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Kingdom Come: Deliverance - As Swords Clash, Thy Will Be Done

Our good friends at Koch Media recently invited me to a hands-on preview event for Warhorse Studios' upcoming open world epic, Kingdom Come: Deliverance. How was it and what did I think?

Based on a true story and set in the year 1403, you play Henry; A Blacksmiths son now under the employ of a Southern Bohemian Noble. After the death of the King, the Kings eldest son, Wenceslas IV, has taken the mantle. Enraged by this, Wenceslas' half-brother, Sigismund, imprisoned Wenceslas, taking it upon himself to storm the battlefields with his mighty army. As a result, Henry loses his family in amongst the bloodshed and is the sole survivor of the attack. This is where your story and road to redemption begins. Where you go from here and how you approach each task is up to you.

Set within a historically accurate recreation of Bohemia, it's entirely up to you how you wish to go about the story. Do you rely solely on your charismatic charm and wordplay, evading what could be fatal encounters with your silver tongue alone, or do you wade into the thick of it, bullying and terrifying all those who would dare cross you? These choices are entirely up to you, but know this - Each and every choice you make will have their own consequences.

Fittingly, the Press-Only event for Kingdom Come: Deliverance was held at Hever Castle. Guests were free to roam around as they saw fit and with great food, a vast array of drinks on offer and such gloriously historical surroundings, we really were living like self-important Nobles for the day. We even had a true Medieval banquet in the evening and I can tell you now, the food was exquisite, but more importantly, the dessert was the highlight of the night. Koch were even good enough to put a large majority of us up overnight, so we were well and truly looked after and as a fan of all things historical, I can safely say this was one of the greatest events I have ever had the privilege of attending.

Before I get too side-tracked here, let me talk about what you really came here for - My hands-on experience with Warhorses' Kingdom Come: Deliverance. To begin, the game is very nice to look at. It's true that gameplay should always be the prime highlight of a title, but being easy on the eyes never did any harm.

My experience with Kingdom Come: Deliverance was one set around a large and unfinished Monastery within the BeneŇ°ov District of Bohemia. Located in the Czech Republic, that monastery stands and is still unfinished in build, even today. Within the game, the surrounding settlement is filled with life as peasants, Knights and Nobles alike go about their daily lives. It is here that you can interact with a good amount of people, even if to me, it felt like a good few residents had few words to say. Interacting with the characters of the world is encouraged, because it allows for you to quickly understand who will be the more integral characters of Kingdom Come: Deliverance' plot.

That being said, if you head to a local Tavern or pass by almost any resident, they all have something to say, with a good number even having dialogue options you can choose between, should you wish to converse with anyone outside of the story.

During the segment I played, I had to find a man of importance who would help me infiltrate the Monastery as a member of their own. The only problem being when I eventually found him at a fairly local Tavern (where else would you be in such a time?), he was accompanied by his bodyguard, making it fairly difficult to converse over the issue at hand. Naturally, it was up to you to deal with this through a number of dialogue choices. Unfortunately for me however, I believe the game bugged and so no matter what I did, the bodyguard would not leave me alone with my contact. I did eventually find a way around this, but my contact no longer gave me any dialogue, as he sat there at the table, eating, without a care in the world for his mission or my need of assistance.

Initially, I attempted the wiser option of talking my way through the issue with his bodyguard, but when that attempt failed, I was left with only one option - To play dice with this aggravating individual. At first I had no real clue as to the rules of the game, but after losing several times, I began to pick it up relatively easily, winning my fair share of coin along the way. This however, did not force the bodyguard to leave as I instead discovered he'd gone to sleep under the table, as he lay spread out horizontally, with only his shoulders propping his entire body up.

Great, I thought to myself. So now I have to wake him up and get him to leave and so, I entered another game of dice with him, only he didn't show to his own game, replaced instead by a bush (this was the only thing the camera was zoomed in and focusing on). The next thing I know, dice are being flung at me from said bush, so I exited the dice game, only to find the intended player still fast asleep. There was nothing else I could do to get his attention and so I crept beside him and pick-pocketed him, hoping he'd have something of value, potentially crucial to my mission. This was when the horror ensued.

