The First 10 Hours in Kingdom Come: Deliverance

After a long wait, some changes, the reveal of strange ideas such as drinking schnapps to quicksave and a political discussion or two, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is finally out and about, and we can jump into a world previously described as Skyrim/Witcher without magic but some hardcore gameplay set in the European Middle Ages.

But before you play, there’s a whopping 23 GB day one patch waiting to be downloaded, and afterwards, prepare yourself to wait for almost a minute until you see the main menu. The first time it happens, you might be inclined listen to some narration about the historical events prior to the events in Kingdom Come: Deliverance, but after the tenth time of the booting the game, this starts testing your patience. Oh, and from the main menu to the game is usually another minute of waiting time.

The first thing that comes to mind once you can finally start playing Kingdom Come: Deliverance is the odd choice of using English names in the middle of Bohemia – it can be doubted the blacksmith’s son was really called Henry – for a game that takes pride in portraying medieval life accurately, anglicising names, and anglicising the name of the protagonist above all – seems an odd choice, especially when most characters around Henry actually DO have proper Bohemian sounding names …

Anyway, Kingdom Come: Deliverance starts out pretty relaxed: Our boy Henry wakes up after a long boozy night out (see, teenagers haven’t changed at all) and gets sent by his father to do stuff. Said stuff can be done in quite a few ways, although if you fail spectacularly, you might just end up rotting in jail and see a game over screen before the hour mark has passed …

Graphically, the game has its ups and downs; while foliage and water look amazing up close, forests look dead-ugly with almost PS2 textures from afar. Cutscenes generally look stunning, but in-game, it’s not that great. Mind you, you wouldn’t realise it that much if the cutscenes weren’t so nice looking. Speaking of cutscenes, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is full of them. Even talking to a trader involves a cutscene – and loading times. Then again, some dialogue outside cutscenes involves lips no moving or characters staring in Bethesda manner, so one could argue that cutscenes would have been better there in the first place.

The world in Kingdom Come: Deliverance is pretty big and those who live in rural Central Europe might actually feel at home (if that home was devoid of technology), but also relatively empty of things to do. There are flowers to collect and animals to shoot and at times, a little spot near or in villages where you can find useful things. Most houses and sheds are accessible but there’s not much in there. And yet, there’s a certain magic by just casually walking around in Kingdom Come: Deliverance. You can almost smell the fresh air, the scents of the forest and you can almost feel the sun on your skin … It is easy to get lost by wandering around.

The first 5 or so hours in Kingdom Come: Deliverance are pretty much a tutorial introducing you to some gameplay mechanics and the lore- or rather history-heavy story of the game. Unfortunately, on one rather strange occurrence, you might get teleported to the next part of a quest, even if you wandered off into the opposite direction … which is a heavy offender in terms of breaking immersion because it just happens suddenly without any indication or explanation. In general though, the tutorial tells you some things you feel overwhelmed with, but at the same time, it is very linear, a tad too linear actually. But don’t worry, freedom will be yours soon!

So, about those comparisons … well, forget them. Yes, like in Skyrim, you gain experience by doing things – from fighting, stealing to collecting flowers (which can net you some money early on if you feel like doing it), but as opposed to Skyrim, you don’t find enemies hidden behind every corner in Kingdom Come: Deliverance, and then fighting itself is a more complicated matter of five-directional attacks and the choice of stab vs slice, plus combos and blocks. And then some, from taking into account armor and the type of weapon to checking your stamina … Kingdom Come: Deliverance boasts a very complex fighting system that rather resembles Dark Souls than Skyrim. Thankfully, you get proper training a few hours in to explain things to you, and from then on, fighting becomes a thing – if you want. And if you get it. And if the game happens to be responsive, which it is not at all times. At any rate, it is a long and steep learning experience, so no, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is rather the opposite of Skyrim.

Now what about the comparisons to The Witcher 3? Well, you have a medieval looking open world torn by war and greed, an already pre-defined protagonist – although Henry is a peasant with hardly any knowledge so the RPG aspect and learning is way stronger in Kingdom Come: Deliverance – and a strong focus on story (no spoilers about it in here, but it starts out like an episode of Game of Thrones without dragons in Bohemia, and following the main quest stays interesting throughout the first 10 hours) so there’s that – and it works well. There are also consequences, some quickly leading to death or the game over screen …

Furthermore, Kingdom Come: Deliverance also puts some emphasis on alchemy (think of the potions in Witcher to give you buffs). However, as almost everything in Kingdom Come: Deliverance, it comes with obstacles: First, you need to be able to read. Otherwise, you actually cannot read books. Actually, you see letters but they make no sense, which is a nice touch. Sure, it’s realistic for those times and there’s a quest tied to it, but it also feels like an unnecessary extra step to prevent you from cheaply acquiring your quicksave schnapps. And believe Rabidgames, you WANT that good shit as soon as possible!

Why? Well, saving in Kingdom Come: Deliverance is unnecessarily complicated. Sleep in your bed and the game sometimes let you save – sometimes you can’t (this might be patched later, fingers crossed), leaving you without the ability to save for potentially a looooooong time, or you drink some schnapps, which can make you addicted and also uses up that bottle of very expensive alcohol. Ouch! Sure, you also save when you begin a quest (rather pointless if you’re far away from the next step of it) and sometimes, the game autosaves, too. Rarely. If you’re in the middle of a quest and the guy you need to talk to becomes unresponsive – you’re fucked. Go back to that save from an hour ago, thank you very much.

Now, saving is just one of the things that makes you realise Kingdom Come: Deliverance makes things considerably more complicated and user-unfriendly than it would have needed to. Same goes for archery – before level 5, you tend to injure yourself. If you want to know what archery looks like inKingdom Come: Deliverance and how awful it is at first, look here:

So, many things can summed up like this: Realistic, yes. Fun, fuck no! Same goes for fast-travel – you get tired and hungry when fast-traveling, so long ways are rather … difficult at first. Yes, this was also in the hardcore mode of Fallout New Vegas, but there was a reason it was called hardcore mode. An optional mode.

Long story short: Kingdom Come: Deliverance turns out to be a promising game. Wandering around in the lush and vibrant countryside is a joy, walking around in towns and villages and watching medieval folks is also fun, and you get to learn a lot if you’re interested in history. But as a game, Kingdom Come: Deliverance has some way to go. Making everything abstruse and overly complicated might be what the devs had in mind, fair enough but it also sucks out the fun in the beginning and the save system is nothing but frustrating, and not all of this shit is intended!

Warhorse needs to fix the save system, and coming up with a Story Mode with the ability to save whenever you want, or making the need to eat, sleep and bandage your wounds optional as well as simplifying the stupid and almost impossible lockpick and pickpocket systems – all of this would make Kingdom Come: Deliverance way more accessible and also commercially appealing to the masses who like the simplicity of Bethesda games.

As it stands, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a hardcore game for the hardcore niche. But below the hardcore surface and the manyfold technical issues (intended or not intended) lies a game that has the potential to enthral almost every gamer – without the need for magic! At this stage however, be prepared you’re about to go onto a journey that is not always comfortable, and that will be very demanding – in terms of focus, time and nerves. You will be nicely rewarded, sure, but the journey is all but smooth.

Rabidgames saddles his horse: 10 hours in, Kingdom Come: Deliverance slowly starts to shine. After the linear start, you are now free to explore and get to know the world at your own leisure. If the technical issues and design choices have not put you off yet. So yes, the game needs some patches and some polishing, but it might just take a few smart steps to change a rough diamond into a shining gem.

 

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