I didn’t receive a preview code from Deep Silver like we requested, and so I only started playing it early this morning. I was an early backer and already expected the game to be very niche and demanding in terms of traditional RPG mechanics and combat gameplay, having played the beta for a few hours in 2016. Right now I’m very engrossed by and fully immersed in it, though the irregular framerate and a general jank in controls and interface are undeniably issues that Warhorse should address right away. I expected performance to be patchy, so it’s not such a dealbreaker for me. I know many early adopters are disappointed and angry, but I’m willing to keep investing my time in it in spite of all issues and bugs. (For what it’s worth, these are my current specs: i5-4690K @ 3.5 GHz, GTX 1080, 8GB DDR3 RAM 1600MHz, 850 EVO 500GB SSD. I’ve noticed quite a bit of bottlenecking in NPC-crowded areas, but on average I get between 30-50FPS on Ultra High.)
The CryEngine rendering powerhouse doesn’t seem optimised for an open world game, but the distant landscapes still look beautiful. Particularly impressive is the dense foliage in wooded areas, probably the most lush and realistic foliage in a game ever. The historical setting seems fully realised as the reconstruction of the Kingdom of Bohemia, though I can’t really attest to accuracy. The interiors of castles and buildings are highly detailed and filled with wonderful frescos that add to an already grand ambiance. Character animation is generally good, but kind of uneven: it’s possible to tell motion captured animation segments (high budget) apart from handmade segments (low budget).
But it is the quest design that makes Kingdom Come worth playing. Tasked with collecting a debt from a boorish NPC by the protagonist’s father, I first attempted a pacific speech-focused solution, which failed and resulted in insults and a fistfight, leading to the NPC running away from me until I lost track of him. Later I returned to his house and found him asleep, proceeded to knock him out and stole everything he carried, including a key, which I used to open his chest and repossess the goods he didn’t pay for. Later on I was tasked with finding guard armour to disguise myself in order to escape a castle under lockdown, though it would be easier to just get arrested for choking a guard instead, after which they would kick me out of the castle anyway. This is all within the first five hours of playtime, a very small percentage of what the game will continue to offer in terms of variety of solutions and the nonlinear paths to achieve those solutions. This is what RPGs are supposed to play like.
To put it short, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is an obviously flawed and unorthodox but also highly original RPG that wobbles under the weight of its ambition. Baroque is a term that would fittingly describe it: it is so committed to thrust upon the player an extravagant, lofty experience of immersive realism that it seems entirely un-self-aware of its condition as a product in an industry that must cater to the lowest common denominator in order to turn a profit. And perhaps that is why it just might endure as a cult classic favourite once the dust has settled and its flaws are chiselled off with a series of patches and optimisations, just as RPGs such as Planescape: Torment and Fallout: New Vegas endured in spite of poor commercial success or a messy launch.
I will keep posting further impressions before I finish the game and settle on a final review.