When you hear the words “Medieval” and “RPG” in the same sentence you probably think of hacking away at mystical dragons and monsters with your sword or axe. In Kingdom Come: Deliverance, there are no fire-breathing lizards, or evil dark knights. The game pushes aside the fantasy for a story based in the true history of Bohemia, giving you a vibrant and authentic world to explore from a first-person perspective and mold by your choices. But what makes Kingdom Come stand out is its focus on delivering a genuine Medieval world experience without the hud indicators, map waypoints, and handholding of the typical RPG.
Developer Warhorse Games really wants players to immerse themselves in the world, but the main character definitely isn’t the center of the events happening around him. If you dilly dally, taking your time to complete a mission or get distracted for too long crafting potions, your mission will play out on its own. If you were meant to rescue a fugitive from a group of bandits, you may find that fugitive murdered in a dank cave if you take too long. Or if you decide not to take part in a battle, the event will play out without your influence – leaving you to deal with the results. This creates a fascinating branching narrative that is difficult to predict and feels completely organic.
You’ll need to find your way around the game’s locations and accomplish your missions by interacting with the game’s populous, but not like you would in your standard RPG. There are dialogue trees to navigate conversations and in order to get the desired information, you’ll have to choose your words carefully or risk ruining your reputation or missing out on quest clues completely. Kingdom Come doesn’t hold your hand through quest lines with talk-to-this-lady NPC markers or glowing breadcrumbs to lead you to your next destination. Oftentimes, you actually have to listen to what people say and figure the directions for yourself. It can even go so far as an NPC telling you to turn right at a bolder or to look out for a specific tree.
Even the progression system takes a more realistic approach. Every skill you learn is enhanced by performing specific activities. Increasing your strength and fighting ability requires you to engage in combat. As you speak to other characters, you develop a higher speech skill which will eventually allow you to persuade and intimidate NPCs. But it isn’t just skill level that affects your abilities in the world. For example, the success of your persuasion or intimidation attempt considers more factors than your speech skill – it also looks at what you’re wearing. If you wear a massive set of plate armor and carry a giant axe, you’re more likely to intimidate the other character. On the other hand, wearing more lavish, noble clothing will help you be more persuasive in conversations.
Though much of the game is focused on interacting with the world and affecting the world’s events with your choices, a medieval RPG wouldn’t be complete without armored knights trying to bash through each other’s armor in with barbaric weapons. Melee combat in Kingdom Come takes a realistic approach as well, giving you direct control over your offensive swings and defensive parries with a variety of period weapons like hand-and-a-half swords, swords and shields, maces, and axes. You control the direction of every swing of your weapon, choosing any direction from horizontal slashes and stabs, to diagonal cuts and top-down vertical slices. Changing swings can open up vulnerable areas in your opponent’s defense, which you will need to act on. Combining your attacks with defensive parries and blocks (performed by a single button press) will keep your opponent off balance, and hopefully allow you to strike a killing blow.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance borders on a Medieval simulator. Everything from the historically accurate environments, the events that carry on with or without you, and the technical focus of the combat system, makes you feel like you’re right there in the world. Even the alchemy crafting system has your character physically pouring water into a pot, adding herbs, and boiling it for a prescribed time. The attention to detail is already overwhelming. If you’re looking to get completely immersed in a Medieval world, you can support the game and jump in the beta by visiting the official site, or you can wait for the full release on Xbox One, PS4, and PC later this year.