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inXile has announced a date for the launch of the Kickstarter campaign for The Bard's Tale IV. It's June 2nd, and it happens to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the original dungeon crawling title, from which the fourth installment will borrow the first-person perspective and plenty of story trappings.
Compared to the original trilogy, or even the console-oriented action-RPG that inXile released in 2004, The Bard's Tale IV should be a large technological leap, thanks to the use of the Unreal 4 engine and photogrammetry techniques to generate game assets. The technique has already been used by The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, a first-person adventure game, and the visual results were extremely pleasing, so I'm expecting this game to have significantly more polished art than inXile's most recent effort, the ugly but well-intentioned Wasteland 2.
As for the combat mechanics, I expect we'll have to wait for the Kickstarter campaign to learn some concrete details, but the press release does mention that the game will use "traditional phase based combat" and include "constantly evolving enemy strategy", though it remains to be seen whether that's a marketing buzzphrase or inXile has been doing some serious work on the AI:
The Bard's Tale IV coming to Kickstarter June 2nd on the 30th anniversary of the original game
Newport Beach, CA May 18, 2015 - inXile Entertainment is proud to return to Kickstarter for their next big cRPG project, The Bard's Tale IV, launching Monday June 2nd at 6 AM PST/13:00 UTC. Return to Skara Brae for a true dungeon-crawling sequel to the original The Bard's Tale trilogy that helped define the cRPG genre!
On the 30th anniversary of the original Bard's Tale, what better time than now to go on an adventure worthy of song? The Bard's Tale IV will feature challenging maze-like dungeons with devious puzzles and riddles to explore in the first-person dungeon crawler style of the original trilogy. inXile has the full rights to use everything from the original trilogy, so the game will be rich with callbacks and old favorites such as teleporter zones and magic mouths.
Utilizing the Unreal 4 engine, The Bard's Tale IV will also represent a graphical leap forward in the genre, immersing you in a highly detailed and lush world you'll want to map to is farthest reaches. inXile plans to use photogrammetry to create in-game 3D objects from photos of architecture, taken right in Scotland.
With the Bard leading the way, the game has a strong focus on music and sound design. Inspired by and involving Gaelic musicians, the soundtrack and lyrics of The Bard's Tale IV take cues from Scottish culture, which will be used to enrich the existing setting from the original games.
Of courses, you'll need to contend with all matter of hostile beasts, monsters and brigands as you explore the world. The Bard's Tale IV will feature a dynamic phase based combat system, utilizing the complex decision making opportunities of traditional phase based combat, but with a constantly evolving enemy strategy and a pacing that keeps you on your toes.