God of War or A Divine Tale of Gore and Boy

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Played & Explained with tags , on May 13, 2018 by Rabidgames

As someone who has never liked the previous God of War games, mostly because they were too linear and too fucking full of fucking quick time fucking events, the worst ever sorry excuse for actual gameplay mechanics, Rabidgames is pleasantly surprised how incredibly awesome the new God of War is.

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Kratos and WWE’s Triple H – twins from alternate realities?

But make no mistake, the new God of War still is linear for most parts, it’s just rather well designed so you don’t feel the linearity that much. There are some branches that lead to some goodies, some paths that merge again, and some puzzles ask for a close observation of your surroundings. There’s also a big open area for you to relax and listen to Kratos’ stories, although his stories are not to everyone’s liking. But don’t worry, you’ll meat a better storyteller soon.

The combat system in this God of War feels slower but meatier – and seeing your thrown axe sink into an enemy’s flesh feels pretty satisfying, too. There will also be a second weapons later on, which will speed up combat a bit (no spoilers though). There is less gore in general, but the finishing moves still include Kratos ripping apart bodies, limbs and fountains of blood. But while the combat system is fun – and gets upgraded quickly with runic attacks from your axe and the boy’s bow attacks, enemy variety is a bit underwhelming. There are a handful of enemies that appear over and over throughout God of War, and only reappear with new skins later. The same goes for boss fights – there are only a few real boss fights, most are fighting the same set of mini bosses over and over again.

That being said though, it doesn’t have that much of an impact because the pacing in God of War is well-rounded for most parts – story, exploration, fights, puzzles and the odd “what the fuck?” moment work well together – pretty close to the pacing of Uncharted 4 (although the puzzles in God of War are more diverse and sometimes involve more thinking – although never THAT much more). The only time that wasn’t the case was towards the end when there were mini boss battles after virtually each step – honestly, that was the point where Rabidgames said “fuck this shit!” and went to finish the game on Easy – because once you figured certain enemies out, it was nothing but a war of attrition, which can become boring if it happens 3 times within 10 minutes …

Now, the story … without a doubt, this is where God of War really, really shines. What starts as a journey to spread the ashes of Kratos’ wife turns into more. Honestly, the less is said here the better but Kratos in the north works remarkably well, his interactions with others do, too. And virtually everyone you meet, from a stranger coming to your house (starting the first epic boss fight) to a mysterious witch, plays a part in this cosmic Norse play – it’s a bit of a bonus if you know a bit about Norse mythology, sure, but obviously, Sony’s Santa Monica Studio has taken some liberties there (which don’t feel terribly out of place).

As with the Greek mythology, the Norse gods were also pretty much giant (no pun intended) assholes. Don’t expect God of War to be a Viking Metal fairytale where the heroic deeds of Odin and Thor are praised. On the contrary, the gods are depicted as big jerks. Which makes sense, because if you read your Edda, they actually were. Or well, as actually as fictional characters can become …

You also get to travel a few of the legendary 9 realms in God of War. Starting in Midgard, you travel to some during the story, but there are also 2 realms that sadly only exist as glorified arenas. It’s a shame to do that, as it would have been awesome to explore these realms a bit more. A few are also locked permanently – sorry, we don’t get to see Asgard and Valhalla this time.

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Black breath can’t be healthy.

And then, Atreus, or “Boy” – forget Elizabeth from BioShock Infinite, forget Ellie from The Last of Us (who was utterly useless in combat anyway), Atreus now officially is the new best juvenile sidekick in gaming. Not only is he a very, very integral part to God of War’s story, he changes from a weak little boy to a competent fighter – and more. In fact, he is a bit overpowered when fully levelled, which means all you need to do is evade and block and have Boy fire his arrows at enemies.

