This weekend at PSX, I had the chance to check out the realism-centred medieval action RPG Kingdom Come: Deliverance by Warhorse Studios. While I didn’t get to play it myself, Tobias Stolz-Zwilling (developer at Warhorse Studios) gave me a thorough run-through of a few of the game’s supposedly many levels, and while the amount of detail impresses me, I’m worried about the effect its focus on realism may have on Kingdom Come‘s potential audience.
Kingdom Come isn’t an action-heavy slasher, or even a more weight medieval fighter like Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. Kingdom Come comes as close to realistic sword-fighting as I think video games can get, to the point where the developers brought in historians and fencers to consult and study. This level of detail is amazing, and it really shows in the gameplay. You can choose to strike one of six areas on your enemy through your aiming reticle, and each strike is a heavy, purposely arduous affair. It makes combat seem a lot weightier, but I’m worried it could turn a lot of people off. I was repeatedly told that combat isn’t the main focus of the game (which I’ll get to momentarily), and while I understand why this choice was made, I can’t help but think that this harder combat might turn people off of the game early on. While you can indeed proceed by just wildly swinging, it would be incredibly difficult and likely not a lot of fun. So while I appreciate the detail (and to clarify, I’m really looking forward to trying the combat myself), you should know that you’re going into a real medieval combat simulator, and not an action game with a medieval skin.
There are a lot of branching paths in Kingdom Come: Deliverance, which means the majority of gameplay outside of combat should be a real treat for people who want to play the game their own way. I was shown a mission where you infiltrate a monastery to catch a killer disguised as a monk, and I was blown away at just how many ways you can approach your mission. The developers told me that you can ignore your newfound monk duties to fiddle around all day, which, after three strikes, will earn you a night in what is essentially monk-jail. While there, you overhear some higher-ups gambling and drinking (a big “no-no” for men of the cloth), and when you make your presence known, you are invited to join their circle in exchange for keeping quiet. You can gather information about the disguised killer from these monks, which you can use to catch him quickly and more peacefully. On the other hand, you can keep to your holy duties to avoid going to monk-jail, while questioning everyone around you about the killer’s identity. This gains the killer’s attention, leading to him poisoning you and telling you to help him escape in exchange for the antidote. If you made a cure earlier while playing around with alchemy, you can just heal yourself and attack him. If not, you can agree, then either help him, immediately kill him, or kill him when he’s out of the monastery. There are so many highly customizable ways to proceed that I couldn’t help but be impressed, and I sincerely hope the rest of the game is truly like this.
The real focus of Kingdom Come: Deliverance is its world, story, and the insane amount of detail put into these features. The game is actually based on true historical events, with locations, landmarks, and even town layouts being ripped straight from reality. It’s really a sight to behold, and the sheer detail put into fleshing out Kingdom Come‘s world is astonishing. Events and quests unlock new journal entries that go into extreme detail while explaining the historical context of each experience you have, with everything from medieval combat to bee-keeping being present and explained in fascinating detail. You can really tell Warhorse is passionate about the world they’re recreating, which will make this game a dream come true for history buffs. It’s still accessible to those who don’t really know the history of the game’s setting, but the levels of detail put into the most minor aspects of the story and world look to be one of Kingdom Come‘s best features.
So going forward, I’m genuinely looking forward to Kingdom Come: Deliverance. The detail astounds me, and I actually think the combat will be a lot of fun to master (as challenging as it may be). My only concern is that others may not feel the same way, which would be entirely understandable. Should a large group feel the game is too inaccessible, it may prove to be a sign that this much detail in games is unwanted. But no matter how it’s received, I’m looking forward to taking a weighty stroll through the Middle-Ages.