Long read: Who is qualified to make a world?

In search of the magic of maps.

If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Viking RTS Northgard adds giant-summoning Relics and more in big free update

Out now on PC.

Developer Shiro Games' entertaining Viking-themed real-time strategy, Northgard, has just received a major new content update - introducing, among other things, powerful Relics that can grant serious benefits to your ever-beleaguered clans.

The free update, appropriately titled Northgard Relics, is described by Shiro as the "biggest content update" since launch. Unsurprisingly, the focus is those game-changing Relics, with each clan able to choose between five common Relics and one clan-specific Relic, although only one can be used per game.

Common Relics grant the likes of defence bonuses, feast bonuses, and more for the duration of play - which, while supremely useful, are considerably less spectacular than the clan-specific Relics. These are able to summon such wonders as mercenary giants, massive boars, the undead, and white wolves to do your bidding, which - I think we can all agree - is far more exciting than having a couple more apples for your tea.

In addition to Relics, Northgard's new update radically overhauls the way that tools are deployed in-game. The new system is built around the massively enhanced Forge (constructed using a Woodcutter's Lodge), and enables players to upgrade civilian and military tools, and forge Relics. Two to three Smiths can be put to work in a Forge (depending on whether it's been upgraded), increasing the speed at which queued tasks are fulfilled. All of which should help add an extra layer of strategic forethought to your clan's survival.

Cover image for YouTube videoNorthgard Official Release Trailer

Northgard, for those unfamiliar, plays out something like the classic Settlers series (it features both a single-player campaign and robust multiplayer), tasking players with establishing a Viking settlement and slowly building it up through exploration, resource management, and land acquisition. Its defining feature, though, is that the map is split into distinct zones, and you'll need to wrest control of each one before you can build. And even then, only a small number of workers and buildings can occupy each, creating some harsh limitations and tough, interesting decisions to be made as a result.

Then there's the small matter of the ever-looming winter, which seriously reduces access to vital resources, and can hamper your ability to work and grow if you're insufficiently prepared. And then there are the other factions and hostile, Norse-mythology-inspired creatures.

Northgard, if you're at all interested, can be purchased on Steam for £23.79. Two additional clans are also available - the Clan of the Snake and Clan of the Dragon - for £3.99 apiece.