Kingdom Come: Deliverance Has Some Problems

I've been excited about Kingdom Come for a long time. Since it was first announced back in 2013, the idea of a historical RPG with simulation leanings sounded fun as hell. Now that it's out, though, I'm a lot less excited.

Kingdom Come isn't your average RPG. Conceived as an indie game, and funded via Kickstarter, it's goal wasn't to be just another medieval/fantasy epic like Skyrim or the Witcher, but be the antithesis to that kind of blockbuster.

Where Bethesda would allow for magic, KCD would ground itself in Bohemian history. Where CD Projekt Red made Geralt a superman, KCD would try and simulate a very average human, who would need to eat, sleep and tend to their wounds.

It's an admirable goal, but KCD's ambitions were maybe too great for what they were able to actually get working inside the game.

So wait, is this a review?

Nah, these are just impressions. I haven't finished the game, and don't plan on doing so (this month, anyway), but felt like writing something up about what I have played during its release week.

That's not to say it doesn't try! It tries very hard to get there, and in some instances it absolutely nails what it's set out to do, and I think it's an interesting game to sit down with and play despite it's flaws. But man, there's just so much stuff here that doesn't work, and isn't worth persevering through.

First, the good bits.

There's not much to do in KCD's countryside, but it's at least beautiful to look at and ride through. Weather effects - particularly rain - are also nice.

I have never been to 15th century Bohemia, so I can't speak to KCD's absolute authenticity, but this is definitely a more historically dense video game than pretty much anything I've ever played outside a hardcore strategy title.

A Historical Primer For Kingdom Come: Deliverance

Kingdom Come. Deliverance is a medieval RPG without the tribulations of fantasy settings or magic. But it's also set in the kingdom of Bohemia, which you might not be hugely familiar with.

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Assassin's Creed, with its concessions to sci-fi and comic-book story-telling, has nothing on KCD's attention to detail and insistence on making sure everything that's said, shown and laid out is as close to the real thing as possible.

There's something cosy about spending your time walking around somewhere truly historical, knowing that the hills aren't infested with giant rats, that there'll never be any magic storms or power sorcerers interrupting your expeditions. There's just you, the countryside, some birds and some regular folks doing their jobs.

It's lonely, but also strangely calming.

You can tell a lot of hometown love has been put into the representation of the time, people and region; much like The Witcher 3 has a certain charm because it ditches our comfortable Western European myths for a Polish touch, so too is there a uniqueness to the setting here (developers Warhorse are Czech), where people will get a ground floor history lesson on stuff like the Holy Roman Empire.

That's Henry, on the right. The writing in the game is overwrought at times (like this), but also surprisingly deft at more important moments in the storyline.

On the fictional side of things, Henry - the character you play through the game as - is great. While a lot of the promo art may have suggested you'd be playing as a mighty medieval warrior, you are actually assuming the role of a putz, a useless young twenty-something who spends much of the opening sections of the game blundering around town messing things up.

He grows into a hero over the course of the game, as you'd expect, but there's still something loveable about how much of a doofus he is, how goofy he looks and how earnest his voice acting is.

As an exercise in history, in telling a very normal story based on a real and actual point in history, Kingdom Come does some interesting things! But boy, in trying to apply that same principle to its systems does it fuck some stuff up.

The whole game just ... creaks at the seams. From player animation to performance issues, suspect AI to your interactions with the environment around you, KCD is constantly at war with itself, trying to convince the player this is an immersive, historic theme park while at the same time reminding you at every step that this is a wonky-arse video game.

Combat is a primary example of this. There's a huge insistence here on everything being authentic to the fighting styles of the time; indeed, the game's Kickstarter brief described the game as an "Open-world sandbox with period accurate melee combat."

So yes, the first-person combat here is trying very hard to be "real". The way you have to angle and chain your attacks is difficult, and draining, and certainly feels like the kind of brutal, slow dance actual medieval combat must have felt like.

But like ... I'm still swinging my mouse around like a lunatic to get anything done, and it's still difficult to get a handle on depth in a first-person viewpoint, and so combat here is as frustrating and flawed as any other attempt in this genre.

Despite this being a sprawling RPG, you can't save whenever and wherever you want like a normal video game. Instead, you can buy and carry up to three bottles of "Saviour Schnapps" which, when consumed, will save your game but also get you a bit drunk.

If you don't have them handy, you can't manually save the game yourself, and will instead have to wait until major events take place or you can sleep in a bed.

If you were really trying to be historically authentic...would you let people save at all? Course not. So this restriction doesn't seem true to the game's goals, it's just needlessly punitive.

This sucks. Sometimes you just get tired and want to stop playing a game at the point it's at, or something comes up and you have to quit, and at times like those there's nothing more frustrating than not being able to immediately save your game.

A Mod That Fixes Kingdom Come: Deliverance's Stingy Saves

It's never fun when a game is stingy with saves, as people are discovering with Kingdom Come. Deliverance. Fortunately, there's already a mod to fix that.

