It’s no secret that Northgard is one of the best RTS games out there, balancing a hostile environment with challenging gameplay and solid multiplayer, but can the mobile version live up to its PC counterpart?
The story mode sets the scene for the game nicely and is worth visiting first as it introduces all the main elements of the game. It’s a tale of revenge over the clan who killed your father and of trying to rebuild an army to take them on.
As with many other classic RTS games, this is all about resources and building up a base (in this case a town with fortifications) while discovering the area with scouts and also keeping your people happy. The viking setting is perfect for this and the harsh landscape is just as deadly as the enemies you’ll meet along the way.
Seasons change and Winter needs to be prepared for, with food and resource supplies running low at this time of year, the game will even congratulate you for getting through another harsh Winter, that’s how difficult it can get. This hits early on, too. Once you’ve barely mastered giving people jobs, sending out scouts and creating a small armed force to tackle the local wildlife or any hostile forces that might come your way, you’re whisked off to the mainland where everything is stepped up a notch in terms of trying to make your life harder.
The tutorial does skip certain elements that you’ll need to pick up on yourself, which can be daunting as it happens at the same time the harsher conditions are thrown at you. It’s also clear that this is a game built for mouse and keyboard and that the menus could benefit from being larger (though you can enlarge them at the expense of less screen space for the game). Playing on a PC is far easier than even on the iPad Air 4 that this was running on. Those who are up for the increase in difficulty might relish this but it really does make an already tough game that much tougher. If you do have a keyboard with trackpad or mouse support on your tablet then this will certainly improve the situation.
Dying is inevitable the first few playthroughs but it does feel that you learn and improve, so it’s not overly unfair, it’s just a very steep learning curve to balance resource management, the mood of the people and guarding your land while attacking enemies and exploring. There’s so much going on that you need to multitask every minute while playing.
Graphics are clear and beautifully designed but, yet again, will suffer on anything less than a 10″ screen and the basic zoom in and out doesn’t help. It runs well enough with a few stutters on more busy maps but may well have a few more issues with speed on older iPads and phones (though I really wouldn’t recommend playing this on a phone due to the screen size). The same will go for Android devices.
Northgard’s mobile port is more a straight port than something that takes advantage of its new platform. With a more robust tutorial and better zooming this would be an essential title for iPad and Android tablet owners. It’s still an easy to recommend game for those who like their RTS games to fight back and it’s by far the best game of the genre on the App Store at the moment.