Norse mythology has fascinated people for centuries. Vikings and the Norse gods have been depicted countless times, and in countless forms, in everything from epic poems and folk music to superhero movies and, of course, video games.
The popularity of Viking games has been growing exponentially these past several years thanks in no small part to major releases like God of War and Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. It’s safe to say that if a series runs long enough it will eventually have an installment set in a world inspired by Norse mythology.
With the upcoming release of Skyrim Anniversary and the recent news surrounding the God of War PC port, we figured this would be the perfect time to take a look at some of the best Viking games ever made.
This is going to be a ranked list but, as always, it’s just our opinion so take it for what it is. And feel free to tell us about your favorites in the comments section. Let’s jump into it.
10. Ancestors Legacy
This first one is for all you strategy fans out there. Ancestors Legacy is a medieval-themed RTS that plays a fair bit like Company of Heroes. The gameplay isn’t as complex as you might expect from a traditional RTS but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, Ancestors Legacy is a very good choice if you’re new to the genre.
Ancestors Legacy’s main focus is on the story, which centers around four warring factions. You’ve got the Anglo-Saxons, Germans, Slavs, and, of course, the Vikings. If you want to move away from Europe for a while there’s also a DLC that lets you play as Saladin, the first Sultan to ever rule both Egypt and Syria.
But even without the DLC, there’s a lot of content here. The base game alone features 40 missions spread across 4 different campaigns. And that’s just the single-player. There’s also the multiplayer to keep you busy if you’re itching for even more action.
Ancestors Legacy has a free version known as the ‘Peasant Edition’. It only comes with access to 4 single-player missions and 17 multiplayer maps. But that’s more than enough to give you a taste of what this game is all about.
9. For Honor
Even though it wasn’t the smash hit Ubisoft hoped it would be, For Honor turned out to be an overall solid title. And easily one of the best Viking games around if you love PvP. The game launched with three factions in the form of the Vikings, Samurai, and Knights before adding the Wu Lin with the Marching Fire expansion.
Strangely enough, there are also Roman-themed warriors like the Centurion or Gladiator, but they are part of the Knight faction.
Inexplicable anachronisms aside, you’re here for Vikings, not Knights. So let’s talk about them. The Viking faction has no less than seven classes to choose from – Raider, Warlord, Berserker, Valkyrie, Highlander, Shaman, and Jormungandr. Each class has distinct skills, weapons, and playstyles, and while there’s a single-player campaign you could try, the bread-and-butter of For Honor is definitely the PvP combat.
The game doesn’t really concern itself with historical accuracy, hence, why we find the Scottish Highlander among the Vikings. You can expect a very fantastical version of the Norsemen here. Complete with horned helmets, bare-chested brutish warriors, and oversized two-handed weapons.
For Honor still has a loyal player base but it’s slowly dwindling due to the lack of cross-play and numerous botched updates. At this rate, Ubisoft might decide to shut down the servers in the near future. Hurry up if you want to check it out.
Jotun is one of the more underrated Viking games on this list. Set in a world inspired by Norse mythology, the game has you playing as Thora, a disgraced warrior who must redeem herself in the eyes of the gods by defeating giant elemental creatures known as Jotun.
Defeat all of them and you may be granted access to Valhalla. If you can also go toe-to-toe with Odin himself, that is.
Jotun is a pretty simple indie game that involves a lot of exploration and puzzle-solving. With some boss fights sprinkled into the mix here and there. But despite being sparse, the combat sections in this game are memorable. And fairly difficult.
The gigantic Jotuns have a number of elemental abilities and their disposal and they won’t hesitate to use them to send you straight to Hel. Luckily, Thora has a few godly powers of her own to help even the odds.
If fighting massive elemental beings isn’t your thing, you should still consider checking out Jotun just for the visuals alone. The game uses a hand-drawn art style that looks absolutely gorgeous. To set the mood even further, Jotun also features beautiful authentic Icelandic narration.
Next up on our list of top Viking games, we have another RTS. Albeit this one also incorporates city builder elements. The premise is simple: take control of one of several clans of Vikings and attempt to explore and colonize the land of Northgard.
Unfortunately, wild beasts and undead creatures will not make that job easy. In addition, you’ll also have to compete against other clans for territory.
To make matters worse, you’ll often find yourself battling the elements while trying to keep your clan alive. Northgard’s seasons rotate periodically and bring with them dramatic weather changes. There’s not much to worry about during the summer but once the cold sets in, you’d better be prepared because Northgard’s winters can be potentially deadly for your crops and even your warriors.
Northgard launched in 2018 with only a handful of clans and without a proper single-player campaign, but both of those issues have since been remedied. These days, are no less than 11 clans to choose from, each of them with its own special abilities.
Unfortunately, most of the clans are locked behind paid DLC but you can stick exclusively to the base factions and still have plenty of fun.
6. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
The latest installment in the Assassin’s Creed franchise takes place during the Viking Age and focuses on the Norsemen’s expansion into the British Isles.
This time around, we play as a raider named Eivor and get to meet many historical (and some not quite historical) figures like king Alfred the Great, Halfdan Ragnarsson, Ivar the Boneless, Harald Faihair, Rollo, and others. If you’re familiar with the TV show Vikings you probably recognize most of those names.
Just like Origins and Odyssey, Valhalla plays more like an open-world RPG than a stealth-based action game. The long-running conflict between the Assassins Brotherhood and the Templar Order is there but takes a backseat to the events surrounding the invasion of Britain.