The writing also manages to portrait the relationship between Atreus and Kratos without it being tacky or soap operesque (is this even a word? Whatever). You can sense the bond between them growing because of the events in God of War, because of Atreus learning more and more about the world he’s growing up in, and you can feel it by how Kratos addresses his son. What exactly happens and what the implications of the revelation towards the end are, well, let’s say it makes more sense to not talk about it here, because, let’s face it, you should go and play God of War to see it for yourself. Speaking about implications, yes, there is a massive motherfucking cliffhanger! But in this case, it even makes sense. Let’s just say that Kratos’ bloody actions start a series of events that would probably have not fit into one game, hell, that would have been too epic for one game!

While this God of War might not appeal to all of the old-school fans of the series, the new mainstream approach has worked perfectly well in terms of metascore ranking and sales – and for a reason. Just like Uncharted 4, God of War is a masterpiece of storytelling and combining different gameplay elements together into a narrative machine that does a great job. And like Uncharted 4, God of War also is a very polished experience. Who would have thought that it pays off to publish a COMPLETE polished narrative masterpiece and make money with a SINGLE PLAYER game in this age of “games as a service”? Because fuck you, turns gamers actually like to play games like reading books – a complete experience you can wrap up in one sitting. And sure, there’s a cliffhanger, but that ain’t different with certain books. Right, George R.R. Martin?

Rabidgames bathes in the blood of Kratos’ enemies: First, Monster Hunter World has emerged as a GOTY contender, and now God of War throws its axe into the ring. And with Red Dead Redemption 2 on the horizon, there might be more to come … But one thing is clear – it will be hard to beat the story of this journey to Hel and back!

 

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Agents of Mayhem or No Saints No Flow

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags , on May 10, 2018 by Rabidgames

It’s a shame. Agents of Mayhem could be great, but it’s not. It could be fun, but it’s not. It’s just mediocre at times at best. Story missions, gameplay and other activities are way too repetitive, the humour is way worse than in the Saints Row series (the good joke ratio is probably 1:10), and everything you do feels like a chore. And it doesn’t help open-world Seoul is soulless and devoid of anything meaningful. It looks nice but there is no depth.

In a way, Agents of Mayhem can be described as Saints Row with 95% less fun, and it would be accurate. Sure, the gameplay can be engaging at times, but then again, it’s hardly ever truly awesome. The missions, split into sub-missions (some of the ever-boring category of “go there, shoot 5 guys”), are … there. The dialogues are there, the gameplay is there, and sometimes it can be alright, but never great, and after a few hours, mixing and matching the different agents is all that keeps you engaged. The agents are pretty much Overwatch as a single player. They are relatively fleshed out and sometimes have an interesting back story, and they also play differently. They also have some missions of their own. Sadly, 95% of the missions are EXACTLY the same missions with other skins. Imagine Saints Row The Third but even more repetitive.

And then, bugs. Missions in Agents of Mayhem are pointlessly long, involve too much of the same, and if you’re in the last phase of a boss fight but then you’re buttons become unresponsive and you have to quit the game to come back to 20 minutes before, well, that screams fuck you! If you’re lucky, you just have to reload a checkpoint because your task is to kill everyone in a room – but one enemy is in the next room, and the door will only open if everyone in this room is dead. Oh yeah, the game counts the guy in the next room as one who is in this room … Fuck.

And then there are DLC characters – having Johnny Gat as DLC in Agents of Mayhem was a good move – and an asshole move as well at the same time. Why have THE best Saint only as physical version pre-order? Why even as pre-order? Come on! Then there’s Lazarus, who is mildly entertaining with her shooting insects around, and Kinzie, the cool FBI hacker, who is pretty much the same character in this universe. Kinzie is worth getting as her playstyle is pretty cool, but well, what does it say in a mediocre game?

So yeah, Agents of Mayhem is a game that should only be grabbed from the bargain bin, because not only is it repetitive, it is also partially broken. Its only saving grace are some of the Agents that suit your playstyle, and the camouflages from the Saints Row games. The rest is, well, there. But just being there doesn’t get the agents a gaming participation medal. And while they are the best Agents of Mayhem has to offer, the rest is just too bland, lazy and uninspired to justify more time in Seoul. Let’s hope we can book another vacation in Stilwater or Steelport soon.

