So we've got DayZ, Hotline Miami, We Happy Few, Katana Zero ... what else can we add to the RC pile this year? Come on Kingdom Come: Deliverance, join the club.
There hasn't been much news about Kingdom Come: Deliverance since the release of its last two DLC packs, A Woman's Lot and Band of Bastards. Our UK friends, who loved Kingdom Come Deliverance at launch, checked out Band of Bastards in February and found the DLC a little tough to enjoy.
A Woman's Lot is a huge change of pace for Kingdom Come, though. It lets you play as Theresa, who the player can romance during Kingdom Come's main story, and shows how she and her dog survived the raid on Skalitz. The missions are slower and more stealth oriented than most of Kingdom Come's gameplay. But there's obviously something that's been added to the game that has fallen afoul of our guidelines, because the game received an RC rating at the end of last month:
Kingdom Come: Deliverance has been rated R18+ twice in Australia before, first for the release of the original game and again in May this year for the Royal Edition. Koch Media, Kingdom Come's publisher and the parent company of Kingdom Come's developers Warhorse Studios since mid-February, has been the publisher for all three applications. The main difference with the third application was that it was filed through the IARC process, as opposed to a direct application with the Classification Board (but IARC ratings have the same legal effect as ones from the Board itself).
(WARNING: the following contains descriptions of implied sexual assault.)
The most likely cause of the RC rating is a scene about two hours into A Woman's Lot, where soldiers begin raiding the town before pushing Theresa against a wall and proceeding to assault her. One soldier then attempts to rape Theresa, before getting an arrow in the back. I couldn't confirm how the sequence plays out if you fail the stealth segments, but the intent in the cut scene is pretty implicit.
The classification guidelines are pretty straight forward about implied sexual violence, and it's the reason why Hotline Miami 2 continues to be banned today. In circumstances more similar to Kingdom Come, Outlast 2 was first refused classification over scenes that depicted implied sexual assault.
Although much of the contact between the creature and Blake is obscured, by it taking place below screen, the sexualised surroundings and aggressive behaviour of the creature suggest that it is an assault which is sexual in nature. The Board is of the opinion that this, combined with Blake's objections and distress, constitutes a depiction of implied sexual violence.
In the Board's opinion, the above example constitutes a depiction of implied sexual violence and therefore cannot be accommodated within the R18+ classification category and the game is therefore Refused Classification.
Kotaku Australia has learned that Outlast 2 has been refused classification in Australia, predominately for the depiction of implied sexual violence.
I've reached out to Koch Media and the Classification Board for comment and clarification on the reasoning behind the ban, but neither had responded to multiple emails by the time of writing. The Classification Board is pretty straight when it comes to post-release content: if content is patched in that exceeds the scope of the original rating, the game has to be rated again. But what happens if you only buy the base game and not the Royal Edition (which now includes all of the DLC)? Is everything banned, or only the DLC and versions with the offending content?
What's extra complicated about this situation is that Kingdom Come: Deliverance was also announced as one of this month's inclusions for Xbox Game Pass. I asked Microsoft Australia what the situation was there — would Xbox Game Pass feature only the base game, all the DLC, would Australians get the game at all now that it's received an RC rating, and if not, would Aussies get a replacement game. Microsoft's local team didn't have any answers at the time of writing, but they did confirm they were looking into it before publication.
Hopefully we can get some answers soon. And until then, it's another reminder that Australia's classification guidelines for video games sorely need updating.