The Vikings were best known for being advent sailors and for establishing settlements and colonies in the Northern Atlantic in Greenland and Newfoundland, hundreds of years before the arrivals of Southern and Western European explorers (first settlement in 985). They were also known for bringing fear among several European communities since they would raid small villages unexpectedly. As a result, their navy and infantry are among the finest in the game and have a unique unit in both branches.
Contrary to popular belief, spread through 19th and 20th centuries' popular culture, the Vikings did not actually wear spiked or horned helmets, but they refrained from trimming their head and facial hair to give the look of a big, scary, and hairy beast. This is reflected by their unique unit, the Berserk, and their unique technology that benefits them. Furthermore, their infantry, including the Berserk, have more health.
The Vikings also excelled at naval warfare and tactics, and mastered the art of various types of sailing. Therefore, their other unique unit is the Longboat which is a well-constructed slim boat that gracefully shoots through the water and fires volleys of arrows. To further emphasize their ability as fine shipbuilders, all Viking ships cost fewer resources, and their team bonus allows Docks to be built for less wood as well.
The Vikings are a naval and infantry civilization. Their ships are indeed excellent, coming with a discount which offsets the lack of Shipwright and an excellent unique unit to reinforce their navy. The absence of even Fire Galleys should be noted, though, as it can be a disadvantage early on when Longboats are not yet available. Despite lacking the Halberdier upgrade, their infantry is excellent as well with all upgrades, additional HP, and an excellent unique technology that improves their performance when engaging cavalry units. The latter are very weak for the Vikings themselves, though. Lacking upgrades across the board, most notably Plate Barding Armor and Bloodlines as well as all final tier upgrades, it is hard to justify their use. Their Cavalry Archers are also not worth considering, but their foot archers definitely are as their Arbalests get all upgrades. The Viking siege weapons are somewhat lacking, and their Monks are simply bad. Their defensive structures are not a particular highlight either, but their Castle at least gets all upgrades. Their economy excels at early Castle Age, but lacks before mid Feudal Age unless it is a water map.
In-game, Viking units speak Old Norse, the North Germanic/Scandinavian language spoken by the Vikings. Old Norse is the ancestor of all the North Germanic/Scandinavian languages; Icelandic, Faroese, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Norn which was spoken in Orkney and Shetland. Icelandic is by far the closest language to Old Norse.
When playing a random map game against the computer, the player may encounter any of the following Viking AI characters:
Canute IV (c. 1042-1086): King of Denmark (1080-1086), ambitious ruler who aimed to increase the power of the Danish monarchy. He was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church in 1101.
Chief Thorgest (died 845): Viking chief in Ireland. Launched conquests throughout Ireland as well as into Wales. He was defeated and vanquished by Irish King Niall.
Erik Bloodax (c. 885-954): Eric Haraldsson, ruled first over Norway, later over Northumbria as well. Grandson of Halfdan the Black.
Halfdan the Black (c. 810-c. 860): King of Vestfold, known for subjugating many petty kingdoms in Norway throughout the ninth century. Father of Harald Fairhair (the first King of Norway). Grandfather of Erik Bloodax.
Harald Bluetooth (died c. 985): Danish king of Denmark and Norway, first introduced Christianity to Denmark. Father of Sweyn Forkbeard; mounted a revolt against him and drove him into exile.
Harald Hardraade (c. 1015-1066): Norwegian King, spent time in exile in Kievan Rus' and the Byzantine Empire before his ascent to the throne in 1046. Invaded England in 1066, but was defeated (and killed) in the Battle of Stamford Bridge.
King Godfred (died c. 985): Semi-legendary King of Denmark. Son of Siegfried. He supposedly killed by one of his own Huskarls.
Jarl Osbiorn: Danish Jarl (Earl). Brother of the Danish King Sweyn II, commanded Sweyn II's fleet.
Magnus Olafsson (died 1265): King of Mann and the Isles (1254–1265). The last king of the Crovan dynasty. Though a monarch in his own right, he paid tribute to Norwegian King Haakon IV.
Magnus the Strong (c. 1106-1134): Magnus I, King of Sweden. A tall, strong man, described as well-endowed by nature. He was defeated and killed at the Battle of Fotevik.
Olaf Haraldson (995-1030): King of Norway from 1015-1028. He was famous for temporarily freeing Norway of Danish domination; is now a symbol of Norwegian nationalism. He was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.
Olaf Tryggvasson (died 1000): King of Norway from 995-1000. He was famous for spreading Christianity in Norway, and was killed at the battle of Svolder, which led to period of foreign domination over Norway.
Siegfried (died c. 804): Semi-legendary King of Denmark from about 770 until his death. Father of King Godfred.
Sigurd (c. 770-c. 804): Legendary Swedish King, supposedly defeated King Harald Wartooth of Denmark and conquered his land. Notably similar to Siegfried, the Danish King.
Sweyn Forkbeard (960-1014): King of Denmark from 986-1014. Son of Harald Bluetooth, came to power by deposing his father. He successfully invaded England, becoming its first Danish King in 1013.