling across the nine realms to defeat the jötunn themselves.
That’s a simple premise that lends way to simple gameplay, but Jotun is so much more than that. It’s got real heart and soul to it, something that AAA titles like For Honor struggle to achieve.
There is clearly love and effort put into this title, as is evident by just how beautiful the art direction is. While Jotun only ranks at number seven in the list, it’s among the best strictly indie Viking games out there.
6. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
Developer: Ubisoft Publisher: Ubisoft
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla exceeded everyone’s expectations at launch. That’s saying something, too, because all eyes were on Ubisoft after the success of Odyssey.
AC: Valhalla is much more a Viking game than it is a “traditional” Assassin’s Creed game, much like Black Flag was more of a game about being a pirate than an assassin. While that’s perhaps terrible for OG AC fans, it’s great if you’re looking for a Viking gaming experience. It also does jump into Norse mythology quite a bit, which shouldn’t be such a standout point for a Viking game, but it is.
At the end of the day, though, this is still a Ubisoft Assassin’s Creed game. There are microtransactions, it’s full of grinding, and it’s going to get repetitive. On the other hand, though, it’s also teeming with life, solid combat and a winding story, which actually makes it one of the best Viking games ever made. Skol!
5. Bad North
Developer: Plausible Concept Publisher: Raw Fury
Oh man, what a gem this is. When a roguelite, RTS, glorified tower-defense game is beating out a multimillion-dollar AAA title, you know it’s something special.
However, do not play Bad North if you’re looking for a Norse story because you’re not going to be getting it. Bad North uses Vikings as a point of stylization and doesn’t necessarily do all that much it.
If you’re just into Vikings for the theme and not the mythology, though, this should immediately be at the top of your wishlist. It’s the perfect game to kill some time with here and there, and I mean that on account of the fact that Bad North is also available on mobile.
You lead your people from island to island, each time requiring you to fend off Viking invaders. That’s all, but what else did you expect from a roguelite? Seriously, though, it doesn’t need to be anything more than this. At all.
4. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Developer: Ninja Theory Publisher: Ninja Theory
Is Hellblade the most well-known indie game of all time? It’s up there, and just as well because it is astonishing. So astonishing that it’s getting a sequel with Microsoft’s backing after they purchased its developer, and how many actual indie games can say that?
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a dark fantasy action-adventure RPG, so already I’m all over that. Throwing Vikings as a thematic point on top of that genre makes the game feel like it was developed exclusively for me, and at this point, I sort of think it was.
Its story is beautiful. You’re tasked with traveling to Helheim to retrieve the soul of your lost lover, and I’m more than willing to admit that I fell in love with that plot. It’s clear that this game was written to be a Viking game rather than made as a game with a Viking skin, and that is something that I really appreciate.
If you’re going to play any title on this list, make it this one. Even if it didn’t quite crack the top three, it’s one of those rare gaming experiences that sit with you long after you finish playing.
Developer: Shiro Games Publisher: Shiro Games
Yes, Northgard is a top-down game, and yes, it’s in the top three. The fact that I rate it so highly despite my dislike for the genre should be all the convincing you need.
Northgard is a progression-based RTS that sees you leading your clan on an expedition to a newly discovered landmass. It’s simple, as all games of this nature are, but it’s built on a randomized map generator that guarantees you never get bored with it.
What really pushes this game up a notch, though, is the fact that it has online Co-op. It has PvP, too, but that’s something that I’ve shied away from.
It’s rather expensive as indie titles go, but more than worth the investment if you can convince a friend to pick it up with you.
2. The Banner Saga
Developer: Stoic Publisher: Versus Evil
2014. 2014 is when The Banner Saga came out. It’s almost 10 years later, and we still consider it the second-best Viking game ever made. A Switch port recently came out in 2018, and how many four-year-old games that aren’t Skyrim, Mario, or GTA get ports?
The Banner Saga a stylized tactical RPG with a tile-based combat system, all of which is remarkably well made when you consider that the project was funded on Kickstarter. However, this little fact is the most important thing about the game. The Banner Saga, even more than Jotun, has heart. It was made by gamers, for gamers, and that shows.
The world is Viking inspired rather than being outright Norse, but that just gave the developers more room for creativity, and they took advantage of that. The game features two playable characters, each with their own story, as well as a multitude of choices and diverging paths that affect what events you see in-game.
I’m not going to go into any detail because I don’t want to spoil this masterpiece on you, so do yourself a favor and pick it up, and then the other two amazing parts to complete the trilogy. It’s out on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch, so you have no excuse.
Developer: Iron Gate AB Publisher: Coffee Stain Publishing
Of course Valheim is number one. It’s the whole reason we were inspired to make this list in the first place. Given the whole global lockdown thing that dominated 2020, many didn’t expect much from games in 2021, but Valheim brought in the new year with more of a nuclear blast than a bang.
In just one short month, it’s become one of the most popular games on Steam. When you consider it was made by a five-person team and isn’t a party game like Among Us, that’s an incredible statistic. It’s a passion project that has changed the online survival genre forever in less than 30 days of release.
It’s a roleplaying survival game that sees you setting up shop in an afterlife where you play as a Viking, but you’re not exactly in Valhalla.
It’s a sandbox experience, meaning you carve out your own path with your friends as you craft tools and shelter to try and keep yourself safe from all the enemies lurking about the place.
The fact that Valheim is such a solid experience already is very telling for the future. The game is only going to continue getting support for the next few years, so get your ticket punched now before you’re left too far behind.
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