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The entire KCD experience is to play a game doing battle against itself. There are a myriad of performance issues and glitches, even with the day-one patch installed, but that's only part of the struggle.

Basic animations can take forever, conversations feel stilted and all kinds of basic actions (like trading) are full of frustrating little load times and pauses that start to add up over the course of the game.

In the end it feels less like we're playing as Henry, a kid off on a grand adventure to avenge his parents, and more like we're stuck as Henry's puppeteer, trying just to keep him upright and walking in a world that keeps fucking up around him.

This game asks a lot from you if you're going to spend 50 hours with it. It asks for your patience, your forgiveness, your understanding that for all the cool and interesting things it's trying to do, you're going to have to put up with a lot of things that are under-explained, jarring or just plain broken to enjoy them.

For some people - and the polarising early reviews for the game are testament to this - the uniqueness of the experience makes the performance problems and bugs and overall stilted behaviour worth it. For others, myself included, it's just too much hassle for too little reward.


Comments

    Nothing is more frustrating that having to dismount your horse to jump over a small fence because Pebbles only made it half way..... dammit Pebbles learn how to warhorse

    I've never been a fan of 1st person hack and slash games.

    While the concept is obviously realistic, the application almost never is in a game.
    Like Skyrim, I can enjoy it, just have to accept its not an authentic combat sim.
    On the other hand a game like Witcher isn't authentic either, but god damn that footwork is amazing to behold.

    One thing I hate more than anything is games that are difficult due to a poor control scheme rather than well thought design....This game looked interesting to me but after reading this article and seeing a video I might wait and see if they fix things over the next few months.

      First things first, are you a PC player?
      If yes, Have you played S.T.A.L.K.E.R.?
      If yes, Have you played any of the ARMA games (NOT DAYZ)
      If yes, Have you ever given bethesda a pass on how buggy their games are, but still brought and played them to death anyway?

      If you answered yes to most of these questions then i urge you to get this game. sofar ive found it be buggy, but equal in buggyiness to Skyrim (release version). However the combat the far and away better than any combat Bethesda can come up with. And best of all the game has developers that actively support modding (mod tools are comming, and there's already a GoT mod in development for those who are fans of GoT)

        Loved STALKER, hated ARMA. Patched/modded the fuck out of Skyrim to the point of never seeing a bug. Still buy?

    Instead, you can buy and carry up to three bottles of "Saviour Schnapps" which, when consumed, will save your game but also get you a bit drunk.
    Get blackout drunk and regardless of where you saved the game, the next time you load you'll find Henry at home in his bed with no memory of how he got there.

    At least there's already a mod to fix the save system, so that Con is removed. I'm sure they'll patch it pretty quick. The hype behind the game is fading fast.

      If they patch then i want a mod to revert it back as how it's now. If you're ok with savescumming that's fine but not all of us like it.

      Last edited 15/02/18 11:30 pm

        If you don't like it, don't do it.

        If you don't like OTHER people doing it... what the fuck is wrong with you, are you seriously that petty?

          There you have your save mod so no need to patch. And it's much cool to save drinking a potion, not to mention the tactical implications because it gets you drunk so using it before a fight can be not that good of a idea. MAYBE those potions should be purchasable at local inn and/or allow you to carry more of them but that's all about it.

          Last edited 16/02/18 7:46 pm

            Mods don't work on console, whereas resisting the temptation to save-scum works on ALL platforms! :D

            You can buy them or brew them yourself, and you can carry as many as you have the strength to lift.

            I think the "Carry up to three bottles" is a misunderstanding of one of the tutorials. You get given 3 at the start and it tells you that you can have up to 3 saves. Basically it allows 3 different (Schnapps) save points and deletes the oldest when you save.

          Well. It turns out he is. Wow.

            Then patch it on consoles but leave the pc version out of that crap. And yes, you can actually use mods on console, on xbox at least you can mod skyrim.

            Last edited 18/02/18 10:07 am

    The combat controls are fine, you just need to git gud.

    As for the saves, it can be frustrating but I get the point. They don't want you saving every five minutes and having no risk. If your saves are sparing then you become more wary about your actions, more careful in combat. It creates a greater sense of the reality of living in a dangerous medieval world, and I applaud them for the design choice.

      I assume ppl downvoted you for your git gud comment, Everything else you said is legitimate game design, Ppl want everything to be homogenized like Skyrim or The witcher 3, If you said you loved the witcher 3 ppl would upvote you, "omg! The witcher 3 best rpg ever!". So here, Have a upvote from a Rpg gamer not afraid to play something different.

    I'm still swinging my mouse around like a lunatic

    ...this ...might be your problem...

      I'm using a xbone controller on my pc and I'm having no trouble fighting. I only swap to keyboard/mouse to lockpick

        Fighting is definitely easier with a controller.

