Tribes of Midgard

Tribes of Midgard caught me off guard. It didn’t even scan on my radar until the day it launched, when Half-Glass Gaming’s owner Josh asked me if I was excited to play it. I believe my answer was something along the lines of, “Huh?”

But after a little research, and with Josh offering to group up, I took the plunge. The $20 asking price on PS5 certainly didn’t hurt.

Now, after having only played a few instances over the course of a several hours, I gotta say, I am enjoying Tribes of Midgard quite a bit. I haven’t tried the Survival game mode yet — I’m just shy of reaching Level 3, which is when that mode unlocks — but just as an online multiplayer action RPG, it is scratching an itch I didn’t know I had. In a weird way, it reminds me more of a MOBA than what I would consider a traditional action RPG, though I think this has to do more with pacing than the gameplay itself.

If you haven’t yet heard of Tribes of Midgard yet, it’s a sort of top-down, isometric, fixed-camera (the camera angle can be zoomed in and out, but there is no manual camera rotation) action RPG. You can play solo (although this can be punishing and isn’t recommended) or in a multiplayer session, either with your dedicated squad or with some total randos. The main objective is to build up resource stockpiles so you can upgrade your weapons and armor, as well as the camp you are tasked with defending (and the Seed of Yggdrasil that this camp houses). This is no easy feat, as you’ll need to topple the spawns of the Realm of Darkness and literal towering giants. Souls are the currency of this world, at least within a gameplay session (there are more currencies, but it’s Souls that really matter during actual gameplay).

Believe me, this is a very rudimentary breakdown of the game, but this should be enough to give you a general frame of reference for what Tribes of Midgard is all about.

Tribes of Midgard

Now, if I am permitted a few gripes about Tribes of Midgard, each of varying size, my biggest gripe is that Tribes’ tutorial leaves much to be desired. It goes over some of the basics, don’t get me wrong, but even the word basics might be overly generous when describing the ground covered by this tutorial.

This whole thing lasts about 15 minutes, which is a great clip for a tutorial, especially if the game frontloads all of the mechanics it wishes to teach you instead of doling them out over the longer course of a game. The problem is, Tribes’ tutorial makes the game seem incredibly thin, and it’s only when you jump into the game proper that you realize that speed and efficiency are crucial to the gameplay loop. In my first non-tutorial match, I found myself overwhelmed and just sort of spinning my wheels as I tried to parse out what bits of info were immediately necessary and which ones I could either piece together over time or bug Josh to give me a brief rundown on.

The tutorial sets up the main, granular objective of keeping that dang Seed of Yggdrasil stocked with Souls. It also teaches the player how to craft weapons and armor. It even makes it clear that you must defend your camp each night from the attacking Helthings, and that you’ll ultimately need to fell enormous giants in order to reap those sweet Gold Horns which will grant you unlocks down the road. Everything else is left unsaid.

Tribes of Midgard

For instance, although you collect Souls to feed your tree (the only thing the tutorial explicitly tells you Souls are for), those precious Souls also work as an in-session currency to upgrade most of the camp vendors and resource pools, and it’s what you’ll need to spend in order to repair damaged weapons.

The tutorial also doesn’t even mention the existence of your three automated resource supplies — the farm, the lumbermill, and the quarry — which produce resources over time, allowing you to focus your energies on things other than farming the most basic of resources.

It says nothing about how fast travel works, with two-way teleportation via shrines and one-way teleportation via a rune that you keep on your person. There’s no mention that you need ramps to climb up rock formations, or that you can purchase said ramps at a vendor in your camp. You can also roll to climb down ledges, though you wouldn’t know it by playing through the tutorial.

The tutorial doesn’t detail what most of the onscreen meters indicate, or how shared XP works when you’re in a group session. It doesn’t tell you that you can share items with your camp and everyone in your group by using the community chest.

And the tutorial doesn’t even mention that there’s a quest board in your camp, which you can use to pick up tasks from characters around the game’s randomly generated maps.

Tribes of Midgard - Asta

Short of walking you through what are arguably the more intuitive elements of the game (which you can probably figure out just by gandering at the trailer), it doesn’t really explain anything at all.

I personally prefer a game that lets me in on a few of its mechanics or design choices right off the bat, so that I don’t spend an inordinate amount of time running around blindly or, worse yet, foolishly wasting precious materials. Great games should not require supplemental reading material just to learn how to play them.

All of this isn’t to say that Tribes of Midgard isn’t a great game. I mean it’s not, but it’s a dang good one. I just wish they frontloaded a bit more of the nitty-gritty day-to-day so that, at the very least, I don’t have to bug Josh nearly as much as I do while he’s trying to get his Viking on.

On the Half-Glass rating system, Tribes of Midgard‘s tutorial is half-empty.

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