War of the Roses puts the player in control of a single, customizable soldier fighting for either the House of Lancaster or the House of York. The game plays mainly in a third-person viewpoint and is a multiplayer game.There are three different types of weapons which the player can equip at a single time: primary, secondary, and a dagger.
The player starts with a pre-made melee character, the footman, but will quickly unlock a pre-made Guardsman (originally this was a crossbowman), longbowman and footknight. The pre-made characters have a competitive set-up and are viable characters to play. However, there are also 8 custom slots to unlock which can be customised with weapons, weapon modifiers, armour and perks of the player’s choice. At higher levels horses can be unlocked to allow a cavalry class.
A player can change his/her selected character within a round and can modify the profile of the custom classes between rounds.
The hit boxes are quite precise and the damage is calculated based on whether the hit strikes armour of various materials or flesh and which part of the weapon strikes.
A defeated player may be killed outright or simply ‘downed’ in which state they can be killed off with an execution move, revived by a teammate or choose to respawn. As with most aspects of the game each choice is a risk/reward scenario.
Once dead a player can choose to respawn in a respawn location for the team or on a ‘squad leader’ if the player has selected a squad.
There are currently 4 game modes to choose from. One is a standard team deathmatch game mode. The objective of Conquest is to conquer checkpoints in order. Each team starts at their home spawn points and moves towards the enemy spawn points. Conquering a checkpoint unlocks the next in the sequence. Checkpoints are conquered by standing close to the flag, the more team members in place the faster the point is captured. Coloured letters indicate the status of each checkpoint. Pitched battle is a single life mode, the winning team has the last man standing. After a server set time the battle area shrinks, forcing the remaining players into combat. The Assault gamemode has Lancastrians attempting to take over defensive positions held by the Yorkists. Each map has a series of checkpoints to be taken within a limited time. If the checkpoint is taken the attackers get an increase in time to take the next checkpoint. The game ends when the Lancastrians take the final checkpoint or the Yorkists hold out for the allotted time.
There is also a coat of arms maker that allows substantial customization, the arms are shown on shields and armour and allow players to recognize each other in battle.
On 6 February 2013, a free to play version of War of the Roses was released on the Steam digital distribution platform. This trial version includes access to most online servers enabling trial players to play alongside existing players, whether paid or trial, but private servers may opt out of allowing trial players to join. The trial version limits players by disallowing any unlocks, giving access only to the game’s base classes and weapons. Trial players are limited to only two of the game modes; TDM and Conquest, and gain experience and gold at 80% of the full rate, which increases to normal rate if the full game is purchased using the same account. Trial Players also do not have access to the Battleground trainer, so there is no tutorial for Trial players.