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Expeditions: Viking Gamescom Preview

2015-08-14

Expeditions: Viking is the sequel to Expeditions: Conquistador and as the title states, this time it is about Vikings. You are a Viking who just inherited a village from your father, making you the leader of that village. It is a modest village and relatively weak in the eyes of your neighbors. In the game you have to try to elevate the status of the village and its people and make it stronger and more powerful. This is achieved by politics, violence, trading and raiding, both inside the Viking homeland and abroad.

During our conversation, a video of the session was recorded, which had a length of almost 30 minutes. However there is also a condensed 8 minute version that was made available to me, which is what I will use in this article. This article will refer to time positions in the video by means of (xx:xx).

There are two campaigns in the game. The first is set in the Viking homelands, where you will be consolidating your power and making sure that your enemies don't think you are so weak that they will raid you. The second campaign is covering England and Scotland, where you can do a fair share of raiding. However like in Conquistador, you will be presented with options like choosing not to raid a village or murder every single inhabitant of it. These choices will have consequences in the game as it determines how others in the game see you.

In Conquistador there were two layers on the map. You would travel on a traveling layer to explore the surroundings and when you had encounters you would zoom in into a battle map for the combat, after which you would go back to the traveling part.

In Viking there are a few changes to this. Instead of having one large campaign map for exploration there are now several region maps and as long as you move around inside a single region map, you can explore and discover the area, do quests and talk to NPCs. It is however not turn-based anymore, where you moved on a grid in Conquistador, it is real-time now. This allows you to move around more freely, but only inside the region and no action points are involved anymore.
When you start in England the map will be covered by a fog of war. It isn't clear yet if the map of the Viking lands should has a fog of war as well, as you are already familiar with that territory, seeing that you live there.
The exploration map and battle maps are synchronized now, which means that when you engage in combat, instead of zooming in into a battle map, the hexes will now appear on the existing map.

For large distances of travel you click on a space you want to move to, after which a pad will be plotted for you, showing how many days the travel will take. Normally you should camp once a day, but you can decide not to camp, resulting in you and your team members incurring more and more penalties because of exhaustion. At the spot you select as your camping location, you are presented with a number of randomly generated camp sites (00:34), from which you can choose one. Each of these potential camp sites shows statistics on (00:38):

  • Security, indicating how easy it is to be attacked
  • Shelter, access to the basic needs of a camp, such as access to water or firewood
  • Food, how easy it is to find food and they are ranked with numbers ranging from 1 to 5. Where 4 and 5 will give you bonuses and 1 and 2 penalties. One a camp site has been picked the icon for it will remain on the map permanently, so you can always go back there.

Like before when camping each of your party members need to be assigned tasks, which will be their responsibility throughout the night. What they have changed is that you can now give each party 4 tasks, each taking 3 hours, totaling to a 12 hour camping sequence. Some tasks take one 3 hour shift and some take 6 hours (00:58).
As an example Kettil was used who has a high rank in hunting. Choosing him as a hunter, will make the hunting statistic go up to a high number, meaning your chances on a successful hunt will increase. Adding more people to hunt will not boost the end result much anymore, as they have a much lower hunting rank.
Your party members also need to rest and for a good rest they need to rest for two consecutive shifts of 3 hours, otherwise any penalties from exhaustion will not be removed. Sleep is the default selected action for each shift.
Guarding needs to be done every shift. So, it takes at least two persons to guard 4 shifts. Some of the other tasks that can be assigned are:

  • Cooking, to create better food,
  • Preserve, to preserve meat for a longer duration.
  • Crafting, which allows you to craft better weapons, shields and armor. And as Viking has an inventory now, you have slots for a helmet, armor and slots for each hand that need to be filled.
  • Repair, to repair your equipment
  • Scout, to scout the environment
  • Tinkering, not fleshed out completely, but the current idea is to use it predominantly to create traps

The game also still has injuries. Injured party members cannot do a number of tasks, depending on their injury. In the previous game you couldn't do anything once you were injured, so that is an improvement. If they are not treated the injuries will deteriorate over time, until death follows.
A healer can heal injured members (01:44). The healing process will reduce the injury or at the very least keep it stable.

