Pirates, Vikings and Knights II is a multiplayer team-based first-person action video game, developed as a total conversion modification on the Valve Corporation's proprietary Source engine. The game is currently in beta development stages, with its first public release on 1 January 2007. The second major public version was released a year later on 7 February 2008.
The game is a sequel to Pirates, Vikings and Knights, a modification for Valve's earlier GoldSrc engine. The game is set around three teams, the pirates, the Vikings and the knights—each with distinct classes and abilities—battling in a variety of game modes across various Medieval, Norse and Caribbean environments. As of the third major release seven of the eighteen planned classes have been implemented.
The game has been received positively by the industry's critics, being praised for its originality and graphical quality. By the end of February 2008, the game has acquired over six and a half million player minutes per month on the Steam content delivery system.
Pirates, Vikings and Knights II is based around three teams competing for an objective. These three teams, themed around pirates, Vikings and knights, are distinct in classes and capabilities. As of beta 2.3, players can choose one of two classes on each team (the Vikings have a new third class), giving them access to different weapons and abilities. Although beta 2.3 only includes seven classes overall, a full complement of eighteen—six classes per team—are planned in the course of the game's development.
The objectives in a Pirates, Vikings and Knights II game is defined by the game mode that is being used; at the moment there are four game modes implemented out of a planned nine. In "booty" games, teams must collect or steal treasure chests distributed across the level and bring them back to their own base to activate a countdown timer to victory. The more chests a team has in its possession, the quicker the timer decreases. A variation on this is the "booty tag" mode, in which there is a single chest and the teams fight for control of the chest to decrease their timer. The third game mode is "territory", in which teams fight for control of a strategic area of their surroundings. When one team holds the territory, their countdown timer activates unless they are displaced by another team. The final game mode is a straight team deathmatch where the teams simply try to kill as many of the opposing teams as possible.
Combat in Pirates, Vikings and Knights II is achieved through melee strikes, blocking and ranged attacks. Melee is performed through directed mouse movements for different directional of strike, that can be parried or blocked by other melee weapons with a corresponding mouse movement depending on the properties of the weapons involved in the fight. A successful parry leaves the attacker momentarily slowed and incapable of attacking or blocking, allowing for a counter-strike. Ranged attacks allow players to attack enemies from afar, usually at the risk of lowering their close combat defences. Ranged attacks can be blocked by players with shields.
The game's maps span a variety of realistic and unrealistic settings and environments, such as Medieval castles, Aztec temples and Caribbean islands and towns. Maps are generally built around a particular game mode configuration and are designed with eighteen players in mind. Further maps are to be added in subsequent releases. In addition to the official maps, the game's community also actively creates custom maps and content for the game.
In the initial release only one class was available to each team, although eighteen classes are planned in total. The eighteen classes planned for the final version of PVKII are to include for the Pirates: Skirmisher, Captain, Sharpshooter, Freebooter, 'Ealer, and Swashbuckler. For the Vikings: Berserker, Huscarl, Gestir, Bondi, Seio-Kona, and Jarl. For the Knights: Heavy Knight, Archer, Man-at-Arms, Assassin, Cleric, and Lord. The release of beta 2.0 saw the inclusion of a further three classes and the Viking Gestir was introduced for 2.3. The overall class structure is designed for balance, with a variety of different classes being used to create effective strategies against the opposing teams. Each class' weapons follow the theme of their team: pirate classes use a variety of sabres, cutlasses and flintlock firearms, the Vikings use battle axes and spears and knight players have access to a range of swords and bows. Every class also has access to a unique special ability, which becomes available after a player has dealt sufficient damage to foes.
Pirate players can choose from either a captain or a skirmisher. Captains are armed with a cutlass, a blunderbuss and a parrot, which can be used for harassing enemies or as a distraction. Their special ability gives them the capability of firing an explosive cannonball from their blunderbuss. Skirmishers are equipped with a cutlass which they can lunge forward and impale enemies by using their special ability, a flintlock pistol and a gunpowder keg. Skirmishers move faster than most other classes, but have relatively less health.
The Vikings can play as a berserker, huscarl or gestir. A berserker possess a two-handed bearded axe as well as a shorter axe and shortsword. Berserkers can use their special ability to drive themselves into a bloodlust, allowing them to move faster and attack more effectively. The huscarl is armed with a shortsword and a shield which can be used to ram enemies with their special ability, eight throwing axes and a two-handed axe. The gestir is equipped with a shield and langseax, three javelins which can be thrown at enemies, and a spear which gestirs can use their special ability on to charge enemies and knock them away.
The knights have access to a heavy knight and an archer. Heavy knights are slow moving but wield a longsword and can use their special ability to do a circular spinning attack. They are also equipped with a shield and a shortsword. By contrast, the archer is a fast moving class armed with both a crossbow and a longbow, and can use their special ability to fire three flaming arrows at once from the longbow. They are also equipped with a shortsword for close combat.Like skirmishers, they have relatively less health than other classes.