        I'll have to try the keyboard/mouse to lockpick 'cos its frustrating on a controller

          lockpicking is frustrating using a mouse and keyboard, but yeah using a controller for it down right near impossible

    Backed this back in the "wow kickstarter is great" days. Forgot it existed until I started seeing people talk about it and how one of the devs is a gamergater? Sigh.

    Oh well, at least I'm currently enjoying Pillars of Eternity, one of the few positives to come out of Kickstarter.

      I keep seeing this and honestly, who cares? A whole team worked on this game, seems rather silly to skip out on it because of one developer. You're playing something he worked on, not dating the guy.

      You should give it a try.

    Im 7 hours in and really enjoying it. The combat is a little clunky but really rewarding.

    What impresses me most about the game is how real the landscape feels. Modern open world games these days have these maps that make the world look massive but you can walk between major cities in a few minutes. Everything in this game is properly sized and spaced out and feels like a real place. The world is so much smaller but feels so much bigger. I wish AAA games would take this approach.

    Last edited 15/02/18 2:32 pm

    Game has bugs, but that’s all and none of them are game breaking. Review reads like someone who’s also terribly bad at the game.

      I like there part where he says "So wait, is this a review?
      Nah, these are just impressions. I haven't finished the game, and don't plan on doing so (this month, anyway), but felt like writing something up about what I have played during its release week." And then you say it's a review

        Yeah, Luke explicitly says that this is just his first impressions.

    I was willing to overlook the flaws because of how unique this game is, I'm now a few hours in and aside from some pauses when talking to people I haven't encountered any bugs. The few combat situations I've been in have also been pretty cool. Maybe stop mashing buttons and swinging like a lunatic :P

    Played 19 hours so far according to steam and despite some niggles (terrible autosaves) im really enjoying the game. i think a commentor on PC Gamer put it best:

    "14th century S.T.A.L.K.E.R. simulator"

      Stalker as in the gameworld is built non traditionaly to other games thus having an affect on player difficulty & agency or like Stalker in the sense that it's buggy but worth the experience anyhow?

        I thought because he spelt it out S.T.A.L.K.E.R he was referring to that old Chernobyl open world game

    Really enjoying this game so far. Combat is hard, but I like that. Realistic that a guy who couldn't even murder a stick isn't some combat powerhouse straight out of the gate.

    The saving system I hate though. Got that mod ASAP. Also the lockpicking was doing my head in. I wasted a bottle of schnapps (this was before i got the saves mod) and over the course of reloading that save multiple times, used up over 50 lockpicks trying to open an EASY lock. So I got a mod that uses Henry's lockpick skill level, rather than my poor minigame ability.

      There's a huge difference between a very easy and an easy lock. Once you get the hang of the system you should be easily able to open very easy locks without breaking a pick (at least with M+K, controller was a bit more difficult for me), The game screws with you by asking you to pick an "EASY" lock as a tutorial.

      I found a good spot to level up lockpicking not far from the executioner's hut in Rattay. There are two farm houses on the hill overlooking the stream, one of those houses has some straw bedding under a lean to near the door, sleep there till night time which will save your game. The house has a very easy lock on the front door, pick that and sneak inside. Sneak up to one of the sleeping residents until you see them start to stir and wake up, sneak out before they catch you. The farmer will look about a bit then close and lock the door, wait for them to go back to sleep, rinse and repeat. You can go do the same thing to the neighbour while you wait for them to go back to sleep, just beware that that house has a dog that could wake the residents.

      Doing that got me high enough to get the perk with the double strength picks quite quickly. Made Easy locks much easier.

    I've put in 10 hours on KCD. Worst game I have seen in along time.

    This is genuinely one of the worst games I have ever played. Played 3 hours and uninstalled.

    Remember if you are bad at combat an arrow to the head is an insta-kill to all unhelmeted combatants.

    A hint for a future hard fight

    Hmm a comment i made that was in jest & not malicious was removed, Not the first time either, I don't think it's a question of me not understanding the community guidelines even with my autism, I think it's kotaku's renowned owellian nature with the kneejerk reactions to comments as opposed to the in general lateness of covering gameing news, I come here for the community Alex walker etc. Not happy.

    Review does indeed read like a advent 3rd person perspective fan being forced to play 1st person for the first time. Surprised this game doesn't have VR support, seems like they could have really added that in and it would be great because using sequenced keystrokes to fight a battle is indeed difficult vs just slashing or holding your weapon physically properly in VR.

    Seeing people compare this to stalker has me sold, even if its still fairly different. This game seems better than games with less bugs anywho. I'll never forget spending 10 days on the snowy river, no showers or tents and about halfway through being told by a friend i was with that stalker was out. I was 15 and the next day back i rushed to JB and bought it.

    If an RPG of this size isn't riddled with a myriad of hilarious glitches, it isn't worth playing.

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