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Codex Review RPG Codex Review: Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, Mar 4, 2019.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Tags: Kingdom Come: Deliverance; Warhorse Studios

    Warhorse Studios' medieval open world action-RPG Kingdom Come: Deliverance was released a year ago and became an immediate commercial success despite the best efforts of insipid cultural commissars. Since then the game has seen win after win. It's gotten three DLCs with another on the way, Warhorse have been acquired for a cool 33M Euros for their efforts, and it even won second place in our 2018 GOTY awards. How then can it be that it never received a proper Codex review? I assume PorkyThePaladin was wondering that himself, which is why he decided to write one. Porky finds Kingdom Come to be a wonderfully realized medieval adventure - albeit one that comes short of achieving true greatness, due to both combat balance issues and more intractably, a lack of narrative agency. Here's an excerpt from his review:

    On top of the things mentioned before, KCD is full of interesting systems and simulation aspects. Aside from the deep combat system talked about earlier, there is fairly deep NPC behavior. At night, NPCs go home and sleep in their beds, taking off their day clothes. If they must go out, they will walk with torches or candle lamps. In the morning, they have breakfast in their homes and go outside, typically to their workplace. Farmers work the land, blacksmiths pound on metal, millers carry sacks around, and guards patrol the streets and roads. In the evenings, men often go to taverns and drink or play dice games. Women sweep the houses or streets. There are a lot of little custom touches that really make the world feel alive. There are even dogs and pigs walking around, or lounging under the sun. The AI is also good enough to run away from trouble, raise an alarm if it sees you doing shady things, close and lock doors when needed, and other such things.

    There is an in-depth stealth and subterfuge system. You can sneak by staying out of sight and hearing, which is affected not only by your stats in the relevant skills, but also by what you are wearing. Put on soft, dark clothes, and you will make virtually no noise and blend into the night. Try sneaking in a suit of plate mail, on the other hand, and you will make enough noise to bring the entire Cuman army down your way. Correct clothes can also serve as a disguise, allowing you to enter hostile areas, for instance wearing Cuman armor will let you infiltrate an enemy camp in one of the main quests. You can also perform sneak attacks if you catch an enemy unawares, and there is an interesting lockpicking system in play. To navigate it, you move the mouse around until finding the lock's sweet spot, and then rotate the lock with the D key, while at the same time using the mouse to keep the sweet spot moving so that it stays in the same place relative to the rest of the lock. Not exactly rocket science, but it's probably the most interesting lockpicking system I've seen so far in a game.

    There is also a very interesting and deep charisma system. It is affected by many factors, such as the quality of your armor and clothing (a shining suit of plate will impress people a lot more than peasant rags), your deeds and stats/perks, whether or not your clothing and armor are repaired and in good condition, or torn apart and covered with dirt and blood, if your weapon is covered in blood (this helps to intimidate people), when was the last time you bathed, and other such factors. The humorously designed perks add to this in various ways. For instance, there is one perk that makes your character more attractive to the opposite sex if he doesn't shower a certain amount of time. On the other hand, the stench is so strong, that your stealth is reduced by 30%.

    Horse-riding is another in-depth system, with your skill at Horsemanship, and various equipment such as different types of saddles, reins and horseshoes affecting how well your horse can "handle", and how fast it can go. Horses themselves can be purchased (you get one free one in the beginning), and have different stats in different areas. They can also be outfitted with caparisons for that medieval knight steed look.

    Even something like sharpening your sword is a detailed activity, as is alchemy and gambling. Reading is something that has to be learned, and until you do, manuscripts will appear as gibberish to you when you try to read them.​

    [...] KCD is not a game like Fallout or Arcanum or New Vegas, where you can side with different factions, or complete the entire game without combat. The high level plot is locked in and will flow the same way regardless. You are Henry, and you will side with Radzig Kobyla and fight againts the forces of Sigismund, the Red Fox. While you can use diplomacy and speech and charisma at times to avoid combat, or at other times and with other builds, use your stealth and subterfuge skills to get what you need, you can never truly build a character around these things, and get through the game that way. At some points, you will have to fight. So from a strictly traditional RPG view, KCD would definitely be lacking in this regard. And yet, within that somewhat restricting narrative and mechanical structure, the game still manages to feel rather free and open-ended. This is partially due to being open world, of course, since at any given moment, you can travel in any direction, and choose to focus on various side quests or activities, should you not feel drawn to the main quest at that time. But aside from that, the way the quests are constructed, there is often some choice to be had on the micro level.

