Expeditions: Viking Preview
On Thursday the 21st of May I met with Alex Mintsioulis from Logic Artists, in beautiful sunny Malmö to discuss their upcoming game Expeditions: Viking. With the success of Logic Art’s previous game, Expeditions: Conquistador (see also our review), a new game in the Expeditions series was eminent, this time featuring Vikings.
The premise for Expeditions: Viking, is that you’ve inherited a weak Viking clan after your father’s death. Your goal is to make this weak Viking clan stronger while fending off enemies. In order to do this you’ll have to travel to Britain in the 8th century and return to your stronghold, the Player’s Village, with loot and resources necessary to upgrade and expand the village. The Player’s Village was something Logic Artists decided to put in after people on their forums wanted access to a stronghold much earlier than in Expeditions: Conquistador. When you sail from your Player’s Village to attack or trade with Britain you can take up to 8 characters with you. After you arrive you can take 3-6 characters with you in combat.
When entering a village for the first time, there will be some choices to make. You can set up a trading post, establish a trade route, challenge the chieftain of the village to a duel or do a sneak attack on that village. If however, you kill everyone in a certain area, other people in Britain might have heard of you and will maybe not be so easily convinced to let you through their areas or trade with you.
For now, we chose to perform a sneak attack. We started exploring until we came to a wall where some of the bricks have fallen out. We entered the village and had our first combat encounter. As in Conquistador, combat is turn-based, where each character can move up to 4 spaces before performing an action, like hitting the enemy or parrying. Or move 8 spaces, without having an action left. When entering into combat the view changes to the battlefield so we can see the combat in action.
If one of our characters suffers an attack of opportunity from the enemy, we can block the enemy’s attack. If successful we’ll take 25% less damage or no damage at all and also get the chance to attack the enemy.
Next up, we chose to do a special attack, in this case double feint. It’ll give us 3 attacks and if successful, it’ll deal 50% more damage and blind the enemy for two turns. However, special attacks do have a cool down time, so timing of the special attacks is essential here. After about half an hour or so, all the tribesmen in the village were dead. This obviously also meant that we wouldn’t get any additional quests from this area as we just wiped out the entire clan.
There are other strategies and tactics you can do in battle as well: You can choose to perform a sneak attack for example. However, this means that you can only move half your distance e.g. 4 squares. You’ll need to sneak if you want to trigger traps and you are also somewhat limited in options as you can't perform an attack of opportunity for example while sneaking.
In Conquistador you had a leader (on a horse) that led the people in battle. And in battles all you ever got to see was this leader. Based on community feedback, Logic Artists changed this. You're now able to see your whole team at once when moving around on the battlefield. When combat begins, the camera switches its angle so you're able to see both your and the enemy's characters battle each other.
Like in Conquistador, you can only heal while you’re in your camp. When characters become injured during combat they will get a penalty that gets worse over time, which means that you’ll need to go down to your ship and exchange party members or travel to your camp to heal them.
This brings us to another change in gameplay that was a wish from the community: an upgrade to the tedious camping system found in Conquistador.
After you’ve arrived at your ship and you’ve clicked on it, a 2D overlay map will come up and you’re able to tell the ship to ‘voyage now’. It will then show a route back to the village or campsite nearby that might take e.g. 3 days to complete. After arriving at your camp or back in your Player’s Village, you can heal party members and you’ll need to order your characters to do various things, like gardening, forging, healing, crafting, or gather or grow food, using the resources you have looted, stolen or traded in the villages you’ve encountered in Britain. In this game your characters need to eat or else they will run out of stamina, after which they might become sick, cranky, hungry and eventually die. This means that like in Conquistador, there is a lot of strategic planning involved.
Expeditions: Viking now has a customizable main character which means you can choose to play as a male or female while the UI provides the traditional armor and weapon slots. This is different from Conquistador where you only would have an icon representing your main character. Another way Viking is expanding on Conquistador’s gameplay is that the classes have been dropped. Instead, you’ll get experience points which you freely can distribute among your characters to help outline their stats and abilities and how they’ll react in battle and which weapons your characters will use.
I asked Alex the questions from Watchers Pladio and Archangel about magic weapons, mythological elements, bears, Nordic gods and skills in the game, as well as choice and consequence and here a summary of his answers: "There will be no magical weapons in this game. However, since this was a time where people believed in magic you might find a weapon that’ll boost your characters’ morale. These weapons can either be a spear of Odin or a weapon which has bone runes inserted. As such, it will be the characters perception of the weapons that will boost their morale."
In line with this, the Nordic Gods will not have a direct influence on the gameplay in any way. However, Alex gave an example from Conquistador in which a character went into cave and was exposed to some hallucinogenic fumes and experienced a meeting with a south American god. They might do the same for Viking, but they haven’t yet decided how to represent them [the Nordic Gods] in the game.
As for skills, there will be three skillsets in the game: combat skills, passive skills and non-combat skills. The skill-trees and how they’ll work in the game are still being discussed. Certain skills will have certain prerequirements e.g. you can only choose a skill when you reach a certain level e.g. level 4 or 5. There will also be special quest for each of your characters that you can go on. They’re still discussing whether or not there will be any officer skills or an iron man mode in this game.
Choice and consequences are vital to this game. Alex explains: ”There is choice and consequence in this game and they are serious. Player agency is really important here”. For instance, you’re able to double-cross your enemies. You might have a trade relationship with tribe #1, but if you find out that you can get a better deal from tribe #2, you can turn on tribe #1 to make that happen. You can double-cross whoever you like, whenever you like, but with consequences.
There will also be difficult choices in this game, so you will regularly have to choose between bad choices and some less bad choices.
The inspiration for this game comes, as Alex explains, from the Viking Sagas. Their creative director Jonas Vaever is very much into Vikings and the Viking Sagas, and he felt it would be great to build a game inspired by them. Both funny and serious things happen in the Viking Sagas. They tell about people who go out and have these great and grand adventures.
All in all, I’d say the inspiration is working: Expeditions: Viking looks to be a most promising game.
Release date: 2016, no exact date yet, though.
Information aboutExpeditions: Viking
Developer: Logic Artists
Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2017-04-27
· Publisher: EuroVideo Medien