If you watch the above trailer, I wouldn’t fault you for thinking that Warlander was some kind of MOBA game in the style of League of Legends or Dota 2. While the trailer does show some gameplay, the camera angles are all over the place, so you never really get a feel for how this thing might play.

And yeah, you’ll get some information from the trailer, like how this is a Medieval combat game with siege engines to command and towers to capture, but you don’t really get a comprehensive look at how all of it comes together.

Thankfully, I was given access to the final closed beta period ahead of Warlander‘s January 24 launch on Steam (it’ll be coming to consoles later this year), so I got to experience it firsthand. So I learned really quickly that this was nothing like the MOBA I was expecting. Instead, this is a Medieval combat game sort of in the vein of Chivalry 2, only with a cartoony aesthetic and a third-person perspective. It honestly reminds me a little bit of a Medieval version of Star Wars Battlefront 2.

Now, I should point out that the beta period was sparsely populated, and if I’m understanding correctly, mostly just available to press. So I didn’t get to play quite as many matches as I hoped to (a majority of my time was spent waiting in lobbies). I did still get to experience some, just not as many as I would normally have played under different circumstances.


That said, I did play enough to familiarize myself with the basic premise. Essentially, there are two competing teams, each of which is trying to break into the opponent’s castle to destroy an orb. The first team to destroy the opposite team’s orb is the winner. (There’s are also massive five-team battles, but I was never able to try this out in the closed beta period because my attempted five-team lobbies never filled.)

In this pursuit, you have three classes to play as: Warrior, Mage, and Cleric. Warrior is your standard beefy tanklike knight with a sword, Mage is a spellcaster, and Cleric is a hammer-wielding healer type. While Mage is primarily a ranged class, all three classes do have a ranged weapon. Spells and crossbows fire like machine guns, which makes this feel more like, say, Gears of War than a stabby-stabby type game like Chivalry 2.

Oh, and you basically set up a “deck,” or a loadout of five characters. These are the characters you can choose in battle, though there’s a catch: If you level up a character, they won’t be available to play as until you’ve earned the proper amount of points. So thing of them as Star Wars Battlefront 2‘s special units — you have to play as the lowest-level class to unlock the special units in play later in the match.


I actually don’t like this mechanic. It penalizes you for leveling up a character (you must always have some 0-tier characters in your deck or you can’t even play the game), which feels counterintuitive to me. I can totally deal with it, but it forces me to set up my character builds in a particular way that feels kind of unsatisfying — I don’t dare level up a character to max rank because I’ll almost never get to play that character. Plus, if you want a good mixed team with all three classes, you kind of have to keep at least three characters at level 0. That gives you two additional slots for higher-level characters, and you probably want to keep those at level 1 and level 2, so you can ramp from your 0s to your 1 to your 2.

Aside from the character decks, though, I actually really enjoyed my time with Warlander. The controls feel excellent, and combat is satisfying. I spent most of my time as a Mage (as I am known to do), and I had a ton of fun blasting gates with lightning and shooting enemies in the face with magic bolts.

The battlefield is basically a classic-style three-lane map, with control points throughout. You can spawn on any of the control points that your team has captured. You’ll be blocked from entering the enemy’s stronghold by gates, but you can smash those down by attacking them. You can also deploy siege engines and even steampunk robots, which seems kind of fun though I never really got to take part in any robot action in my time with Warlander.


There was only one map in the build I played (well, I assume the five-army battles take place on a different map, but I only played the two-army game mode), but it’s well-designed and visually gorgeous. I assume there will be more maps eventually, but I also don’t think that the game necessarily needs more — at least, not initially.

All in all, Warlander seems super fun. I am curious to see what the player numbers look like post-launch, and I’m even more curious to see how the eventually console version handles. But what I experienced so far has been a lot of fun.

Warlander launches for real on January 24, 2023, and it’s free to play, so you don’t have long to wait if you want to try it out for yourself.

Disclaimer: I was given access to a pre-launch closed beta of Warlander on Steam, but the opinions expressed in this article are my own.

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