I had the opportunity to sit down and try Paradox Interactive’s multiplayer close-quarters combat game War of the Vikings at PAX East 2014. It’s a gritty title with a heavy emphasis on melee combat, while match structure feels similar to the kind of thing you’d find in a traditional FPS, the combat elements make the game shine. There’s not much that can equal the rush of victory that comes with a heavy-handed overhead axe blow that takes down an opponent in a single swing.

Players can select from a variety of loadout templates and choices, from the two-handed champion to other classes that can use bows to pick off foes from range. The bow may seem like it could be an overpowered tool in a game with such a heavy melee focus, but it’s balanced because it leaves the player incredibly vulnerable as it’s being pulled back to fire.

Combat is frenetic, fast, and fun, with the game sessions I played lasting around 10 minutes each. The in-your-face fighting style seems to carry a lot of impact and has more of a personal touch than blasting away with a gun at range.

War of the Vikings is currently available as a Steam Early Access title, but will be launching officially on Tuesday. After getting a taste of the brutal melee action, I’m eager to take another look at the title after launch.