Ragnarock: One Year Later and What Lies Ahead

We’re just weeks away from the one-year anniversary of the release of Ragnarock, a VR music game featuring magic runes, Vikings, drums, and racing longboats.  Sound cool?  More than you can possibly imagine, so go read my original review if you haven’t already then check out what’s new in the past year and what we can expect going forward.

A lot has changed in the past twelve months, some obvious and some changes more subtle.  It’s been a while since I’ve wielded the magic hammers and drummed my way across the finish line, so I’m not sure how many of my “new observations” are actually enhancements versus stuff I just overlooked when I originally reviewed.  For instance, there are now wicked looking guitars displayed on the vaulted ceiling that you can click on for twangy sound effects.  If you hover on the Exit door it will crack open, and wind will blow snow into the threshold creating a small drift that will slowly melt once you shut the door.  Some things I do know are new is the door on the right (where the hammer selector used to be) that leads to the locker room.  In here, you will not only find a bigger hammer selector wheel with more hammer options but also the ability to select from an assortment of unlockable longboats.  This is all just visual fluff, but some of the hammer requirements to unlock new designs are really challenging and will keep collectors playing for extended hours.

In addition to the Viking lodge renovations there are also major additions to the music list, which has grown considerably over the past year with two major DLC drops adding 17 new songs, new hammers, boats, and even a new environment.  There is so much music you can now select your tracks by group as well as easily create a list of Favorites by toggling the Star icon on the song card.  Surprisingly, there is a nice variety of song difficulty, making all of the new content highly accessible to Vikings of all skill levels.  Some of the tracks are also supersized, lasting 2-3 times longer than most tracks.  These 10+ minute marathon drum sessions will really test your endurance, and you have the ability to add your own custom music, which appears as its own tab in the music selection wheel.

Ragnarock is easily one of the best music games I’ve ever played, locking in a solid second place behind Synth Riders.  It has tremendous potential to be a classic party game for passing around the headset, especially now that the game has multi-profile support. It would be cool to have song lyrics displayed on an external monitor so your drunken horde of Vikings waiting their turn could sing along to some of these catchy sea shanties.  The game still boasts some incredibly fun multiplayer with a new party mode and tournaments along with the classic leaderboard-chasing systems and an improved Ghost Ship racing mode that lets you select ghosts from a variety of sources such as your best race time, your friends’ best times, or you can even race against the #1 drummer from the world leaderboards.  These ghost ships along with the +/- distance meter are a great way to judge your performance in any given race.  I also appreciate the clock-meter that indicates how much of the song is left.

As with any music title the game is only as fun as the music is enjoyable and the track list (and DLC) are very genre specific.  No EDM or K-Pop here; in fact, the only two band names I even recognize are The Offspring and DragonForce, but the music is so good…even the “bad” songs really aren’t bad…just not as good as others.  Gloryhammer had some of the best songs from the original song library, so for them to get their own DLC was glorious.  I had a blast exploring both the DLC libraries as well as revisiting the original two volumes of music, and slowly working my way through the second and third difficulty tiers, although anything around 6 or 7 is 50-50 on whether I can reach a bronze finish – but I keep on trying, and that is the addictive nature of Ragnarock.  Even when you fail you still have a great time, and those bronze, silver, and gold finishing posts as well as the competitive ghost battles will keep you playing for countless hours, and with free new music releasing each quarter along with paid RAID DLC, there is no end in sight.

I haven’t been this hooked on a music game since Rock Band and Guitar Hero.  The immersive presentation is only the beginning.  The fantastic song libraries along with unparalleled freedom in customizing your drum layout for seated or standing play, choosing that perfect hammer and ship model, or striving to achieve those near-impossible goals to unlock more content will keep you wearing that VR headset longer than you probably should, but those are the sacrifices a Viking drummer has to make.

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