Norway 1991, Central Europe is all but lost in nuclear war. Norway is safe to an extent. Try to survive. These words to that effect is the first message you receive before starting Bohemia Interactive’s Vigor, then after a short tutorial which gives you a low down on what to expect in the game you are on your own.
Yet before setting off into the wilds of Norway you must first choose a face from the 9 basic preset ones available, whilst lacking deeper customisation tools in other games its still nice to be able to put your own personal touch on the Outlander you’ll be controlling. You can change your clothes and accessories later on through progression or by purchasing them at your home base.
Your home base is safe from danger, although it is a little worse for wear when you arrive. Improving your shelter will increase the overall level and look of your home away from the nasty radiation and deadly looters. Improvements such as generators, wind turbines and the ability to grow food will help you survive for longer. It makes it that resources you scavenge in the main game actually have a visible effect and aren’t just numbers on a UI icon. The more you scavenge for resources the better your shelter is.
Gathering resources is a simple as entering an Encounter. Each Encounter is a PVP mode against other players in which you loot, shoot and hopefully leave unnoticed with all your newly acquired gear. Die and you loose what you’ve found, unless you buy insurance before the match starts. Some materials may stay with you, but it’s still a lot to lose. Stay in the area for too long and a radiation storm will sweep the area, forcing you to an exit. This will push players together more, so expect some firefights you may not come out unscathed from.
My first experience in this mode was tense to say the least, armed with only a pistol to my name I slowly wandered the map picking up as much as it would let me. Hearing gun shots in the distance was unsettling, sadly after 7 mins I was hunted down and shot dead losing all but a handful of material. It’s experiences like this that really make the game interesting. For someone who hasn’t played Fallout 76 (only comparable game I can think of, it’s a fresh gaming experience you don’t find elsewhere.
You’re advised to pick your fights, which I certainly tried to die. I went in a lone wolf, peaceful with no weapon on show and simply looting till I could no longer. That wouldn’t always work with other players having more of a shoot first, never ask questions attitude. Again, it all adds to tense experience which reminds me of Battle Royale games, and while this isn’t one, it’s DNA is certainly mixed in with a looter shooter.
The Norway forests, houses and other scenery in Vigor look great and very detailed. Boxes of belongings scattered about, with each house looking like it was lived in rather than an empty shell with a shotgun in the corner. Abandoned lives make for a sombre environment, really cementing the fact you need to survive. It occasionally has frame rate issues which can become annoying, but for the most part it plays well and looks pretty.
As it is free to play, there’s in game currency that you can purchase using real money. Prices start from £4.19 to £83.49, the positive side is that the use of the currency seems to be cosmetic rather than the ability to purchase more powerful items, which would give the player an unfair advantage. So in all it’s a very ignorable mechanic, unless you want some cool looking hat for your character.
For a free to play title it’s worth your attention, its mix of genres surprisingly work well. It’s difficult to give a full in-depth review as it seems the game is constantly changing, It may not stand the test of time currently which is a shame but what you could play now is a tense experience that you don’t often find in a multiplayer game.
Future updates may add more content to keep players coming, and if it can do that it’ll have longevity.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*