Kingdom Come: Deliverance E3 2017 Coverage

Warhorse Studios' realistic RPG, Kingdom Come: Deliverance had a showing at E3 2017 that has resulted in a number of hands-on previews and gameplay videos. If you wanted to find out just how historically accurate the game is, learn a bit about its systems, or grit your teeth at the apparent abundance of timed quests, you've come to the right place.

To begin, we have a couple of YouTube videos. The first is by IGN, where Warhorse's PR Manager, Tobias Stolz-Zwilling provides commentary on top of roughly 10 minutes of footage:

Then, we have a video where the folks from PlayStation Access gush over some neatly edited demo footage:

Moving on to the previews, PCWorld's article talks about the game's historical background and its questing system that emphasizes timing. Check it out:

But Warhorse did speak in broader terms about the world it’s building—one that’s a far more reactive take on the open-world RPG. For instance, an early quest tasked us with recovering a debt from a local drunkard. With the right stats we could of course talk the money out of him, or we could beat it out of him. If we fail in that regard, we could return and tell our father, at which point he’ll take care of it. Or if you keep exploring, you might find some other way around the quest, maybe some fellow youths to teach you how to break into the drunkard’s house.

Many of these quests are also time-limited, which further changes how events play out. Another early quest has you grab a beer for your father on the way home. “Get one from the cellar so it’s still cold,” he says as you dash off. Buy the beer and come back immediately and your dear ol’ dad will drink full to bursting. Get distracted, though? The beer warms up, and your dad will lament his lazy son again.

This is a minor example, but from the looks of it Kingdom Come is studded with time-sensitive events that lead to entire quests or quest paths, all sorts of people actually going about their lives and you’re just one more peasant in their midst. It’s very A Mind Forever Voyaging in that regard, or Pathologic—the latter another Elder Scrolls-alike, actually.

Tomas Franzese from DualShockers notes the overall high difficulty of the adversarial activities in the game. A few paragraphs:

Fighting in Kingdom Come: Deliverance is quite tough. The entire game plays in the first person perspective, really throwing you into the thick of combat. Henry attacks quite slowly, and enemies require multiple well placed blows to be taken down, especially when punching.When I later played a combat tutorial, I found that if you charge haphazardly into a group of enemies, you will easily be taken down, as you can not block all of there attacks, and they will be coming at you from all sides.

Luckily, it was easier to take the drunk down one-on-one, so I beat him up and got Henry’s father’s money back. Before bringing it back to him, I decided to walk around the town a bit and interact with the NPCs. They all had some simple, well written dialogue, and I even learned how to play “Farkle,” a centuries old dice game included in Kingdom Come: Deliverance, with a little help from the developers. The game’s world looks to be quite lively, so I am looking forward to seeing what some of the sidequests and minigames might be.

PlayStationLifeStyle has a short write-up that emphasizes the game's cohesion and nuanced nature. An excerpt:

Although Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a fictional game, its wider setting is true to history, with the locations and arching cast of cast characters pulled straight from the annals of medieval times. You won’t find dragons or trolls roaming the landscape, and your lethality is entirely dependent on your skills with physical weapons rather than shouts or arcane abilities. Real-life buildings are recreated in great detail to maintain authenticity. Jumping into the map screen shows a beautiful interactive piece of art based on medieval designs. Kingdom Come houses so much more weight when you realize the breadth of how much it is based on a far gone but not forgotten reality.

What struck me most were the elaborate systems at play through every quest and decision. Everything ties together. Though your speech skill might be high, the success of an attempt to influence any given individual will be impacted by the clothes you are wearing and the equipment you have. Guards might be more keen to speak with you if you are wielding a bloodied sword. Higher class citizens may be reticent to interact if your clothes look like those of a lower class citizen. It’s not as simple as being able to charm people through a leveled up speech stat.

Likewise, strength is oft determined more by your skill with weapons than it is by powering up or getting better weapons, meaning that you could easily fall to an early enemy at any point in the game if you let your guard down. Combat is highly strategic, using a star-based system of attacks and parries. Fail to properly defend and a few well placed critical blows will send you to your death.While having a nicer sword will certainly make a difference, Warhorse wants to make sure that all of their systems play hand-in-hand to give a deep and realistic experience to the player.

TechRaptor enjoys the relative lack of hand holding, using the game's map as a prime example:

Before I got my hands on the gameplay, I attended a 30 minute presentation, which expanded on a lot of what I was able to see in my demo of the game. There were some immediate themes in the presentation that made some of Warhorse’s design decisions and philosophies very clear.

The first of those was their approach to exploration. Kingdom Come: Deliverance does feature an overview map you can view (it is wonderfully hand-drawn as well), but it shows you the basics. Any nodes, points of interest, or other markers only appear once you as the player character, Henry, go to that place and interact with a character/thing. Going out into the world, which was emphasized many times, would not be a hand holding experience. That lack of hand holding is another design philosophy present throughout much of what was discussed/shown.

Exploration is important as much is learned and much gained through venturing out and talking to many people. Choices, quests, and other experiences that could have great effects on other parts of the game could be missed. For example, not keeping up with a certain NPC could mess you up later on. There are skill checks in the game for dialogue options—things like Speech, Intimidation, etc—that the player can level up, but each NPC also has their own level in these skills. The more you interact, the more you can learn about them and their skill levels, which could be vital information in a later interaction.

And finally, Fextralife offers a general preview, so if you just want a concise update on Kingdom Come's current state, you should check it out:

The hands on demo for the game presented us with 3 different game mode options, the main story, a combat tutorial and skirmish mode. No matter which you choose, the game is rendered in some of the most beautiful visuals you’ll see, with faithful recreations of historical architecture from the middle ages and specifically Bohemia.

The main story puts you through the opening questions of the game to get a sense of your stat preferences and then lets you go to explore the land. The quests are completely reactive and let you handle your business in any way you see fit. If your particular quest choices fail, you are not locked out, instead new options will present themselves for resolution, even in completely different quests. For example in the demo, you were charged with recovering money from a sheister. If you fail at this, later on your friends will ask you for help in which you can agree in exchange for their help recovering your money. This kind of flexible approach to questing allows for a tremendous amount of freedom that is such a breath of fresh air in open world gaming that always promises agency but often only delivers boxed in choice.

In the skirmish, we were able to really dig into the game’s combat system which was much more intuitive than we thought. You equip a primary and secondary weapon and once you begin engaging an enemy you can choose a direction on a 5 way compass to target specific areas of a foe’s body that may be left unprotected. There is a heft and weight to the combat that is very enjoyable and striking down a foe comes with the enthusiasm of a fight well won. This particular skirmish is itself bound by the reality of the choices you make, as getting to these situations is completely dependent on how you play out the prior quests. In some cases, it may be possible to completely avoid large scale battle with deft diplomacy.