Ah, Vikings. Next to the Wild West outlaws, they are quite possibly the most romanticized group of historical villains. The adventures of the Scandinavian conquerors have had a bit of a renaissance in the past few years, and as a result, we have quite a bunch of biking or Norse-themed video games.
It might be the glory of Skyrim, it might be amazing Vinland Saga manga or it is all thanks to Vikings – History Channel’s TV show retelling a slightly fictionalized tale of historical Norse rulers and their conquests. Thanks to great casting, stunning cinematography, and excellent writing, Vikings had become one of the most popular TV series of the past decade, often compared favorably to HBO’s Game of Thrones.
The series presented the life of the titular Vikings with brutal detail, not shying away from the depravity of the Norsemen ways. Despite that fact, or maybe because of it, Vikings had once again become a popular theme in pop-culture, which meant that other branches of it reached to the rich mythos of Scandinavian raiders to present their take on it. One of the said branches was the video game industry. Below, you’ll find the list of the best games where you play as a Viking available on the market.
|Rune Classic||2001-11-18||Adventure||Human Head Studios||18%|
|Valheim||2021-02-02||Sandbox, adventure||Iron Gate AB||23%|
|God Of War||2022-01-14||Action||Santa Monica Studio||55%|
|Assassins Creed Valhalla||2020-11-10||Action RPG||Ubisoft||81%|
|Hellblade Senuas Sacrifice||2017-08-08||Adventure||Ninja Theory||84%|
|The Banner Saga||2014-01-14||Indie||Stoic||70%|
|The Banner Saga 2||2016-04-19||Indie||Stoic||88%|
|The Banner Saga 3 Legendary Edition||2018-07-26||Indie||Stoic||47%|
|Total War Saga Thrones Of Britannia||2018-05-03||Strategy||Creative Assembly||71%|
|The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Special Edition||2016-10-27||Adventure||Bethesda Game Studios||75%|
|For Honor||2017-02-13||Action & Shooter||Blue Byte||89%|
|Dead In Vinland||2018-04-12||Adventure||CCCP||92%|
|Jotun Valhalla Edition||2015-09-29||Adventure||Thunder Lotus Games||90%|
|Ancestors Legacy||2018-05-22||Strategy||Destructive Creations||90%|
|Expeditions Viking||2017-04-27||Indie||Logic Artists||95%|
|Smite Ultimate God Pack||2015-09-08||Action & Shooter||Hi-Rez Studios|
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
Before Ubisoft jumped headfirst into the Viking world in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, they decided to test the waters with For Honor, a fighting game where the best warriors of the Middle-Ages fight in an all-out tournament. The game was a great success not only for the fans of fighting games with unique mechanics but also for history nerds who finally could answer a question who would win the battle between a Viking and a samurai.
For Honor’s gameplay gives the player’s a lot of flexibility in choosing their own playstyle. Each warrior category (Vikings, Knights, Samurais, and the Chinese) is divided into various subclasses, offering a varied and balanced experience. FH gameplay modes offer a single-player campaign, with a story following the three factions fighting for limited resources left after a cataclysmic event. Multiplayer mode is quite expansive and features 1v1 duels, team deathmatches, and many more. The fans of Medieval themes and action-packed fighting titles should be satisfied.
The Banner Sag
A beautifully told story, full of consequence-laden choices. The Banner Saga takes the player on an epic and emotional adventure set in a fantastical world based around the Viking themes.
In The Banner Saga, the player’s choices matter, not only because of the tactical nature of this turn-based RPG. The developers at Stoic Studio didn’t want to create another linear story featuring cookie-cutter characters and themes. In TBS, the player is forced to face the consequences of their actions, be that through making a bad call during the battle, or choosing a wrong dialogue option. All choices are final in this game, and the player is encouraged to let the story play out instead of restarting the last save. That way, the players can feel like they are writing their own Viking saga, full of unique plot twists.
If you want to witness the tactical brilliance of the Vikings in its full glory, you should pick Destructive Creations’ Ancestors Legacy. Not only will you be able to relive the most epic moments that shaped Medieval Europe, but also play at the rowdy bunch of Vikings storming the shores of England.
Vikings are featured prominently in Ancestors Legacy. They serve as the tutorial nation, explaining the odds and ends of AL’s gameplay mechanics. They also are one of the two armies to have more than one campaign. The game features three other nations – the Anglo-Saxons, the Teutons, and the Slavs. Each faction has its unique units and tactics, which change depending on the t time of day (the game features a day-night cycle). When you’re done with the history-inspired campaign, you can try your hand in the multiplayer, where teams of up to 6 players can participate in Domination and Annihilation modes.
|Developer:||Thunder Lotus Games|
In Norse mythology, the Jotun are the giants who inhabit one of the nine worlds connected to Yggdrasil, the World Tree. In Jotun, an action-adventure game from Thunder Lotus Games, you might have a chance to meet them in combat. Mostly though, you’ll spend your time exploring the colorful world of the game and solving puzzles.