Rabidgames is sad: Shame. What could have been great is just mediocre. No one asked for this, no one will ask for it ever again. Volition, we want another proper Saints Row, not some cheap bargain bin AAA game that is put to shame by most indie games.

Monster Hunter World or World-Class Hunting and Gaming

Posted in Played & Explained with tags , , on April 27, 2018 by Rabidgames

Remember Capcom? Last generation, they came up with failures like Resident Evil 6 and countless fighting games with even more countless rip-off DLCs, and then, out of the blue, they gave birth to the cutest dragon ever and named it Dragon’s Dogma. This generation Capcom has fared a bit better; Resident Evil 7 actually was a decent effort rather than an absurdity. But Monster Hunter World is this generation’s gem – a rich game that defies many conventions and attracts lots of fans, in this case old and new.

So why is Monster Hunter World that big a hit, when it’s just all about a world where you hunt monsters. Ecologically speaking, you are actually doing to Monster Hunter’s new world what white settlers did to the ecosystems of North America – decimate it first and then wonder why species go instinct … And let’s be honest here: the rather half-baked story that talks about the need to hunt predators because they have appeared in greater numbers than ever is pretty much the game’s manifest destiny.

The story about old monsters in a new world surely wins no literature nobel prizes yet somehow still works though – a few cutscenes here and there and new monsters showing up keeps players motivated – although the main motivation is the hunt. In Monster Hunter World, there are plenty of monsters to hunt (although less than in previous games of the series), and combine that with the dozen of different weapons to choose from, and you have a game to sink hundreds of hours into. Because a new weapon opens up a new world of combos, stances and getting hit a damn lot until you’ve learnt how the weapon works. Don’t even bother finding out about all of them, you won’t have the time. Pro tip: Learn a melee and a ranged weapon so you can switch between them when fighting monsters. Otherwise, you might waste time fighting that one monster that is a long, slow, death-filled toil because your current weapon can barely scratch its shell …

There are also countless items to help you battle monsters in Monster Hunter World – you can lay traps to capture them (giving you some special rewards) or put up barrel bombs, you can blind them, stun them or literally throw shit at them to make unwanted monsters go wash their shitty hide, you can set up boosters to help out your team … and more.

And then there’s the events introducing new and pretty tough monsters, or new skins like Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn or the MegaMan skin for the feline Palico friend or some Devil May Cry themed stuff soon. And you know what- all of this shit is FREE! Sure, some cosmetic stuff isn’t free but who cares about cosmetic stuff … Turns out the awfully named boardroom trend “games as a service” does not necessarily mean you HAVE TO rip off gamers with micro-DLC, micro-transactions or fucking lootboxes!

Speaking of Palicos – not only are they just awesome – okay, cats are always awesome, they help you a bit in battle, help you communicate with other creatures that can also help you in battle, and if you help them train Palico tools, they can be super useful in fights, too. Just don’t expect them to do all the work for you though. Here are some of the coolest Palico outfits, and some Brüno (if you ask who that is, your loss. Seriously! Google him! Now!) impression as a bonus:

And then there are the different dynamics of solo vs multiplayer. If you’re new to Monster Hunter World or you’re training a new weapon, you need to practice on your own if you don’t want to be a burden to your team and cart three times (aka dying three times which ends the mission). But for farming, multiplayer is incredibly quicker, and even if you don’t deal much damage, you can specialise in healing and buffing your team. Just … some random players are stupid as fuck. From dying because of immense stupidity (why heal yourself? why not get hit 3 times in a row by the same attack?) to prematurely attacking a sleeping monster while your team mate place some fucking bombs, there will be scenes of stupidity and frustration. But then again, if you’re lucky enough, you can actually join a hunt where everyone is quickly killing off 5 different and tough monsters in 10 minutes, so it’s a bit of a gamble.

