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Joe Previews – Kingdom Come: Deliverance!!

 

Two weeks ago I was requested to visit Hever Castle to play the latest build of the upcoming Kickstarted open world RPG, Kingdom Come: Deliverance – I have to say, it’s certainly a new pedigree of Press Event, especially given that I’m usually used to standard interview rooms! Hever Castle being the set stage for our epic quest into Kingdom Come: Deliverance felt rather appropriate, given the age of the fort and the history behind it, being Anne Bolyne’s childhood home!

Kingdom Come: Deliverance is developed by Warhorse Studios, being their first ever developed title, published by Deep Silver and funded through Kickstarter, in active development since 2011 – Set in 1400’s Bohemia, players are set in the shoes of Henry, the son of a local blacksmith who’s family and town are utterly annihilated by the forces of civil warring fronts; in desperation, you seek out the assistance of Lord Radzig Kobyla and his soldiers to exact your revenge, one way or another…

The recreation of 1400’s Bohemia can be truly breathtaking at times, especially on a high-spec gaming PC…

Upon entering the castle, we were all asked to arrange in the billiards room, and were lead to the main foyer where Warhorse Studios PR Manager Tobias Stolz-Zwilling welcomed us, showed us the save files available to us, and the prologue cutscene to the game – Heading down to what seemed to be a set of dining rooms, we were greeted with a number of high-spec gaming PC’s and a couple of PS4 consoles, all running Kingdom Come: Deliverance… It certainly had the makings for one of the fanciest LAN setups I’ve ever seen! Maybe Hever Castle would find a new business avenue here..? I kid, I kid…!

The game, judging from the Kickstarter page, seems to be split up into various different narrative acts; for all intents and purposes, I’ll be talking about my experiences with Act 1 – Hopping off the first save we were given, we were set straight after the prologue of the game, with Henry outside a local mill; the woman who saved him from the town’s destruction, Theresa, brings Henry to her father’s mill in exchange for Henry’s helping hand with her father’s less than legal requests… Of course, wether or not you undertake these quests is totally up to you, and is something that Kingdom Come: Deliverance makes sure to make you aware of near-instantly upon finishing the prologue – I, for one, however, decided to take the sinful tasks to heart and progress as a sort of morally-grey interpretation of Henry – In my eyes, no person is “free of sin”; Theresa’s father wanted me to go and steal a ring from a recently buried corpse over by the local executioner’s yard, an act seen as wholly sinful and punishable by death in the 1400’s… I made my way through the executioner’s fields, convinced him that Theresa’s father had a missed shipment of flour for him (Half a bag, in fact), and made off with ring in tow after finding it locked in a chest rather than on the body…

No, that’s not an off-branch of Novigrad… No Witchers here!

Load up Save File 2, where we’re placed into the preparation of a large-scale conflict against a small military force occupying a destroyed church in the middle of a local forest; this Save is where we were taught how to fight for ourselves properly, with a number of differing weapons such as bows, swords, maces and more – I opted for a dual-handed broadsword and bow setup, which, much to my dismay, ended up doing more harm than good to me; the area was absolutely littered with archers, who could kill you easily with only a few hits – I’d hate to assume, but their arm was nearly too good

Lastly, with Save File 3, we were thrust into the most exciting setting of them all… Into the shoes of Monk Henry at the local monastery! Whilst it may not sound that interesting, the Monk life sets up a lot of drama, tension and alternative gameplay that lets you see just how varied Kingdom Come: Deliverance can be; here you’ll be set a designated schedule, specific activities and be able to meet a range of different monks – Some devout, and some there for less that admirable reasons… We were tasked with investigating a murderer within the monk’s midsts, however admittedly I just ended up punching monks in the face as I got quite stuck with some of the more complex quests!

Never before has the Monk-life been so… Appealing…

One thing to note about Kingdom Come: Deliverance is that when it comes to historical accuracy, it certainly doesn’t skimp on any details – Simple acts you’d often commit in other RPGs, such as looting warriors on the battlefields of war could be seen as sinful and dishonourable in Kingdom Come: Deliverance; rushing past nobles and guards, talking rudely or even simply just muttering a word to those socially superior to you can come with severe repercussions, be it fines, jail time, or even torture in the most severe cases; this sort of “social awareness” is integral to many quests in Kingdom Come: Deliverance, and climbing the social ladder is of the upmost importance to exact your revenge and to attain success; enrolling as a knight, becoming a monk or a servant of the lords of the land is one way of altering your social standing – These methods, however, come with their own benefits and detriments – For instance, becoming a Monk means that you no longer were permitted your ‘mortal possessions’; all your items are stripped, and you’re forced to follow a strict schedule of praying, scripture copying and eating – This greatly limits your options in terms of playstyle, but acts as a window into the ways of old, and allows you to possibly rise amongst the ranks of the religious leaders to attain your goals faster.

Combat is a huge focus for Kingdom Come: Deliverance, and thankfully an aspect they get very right…

Combat is another extremely important and difficult aspect of Kingdom Come: Deliverance’s gameplay – Having collaborated with numerous historians and medieval combat researchers all feeding their input into every aspect of the combat; combat works similarly to For Honor, with the exception of being fully first-person, and relying more on tactical strikes and slow-paced movement rather than dashing, dodging and rolling around like in For Honor – Attacks are focused on a weapon wheel of sorts, where you click a corresponding arrow to attack wherever the arrow is; parries work in the same way, meaning you have to account for your enemy’s armour, weapon and possible shields as well… All of which leads to extremely slow and methodical swordplay – Archery also works with a huge decree of skill involved; when drawing your bow, you lose your crosshairs entirely and have to rely on your own accuracy, understanding how the bow and arrows wobble and tilt with tension, how to estimate for moving targets and more; you actually need to practice your aim, which goes wonderfully with the slower paced combat in the game…

Archery is one of the most unforgiving, but rewarding aspects of the combat.

…However this is where I encountered some issues with archery in general, specifically during my second save file at a military siege on a nearby derelict church; you find one of the men responsible for the attack on your town, the man who stole the sword you had commissioned for Lord Razdig; you face him, one-on-one atop the disheveled church tower, with only the little bits of health you had at the end of the siege – For me, I was on a permanent 1-hit-kill, so I had to think creatively about how to tackle the situation… How did I defeat this boss? This hulking mound of muscle and tactics? Well, I pulled out my bow, shot him in the face and killed him in one hit! Partially due to him not wearing any head armour, however, what would normally be a 2-5 minute boss duel turned into a one-shot-kill from my end – Regardless, my sides were aching after this, but it is technically accurate – If you took a fully drawn arrow straight to the cranium, chances are you won’t be able to shrug it off, let alone continue to swing a broadsword easily…

With our builds of the game, we did encounter a number of technical issues during our play time, as is expected with prerelease builds – Bugs such as the crime system refusing to work, missions auto-failing (Especially one instance where a beggar I had to beat up in a fistfight spawned outside the fighting ring, meaning I couldn’t hit him at all as he ran off and somehow won with my money…), infinite loading screens and a few frame drops and crashes; these issues, however, were mostly due to all the gaming PC’s running AMD Radeon graphics cards, and Warhorse’s testing machines back in the Czech Republic all running Intel cards – This was later confirmed to be an issue with AMD cards as the PS4 versions of the game, from other people’s opinions, appeared to be totally bug free as far as they were aware.

Your social standing and relationship with others will factor into how your quests develop across the game.

So, I guess the main question is “Am I excited for Kingdom Come: Deliverance when it releases in February next year”? The answer to that question would be yes. Yes I totally am – Not only is this one of the first RPGs I’ve seen to take an actual historic series of events and weave them into a compelling and accurate narrative, but it’s the first RPG of it’s kind that in my eyes has done this well, especially given the game’s Kickstarter origins – I think that backers (As long as the AMD issues get fixed pre-launch) of this title will be very happy with the level of depth, history and complexity Kingdom Come: Deliverance has to offer them, not only as an entertainment format, but as an educational one as well.

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