The protagonist of Jotun is Thora (no relation to the God of Thunder), a woman who had recently perished in battle. Due to the not-so-glorious nature of her death, she is tasked with defeating the Jotun, elemental giants, to earn her place in Valhalla. The game follows Thora traveling through the realms, solving different puzzles, and fighting several giants. The game isn’t the most ambitious Viking title on our list, but it stands out thanks to its visual style and exploration-oriented gameplay.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition
|Developer:||Bethesda Game Studios|
Norse mythology is rife with themes of lone heroes destined to defeat evil and bring peace to the land. This theme can also be found in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The fifth installment of the classic action-RPG series takes the player to a new region of Tamriel, strikingly similar to the snow-covered peaks of the Scandinavian peninsula.
The plot of the game is also very “Vikingy.” The Dragon-born, our lone protagonist, is the only one who can stop the dragon Alduin from destroying the world. The hero embarks on an epic quest to locate and lay the beast, completing various sidequests and optional tasks along the way. You know, the usual action-RPG stuff. For the fans who demand an even more “Vikingy” experience, we recommend various Skyrim mods, which allow the player to add items inspired by the weapons and armors of the Scandinavian warriors.
|Developer:||Human Head Studios|
The first game on our list to be based on Norse mythology. Human Head Studio’s Rune is a classic title that provides the player with an excellent single-player campaign, engaging multiplayer mode, and gameplay mechanics that still manage to entertain despite being 21 years old.
In Rune, the player controls Ragnar, a young Viking warrior sworn to protect runestones created by Odin to imprison the trickster god Loki. As the evil Viking Conrack plots to shatter the runestones in order to free Loki, Ragnar is the only one who can stop him. Following Ragnar’s quest, the player will visit various mythological realms – including Hel, the Norse underworld – where he will meet all sorts of creatures: dwarves, goblins, elves, and many more. The game also features a multiplayer mode, in which players can participate in solo and team deathmatches.
Northgard combines the Viking theme with the ever-popular genre of city management games. The result is a title that will satisfy both the fans of games like The Settlers and those who want to experience a different side of Viking life.
In Northgard, the player assumes control over a small Viking colony. The game focuses on managing the needs of the Viking settlers, as well as expanding the colony farther into the continent of Northgard. The gameplay features include collecting resources, expanding the settlement’s reach, and of course, fighting against enemies. Northgard offers a few victory conditions, including conquest, trade, fame, etc. Another fun feature of Northgard is the multiplayer mode, in which the player can gain ranks for winning against online enemies.
Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia
Creative Assembly’s Thrones of Britannia is a spinoff of the main Total War series, released under the Total War Saga brand. The game takes the player to 9th century Britain, where powerful forces clash for control over the island. The game features new cultures, with two separate Viking factions among them.
The gameplay remains unchanged in comparison to other Total War titles. The player begins their adventure at a specific point in time and leads their faction to victory over others using any means necessary. The game covers the events starting from the late 9th century to the year 1066 and features figures that shaped the history of the land, such as Alfred the Great. Thrones of Britannia is a perfect choice for the history buffs and the enthusiasts of what-if scenarios, as well as any fan of classic RTS games.
Dead in Vinland
Dead in Vinland combines the elements of classic adventure games with elements of survival and turn-based RPG. The seemingly odd combination of features works in the title’s favor as all the gameplay elements work together in creating a unique gameplay experience.
Eirik and his family have been exiled to the faraway Vinland and have to forge a life for themselves in this new land. The game’s main focus is survival – the player will have to collect resources to keep the family fed and sheltered. Other gameplay features include turn-based combat, exploration of the game world’s locations, managing the growing community, etc.
Expeditions: Viking shares a lot of similarities with Thrones of Brittania. Both games focus on leading a Viking clan to prosperity using a variety of means, from politics to war. The players who enjoy tactical RPGs with a bit more complexity will definitely enjoy their adventure during Viking expeditions to Britain.
The game’s main features are focused on the RPG aspect of gameplay. The player can create their own Viking leader, selecting various skills and stats they will need to succeed in their mission. The stats influence the player’s standing with the NPCs, both enemy and friendly. Playing as a hardheaded barbarian may win you the love of your warrior kin, but the natives of Albion will not look kindly to your violent ways. It’s details like thee that make Expeditions: Viking such a treat – the game requires you to change your perspective on the way Vikings should do things in order to succeed.
