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Default Bard's Tale IV - Hands-on Impression

March 27th, 2018, 16:21
Ars Technica went hands-on with The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep.

Add some Hearthstone to your classic RPG

Let's start with the combat, which is, by necessity, a bit of a departure from the text-based combat of the original Bard's Tale. In this game, each battle takes place on a grid of tiles overlaid on top of the existing 3D world, representing the spaces characters can occupy. Half of the tiles—those closest to my perspective—could only be inhabited by my party members, while the other half could only be occupied by enemies. It's a turn-based system in which you assign a set number of action points for your party, then end your turn to see the resulting melee.



Positioning is key in this battle system; placing a fighter in front of a mage to protect the latter from many attacks is a good strategy, for instance. Each attack, on both sides of the battlefield, only affects tiles in a preset range. One attack might light up a T-shape of tiles, while others would attack in a straight line, for example. Those attacks are determined partly by your characters' abilities, but others were made available to characters by the equipment they carried.

The flow of the game felt very similar to that of digital card games like Hearthstone or The Elder Scrolls Legends. Each battle was a puzzle that could be solved by arranging party members in the right formations and spending action points on the right actions. And there was just a little bit of randomness to make things interesting now and then—though the demo I played didn't have nearly as much randomness to it as one would find in a zany Hearthstone match.

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March 27th, 2018, 16:21
Combat sounded really interesting until I saw the screenshots, and the perspective, and the HUD. And the models. And the effects. And the fonts. And the stupid little popup facing the player. WTF is this?
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March 27th, 2018, 16:25
Originally Posted by screeg View Post
Combat sounded really interesting until I saw the screenshots, and the perspective, and the HUD. And the models. And the effects. And the fonts. And the stupid little popup facing the player. WTF is this?
An over-reaction?

Sorry. Couldn't help it.
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March 27th, 2018, 16:28
It looks like a better Grimrock. I like that it's grid based, but you can move fluidly.
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March 27th, 2018, 17:24
They seem to have melded the best of two distinct stratums. It will be interesting to see how it all looks in the finished product.
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March 27th, 2018, 17:54
Ok, let me preface my comment by saying I never was the target audience for this game, and knew I would not like it. I just have never liked these weird games where you have a party and yet, it is viewed as if you are in the 1st person…WTF? I just think the whole idea is flawed and hate it from the get-go.

My impressions are the graphics are quite good when just exploring as you would in a traditional 1st person dungeon type game, but the combat…jesus christ…to me, its an abomination. I don't want to go on and on about how much I already hate it just from seeing a gameplay video, but I could, lol.

Anyway, as I said, I'm definitely not the intended audience for this style of game, and I know there are players out there who enjoy the niche this game is being made for.
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March 27th, 2018, 18:20
Originally Posted by screeg View Post
WTF is this?
An Alpha!
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March 27th, 2018, 18:22
I think it looks great personally….going to wait until it releases and the final battles are in with balance etc to really judge it though.
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March 27th, 2018, 18:32
Yeah this is no way to tell for certain if this is how it will be in the final edition that we actually get to play. All I know is, looks like a lot of thought went into the product and I'm hungry for it!
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March 27th, 2018, 19:54
The game looks pretty cool but it doesn't remind me of Bards Tale at all.
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March 27th, 2018, 19:59
Originally Posted by SirJames View Post
The game looks pretty cool but it doesn't remind me of Bards Tale at all.
I know, there's too much color.

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March 27th, 2018, 20:43
the combat seems to be the blobber-like approach I've seen before: front and back rows and only front can melee unless you have a reach weapon or bow (or magic). I don't like this personally, but I didn't back this game so I have no say ;-) I prefer a turn-based system like D:OS where you have complete tactical freedom - but that takes more work to implement, and I don't know what the campaign promised. It doesn't look terrible, just a bit disappointing that they ended up going this route.
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March 27th, 2018, 20:54
Hmm, I watched some combat gameplay, and saw how the little talking heads of your party bounce up to talk to you. I'm afraid I'm losing wood.
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March 27th, 2018, 21:03
Originally Posted by Arkadia7 View Post
Anyway, as I said, I'm definitely not the intended audience for this style of game, and I know there are players out there who enjoy the niche this game is being made for.
I'm loving what I see on the other hand. It's ok if you don't like this type of game, not every game is for everybody. Maybe your reaction is like mine when I see yet another game with a dude running in a forest with a sword behind his back, I couldn't care less about those, but show me a turn based game with a party and magic and I'm already sold.
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March 27th, 2018, 21:13
Originally Posted by Arkadia7 View Post
Ok, let me preface my comment by saying I never was the target audience for this game, and knew I would not like it. I just have never liked these weird games where you have a party and yet, it is viewed as if you are in the 1st person…WTF? I just think the whole idea is flawed and hate it from the get-go.
Funny, I feel the opposite. Not that I don't understand what you mean when you say it's weird 6 people are clustered together and refuse to move apart, that IS actually a bit weird. But a party makes for so much more interesting character building and combinations, and that in turn makes combat much more fun (to me).

I'm not sold on the UI, but in general I think it's looking pretty damn great.
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March 27th, 2018, 21:44
I'll be getting this because it's a new Bard's Tale game. Duh.
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March 27th, 2018, 21:58
It is a new Bard's Tale game, and I shall have her. I've been behind this project since it's inception, and I believe it will be a great addition to the first three games, perhaps not perfect but certainly worth the wait.
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March 27th, 2018, 22:19
I backed it and from what they have shown I'm happy. I enjoyed Wasteland 2 so much that I will back these guys on crpg's.
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March 27th, 2018, 22:31
Originally Posted by Hastar View Post
I backed it and from what they have shown I'm happy. I enjoyed Wasteland 2 so much that I will back these guys on crpg's.
I think I actually enjoyed Torment even more, I have to replay it soon. Agree though, I've no problem being called an inXile fanboy.
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March 27th, 2018, 23:21
Aye, both are great games. I've already replayed Wasteland two, and I know I'll replay Torment probably later this year or early next.
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