    You can barge in and fight, occasionally sneak around and use cunning, or talk your way through some (but not all) situations. Sometimes you can pay your way around an obstacle. Sometimes you can poison your enemies so you don't have to fight them all. Or you can at least decide to fight them in melee, at range, or at range while riding your horse away. You can forgive your enemies and let them go once they surrender, or finish them off. You can dress yourself in different ways, do things in different order, or tackle problems in novel ways. So even though the overall story of the game will always be the same, and you won't always be able to handle things in different ways, the underlying details are varied enough to provide you with a feeling of a dynamic world.

    For such a large game, there are not a huge number of quests, around eighty or so, but they are all very beefy. There are no fetch quests here, just substantial missions with a lot of stuff to do and many phases to them. For example, in one of the early game quests, you are supposed to go on a hunt with a young nobleman. So you travel to some woods together, and after an exchange of "pleasantries", the first phase of this quest revolves around a competition to see who can shoot down more rabbits within several hours. Once that's done, you embark on a boar hunt, and the noble rides off on his horse hot on the trail. Being horseless, you quickly lose track of him and must now find him in the large expanse of the forest. This is the second phase. Once you track him down, you realize he has been captured by two Cuman bandits. So at this point, the third phase begins, where you must either defeat them in combat to free him, or to sneak in and untie him, escaping together. So this one quest involves hunting, conversations, exploration, combat and/or stealth. And this is by no means an outlier, as pretty much all the other quests are similar in terms of not just being a simple "go to A, do B" type of quest, but rather involving multiple steps, and combinations of dialogue, combat, exploration and optionally (and only at times) stealth, diplomacy, and other approaches.

    On the flip side, as mentioned above, people who love Fallout/Arcanum/Bloodlines type quests will find KCD quests not providing them with enough choice on a regular enough basis. There are some great ones in KCD in this regard, that allow the player to use their build to progress in completely different ways, including combat, speech, intimidation, stealth, or trickery. And yet, in many other situations, your hands will be a lot more tied, and you will have to resort to the more standard combination of combat, exploration, and limited-choice dialogue to get where you are going. So if having all or most quests be approachable from many different directions and to have all of this tightly tied to your character build is what's most important about RPGs for you, KCD might not be a game that will scratch that particular itch.​

    Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Kingdom Come: Deliverance
     
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  2. Mr. Hiver Learned

    Mr. Hiver
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    Hah, thats a nice little feature.
    Skill - illiterate.

    Would fit and work well in many post apocalyptic settings.
     
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  3. SniperHF Prophet

    SniperHF
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    I agree with some of the broad strokes of the review, the scope/ambition and world building are some of the biggest pluses in the game. Largely unrivaled even.

    I think everything about the combat description is overblown. What's bad about it is not as bad as presented and what's good about it is not as good as presented.

    For example I found the intricate combo system largely pointless. For one thing it's a pain in the ass to remember which combos start at which point so you're constantly looking it up. The helpers aren't helpful enough and looking up the combos in your dex is a pain in the ass. Further once you do memorize a few favorites you really don't feel under-prepared or any strong desire to learn more. The game doesn't demand it of you. It's a system without a purpose. Maybe masterstrikes contribute to trivializing the combos but I don't think that's it even mostly.

    (The only mod of the ones mentioned I used when playing was the removal of slow-mo parry, because that was such a mind mindbogglingly stupid thing to not have a toggle for)

    The big thing the review only hints at though is the flow of the game really can be a problem. Particularly at the start of the game, I really HAAATED the post-tutorial intro sequence and almost quit playing. It takes forever, its super railroaded and uses cheap tricks to keep you on rails. Also the review doesn't even note one of the worst quests in the history of all quests, the monastery infiltration quest. Pure gameplay cancer. Also I disagree that there are no fetch quests, there are some. Not enough to make anyone go crazy over it but they are there (the game calls them activities not quests, but they are effectively quests optional though they are). But I do agree that the major side quests and such are interesting and well done.
     
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  4. PorkyThePaladin Arcane

    PorkyThePaladin
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    "... albeit one that comes short of achieving true greatness, due to both combat balance issues and more intractably, a lack of narrative agency."

    Just to clarify, this is Infinitron's take, not mine. The combat issues can be modded (as the review discusses), and the lack of narrative agency, well, yes, that is an issue, but to say that issue stops the game from being great, to me that is similar to saying PS:T is kept from being great by its combat system. Read the review and decide for yourself. :)
     
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  5. Carrion Arcane Patron

    Carrion
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    I too agree on the broad strokes, although I somewhat disagree on a few bits.

    I'd say the combat system feels a bit underdeveloped, actually, for example blocking not requiring any directional input unlike sword strikes. This makes blocking too easy in general and contributes to the overpowered nature of the Masterstrikes. The basis for a good system is there, and the combat is enjoyable until you become an unstoppable killing machine, but it's not quite what it could've been.