Vikings: Wolves of Midgard
Inspired by titles like Diablo and World of Warcraft, Vikings: Wolves of Midgard takes the player on a fun romp across the snowy fields of the titular realm, fighting monsters and gathering resources to upgrade our Viking village.
It would be an overstatement to say that Vikings: Wolves of Midgard is an exceptional game, but what it does, it does right. The game takes the player to the snowy fields of Midgard, where they can complete various missions, dividend between the hunt and raid type. Hunt missions require the player to kill a select number of specific creatures, while raid missions progress the story of the game. In-between completing quests, the player should find time to gather resources – wood and iron – to upgrade their village. The settlement acts as the main hub of the game and expanding it grants the player access to new missions.
|Developer:||Iron Gate Studio|
Valheim takes the best elements of games such as Minecraft, Fortnite, Subnautica, and so on, dips them in a Norse mythology sauce, and serves to the player a complete dish full of interesting gameplay mechanics.
The key feature of Valheim is that it’s big. Really big. The world of the game – the titular realm created by Odin to imprison his enemies – is divided into several biomes, each of which presents different challenges. The player is given a free hand of exploring Valheim, either on foot or by craftable boats. Crafting is another important element of gameplay, as the player starts the game with basic gear and tools. Surviving in the harsh environment of Valheim will require the player to craft new equipment and weapons, using the resources found in the area. If you’re a fan of exploring massive worlds and crafting, then Valheim is the Viking game just for you!
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Hellblade is an experiment in video game development gone horribly right. Initially meant to test if a small development team could produce a AAA quality title, Senua’s Sacrifice blew the expectations out of the water with stunning graphics, demanding gameplay, and important themes smuggled under cover of a simple Viking game.
The main character of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is the titular Senua – a Pict warrior whose fiance is killed in the Viking invasion. Tormented by guilt and longing, as well as bouts of schizophrenia, Senua decides to go to Helheim to see her lover one last time. She is accompanied on her journey by Druth, a teller of tales and provider of all the Viking lore the player could possibly imagine. Along the way to Helheim, Senua will encounter vicious Norsemen and other enemies, who might as well only exist in Senua’s mind. Because above all else, Hellblade is a game about dealing with grief and mental illness in a world that doesn’t seem to care about either of those things.
Assassin's Creed Valhalla
AC Valhalla takes the player on yet another journey into the world of secret societies and mysterious artifacts, this time setting the action in the time of the Viking invasion of England.
The gameplay mechanics remain mostly unchanged in comparison to AC Origins and Odyssey, but there are a few additions that build up the “theme” of the game. Like in Northgard and Dead in Vinland, the layer has to look after and expand a Viking settlement. The village serves as the player’s hub and a place where they can relax in between pillaging villages and storming English castles. While in the village, the player can upgrade their equipment, accept sidequests and participate in minigames, probably the most Viking of which is competitive mead-drinking. If you’re a fan of Viking themes, you should give AC Valhalla a chance, if only for those moments of Scandinavian revelry.
God of War
|Developer:||Santa Monica Studio|
2018’s God of War is the final title on our list and quite possibly the game that best encapsulates the Viking aesthetic. The continuation of Kratos’s journey towards redemption takes a different turn as he tries to prepare his son for the life that awaits him in the harsh world of Midgard.
In some ways, the Viking adventure of Kratos and Atreus is similar to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Both games heavily feature Norse myths as means of worldbuilding. But while Senua was a passive recipient of mythology told to her by Druth, Kratos and his son actively shape the mythological reality around them, encountering, befriending, or promptly disposing of various characters of the Norse pantheon. Even the mechanics incorporate the Nordic theme, as the usual magic from previous installments is replaced by ability runes. All in all, on top of being an excellent AAA game, God of War is gives the player a quintessential Viking experience that should satisfy even the biggest nerds of Nordic lore.
Lo, there do I see my father
As you can see, the list of Norse games is long. In fact, we’ve only managed to cover the most prominent titles offering the player a Scandinavian warrior experience. There are plenty of other games – some bigger, some smaller – that are set during the times of Northern raiders.
Much like the TV series mentioned in the opening paragraphs of this text, the games presented on our list deal with various sides of Viking life – both glamorous and less savory. We hope that our list gave you a better idea of what the Viking games have to offer in terms of gameplay variety, and now you’ll be able to choose something for yourself to bind time before another TV series about the adventures of brave Norsemen is announced.