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Following the big reveal of Expeditions: Rome as Logic Artists’ next project, we can now check out several previews that tell us more about this intriguing historical RPG. These previews feature quite a few quotes from Logic Artists’ creative director Jonas Wæver and paint a rather broad picture where RPG elements take priority over the series’ exploration-driven roots. Have a look:
“We’ve essentially abstracted all those choices out into other parts of the game, to change the management part of the game from a chore you have to deal with into a suite of options for you to engage with at your pleasure in order to get new items and benefits.”
This means you no longer have to camp regularly to avoid penalties, instead using it whenever you want to engage in the crafting or on the mechanics. Managing the legion as well is more proactive, and rather than being an off-map abstraction you actively guide your forces across the map, engaging in several minigames that simulate larger scale encounters. Each campaign climaxes with a battle involving linked tactical skirmishes and participation from the legion, usually in the form of a siege.
Weaver has been researching the period obsessively, partially with a view to including as many subtle touches of authenticity as possible, but also to design a story which properly fits the Roman moral universe. “I’m fascinated by the Roman patron/client system, and to what extent the idea of family and tribe permeated that society. It was seen as virtuous to defend your family, even if your family members were clearly in the wrong, and someone could get a lot of respect for siding with criminal family members, even as they were convicted of their crimes.”
Going back to historical characters, there are some that I’m really looking forward to interacting with. Weaver mentioned an encounter with Cato, Julius Caesar’s famous rival, who abruptly asks your character to justify an action they took much earlier than the game. “Cato isn't as interested in what you did as he is in your reasons for doing it,” Weaver says. “If you can convince him that you are a moral and virtuous person, he will lend you his help later on.”
So yes. Saying that Expeditions: Rome is big may, at a glance, be a bit trite, but if anything it feels necessary. If what I’ve seen is an indication of the scope, then this is indeed going to be a big game. There’s promise here: a fairly unique take on tactical combat and itemization, an interesting meta-game element, some light strategizing, a fascinating era to explore, and a lot of narrative branching. If this comes off, it should be something quite special — and even at their worst, the past Expeditions games have never been anything short of interesting.