    The part about quest design is pretty fair overall, but one major problem (even after the patches, I presume) is that the endgame is mostly godawful, with the level of quest design taking a nosedive since everything's so goddamn rushed or outright broken. You also get pointless fetch quests and all sorts of nonsense when the game should be reaching its climax. There's a huge contrast to the early game quests, which range from pretty good to outright excellent, like the neat little investigation quests early on in the main storyline. The further you get in the game, the rougher and buggier things get.

    Also, I think the lack of agency is a more serious issue than the review lets on. It's not just about quests being limited in the number of ways you can solve them, it's that the game kind of switches back and forth between different quest design philosophies. At times the game indeed allows you to solve problems in various ways depending on your build, but there are parts in the main quest where the game forgets about all that and puts you tightly on rails, making Henry do things the player might never want him to do. For example, there's a scene early on where Henry and a certain nobleman have a bit of a clash. It'd be a great place for a choice with potentially interesting consequences — do you swallow your pride and let the nobleman have his way, or do you stand your ground and risk getting yourself into trouble? Instead, the whole thing is resolved in a cutscene, because there's a very specific story the writers want to tell, and they don't want the player ruining it. In another quest you might see Henry being genuinely repulsed by the mere idea of stealing, even if burglarizing could very well be his favorite pastime by that point. Sure, Henry isn't blank slate character, but this kind of stuff is both unnecessary and at odds with the whole concept of roleplaying. On the other hand the side quests are almost entirely free of aforementioned stuff, which makes the game feel rather schizophrenic at those moments when the railroading kicks in.
     
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  6. Tigranes Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Tigranes
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    Serpent in the Staglands Torment: Tides of Numenera
    Good review Porky. I think KCD is a special game in the sense that it really has a very unique place in the RPGs/SortofRPGs/WhatisanRPG ecosystem. It's not perfect, I would have liked more robust gameplay systems and places to really use it in at the cost of less cinematics and smaller overworld, but it has a very distinctive style that it does really well.

    There was once a time when you had to be tempted by, say, Skyrim to get a certain open world fix because nobody was making anything after Gothic went into hibernation. Today there really is no reason.
     
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  7. oldmanpaco Master of Siestas

    oldmanpaco
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    Timely reviews of the hottest new releases is why I come to the codex!

    Also nice review.
     
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  8. Felix Arcane

    Felix
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    But what about the magic system? :M
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2019
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  9. Van-d-all Learned

    Van-d-all
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    A good review all in all, mostly because it acknowledges the game's shortcomings, and with that knowledge beforehand I believe one might actually fully enjoy the game now. Also, if the melee combat has indeed been modded to a point of playability I'd might give it another go and finish it this time around.
     
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  10. wtrboy Literate

    wtrboy
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    Great review, thank you!
     
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  11. Paul_cz Arcane

    Paul_cz
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    Lovely review and thanks for the mod tips.
     
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  12. Strange Fellow Magister Patron

    Strange Fellow
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    Factual errors in the very first paragraph? For shame.

    Seriously though, great revioo. Almost none of your distinctive brand of idiocy shines through, so well done on that. I still fail to glean from this how KCD's supposed moral ambiguity is in any way novel or a break from the typical modern RPG, however. Seems to me like they all go in for shades of grey these days.
     
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  13. gaudaost Arcane

    gaudaost
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    Everything you described here had already been done as early as in 2006 with Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, and has since been done (and done quite well) by countless other games. Thus this is not something particularly interesting to highlight.
     
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  14. SlamDunk Augur

    SlamDunk
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    The Codex needs a Fucking Finally! rating.

    Loved the quick Skyrim-bashing review reboot at the beginning.

    EDIT: Great bit about combat, especially the Masterstrike. (I might even mod the game, now, for the first time.)

    PorkyThePaladin - To my knowledge, Warhorse used a heavily modified CryEngine 3 for KCD and not the latest version.

    A very nice review and, all in all, a good read, as well.
     
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  15. Chaotic_Heretic Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck

    Chaotic_Heretic
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    warpig
    Your dream game. A (medieval) chad simulator.
     
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  16. warpig Incel Resistance Leader Manlet

    warpig
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    I already played it...and fucked some CUTE Czech girls :3
     
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  17. Crispy I HAVE EVOLVED (again) Undisputed Queen of Faggotry

    Crispy
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    I thought, this review, was really nice, and, I, enjoyed, reading it.

    Just kidding. Fairly well-written and descriptive in a way that I now know enough about the game to make a more informed decision as to whether or not to continue ignoring it.

