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How Kingdom Come: Deliverance Is Changing RPGs

Bohemian RPG.

There’s some games that, when you first hear of them, you can’t help but feel that the developers have ripped them straight from your own daydreams. Kingdom Come: Deliverance is one such game, with a down to earth recreation of the medieval Kingdom of Bohemia – modern day Czech Republic – gorgeous graphics, and quests that branch and flow around not just key decisions but how you decide to go about performing a task. That’s the real hook for me; no matter the task, your actions have some kind of impact, whether you succeed in a valorous fashion, sneak and steal, coerce, or even fail.

The game starts off with you, the lowly son of a blacksmith, living in tumultuous times. The weakness of King Wenceslaus IV is being ruthlessly exploited by his half brother Sigismund, the ruler of the neighbouring Hungary, who sent armies and riled up the local bandits to destabilise and ultimately topple Wenceslaus from his throne. It was a particularly fractious time to be living in, and perhaps the perfect setting for an historical RPG such as this one.

Warhorse have made good progress since I last saw the game, back in February, though that’s not to say it’s all that near to release. It’s in alpha right now, which means it’s playable from start to finish, but still wants an awful lot of polish before its release next year. That said, it ran an awful lot smoother on a gaming laptop now than it did half a year ago.

The quest on show this time comes from the very beginning of the game, before Henry’s town of Skalitz is pillaged by the Cuman army roaming the lands, and your task befits what would otherwise be a quite lovely summer’s day. Henry’s father is forging a new sword, one that will play a key role through the rest of the story, but he needs you to go and run some errands.

kingdomcome-skalitz

It’s up to you what order you do them in, and heading off to do one task before another can change how things pan out both in the short and long term. So, for example, as you head to confront Kunesh who owes Henry’s father money but refuses to pay, you’ll have several options: you can try to reason with him, go back to dad and ask what to do – and get an earful about how hopeless you are in the process – break into his house and steal what he’s not paid for, or try and fight him.

Just this one brief moment brings into play so many different parts of the game. Engaging in a fist fight shows off the game’s intriguing stamina-based combat system. As with the Dark Souls games, to take a prime example, you have only so much stamina before needing to wait a few moments for it to recharge. Taking blows drains stamina as well, until you’re taking actual damage, which reduces the size of the stamina bar. It’s a system that neatly weaves health and stamina into one.

At this point, you’re kind of rubbish at fighting, and fairly likely to get your arse kicked. Again, there’s a clever twist that deviates from the typical RPG. Instead of accruing skill points to spend as you see fit, you level up each skill only by doing it. You get better at fighting by fighting, at talking to people by talking to people, at haggling over price by haggling, and so on.

And should you decide that deception is the path of least resistance, you’ll be engaging with the reputation system. Trespassing on someone’s land might get you told to sod off out of their front garden, but breaking into their house and getting caught will see them try to kick you out and your reputation and standing will drop. Even if you don’t get caught, that person will know they were robbed and be more alert. They’ll start to wear a sword at their side, and the whole town might be more wary, especially if you happen to be an outsider.

Again, that was just one of the handful of tasks Henry’s father wanted him to complete. If you go and pick up a beer first, it’ll be warm by the time you get it back to him, if you can’t get money or something good out of Kunesh, you won’t be able to go to the trader and buy the hilt for the sword, or you’ll be haggling from a much weaker position. It’s staggering to think how all of this can scale up to the full game’s world and story. Entire side quests can simply not happen, because stumbled into a fight with and killed some bandits who would have had a hand in some scheme much later in the game.

There’s a delightful causality and good old common sense to so much of Kingdom Come’s design that impresses me no end. Bringing all of that to a historical setting and not dabbling with fantasy and spells just helps give the game even more of its own identity.

One Comment
  1. bunimomike
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    Lovely to see this shaping up. I’ve caught the odd video from time-to-time as well. Great to see devs pushing cause and effect.

    Comment posted on 01/12/2016 at 10:32.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance
  • Developer:Warhorse Studios
  • Publisher:Warhorse Studios, Deep Silver
  • Platforms:PC, PS4, XBO
  • Release Date:13/02/18

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