Tyranny Previews and Video Interview

Now that an embargo has been lifted, we get our first concrete details on Tyranny, a CRPG published by Paradox Interactive and developed by Obsidian Entertainment set in a world where "evil won", which is slated to come out sometime this year. Interestingly, the title seems to build on Pillars of Eternity's technological and gameplay foundation while making a number of drastic changes and introducing some mechanics the company hasn't really experimented with before.

PC Gamer:

Your character, called a Fatebinder, isn't some simple farmhand who has never swung a sword and has to learn by killing giant rats in a some dark sewer. You're already an established person in the world, someone people recognize and fear. You've survived the war, and now roam the land trying to restore order and rebuild what has been destroyed. Even when evil wins, it seems, someone has to clean up the mess.

"You can think of that kind of as like Judge Dredd, where you get to come in and bring your own brand of justice to the land," said Singh. "We're a Fatebinder, and with that are certain responsibilities. We need to be resolving disputes between the armies and people within this world, that's kind of a responsibility of ours."

Not only is the world in transition due to the war, but also due to technology. Tyranny takes place during a time when the world's Bronze Age is ending and its Iron Age is just beginning. And, while the war has already happened and you're exploring it during the aftermath, players will still have something to say about the events that have already transpired.

"In our game," said Singh, "within character creation, we actually let the player decide how that conquest happened, and based off the decisions that you make there, you actually shape the starting state of the world. And so, depending on those choices you're actually going to get a very different experience."

PC World:

Alpha Protocol was a bold experiment in branching storylines, though. Small details, changed by an errant word here, an incidental choice there. It's this spirit which makes its way into Tyranny. Our demo focused on one little area: The village of Plainsgate. Or is it Halfgate?

As with most RPGs, the first thing you do in Tyranny is create your character. This isn't some farmer-in-rags though, or an escaped prisoner. In Tyranny, you play as a (Fatebinder,) which Obsidian's Brian Heins described to us as (kind of like Judge Dredd.) Said Heins, (You get to bring your brand of justice to the people you meet and you have the full weight of armies backing that authority. People don't mess with you unless they think they can stand against you.)

But as part of creating your Fatebinder, you're asked to make certain decisions which set the state of the world events that occurred during the aforementioned war between good and evil. Thus the Plainsgate/Halfgate conundrum.

We played the same small section of the game through twice. In one, the village of Plainsgate was occupied by foreign armies, dusty but resplendent with its Bronze Age architecture. The various crises central to Tyranny's plot had taken a toll on Plainsgate, but it looked like a pleasant-enough place. Your typical Infinity Engine city, really.

Flip to a different saved state, and Plainsgate became a very different place. It was the same town except, oh yeah, a massive chasm ran through the middle of the town and took half the buildings with it. Halfgate.


To contrast how decisions significantly impact the game, Obsidian showcased two similar scenarios that take place in the same town, just in different playthroughs. The main conflict is that a beastman, who has been caught in the middle of the village square, has become the scapegoat around an angry mob but may have important information into the real cause for the nefarious magic that has been occurring throughout the area. The faction controlling the town, the Scarlet Chorus, wants this resolved quickly.

In the first, more civil approach, the player has decided during the world-building phase that the town called Plainsgate has been hit by dark magic and that the empire is allied with the Scarlet Chorus. Speaking with Rancor, the representative of the Scarlet Chorus, the player decides through dialogue choices to handle the situation with the beastman, putting the sole responsibility on your shoulders. That provides favor with the faction and allows you to waltz into the angry mob and free the beastman to the ire of the crowd.

That might incite a riot later down the road, but it's worth learning information about the actual problem. Besides, they're peasants. If there is a riot, they'll just be experience points. On top of that, your character will gain abilities for either pissing off a faction (favor) or incurring its anger (wrath). It seems as though that as long as a faction isn't apathetic to you, you'll reap some kind of benefits.

Finally, GamersNexus has a write-up:

Mechanically, Tyranny uses the same engine as Pillars of Eternity for the foundation, but introduces a new classless approach to RPG characters and promises spell-crafting mechanics. (Classless,) in this instance, means that the game's progression is founded upon (use-based skills) the more you use them, the more they advance. There's no predefined class which encompasses a particular skillset. For players who'd prefer non-combat approaches, Obsidian is ensuring that characters aren't left behind in leveling by continuing to grant EXP for all approaches to problem solving. Skills can still be used for dialogue and out-talking rivals, rather than out-fighting them.

But combat is always an option. Similar to other RPGs of its unique sub-genre, Tyranny uses a real-time-with-pause combat system. We're told that the game has advanced player-side AI which will intelligently choose actions unchaperoned, for players who prefer macro-level play without interruption. Micro-level play is also possible, with unlimited pausing for players who find joy in mapping every command and securing clean-sweep engagement victories.

And a video interview with project director Brian Heins: