For a jolly long time RPGs were either fantasy or SF, occasionally
(Shadowrun-licensed games from Harebrained Schemes for instance) sat somewhere down
the middle. But there is a game brewing (and brewing, and brewing) which decided to
take a different road and is going to present us with a proper historical setting
without any magical bells and whistles.
This game is Kingdom
Come: Deliverance, and it will take us to a medieval Bohemia on
February 13 this year.
From zero to zero
Your in-game avatar, Henry, doesn’t matter. He starts the game being just a
blacksmith’s son and doesn’t go far beyond that. It’s not Mount & Blade where
you eventually get to rule your own kingdom, or any story of being “the chosen one”.
Kingdom Come will have none of that nonsense. You’re just a young adult with
a revenge quest, and that you even get to try to enact it is thanks to a local
noble’s magnanimous gesture. Welcome to the Middle Ages, try not to die.
If available reports are anything to go by the most we can count on in terms of
moving up in the world is being admitted to a local military, but that’s about it.
KCD definitely doesn’t mess around, and seems determined to put the player in the
place any regular person would be in during the late Middle Ages. You don’t mess
No messing around can also be seen in the combat system featured in the game, which
from all appearances is very complex, perhaps excessively so, but that remains to be
seen after the game is released.
What we know right now is that the system is going to rely on directional attacks,
from 5 different sides, plus a thrust which probably will be strictly
reticle-targeted. If that sounds a bit like For Honor, don’t worry, it’s not. It
seems to be much more fluid and procedural than Ubisoft’s fighting game. It’s
also going to rely fully on hit detection and physics. If you manage to strike your
enemy between the armour plates you may draw blood, if you don’t your sword may just
slide off the armour harmlessly.
And that’s because “armour” isn’t going to be a large human-shaped blob of extra HP
like in most games, but a series of separate items, much like real armour. Aim well
enough to shove a sword through the eye slit in your enemy’s helmet (all represented
properly in hitboxes) and you may blind or even kill them in one strike.
Kingdom Come clearly doesn’t want to follow a power fantasy of playing a figurative
bulletsponge carving through enemies.
It’s unknown how good the system actually is from a gameplay perspective, but the
ideas behind it seem genuinely interesting and it’s clear that the developers
have spent a long time researching medieval forms of combat AND finding a way to
properly translate them to video game mechanics.
Choices and consequences
Although nearly all RPGs boast about important choices the player gets to make
during gameplay, very few of them actually acknowledge that not doing something is
also a choice. After all if the protagonist wants to spend two week playing cards we
can’t push the plots forward without him.
Well, apparently you can. Kingdom Come: Deliverance is going to let many quests
progress without your input if you ignore completing them midway through. You took a
break from an active investigation? The guards will complete it without you, and
won’t be very happy with Henry ignoring his duties.
Similarly, even your general approach is apparently going to matter, down to whether
your sword is covered in blood or not influencing how NPC react to your character.
Badass or a dangerous lunatic? It’s going to differ from NPC to NPC.
Reportedly you’ll be able to game the system in logical ways, too. One example given
is killing a random person to make guards preventing you from entering a certain
area go to investigate the murder. Ruthless, but also makes perfect
Warhorse Studios are recreating a relatively small piece of Bohemia (16 square
kilometres, reportedly), but with a tightly woven net on relations and systems. If
everything goes right, we might have the most realistic and coherent RPG experience
to date. That’s something worth waiting for.
Warhorse Studios creates what is set to be one of the most memorable and unique
role-playing games out there. Eschewing the power fantasies and magical setting in
favour of very grounded, very historically conscious narrative and, dare we say,
Kingdom Come: Deliverance launches on February 13 this year, so
it’s basically right around the corner. Sharpen your sword and clean your armour, or
they’ll be useless.