October 19, 2022
The Valiant is a real-time strategy game developed by Kite Games and published by THQ Nordic. It comes with a single-player campaign, a PvP mode, and a three-player last-man-standing mode. The game is entirely set in the Medieval Ages, and the story takes place across Europe and the Middle East.
The Valiant’s single-player campaign focuses on the story of Theoderich von Akenburg. Spanning several years, the story begins with Theoderich and his friend Ulrich von Grevel, two Templar Knights leading their troops through the Middle East during a campaign. After a particularly arduous battle and the capture of an enemy fort, the two comrades set off to explore the surrounding areas. Before long, the duo stumble across some mysterious ruins. Once they enter an old and forgotten temple, Ulrich finds a strange and otherworldly artifact that looks like a broken staff. Despite Theoderich’s protests, Ulrich is completely spellbound by the object and pockets it. Not long after their sojourn in the temple, Ulrich starts acting strangely, abandoning Theoderich and their troops and wreaking havoc in nearby villages. Even though Theoderich tries to reason with Ulrich, his attempts prove futile, and once both knights wrap up their time in the Middle East and return to Europe, they lose contact.
After returning home, Theoderich returns to his lands in Saxony and focuses on being a good lord to his people. After spending a decade in relative peace, Theoderich is disturbed late one night by a monk claiming to have knowledge about the ancient artifact Theoderich uncovered with Ulrich ten years prior. The monk reveals that the object is called the Rod of Aaron and that it is a powerful holy artifact. He also claims that Ulrich, who has been climbing the ranks as a leader in his kingdom, has become corrupted by the Rod of Aaron over the years. Theoderich and the monk embark on a journey to learn more about the artifact that is corrupting Ulrich, and they devise a plan to stop him from causing further harm.
“…the solid structure of the tutorial makes it a good fit for newcomers to the RTS genre…”
Practically, the story is divided into cinematic cutscenes and sixteen battles that take place on different maps. The objective and structure of each mission vary. While one mission may focus on capturing an enemy fort, another may focus on exploring the wider environment and uncovering hidden enemy camps. Overall, the single-player campaign does a wonderful job of gradually introducing different game mechanics and concepts, effectively easing you into the game’s intricacies. While there’s plenty to love for RTS veterans, the solid structure of the tutorial makes it a good fit for newcomers to the RTS genre too.
The overarching campaign story is a bit stale and clichéd in places, and often the main character’s dialogue is bombastic. Thankfully, the detailed visuals help balance out the overall experience and draw you into the story as a player. Both cutscenes and environments are beautifully rendered and, much like the Age of Empires franchise, The Valiant comes with multiple battle maps that all feature gorgeous vistas of deserts, forests, and Medieval castles. Navigating units around these beautiful settings is very enjoyable and makes the game feel all the more immersive. Fans of the Age of Empires series will recognise plenty of the overall RTS mechanics in The Valiant too. Much like other titles in the genre, The Valiant reproduces the steadfast RTS formula. Throughout battle, you have a number of army units on a battle map under your control, and it’s your job to lead them to victory. Usually, your army will consist of a few hero units along with several standard units that can include spearsmen, swordsmen, or bowmen. Like in plenty of other similar strategy titles, hero units are unique characters that come with their own backstory as well as a unique set of talents and abilities that can be unlocked through individual skill trees.
When it comes to unit stats, there are three key ones to watch: health, vigour, and fortitude. Both health and fortitude come in the shape of a health bar displayed underneath a unit’s symbol. Broadly, fortitude reflects a unit’s morale and willingness to fight. If a unit takes damage during battle, this will impact their fortitude bar first. Once their fortitude levels are depleted, a unit will start taking health damage. However, while health can’t be restored automatically in or out of battle, fortitude slowly replenishes once a unit has left battle. A hero can also boost a unit’s fortitude level in battle temporarily if they have a unique skill that allows them to do so. Vigour and vengeance are unique to hero units and accumulate while a hero unit is engaged in battle. Once the meter reaches 100%, the hero can use their retribution ability. The retribution takes a different shape depending on the hero in question: it could be a devastating one-off attack, for example, or a huge temporary damage bonus on ranged attacks. Players will have to get a handle on their favourite heroes’ abilities if they want to master the combat system in The Valiant. These retribution abilities, combined with the game’s fortitude stats, keep things interesting. This, combined with the game’s replenishment mechanics—medical tents where you can create new units or heal existing ones—makes for fast-paced, entertaining gameplay.
While the single-player campaign is a great way to learn The Valiant’s core mechanics, the game’s Last Man Standing and PvP modes are where they truly shine. For Last Man Standing mode in particular, where three players have to work together to defend a fort against waves of enemies, collaboration and precision are key: the only way to get the upper hand throughout a match is to make sure both your hero and those of your companions collaborate effectively. This means making sure that you’re using your unique defensive, offensive or healing skills in a way that actively complements those of other players. This collaboration, combined with the game’s frenetic pace, makes for a thrilling challenge that’ll keep you and your friends entertained for hours. Even if you’re an old hand at RTS strategy, the game’s higher difficulty levels are sure to put your troops through their paces, and, throughout the process, keep you and your friends entertained.
- Beautiful art and visuals
- Engaging retribution mechanics
- Entertaining PVP and Last Man Standing mode
- Story and single-player campaign is clichéd in places
Overall, The Valiant offers an engaging strategy experience that, while not offering anything ground-breaking, will keep RTS fans entertained. While the single-player campaign is presented in a traditional run-of-the-mill format, its multiplayer modes are sure to delight both old and new strategy fans. For that reason alone, the game is worth picking up.