I played War of the Roses, and I liked it pretty well. I also died a lot. But before long, I found my ornate steel shoes sloshing through syrupy pools of repetition. There's only so much frantic deathmatching and all-over-the-place point-capturing you can do before you start to see cracks in War of the Roses' armor, and that threshold is woefully low compared to other multiplayer fight-o-fests. Fortunately, Fatshark's throwing its oh-so-characteristically sharky girth into setting things right, and we're finally about to see the results. Come Wednesday, you'll be able to take the exceedingly high-stakes Pitched Battle mode for a spin.
The main goal of Pitched Battle? Don't die. Granted, that's also the main goal of pretty much every game ever, but here it's, um, main-er. Death, after all, is a one-and-done deal. If you get knocked down, you don't get up again until the next match.
"In Pitched Battle, each knight has only one life to risk on the battlefield per round; when a combatant perishes, he cannot return to the fight until the next match. Bandaging one’s wounds and reviving teammates will be crucial to victory, and executing opponents to keep them out of the fight will decide which is the last team standing."
On top of that, you'll also find your warchest stocked with a new sword - the Kingmaker - a new suit of heavy armor, a new helmet, four new visors, and seven new weapons.
Obviously, though, the new mode's the main event here, and it sounds... hm. I mean, it certainly stands to create a different style of combat. Typically, War of the Roses matches devolve into wild tangles of bodies and blades, but Pitched Battle ought to cut down significantly on reckless devil-may-care behavior. Unless it doesn't, in which case matches will just be over really, really fast. On the other side of the coin, though, it could also cause a bunch of hyper-cautious turtling, but those are both worst-case scenarios. I suppose we'll just have to wait and see. Regardless, the main problem is that it doesn't sound tremendously different from what's already on offer, and War of the Roses desperately needs something to spice up its samey hack 'n' slash stew.
If nothing else, this is the first of War of the Roses' ongoing monthly updates, so even if this one's a dud, there'll be plenty more where it came from. And it's all free - though you can pay to unlock items faster if you'd like. There's some seriously fun combat in there, too, so I wish Fatshark the best. But the game's been out for a little while now, so I think it's time to kick things into high gear.