Surely, Monster Hunter World is a game you either get our don’t get it at all. Spending dozens, perhaps hundreds of hours hunting the same 30 or so monsters over and over again, grinding some to get the best gear, and then changing the gameplay and trying to master a new weapon – it’s a virtual dream for some, a snorefest for others. But that’s fine. After all, not everyone gets the boring grindfest that is Dark Souls or the mindless explosionfest of Just Cause either …

But one thing is for sure, compared to previous games, Monster Hunter World is definitely an easy access into the genre of hunting monsters, although it is still not easy by any means – hitboxes, avoiding getting hit or learning how and when to attack are different from other games, so there is some learning curve involved. But once you have defeated your first massive opponent, once you have witnessed two alpha monsters battling themselves – a sight to behold – then it becomes hard to put away the gamepad. Because you can surely do just one more hunt before 11pm … or well, 2am.

Rabidgames sharpens the blade: Monster Hunter World is to Monster Hunter what Final Fantasy VII was to Final Fantasy more than 20 years ago – it catapults the franchise from J-obscurity to general gaming popularity. Sure, releasing the game on proper consoles with a big enough fan base might have played a part, but making the game more accessible definitely played the biggest part. 

Once a generation, Capcom pulls off something unexpected – in a positive way. This generation, Capcom has made hunting monsters accessible for the Western world. Kudos!

 

 

TT Isle of Man – Ride on the Edge or Falling over the Edge?

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags , , , , , , , on March 24, 2018 by Rabidgames

Hold on, what is this? Okay, quick introduction: The International Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) Race is an annual race on the Isle of Man where pretty crazy bikers race themselves around the island. There have been hundreds of fatalities and many more injuries over the years, and well, you can read more about the real-world event here.

So, the game, let’s call TT Isle of Man – Ride on the Edge … a bit long, that one, let’s call it TT IoM RotE from here on for simplicity’s sake, so TT (come on, let’s just go with that, shall we?) is a motor bike racing game with the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy race as its centre stage. And it is a pretty hardcore game – no rewind (a mistake made is a mistake that stays), not too that many options to customise your bike (there are some, and tweaks are quickly felt), and the tutorial is pretty much just a short introduction to the controls. After that, you’re free to go online and race others, race the AI or try out the different tracks in Time Attack. And … that’s all there is to do. Nothing to unlock. Only the career to complete. No extras.

There are also 9 additional tracks across the United Kingdom, but most are rather short. In the career as well as for your progress, they serve as stepping stones for the big race – and if you start out, they are hard as stone (sorry not sorry). Speaking of the career of TT, it is very, very bare-bones. Hardly any presentation, you read a mail, choose a race, you start the race. That’s pretty much it. Oh, and in order to make money in the career, you have to win races. Second place gets you nothing. Couple that with the lacklustre presentation and the high difficulty that TT offers, and if you’re not an expert in racing games, you can easily spend hours no earning virtual money at all …

But the racing itself … fucking hell, this is where TT really delivers! This is a game where you actually feel the wind in your face when you rush down a straight, a game where you need to learn the tracks because every little bump can send you into the walls … And this will happen. You will crash. A lot. The drivers don’t mind – they can crash at 250 km/h, dust themselves off and magically sit on the bike again. Thankfully, otherwise the frustration levels would be on Dark Souls level!

But here you will notice the subtitle “Ride on the Edge” actually applies. You have to ride on the edge, otherwise you won’t win. For most of us, that also means we will go over the edge a whole damn lot of times … The following video shows both the great feeling of speed you can enjoy in TT and what happens when you fly beyond the edge. And sure enough, the crash physics are rather funny than realistic …

At the end of the day, TT is a game with nice enough graphics and a decent racing core, but everything else, which isn’t that much anyway, isn’t too great. Unless you’re a die-hard motor bike racing fan, TT doesn’t have much to offer. But if you are, this game could be your personal ride to heaven.

Rabidgames hits the wall: It is frustrating to play for results for someone who’s more a racing games casual. Then again, just riding as fast as hell and thinking to use a blow-dryer or fan just for some cool effects and actually managing the next corner without the umpteenth faceplant feels pretty good. But you definitely need a laid back approach to racing games, or your driver and your bike won’t be the only things flying around uncontrollably …

Gravel or Accessible Arcade Action – Light

Posted in Hands On, Played & Explained with tags , , , , on March 13, 2018 by Rabidgames

What exactly is Gravel? In short, it’s an extremely accessible arcade racer with an okay-ish selection of cars and tracks (you need to unlock basically everything) by Italian developer Milestone who’s mostly focused on racing games with 2 and 4 wheels. Gravel features cars that mostly go off-road (including gravel, of course), and the career mode “Off-Road Masters” is presented as a TV show.

