PAX East 2012: Hands On - War of the Roses

When we first got a dose of info about War of the Roses, the concept was surprisingly simple: FPS-style combat in a medieval setting with knights and archers and more. Up to 32 players can engage in red-vs-blue style combat with swords, maces, axes, hammers, and bows & arrows as they try to outmaneuver and outlast the opposition.

I had the chance to play a round of War of the Roses at PAX East and while visually it was interesting, we were only playing a “pre-alpha” version of the game, which made this feel a bit like a proof of concept kind of demonstration. However, it was interesting in terms of overall challenge. For new players like myself, taking up a sword and shield or dual-weilding melee weapons in my particular class of choice was a great way to introduce myself to the game. The combat requires more than just mouse click speed, and involves carefully powering up then swinging your weapon with accuracy. Though the controls definitely will take some getting used to, it was refreshing to play a game like this where your improvements in controlling the game are clearly noticeable as you play.

While melee is certainly the easy road to take, the ranged archer classes definitely require more skill. The Longbowman and Shortbowman are certainly easier to work with than the Crossbowman, who I still am not sure I completely understand. For ranged classes, it’s all about positioning and precision striking, even if you do have a weapon to defend yourself with.

The challenging element in the game comes when players clash and it becomes a race between executing your fallen foe or his ally coming to revive him. Just taking a player down won’t be enough - with a timed press of the “E” key, you can finish your opponent off, usually with a sword to the heart or a dagger to the face. Of course, it’s just as easy to revive a fallen opponent, so I learned to finish them off swiftly. Of course, your execution can be interrupted, so it’s key the area is clear before you begin the process.

War of the Roses is a very interesting twist on a typical game and with the ability for players to customize their own maps, the 32 player cap can be easily exceeded even to a point of madness. War of the Roses is set for release later this year from Paradox Interactive. Find out more at

About Steve Perry

The owner of GKick Network, co-host of the GKick and Bottom Line Live podcasts, and hero to millions worldwide.