Similarly, you can still expect sequences that take part in the modern world but these are pretty much irrelevant at this point.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is a pretty massive game that should take you anywhere between 60 and 100 hours to complete. Provided you do some side quests in addition to the main story.
If you’re itching for even more action afterward you can also check out the Wrath of the Druids and The Siege of Paris DLCs. Needless to say, this game can keep you busy for quite a while.
5. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Most Viking games let you play as the eponymous Scandinavian warriors but here the Norsemen are actually the bad guys. Hellblade follows a Celtic warrior named Senua who must contend not just with the Vikings invading her land but also psychotic episodes that cause her to see visions of her dead lover.
Hellblade is a remarkable game for several reasons. First off, it looks better than a lot of AAA games despite being developed independently by Ninja Theory. The developers wanted to tell a very serious story about mental health and didn’t want a publisher interfering with their vision. That was definitely a good idea.
Despite being set in a highly fictionalized world inspired by Helheim, the Norse version of Hell, this game’s main theme is all too real. The developers collaborated with neuroscientists and people who have experienced psychosis to make sure the disorder was depicted in a realistic and sensible manner.
The end result is a very impactful and emotional game, that may or may not give you nightmares.
Also worth noting is the incredible motion capture and a superb performance by Melina Juergens whose likeness was used to bring Senua to life. As a side note, Hellblade 2 is set to launch next year and we couldn’t be any more excited for it.
4. The Banner Saga Trilogy
If you like Viking games with deep tactical combat, immersive narratives, and hand-drawn art styles you’ll definitely appreciate what The Banner Saga has to offer.
The Banner Saga is a trilogy of turn-based RPGs that takes place in a world inspired by Norse mythology. Despite being the debut title of developer Stoic Studio, the original installment garnered a lot of praise from both critics and fans alike. And eventually spawned two equally successful sequels. Alongside a board game and a handful of tie-in novels.
The Banner Saga is a game where every choice you make has some impact on how the story unfolds. Even choices made during conversations. And you can expect a lot of conversations here because there are more than 25 characters that can join you on your adventures.
Stoic Studio was founded by former Bioware developers, which is why The Banner Saga shares some similarities with the likes of Dragon Age or Mass Effect in terms of storytelling. Just like in Mass Effect, your unique progress from the first game carries over into the second and third parts of the series.
It’s hard to talk about Viking games in 2021 without mentioning Valheim. The open-world survival game came out of nowhere and quickly become the first big hit of the year. And it’s easy to see why.
Valheim doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel or blow our minds with innovative gameplay mechanics. It’s simply a well-polished survival sandbox and that’s all we really want. In the famous words of Todd Howard, “it just works.”
One of the main selling points of Valheim is its focus on cooperation. Most survival games take that label too seriously and focus on being difficult more than being fun. Here, you don’t have to worry too much about having to survive all alone in a hostile world before reaching the point where you can be considered worthy to join a clan or guild. The game encourages you from the get-go to team up with other players. And most people in Valheim are pretty welcoming to newbies.
Hype for Valheim gradually died down over the past few months but there are still plenty of people playing it. Don’t worry about being late to the party if you want to jump in now for the first time. The game is technically still in Early Access so we’re likely to see another huge influx of players once it launches properly.
2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Easily one of the most popular Viking games around, Skyrim is a title that needs very little introduction at this point. Initially launched back in 2011, the game has seen multiple re-releases over the years, to the point where a lot of us are sick of hearing about it.
However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that Skyrim remains a solid RPG. Especially if you’re playing with mods, of which there are literally tens of thousands to try out. Some of them have even been turned into full-fledged games like Enderal or The Forgotten City.
Skyrim arguably has the most generic setting out of all The Elder Scrolls games, but that can be seen as either a good or a bad thing depending on how you look at it.
On one hand, the land of the Nords is not a great setting if you’re looking for a unique and outlandish world like the one we got in Morrowind. But on the other hand, it is the perfect setting if you want to immerse yourself in a world inhabited by fantasy Vikings, gods, dragons, and magic.
On November 11th Bethesda is bringing Skyrim back for a last hurrah to celebrate the game’s 10th anniversary. If you haven’t played it before this is your chance to remedy that.
You can also check out the lands of Skyrim in one of the best MMORPGs around, The Elder Scrolls Online.
1. God of War
To say that God of War is one of the best Viking games around would be an understatement. The title received universal acclaim upon launching in 2018, with many placing it next to the original God of War in terms of its impact upon the gaming community. Needless to say, it also helped sell more than a few PlayStation consoles.
The 2018 God of War reboot marked an interesting shift in the direction of the franchise. In more ways than one. While the original series was all about heart-pounding action and epic set pieces, the reboot brought with it RPG elements and an immersive story.
Don’t worry, beating old gods to a pulp is still the bread-and-butter of the game. But the latest version of God of War offers much more complexity than any of its predecessors.
If you don’t own a PlayStation console you’ll be able to check out God of War on PC in early 2022. A sequel dubbed God of War Ragnarök is also set to launch in 2022, though there’s no specific launch date just yet.
Given that God of War is finally making its way to PC, there’s a pretty good chance that the sequel will also get a port. Eventually.
There are a few more interesting Viking games we couldn’t quite fit onto our main list but we still wanted to give them a little shoutout. Check them out below.
- Tribes of Midgard
- Expeditions: Viking
- The Frostrune
- Total War Saga: Thrones of Brittania
- The Frostrune
- Mount & Blade II
- Song of Iron