When you first boot up Gravel and have a look at the options, you’ll notice quite a few settings. You can set your braking and stability helps, brakes, whether you want the ideal trajectory (aka the racing line) to be shown, and more. The thing is – the more help you turn off, the more bonus points you get! The same system applies to difficulty – the harder the more points. Sadly, the whole system gets offset by how very easy the game is on, well, very easy, so a victory there nets you by far more points than the +5% for 4th place on Medium.

But Gravel doesn’t stop there – you can also play around with your front and rear suspensions, transmission, differential, brakes and alignment (in a completely different menu just before the start of a race that you might actually overlook). If you’re into that kind of thing, you can get a bit of time out of it, but unless you’re really struggling with your chosen car on a course, it’s not really needed to be honest. Besides, there are only minor differences with the handling, or the speed, of the cars anyway.

Then again, the problem is you need to unlock virtually everything in Gravel, so feel free to win races (unlocking cars, liveries and tracks) to earn points (to unlock more cars and liveries). You do that via career which is presented as a couple of races and championships, followed by a face-off with the allegedly best driver in a category you then have to beat a few times. Each race won/finished in a set position/finished nets you a certain number of stars, and a certain amount of stars unlocks more races. It’s a neat little system where it’s alright to jump into the game once in a while to get in a few laps even when you don’t have the time to simulate an entire one hour race. The highlight of Gravel’s career mode are the races against the “masters” of a discipline (and you also get a promo clip introducing their personality). In reality, it is just 3 more or less difficult 1-on-1 races – but you have to win all of them!

Now, for the arcade-ness of Gravel, most races only take 2 to 4 minutes, and the A.I. is pretty foreseeable. On higher difficulties, your opponents are just a bit quicker and tend to be more in our face, but don’t expect tactics or team play. Rubber-banding is also there, although if you’re quick, you can have a comfortable lead anyway, it’s more the case that the A.I. doesn’t get away when you’re behind.

But then again, the game gets considerably hard sometimes out of the blue (because you won’t expect it); time-trials have times that are not that easy to beat in Gravel, and the outright idiotic “Smash-up” events where you have to hit the correct signs in your way are pretty hard and, most crucially, the opposite of fun. You have to get out of your way to hit some of them, and the whole joke is a chore to be best ignored.

The discrepancies in Gravel are stark – with A.I. on easy, you can easily win with 20 or more seconds to spare in races against cars, but the same result gets you 3rd in Time-Attacks and last in Smash-Ups … something absolutely doesn’t add up there. Furthermore, it is a bit too arcadey that the weather and surface hardly have any effect – asphalt, mud or grass don’t make much difference in terms of handling, and rain and snow should feel way more different.

But at its heart, that only emphasises the fun factor of Gravel’s arcade approach – everyone can jump in for a quick race – sadly, there is no split-screen, which is a massive oversight for this kind of game. There are a few online multiplayer modes, some of them probably fun for those who are into multiplayer – Capture the Flag with cars is certainly more Destruction Derby than racing. And while crashes might not see the cars falling apart, at least you can have some car-flipping fun:

But for all the fun, there isn’t too much substance in Gravel. Mind you, it is a full-price game, and when you compare it to DiRT or GRID, Gravel falls flat on its bumper. Yes, it is accessible, but the main target groups, arcade-racing fans and casuals, probably don’t care too much about a racing game like Gravel where you get instant fun for a premium price. Besides, the graphics aren’t too great either (sometimes it feels like a late PS3 game) so you can clearly see the AA charm of the game. Couple that with the fact that most stadium or race tracks are samey, and you only have a few shining tracks like the wilderness of Alaska, the coast and desert of Namibia and the snow-covered Mont-Blanc, and the at times contradicting design decisions, and you end up with cheap popcorn fun for the price of a full-on experience.