Soon after the release of Half-Life 2, the Valve Corporation released a software development kit (SDK) for the game's Source engine. The SDK allows for the game to be modified in various ways, from model and texture changes, the creation of new maps to the creation of an entirely different game based on the coding framework of Half-Life 2, known as total conversion modifications. Pirates, Vikings and Knights II was developed as a total conversion modification for the Source engine, and is a sequel to Pirates, Vikings and Knights, a total conversion modification of Half-Life. The development of Pirates, Vikings and Knights II was conducted by a small team of developers, who produced the game's range of programming, art, modelling, texturing and sound. Development on the game began in 2006, and the first public beta version was released on 1 January 2007, consisting of three of the game's intended classes. Subsequent updates adjusted gameplay and balance, as well as adding additional maps. The second major beta version was released on 7 February 2008, adding three additional classes. On 14 October 2008, the team announced that version 2.3 Pirates, Vikings and Knights II would be built on the same version of the Source engine used by The Orange Box, allowing for more advanced graphical effects. In addition, version 2.3 is to be integrated in Valve's Steamworks program, allowing the game to be directly distributed through Steam, free to customers who own a Source engine based game by Valve.
Pirates, Vikings and Knights II has received a positive reception from critics. In their review of the initial public beta, the custom content site Mod DB described the game as "fun and imaginative", praising it for a lasting appeal in its game modes that also serve to encourage cooperation between players. The reviewer also gave credit to the "colorful, vivid graphical style", stating that the team use of the Source engine created some "truly breathtaking views" on maps that were also well designed from a gameplay perspective. Despite praising the balanced implementation of ranged combat versus melee combat, Mod DB criticised the melee combat element as needing work, stating that it felt "repetitive and shallow", as well as expressing some concern over the balance between the classes.
The major update to the game mechanics with beta 2.0 prompted coverage of the game by PC Gamer UK in their video game modification news. In their article on Pirates, Vikings and Knights II, writer described the new classes added for this later version as exciting, as well as putting forward the view that the redesigned melee system introduced in beta 2.0 had "potential". Stating that "the rampant silliness and absurd title hide a remarkably robost and satisfying melee game", the writer even put forward that the pirate captain's parrot was "in hot competition with [Half-Life 2's] gravity gun for best video game weapon ever".
In an article published on their Planet Half-Life website on the GameSpy network, IGN echoed much of this positiveness for Pirates, Vikings and Knights II, describing the public beta 2.0 version as "well polished and balanced", noting the optimisation of the game's design and the reworked melee system as effective. The reviewer also praised the graphics of the game, stating that the Source engine had been used to create "awe inspiring visuals" and describing the game's models as fantastic. The sound work in the game was also given credit, with the game's music in particular being put as "some of the best mood setting music to be had in a video game". Without any criticism of the game, the review closed stating "Pirates, Vikings and Knights II is here to stay and is setting up a very attractive shop".
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Release!. PVKII Team (2007-01-01). Retrieved on 2008-02-26.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 PVKII Beta 2.0 Released!. PVKII Team (2008-02-07). Retrieved on 2008-02-26.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Overview. PVKII Team. Retrieved on 2008-02-26.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Weapons. PVKII Team. Retrieved on 2008-02-26.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Pirates, Vikings and Knights II review. Mod DB (2007-02-14). Retrieved on 2008-02-27.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Rogers, Thomas (2008-02-18). Pirates, Vikings and Knights II beta 2.0. Planet Half-Life. IGN. Retrieved on 2008-02-28.
- ↑ Steam: Game and Player Statistics. Valve Corporation. Retrieved on 2008-02-28.
- ↑ Available Game Modes. PVKII Team. Retrieved on 2008-02-27.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Features. PVKII Team. Retrieved on 2008-02-27.
- ↑ Maps. PVKII Team. Retrieved on 2008-02-27.
- ↑ Custom Maps. PVKII Team. Retrieved on 2008-02-27.
- ↑ Weapons: Pirate Captain. PVKII Team. Retrieved on 2008-02-27.
- ↑ Weapons: Pirate Skirmisher. PVKII Team. Retrieved on 2008-02-27.
- ↑ Weapons: Viking Berserker. PVKII Team. Retrieved on 2008-02-27.
- ↑ Weapons: Viking Huscarl. PVKII Team. Retrieved on 2008-02-27.
- ↑ Weapons: Viking Gestir. PVKII Team. Retrieved on 2010-02-15.
- ↑ Weapons: Heavy Knight. PVKII Team. Retrieved on 2008-02-27.
- ↑ Weapons: Knight Archer. PVKII Team. Retrieved on 2008-02-27.
- ↑ PVKII Team Members. PVKII Team. Retrieved on 2008-10-15.
- ↑ 2.3 and Steamworks. PVKII Team (2008-10-14). Retrieved on 2008-10-15.
- ↑ Smith, Quintin (December 2007). Pirates, Vikings and Knights II beta 2.0. PC Gamer UK. p. 104.