GreedFall II: The Dying World takes cues from Dragon Age: Origins - Preview

The original GreedFall was something of a surprise when it released back in 2019. It may not have had the same outward production values as a BioWare RPG, but many people saw the resemblance in its structure, narrative, combat, and character writing.

In an era where BioWare was floundering, GreedFall seemed to offer something that many fans were missing from Western RPGs of the time, and the game went on to be a great success for publisher Focus Home Interactive. It only made sense that the development team at Spiders would create a follow-up to GreedFall, although perhaps not in the way people expected.

GreedFall II: The Dying World takes place chronologically before GreedFall, although Spiders hesitates to call it a prequel, instead opting for "another story in the same world". Additionally, the game is going the Early Access route, which is a new development strategy for the studio. It also makes some significant changes to the gameplay stylings, using a more tactical design rather than more action RPG like its predecessor. With so many new wrinkles in play, I was eager to go hands-on with an early build of GreedFall II: The Dying World ahead of its Early Access release later this year.

If the original GreedFall was often compared to Mass Effect, then GreedFall II more directly takes inspiration from Dragon Age: Origins. That's not just me making a blanket comparison based solely on observation, Spiders CEO Jehanne Rousseau told me that explicitly during my hour-long demo with the game.

One of Spiders' primary focuses in creating a new GreedFall game was allowing players to have more control over the entire party in gameplay this time around, instead of having companions act on their own. This necessarily meant shifting the gameplay to be much more akin to a classic computer RPG this time around, allowing you to control characters individually or as a group. Dragon Age: Origins is a good comparison, I feel.

While some small snippets of gameplay can be seen in a recent trailer, it was somewhat tricky to get a grasp of what GreedFall II actually plays like until I was seated in front of it. Put concisely, for the most part, GreedFall II is a RTwP (Real-Time with Pause) RPG now. You'll move in real-time with your companions as you explore the native meadows Teer Fradee, but action will pause when you encounter a foe that needs to be felled. The game is not purely turn-based, as you can resume play and have your party start fighting what's in front of them. However, to use various abilities, such as healing, buffs, or attack skills, you'll select them from your hotbar, with the option to pause. It feels like a classic computer RPG in that fashion.

This necessarily means that GreedFall II plays a little bit slower than its predecessor, as you'll often have to pause the action to set up your allies' abilities before resuming combat. Whatever your feelings on RTwP combat, it probably applies here, at least to some degree. There's quite a bit of clicking around the user interface to make sure your team is acting in the way you want them to.

During my demo, I had three characters in my party. My main character, who you can create to be adept with any weapon you choose, was a ranged type, using a bow-and-arrow to attack from afar. Village friends Nilan and Sheda rounded out the party, with Nilan acting as a medic while Sheda smacked foes with a big hammer. I often would pause in combat to make sure Nilan was keeping my team topped off in healing, while Sheda would cause AoE shockwaves by thundering her hammer into the ground. In this sense, Spiders definitely succeeds in giving players more direct control over the party, but it also felt a bit too much like I had to micromanage my characters at times.

The build I played was very clearly early, especially evident with a somewhat basic suite of UI elements. With an Early Access period coming up, there will be plenty of time and opportunity for nuances of combat and interface to be adjusted. I hope that by the time the game releases in full, there is more functionality in setting at least some party behavior so I don't have to always tell my medic to heal me when I am weak, for example. Even so, it'll be interesting to see how fans of the original GreedFall take to its successor's new combat structure.

I started this preview with the more mechanical side of things — the gameplay structure itself — because that's where it feels most different from what came before. The rest of my demo was a role-playing experience through and through. At the onset of the game, GreedFall II's main character's home village has been beset with an illness of unknown origin, and they are tasked with seeking out the cause and hopefully finding a solution.

From the onset, there are already two leads to take, seeking out the behavior of local fauna, or investigating the nearby settlement of miners who have come to Teer Fradee from the continent of Gacane. I went ahead and scouted the miners, who claimed their excavations were safe and not causing any ill effects to the environment. I convinced them to let me apply to work at the mine, and from there, investigated some mysterious happenings in the vicinity. 

Several dialogue options ask for the input of your party, including some dialogue options that have a chance of success based on your character's stats - simply labeled with a percentage for now. I tended to be diplomatic in my demo time, but there were also options for more ... straightforward approaches in handling some of the NPC encounters I had. It's difficult to say in such a short demo period how consequential these sorts of role-playing choices become in the grand scheme, but the introduction was promising.

The full release of GreedFall II: The Dying World is probably still quite a way away, and several components of the demo I played will likely be adjusted, polished up, removed, or replaced entirely as Spiders progresses through the Early Access period. Regardless, Spiders next interpretation of GreedFall is an interesting one, and I'll be keeping an eye on it in the meantime.