Becoming instantly alerted, the bodyguards eyes immediately opened as wide as could be imagined. He then went from horizontally sleeping to vertically standing in the space of a single frame and then ran out of the room, screaming that my poor character tried to mug him. At this point, everyone was running, preventing me from speaking with my informant, forcing me to chase the sleeping maniac down, as he ran past every guard imaginable.

Chasing him all the way up to the grounds of the Monastery, it quickly dawned on me this was a battle I couldn't win and after some clever thinking and quick reflexes, I eventually lost the heat and was able to find my own way into the Monastery. After surrendering my equipment, I then became a man of the cloth, casting aside my sins as I devoted myself to our lord and saviour, or so they thought.

From here, I had to speak with the other Monks in an attempt to determine who the fake was. Each and every character felt shady or as if they had some kind of ulterior motive and so it wasn't a straight forward process. I however, having no real interest in Church, decided the best option was to try and deduce who my target was as fast as possible. Calling the one out I figured was most likely to be the target, immediately prompted him to run to the head Priest of the Monastery to tell on me. This caused a number of problems in that anyone who may have trusted me before, no longer did. Additionally, all of my weapons were gone, as was my armour and so, as a man of the cloth (and little else), I stalked this crybaby, only to discover bare-handed attacks only ever temporarily knock your target out......so much for snapping his neck as he studied. Now it was time to say hello to the entire population of armoured guards.

Unlike most other games out there, it's no use hiding around a corner. The guards will look everywhere for an assailant. Worse still was the fact I couldn't actually escape the Monastery until a guard opened the door from the outside, leaving it open for me to make my escape, which was nice, considering I ended up simply running laps around the inner halls of the building, leading what I'd consider a small army behind me. From here, I made my way back to the room I surrendered my gear, only to discover somebody else had made residency here (a guard, hooray!) and my gear was nowhere to be seen. Where now? TO THE SHOPS!

With nowhere to run, I decided it was time to explore every building I came across, in the hope I could find a weapon to defend myself with. Yes, it was time to murder every resident of this god forsaken village. I found an armourer, stealing as much protection as I could, but with no weapon stores in sight, it was time to steal a horse and flee. My mission was long abandoned and now, I was faced with a struggle to survive, as I waded through every guard I came across, with nothing but my bare hands and a little bit of armour to help defend myself against each and every merciless blow.

Earlier in the game I managed to survive against a two on one encounter, but it was now five on one and I was surrounded. Still, somehow managing to knock a Noble of importance out, I stole his clothes and ran off. This didn't help my case in the slightest and I found no matter what I did or how far I ran, there were the guards, always on my tail. They were completely and utterly relentless. As you can imagine, this was the point I decided enough was enough and it was time to put down the controller and mingle with the other Journalists.

At this stage, I feel Kingdom Come: Deliverance could do with more development time, but after a chat with Warhorse Studios' PR, Tobias, he did say the team are very aware of the many issues and bugs present in the current build and attempted to reassure me these would be fixed come release. Personally, I'm not convinced, but I really do hope he's right as Kingdom Come: Deliverance has the potential to be something great. It's just not there yet.

Some of the stand out aspects I liked were the many different armours available to you. Being able to mix and match every piece of armour was a very nice touch and felt like a good way to make the game very personal to you. The weapons available are fairly fun, too, though I only had the chance to try out one of the many swords and had no experience with ranged combat at all, though to make it clear, you can play both ranged and melee. The combat was interesting and it shows Warhorse have done their research, as the first person perspective swordplay really did feel natural. Added to this is the fact you can aim for individual body parts - No helmet? Aim for the head. Armoured torso only? Aim everywhere else. This a very nice combat mechanic and one I haven't yet seen in other games out there. Lastly, if it wasn't for the map, the game is large enough in scale that you could quite easily get lost within the surrounding forests.

Overall, I'm looking forward to seeing how Kingdom Come: Deliverance fares in the final build. I'm not one for realism, more often than not using games as a way to escape my everyday life, but I feel with enough time spent within the world of Kingdom Come, you could quite easily find yourself immersed within this title, if not through story, then through visuals and swordplay alone. The soundtrack to A Knight's Tale would fit right in here, but with a story more on the serious side, perhaps the more atmospheric soundtrack featured within is more fitting. One question remains - Will Kingdom Come deliver?

Kingdom Come: Deliverance is scheduled for release February 13th, 2018, headed to PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

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