By Matt Welwood / November 4th, 2014
The Technology Alpha for Kingdom Come: Deliverance was released on October 22nd, giving people who backed the game, either through their successful Kickstarter campaign or through the developer’s website, a chance to take an early look at the fledgling RPG. The game is an ambitious, very realistic open-world RPG set in 15th century Europe. The full game will feature period-accurate locations, dialogue, weapons and combat. If you’re not familiar with the term “Technology Alpha” it basically means that the alpha is less a game and more a test of certain mechanics that’ll be in the full game when it’s launched (Q4 2015 is the current release target). The mechanics being tested in this alpha are graphics performance, NPC daily routines, dialogue and archery, with one small quest to get a bow.
So, keeping in mind that alpha is alpha and this could all change with the next update, let’s go through the list and see what it looks like so far.
This is the first thing you see when you start. This is a good looking game. Yes, there are bugs; in an alpha, it would be surprising if there weren’t any. Textures pop in frequently, there are lighting glitches and in some places you can actually see the gradient from light to dark. In some areas (I didn’t see this in my playthroughs, but you can see it in some videos on YouTube), textures are missing entirely. That doesn’t stop the game from, when you step back and take it all in, being absolutely gorgeous. Even on the lower graphics settings the game looks really impressive, considering we’re about a year from launch (Q4 2015). One odd glitch that I had happen to me, when I set the game to the Very High video settings, it made the game crash almost immediately. Once I reloaded, it ran without issue (other than being at a lower framerate obviously), but it happened on more than one occasion.
NPCs having a daily routine isn’t a new feature at all, the Elder Scrolls games have been doing that since Oblivion (to name one example). It is a nice way to make your world feel a bit more organic, though.Honestly, there’s not much to report here that hasn’t been seen before. NPC wakes up, NPC has breakfast, NPC goes to work. Or, in one case, NPC flies around town while pretending to bake or…something. There’s not really much else to report on here, so let’s move on.
If you weren’t already thinking of comparing this game to either Oblivion or Skyrim sans dragons, this should help with that. They didn’t put any voice acting in this version of the alpha, so dialogue consists of an NPC sometimes staring through the screen at you, sometimes continuing to work while you stare at their shirt as text comes up on screen. The dialogue with most NPCs is limited to basic talk about the village and some generic news. The only conversation you really need to have is with three characters: the first farmer you see, the blacksmith, and the man who runs the archery range. This is how you get your only quest. You talk to the farmer, and he mentions that the blacksmith is a bit loud. You talk to the blacksmith, he sarcastically brushes you off. Back to the farmer, and he asks you to steal a flute from the smith. Steal the flute (stealth isn’t in the game in the alpha. You can grab it as he watches you and he does nothing) and you have two options: you can bring it to the farmer for 8 groshes (money), or give it back to the blacksmith for 10 groshes. There’s a way to get the remaining 2 groshes if you give it to the farmer, but I wasn’t able to get that to work. As far as I know it involves returning a lost sheep to the shepherd. Then once you have all 10 groshes, you head over to the shooting range and talk to the man in charge, then he gives you your bow and some arrows. You also get a message from the devs letting you know that killing people is not yet supported in the alpha.
The way archery works in this game is, like the game itself, quite realistic. The initial draw of the bow takes a small piece of your stamina bar away. After about three seconds of keeping the bow drawn, your stamina starts decreasing quickly, which causes your already wobbly aim to get worse and worse until you have to drop the bow and let your stamina recharge. There’s no targeting reticule, no aim assist, you have to line up each shot manually. The actual animation for drawing the bow, the way it handles, looks and feels natural. If the rest of the combat in the full game has the same attention to detail that the archery does (a safe assumption), I can’t wait to see what it feels like to siege a castle.
And that’s about it for the first look at Kingdom Come: Deliverance. Yes, there are bugs and certain features aren’t implemented quite right yet; the daily routines specifically seem to be just a little bit off, and certain NPCs have a weird habit of doing the right animation in the wrong spot (picture of floating NPC again). Sometimes the dialogue glitches and an NPC won’t interact with you at all. The dialogue itself isn’t yet voice acted and is unskippable, so you have long periods of staring at an expressionless character shaking and gyrating at you. The engine doesn’t seem to be optimized all that well yet, but I have no doubt that it, along with the other bugs, will be improved with each update to the alpha.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is scheduled for full release in the back half of 2015 on Windows, Linux, PS4 and Xbox One. The Technology Alpha is out now for backers, and is only available on PC currently. Developed and published by Warhorse Studios.
Disclosure, I did back this game to get access to the alpha.
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