"Warhorse Studios is doing their best to compete in a marketspace that continues to grow at an exponential rate."
Kingdom Come: Deliverance knows what it wants to be. It has a confident vision of a historically accurate open world RPG set in 15th century Bohemia, which means you won't be seeing any dragons, magic spells, or uniquely dark forces trying to control the very fabric of reality. KC is trying to develop a realistic medieval simulator, and developer Warhorse Studios is doing their best to compete in a marketspace that continues to grow at an exponential rate.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that the countryside of Bohemia was simply another random town in an Elder Scrolls title. At first glance, everything seems familiar, though the brightness of the world helps KC to stand out a bit in the face of darker fantasy titles. You'll guide a character around in first person, talking to NPCs and taking quests on your way to knighthood. Even the first mission, which tasks you to find a mass murderer terrorizing the local citizens, features the numerous choices and options we've come to expect from a Bethesda-style RPG. You can infiltrate a local monastery to suss out precious clues, or maybe intimidate the local townsfolk into providing information.
It's actually easier to intimidate people if you take advantage of KC's unique armor and equipment system. Armor adds to a reputation system that keeps the world feeling alive and reactionary rather than set in stone and stale. Lowly peasants may freak if they see you walking around like The Mountain on Game of Thrones, and they'll really super freak if you're just carrying around a scimitar willy-nilly. Our demo driver was quick to point out how armor layers on your avatar to provide protection against the various pointy things trying to kill you in Bohemia. You can have up to four layers of armor that all link together in a way that makes physical sense. You won't be putting layer after layer of metal plates on, for example. You'll have to lay down some leather armor and then put on the heavy stuff, adding to the realism of the world. Be careful, however, as heavy armor will make you noisier and thus easier to detect.
This all plays into the game's realistic (boy, I'm saying that a lot) take on combat. Swords are great at cutting through leather armor and flesh, but they won't do much against a dude dressed in full plate mail. Instead, you're better off relying on a mace to drive some impact damage through that heavy metal cuirass. In addition, players can choose different swings in combat to target specific body parts on an enemy. You still have to hit your desired target, however, so player skill and reflexes are still crucial to success. It's my hope that combat can be a little more strategic and satisfying than what we've seen in Skyrim or Oblivion, but it's hard to get this right in first person. It's difficult to tell how things will work out without getting my hands on the latest build (I have an alpha build from a few months back, but my computer can't quite handle it).
Kingdom Come: Deliverance still has a long way to go, and the new release date of 2017 gives Warhorse some time to expand and hone what they've already put together. The game looks unique and inviting, but there are obviously questions about quest structure, combat, and variety that will hopefully be addressed in future previews and beta builds. With an actual historian on the team to make sure things stay realistic (again with that word!), I'm excited to see where things go for this title in the coming months.