So I missed the bus on this game.
The cruel irony is that I’ve actually been really craving a rich open-world RPG experience. Instead of looking to new titles I have just been digging into the usual bucket of Bethesda titles to scratch the itch. However, as a part of the website reboot process I decided to scour the interwebs for the latest in RPG goodness, and it didn’t take me long to find this title once I actually started to look.
The good news is, I might have actually lucked out a bit jumping into this game when I did. It sounds like the launch of this game was a bit of a buggy mess, and if it wasn’t for a great deal of post-launch work from Warhorse, this game might have been a failure. However, as far as I can tell thus far Warhorse was able to not only avoid disaster, but to turn this game into an absolute triumph.
Anyway enough gushing about the game, lets get into the first epidode.
Before I jump into the content of the game itself, I want to discuss the parameters of the playthrough.
As the title of the video implies, we will be playing the game on hardcore mode. One of the great draws of this game was the fact that it was universally lauded as a challenging game, even on the base game-mode. However, hardcore mode adds another layer of difficulty to the game by restricting UI elements down to their bare essentials, and forcing the player to take on a number of negative perks. I much prefer this method of difficulty augmentation to the usual stat padding that most games take. This approach helps avoid the issue many games face later on where tough enemies take ages to kill simply because their stat pools are so bloated. This results in many end-game encounters being a bit of a slog that often aren’t very fun, but are quite tedious.
The UI restrictions in hardcore mode actually do a fantastic job of both increasing difficulty and immersion. All bars are indicators are removed from the 1st person view with the exception of the compass, however the compass has its directional indicators removed. Furthermore, the in-game map’s marker for the character’s current location is also removed. These exclusions require the player to be very attuned to their surroundings in order to navigate the world. You often find yourself looking for landmarks even in fairly familiar areas to ensure you are going on the right path. I am a bit concerned that over time this restriction might become more annoying than fun, but my initial experience with it thus far has been very positive.
Circling back to the negative perks that hardcore requires really quickly, I elected to only choose the minimum requirement of 2 perks for this playthrough. None of the perks individually are particularly devastating, but I worry that all of them combined could result in a fairly disjointed play session. If this run goes well I could see myself maybe doing one last ultimate hardcore playthrough, but for now I think the base hardcore restrictions and modifications will be more than enough of a challenge.
For the record the perks are chose are:
- Nightmares: After awakening from sleep, all stats are debuffed for a short while.
- Tapeworm: Nourishment goes down much faster.
Which brings me to my final caveat of the playthrough itself. This isn’t my first time playing the game.
To be fair, I still haven’t BEATEN the game yet. I have put about 40 hour into it thus far, but realistically that is really only enough to get a basic understanding of the mechanics, and develop an understanding of the overall flow of the game. At this point I have only played through the first one or two acts, so the back half of the game will be an all new experience for me once the recording is live. Furthermore, I will also be trying to navigate familiar scenarios differently from my previous playthroughs to try and keep things fresh.
The gameplay early on is pretty straightforward. You are the peasant son of a renowned blacksmith, and your dad wants you to get some chores done around town.
These chores include:
- Picking up a sword hilt from a guard
- Collecting debts from someone who doesn’t want to pay them
- Purchasing charcoal from a vendor
- Picking up beer from your girlfriend
- (optional) Throw poop at a house, get in a fist-fight afterwards, and avoid getting arrested.
I’ll leave the context of those chores to the video, but I will say that these initial fetch quests were an effective way to train the user on in-game systems. Within 30 minutes or so you are introduced to combat, bartering, negotiation, persuasion, as well as potentially stealth, combat avoidance, and first-aid. At this point there aren’t any true threats in the game, but still the tutorial does a good job of disrupting the hero complex that many similar RPGs try to instill in the player. Part of the charm of the game is that you really do start off as a useless peasant that has to climb their way up, and the game delivers this message well.
I cut the episode short before things really went down, so I guess you’ll have just to watch the next episode to see what happens…
If you have ideas around how I can improve my videos, please reach out to me on twitter via @GrowUpAndGame.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you have a great rest of your day, week, month, year, and life!
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