Rabidgames parks the car: For half the price, Gravel would be a nice and smooth ride. For full price, it’s the equivalent of buying tickets to a Formula 1 race but then seeing Formula E instead – it might still be enjoyable, but a bit of pace, quality and glamour is amiss. But if you’re actually looking for a racing game to just jump in for 10 or 20 minutes after a labouring day, this might be your pick. For those who prefer to sink their teeth into a game, Gravel doesn’t offer enough substance for a hearty meal though.

 

How to Get a Head Start in Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Posted in Hands On, Played & Explained with tags , , on February 23, 2018 by Rabidgames

As you might know by now, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a devilishly hard game. You start out as a poor peasant with hardly any money, skills or knowledge, and the world is hostile to you. But don’t fret, Rabidgames has a few tips for you:

  1. Finish the tutorial quickly if you want to get to the really open world. There is no need to hang around. Well, you can get some gear and earn some groschen, but you can do so as well in the open world later.
  2. Focus only on fleeing when you have to flee at a certain point in the tutorial. And whistle strategically to help out a damsel in distress if you decide to play as a decent Henry!
  3. You learn by doing. Like in Skyrim, the more you do something, the faster you learn it. This goes for pretty much everything, including speech. So talk to every named character.
  4. Advance in the main story. This is the quickest way to get better gear and eventually a horse so you can explore at good pace, and you can store more stuff. You don’t have to, but it makes medieval life considerably easier.
  5. Take your time. Enjoy the game at its slow pace between story missions, side missions and fighting. Be careful with accepting quests as some are time-sensitive. If you can, enjoy the atmosphere once you have some spare time, and remember, you will still learn by doing things, even if you just collect flowers, walk or ride around or you go on leisurely hunts (don’t get caught poaching though).
  6. Collect flowers. Sounds boring, is pretty boring, true. But you do level up herbalism, which means you can collect more flowers with each one you pick, which means you can sell them to make quite a bit of money early on. And, at level 10 of herbalism, you can choose a perk that lets you level up your strength with each herb you pick. Sounds cool, doesn’t it? And as a bonus, pick a perk that gives you +2 Charisma when you carry around scented herbs. As an super extra bonus, you get +2 Vitality if you collect many poisonous herbs …
  7. As soon as you can practice fighting, do it. The more you practice, the more you level up your various fighting skills, and more. Attack, block, move around all the time.
  8. Archery is tricky. Pretty early on, you can find some bows (don’t waste your groschen on buying them, they appear early on in the game). Do so if you plan to use bows (attacking enemies before they can reach you is worthwhile in Kingdom Come: Deliverance). It takes a while until Henry gets half-decent with bows, but later on, bows become fun. The first 5 levels are definitely a pain though.
  9. Picking locks takes practice, too. And it sucks. But eventually, it’ll get easier. It still sucks though. The same goes for pick-pocketing.
  10. Pay attention to your clothes. Social standing depends on them – people will react differently, and sometimes even prices will change as well. Don’t explore with heavy armor – you won’t be able to store anything. Don’t steal while dressed in white clothes, and don’t fight with a cloak. Oh, and repairing your own stuff instead of having it repaired is cheaper – and again, you get experience for it.
  11. A balanced diet helps Henry and your wallet. A balanced diet is important, we all know it (and often ignore it). Even in this game. But there are a few things to keep in mind; whenever there is free food, grab it and eat it (be careful not to steal it unless you’re sure though). Some mushrooms are edible, apples are sometimes lying around – a great source of energy for Henry although they spoil pretty fast. Dried food keeps forever however. Or at least a very, very long time, so stock up on them whenever you can afford them. And when you see a big pot with delicious whatever-it-is-in-there, one portion is usually free, so enjoy!
  12. Make sure the game saves! Never just assume it did, always check out the Load option before leaving a session. The game will fail tos save when you sleep. Always have at least 2 Savior Schnapps at the ready, you never know when you need them.

The First 10 Hours in Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Posted in Hands On with tags , , , , , on February 15, 2018 by Rabidgames

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.