Wonderful viking-themed real-time strategy game Northgard has just received a major free update, adding a new apocalyptic map, a new neutral faction, and more.
Developer Shiro Games is calling the new expansion Ragnarok, and existing Northgard owners should have seen it tumble down their internet pipe already by now. Those unfamiliar with Northgard, however, might like a quick intro.
Northgard, both in solo campaign mode and multiplayer mode, is superficially similar to Settlers, insofar as you're tasked with establishing a settlement through exploration, resource management, and expansion. It makes its own mark through some atypical design decisions, primarily in the way that expansion can only occur by colonising separate zones on the map - which in turn, can only house a certain number of new buildings and settlers. That makes for some tough, interesting choices, even before winter sets in.
Northgard's Ragnarok update expands on that winning core formula by introducing the titular map, themed around the end of the world as described in Norse mythology. As you can probably guess, it's a far from breezy addition, with farming now impossible thanks to a lack of fertile land, and new tile types bringing their own benefits and perils.
The Ancient Graveyard tile, for instance, can be colonised and studied to recruit the souls of fallen Viking warriors in battle. The downside is that your superstitious settlers will receive a happiness penalty while the ghosts are around.
The new volcano tile, meanwhile, lies at the centre of the map, erupting randomly at (almost certainly) inconvenient moments. If one of its boulders lands in your territory, you've got four months to mine it for valuable resources - good. Fail, however, and it'll turn into a devastatingly powerful, and extremely aggressive Rock Golem - bad.
Ragnarok also features the new Fallen Sailors event, wherein, at any given moment, Spectral Warriors can invade the land, mercilessly attacking all vikings that they encounter. Additionally, the update ushers in a new neutral dark elf faction, known as the Myrkalfars. This aggressive group will raid random clans every year, stealing their resources over time.
As for gameplay tweaks, players are now granted experience points on defeating enemies or losing a unit. These can be spent to specialise in one of Military Paths - the Tactician, the Guardian, and the Conqueror - each featuring three unlockable skills to bolster a player's combat prowess. Loads more details on all the above are detailed in the Ragnarok patch notes.
If you don't already own Northgard but feel like you might want to rectify this immediately, the game is currently half price on Steam. costing £11.89, to celebrate Ragnarok's arrival.