GreedFall E3 Impression
GreedFall may end up being one of the more pleasant surprises for me at the show. Despite being announced last year, I only learned of its existence as it popped up in our scheduling and I figured, since I was already going to be at the Focus Home Interactive booth for other reasons, that I would tackle the game as well. What I learned of the game, both from an interview with Jehanne Rousseau, the CEO of developer Spiders and lead writer of the game, and a hands-off look with the game leaves an positive impression, one where I wish to see more of the game in the future.
Inspired by the age of discovery in the 17th century, GreedFall is a third-person action RPG that takes place on a fictional island of Teer Fradee, a newly discovered land free from the scourge of the Malichor plague. Given its supreme importance to the nations festering with disease, expeditions are sent to claim the land, search for reasons to the island’s resilience to the sickness, and hopefully find a cure. However, this leaves the indigenous people of the island with desperate nations banging on their door and relations are tense. Players will create their own character who will serve as the niece or nephew to the prince of the Congregation of Merchants, one of six factions vying for control of Teer Fradee. The decisions made will affect the entire outcome of the island and its peoples.
For starters, in can’t be stressed enough how just unlike anything else GreedFall appears to be. Spiders’ low fantasy take on colonial era styles and trappings is deliberate and definitely pays off. The look of the game is immediately distinctive and works in its favor. But more than just visuals were taken when considering the setting. The combat design was clearly built around the time period’s limitations. Characters predominantly use melee weapons, with the occasional barrel-loaded musket entering the fray alongside the periodic magic spell. The whole aesthetic of the game has a New World feel to it in a way the begs to be further explored.
And exploration is the name of the game, according to Rousseau. While combat is present and can be perfunctory, she says the team at Spiders has been working to make this game its largest yet. While not open world, the game will have large environments that feature many secrets to discover and rewards to provide. Spiders hopes it just won’t be the tangible rewards the secrets offer that keep players exploring, it also wants players to learn about Teer Fradee and its people in ways by interacting with them. The team is working to make an in-depth mythology for the world and its invaders so lore hounds and people taken in by world-building will have plenty to work with.
The team wants the political interplay between the factions to be at the heart of the game. In addition to their created character, players will have the choice of five different companions, one from each of the other major factions in play. These companions will have their own motivations for traveling with you but they could also be used as tools for manipulating the factions in negative or positive ways. The methods used to interact with the factions will dictate one of the game’s three main endings, but each of those endings are subject to many alterations based on how quests are completed and character relations are handled. Companions are their own people, not blind followers, and can die or betray you. This greater focus on diplomacy is even built into the progression of the character. Monsters offer no experience, only quests do. This means that players who choose to focus on things other than combat skills are not left behind. Respecs will be possible within the game, but at a cost, so players will still be able to experiment with different play styles.
It’s unfortunate that the demo spends so much time focused solely on combat, as that seems to be the most pedestrian aspect of the game. The demo featured some conversations with the standard three-or-four response options before heading off to a fairly standard quest that involves getting caught up in conflict between one of the invading forces and the natives. There were some moments of intrigue shown, but there wasn’t enough time to develop the context appropriately so what was left is fairly run-of-the-mill action RPG combat. Perhaps these elements will be more engaging when the character becomes your own, but there wasn’t much to hold onto during these parts. Character progression will feature skill trees, talents, and crafting options. Companions fill preordained roles in combat, but the player will be able to equip them how they desire. Only two companions can be used at a time but they can be switched out at any campfire, which are scattered across the large maps. Campfires also serve as fast travel spots after being discovered.
I can handle so-so combat in an RPG. My one real concern with the game is how Spiders handles its subject matter. I have some appreciation for its willingness to tackle a subject fraught with sensitive material. There isn’t much to comment on what is present in the game at this stage, it is merely an aspect of the game’s story that could easily be led astray. Still, I left my appointment looking forward to what GreedFall has to offer and the game has definitely arrived on my radar. I hope it arrives on more peoples’ radars as well when it arrives on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2019.