What was known as herbalism in the previous game in now named witchcraft. As the Vikings didn't really have science, herbalism is like witchcraft to them.

What has also been added is the cleaning task. This reduces the chance of the place you camped at being detected, after you left,  by brigands or bandits and your party being ambushed by them later on the road, because they have tracked you. This task, obviously can only be performed in the last slot.

Your party members still need to eat and like in Conquistador there is an automatic option for that (02:14). It has a few extra settings in Viking, where you can decide to feed your healthy people first, the weakest, the best fighters, the worst, the most loyal or the least loyal. Each choice has its own pros and cons. If there is not enough food to feed all, the once that are last will get rations. When there even aren't enough rations, people will start to starve and become very unhappy.

 

Once everything has been set for your party, you can make camp (02:21) and the four shifts are taking place and are visualized in fast forward mode. The results of each shift are logged in the player log, showing the success or failure of the camping activities. During camping random events can occur. In our example some noises were heard of people outside your camp (02:30). You can now send out someone to scout for these noises. In this case the scout mentions there are six persons, dressed poorly, but armed, so probably bandits. They are heading towards the camp, but have no idea yet that we are there.
You are presented with 3 options: spread out and wait for them, grab your weapons and attack them or pack up your stuff and leave.
The first two options lead to combat, so we went with that as we obviously wanted the combat to be demoed (02:58). We will need to kill all of the bandits, as when one of the would escape, they might warn the village we are planning to raid and we need the element of surprise for that.
So, a fight takes place and for those who played Expeditions: Conquistador, this would look familiar. You need to use tactics and position your people at the right positions in order to win. At the moment there are only swords in the game, but later on there will be many different types of weapons, such as axes, two-handed Danish axes, spears, bows, pole-arms and shields. When you gain experience to rank up, you can improve your weapon skills or non-combative skills. And as you can see from the video, Attack of Opportunity is still part of the game.

Wat is new is that they now have kill cams. On the final blow that kills your opponent a camera sequence is played that shows one of the characters killing the opponent (05:50, 06:35, 07:22, 07:41, 08:09 and 08:38). For different weapons there will be different kill cams. Unfortunately as there is only one type of weapon at the moment, they all look somewhat the same now. They added these kill cams because they wanted to take the players somewhat out of the chess experience that is associated with TBS games. Furthermore, one of their art goals is to have a dark, but colorful environment, which is not completely realized yet, but the kill cams is one way to show that off.

You can also prevent camping by traveling using your boat, as you do not need to camp that way, with the boat having sufficient food and no others attacking it.

Another change to Conquistador is that when you start the game, you'll start out with creating your character, by choosing your gender, skills and abilities and do some visual customizations. You'll meet the first members of your group shortly thereafter. The player character is a member in the party in Viking, and also present in combat. You can gather more party members over the cause of the game and pick the ones that suit you best or you can draft mercenaries by creating them using the same character creation interface as you used for the player character. The mercenaries however will not have a story element and no background, which the party members you encounter do have. Your actions will therefor also not have an influence on your relation with the mercenaries.

The trade system is tweaked a bit compared to Conquistador, as Viking has an inventory and trading has become a bit more complex than it was in Conquistador because of that.

The current release date is set for 2016. It is likely to be near the end of 2016, but that is my interpretation, but I think we can check this game out again and see how it progressed at next year's Gamescom.

Box Art

Information about

Expeditions: Viking

Developer: Logic Artists

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Historical
Genre: Strategy-RPG
Combat: Turn-based
Play-time: Unknown
Voice-acting: Unknown

Regions & platforms
World
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2017-04-27
· Publisher: EuroVideo Medien

More information


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