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The folks over at PCGamesN have played through a demo mission of Warhorse Studios' upcoming historical RPG Kingdom Come: Deliverance recently, and what they saw there exceeded their expectations. The resulting preview article praises the title's time-sensitive quest design and complex interlinked mechanics, mentions a surprising level of polish for an indie game that's still in Beta, and makes special note of the gorgeous Renaissance-era map. A snip:
As you can imagine, all of this is a breeding ground for bugs. I didn’t spot anything amiss in the demo, but part of the reason for the most recent Kingdom Come delay, putting it into next year, is so the entire team - artists, programmers, anyone with spare minutes and a computer - can get down to making it as good as it can be.
The expectation for a game like this would be a lack of polish. While it doesn’t have triple-A smoothness - and let’s be honest, Bethesda’s best efforts don’t either - it is far less janky than most games at the beta stage, be they publicly available or not. Yes, what the developers are showing off to me is going to be the most polished segment of the game they have, but with three more months of bug smashing left to go I have a lot of confidence in Warhorse’s capability to get it right.
There are two other key triumphs. First is in linked mechanics, with complex combat supported by a big combo system plus skills, gear, and perks, all of which also influence social interaction. Go out, kill a guy, and get blood all over your sword? You might look like a badass now, changing how characters see you - and not all of them like it. Know the first aid skill? You can bypass challenging social bluffs or intimidation checks by bandaging an arm. Again, it is an interwoven series of modifiers, based on circumstance and logic as much as gear.
The second is in looks. Kingdom Come has one of the prettiest maps I have ever seen in a videogame, to the point of it not only being worth mentioning, but celebrating. Renaissance-era art slowly reveals itself as you explore, with intricate drawings in a tapestry style indicating towns and other areas. It is great, and puts a high-quality sheen on the whole game, in tandem with the CryEngine looking its absolute best.
This is all tied together by a strong historical base in which your character, Henry, and his story, is fictional, but the surroundings are an accurate interpretation of what really happened. Open up a history book and you can spoil the ending for yourself. No surprises that a full-time historian on the team keeps everything in check - it was their idea to make the 15th-century-style map.
It isn’t finished yet, but getting it right will put Kingdom Come: Deliverance in a unique spot. The Witcher and Skyrim have taken fantasy RPGs into the stratosphere - but nobody has kept their storytelling and narrative options when transferring over to a world of cavalry charges and unenchanted swords. That is effectively a whole new genre and, by the looks of it, it could be a great one.