Greedfall Impressions from E3 2018
Originally announced back in February 2017, we haven't seen much of Greedfall over the last year-and-a-half. Even with a new cinematic trailer debuting at this year's E3 event, much of the game remains a mystery - especially with regards to how it plays. On the show floor, I got the chance to see a hands-off demo presentation for the supernatural colonial RPG and learn more about its premise.
Greedfall takes place during an alternate history of the 17th century, where a deadly, incurable disease know as Malichor Plague ravages the "old" continent. However, a remote island haven in the New World - known as Teer Fradee - has been spared of this malady while also housing a promise of riches. During the rise of colonialism, travelers with various background and motives begin to settle on this island, while ever-increasing tensions between a growing number of factions begin to emerge.
Although the demo presentation was quite short, it was clear to see that the relationship between factions will play a key role in Greedfall, both in how the narrative unfolds and its implementation into gameplay progression. Spiders, the developer, promises a high level of choice and freedom in how players approach the game, choosing between direct combat, civil diplomacy, deception, or other means to handle conflicts.
The player is put into the shoes of De Sardet, a male-or-female legate of the Congregation of Merchants, one of the game's six factions. Your cousin, Constantin De Sardet, is set to become governor of the colony of New Serene. Your task as his cousin is multifaceted: to search for a cure to the Malichor Plague, to play diplomatic relations with other settlers on the island, and to establish communications with the mysterious natives of Teer Fradee.
Some of the other factions include The Bridge Alliance, who settle the island in search of knowledge and scientific discoveries. There's also The Coin Guard, which is comprised of mercenaries hired for their combat and military skills. Of course, the Teer Fradean islanders will also play an important role in the RPG, who have a seemingly symbiotic relationship with nature, although the many islander tribes are not a unified group themselves.
The demo I experienced showed De Sardet teamed up with two companions. First was Siora, a native of Teer Fradee and daughter of a tribal queen. The other was Kurt, a weapons master and captain of the Coin Guard. Spiders explained that there are five companions in total, one representing each of the other five factions in on the island. They explained that depending on the various diplomatic choices made in the game, De Sardet's allegiances may vary, and could affect which companions may team up with you and maybe even which you'll be able to romance.
During our demo, Siora's tribe has not responded cordially with external invaders setting foot on their land, and her mother - a queen - has initiated hostilities with the foreigners. I saw De Sardet travel across a forested area with Siora in order to meet the tribe, attempt to make contact, and avoid more bloodshed. Unfortunately, negotiations failed before they ever started and the demo was soon thrown in a battle scenario.
When it comes to combat, the player controls De Sardet while up to two companions are AI-controlled. De Sardet can use a variety of weapons as well as some magical abilities, which seems to be related to the Malichor Plague. I was told that the companion characters cannot be directly controlled nor can their behaviors be adjusted. Instead, different companions are better suited for certain situations and can be swapped in&out of the party at campsites.
Combat in Greedfall has two distinct modes. The normal combat mode seems to be what you would normally expect from an Action RPG. Players control De Sardet in real-time, mixing quick attacks, heavy attacks, and special skills to vanquish foes. In addition to the usual damaging attacks, there will also be options for players who like dealing with status effects, items, and traps. Weapons can also be switched in real time. From my quick experience with this presentation, Greedfall's combat appeared to be fairly typical for an Action RPG, but it's difficult to judge based on a single encounter in a short demo.
A second combat mode is known as Tactical Pause, which turns the game into something a bit more turn-based. Here, gameplay is no longer real time and instead actions can be selected via a menu. Toggling between these two modes can seemingly be done at any time during combat, so it might be useful in certain situations to slow things down if the regular real-time combat becomes too overwhelming. Unfortunately, our look at this mode was very brief, so it was difficult to determine precisely how it all comes together.
To close things out, Spiders claims that there are over 100 skills to be found in Greedfall, and they are accessed via a skill tree. These abilities affect which weapons De Sardet becomes proficient in as well as most of his abilities arsenal. There are also attribute and talent menus, but we did not get a chance to see these during the demo.
There are also more than 80 quests found in the game, as well as a day/night cycle which affects both quest availability and enemy variety. Spiders promises that these quests will not be fetch-quests, but rather story-centric quests that can affect the narrative.
With a development team of around 40 people, Greedfall won't have the graphical fidelity or polish of a AAA RPG, but I'm still interested enough to keep an eye out for more information in the future. Unfortunately, I have had poor experiences with Spiders' games in the past, so I can't help but be a bit hesitant with what is being offered here.
Greedfall is set to release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2019.