    Also, mods will fix it. OLOL
     
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  18. PorkyThePaladin Arcane

    PorkyThePaladin
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    It's even better than that. When your skill is 0, it's complete gibberish, but if your skill is say 3 or 4, and you try to read something, you can make it out, but it's typos and mistakes everywhere, lots of letters get flipped around, so kinda hard to read.

    Well, remember, this is a very ambitious game with a real life-like fencing system. So you can't approach it like a typical game system. In order to master the combos, you actually have to train them, one at a time, with Captain Bernard. Pick one, and work on it until the exact sequence is burned into your brain/muscle memory. Then, move on to the next one.

    The reason you want to master more than one is because they start from different places, so the openings present themselves differently. If you only learn a combo that starts from the top strike, whenever you do any other kind of strike and get through, you have no combo going. But if you learn and master 3 combos (one from top, one from left, and one from bottom), then you pretty much always have some opening going. Meaning that you are always dangerous.

    Now what's the real purpose behind combos? Well, if you play on Hardcore mode, and especially with the mods I describe, it's next to impossible to just attack someone successfully with a regular attack. To put it mathematically, the total pool of attack outcomes is 8.3 (mapping to 100%), and the chance for a successful regular strike is 0.3. That is only 3.6% chance. So you will only hit the enemy 3-4% of the time with regular strikes, and their armor will negate that damage anyway most of the time. But a combo continues on successful hits AND regular blocks, which is a total chance of 0.3 + 2.3 = 2.6, which is 31% of the time. So even though there are multiple steps involved, your chances of landing a combo are much higher than of landing a regular hit, and when a combo does land, it can do massive damage, as well as hit unprotected areas (lots of combos target the face) or proc the headcracker perk. Against tougher enemies with my mod setup on hardcore, combos are the ONLY reliable way of taking people out.

    Exactly!

    If you think blocking is too easy, you should definitely try the mods I listed on Hardcore mode. Enemies perfect block and riposte very often, and ripostes come at you super fast (without the slo-mo bs). Enemies with one handed axes and hammers also have very slow unwinding attacks that are hard as hell to time. Plus I narrowed the block time window as well.

    Oblivion had the NPCs engage in day/night cycle, and then go and stand somewhere during the day. This worked if they were a vendor, but was otherwise pretty stupid. Then, they also did weird stuff due to Radiant AI.

    KCD has much deeper and more realistic NPC behavior.
     
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  19. Mark Richard Prophet

    Mark Richard
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    Anyone been inside a medieval castle? Can't walk down the street over here without tripping on one. In my more disrespectful moments I wonder if the only difference between viewing history from behind a display case and actually walking inside history, is that the latter has more spiders.

    Thanks for the interesting read. Between Kingdom Come and ATOM, 2018 felt like a year of 'what ifs' come to life. Bethesda's mainstream offerings of the Elder Scrolls and Fallout have continually eroded the RPG aspects with every new sequel, so to get a look at the road not taken has been nothing short of magical.
     
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  20. Mr. Hiver Learned

    Mr. Hiver
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    PorkyThePaladin

    It shouldnt be an effect on the player in an actual rpg, but on the character. It only gets annoying if it affects the player in that way.
    So, i would rather make it your character gets simple enough parts of various texts you find if you have low but some literacy, while the complicated stuff would still be gibberish.
     
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  21. lukaszek the determinator

    lukaszek
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    no combat mods needed if you learn how to shoot enemies in the face. There is no greater joy. I can confirm that there is no point in whole main game that cant be resolved with bow.
    There are 2 situations where you are at disadvantage as your character starts 1on1 combat in tight space with equipped sword. Still you have enough time(barely) to equip a bow and quickly shoot.

    I was never cool enough to shoot people in the face while horseback, much to my regret.
     
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  22. Wesp5 Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Wesp5
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    What annoyed me the most about KCD was the endless loading when you talk to somebody! What use is an open seamless world looking so great if any personal interaction will kick you right out of the immersion with a black loading screen...
     
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  23. Reader Novice

    Reader
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    First, thank you for the review.
    But since when having the mods make the game better from reviewer standpoint? You say "combat press X to win", and then "but hey, there is a mod for that, so everything is fine". With such logic every reviewer can turn "skyrim is a shallow game" into "but hey, there are mods for every aspect of it, so 10/10".
    Also for some reason you didn't mention another turning down point for many people - the ending.
     
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  24. Bohr Arcane

    Bohr
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    Thanks for the review :salute:

    What could have been, if that early beta of Kingmaker hadn't been accidentally released...

    Show Spoiler
     
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  25. SlamDunk Augur

    SlamDunk
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    What hardware you've got? On my Samsung 960 Pro there's only a one-second black screen after pressing the Talk key.

     
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