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July 2019


Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Spiders Games
Release Date: Sept. 10, 2019


PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'GreedFall'

by Thomas Wilde on July 9, 2018 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

The thrill of setting foot on new land, the wonder of an earthly magic, and the lengths to which the mysterious locals will go to defend it...

This is an interesting project, just because it's a fantasy game, but it's not set in that generic pastiche of medieval Europe, typically Britain, that characterizes most fantasy games. Instead, GreedFall — from the same company that brought us 2013's Bound By Flame is more like revolutionary France. It has a lot in common with Bound By Flame's presentation and general gameplay flow, which is highly reminiscent of third-person action-RPGs like Dragon Ageand Final Fantasy XII, but most of what I like here is the newer setting.

GreedFall is set in a French-influenced fantasy world. According to its designers, it's deliberately made to look like 17th-century Europe, with the color palette of the Baroque art and Flemish paintings of the period. The humans are wielding sabers and flintlock pistols, but you're up against monsters and can learn to use magic, poisons, and potions. It has a feel like a bunch of French people stumbled through an unattended portal at some point and are now trying to make a home on a bloody fantasy world.

Your character — whose appearance and gender can be customized at the start of the game — is a new arrival on the newly discovered island of Teer Fradee. It's untouched by a plague called the Malichor, which has ravaged the Old World, and offers the promise of new resources to boot. You arrive on a ship owned by the Congregation of Merchants with your cousin, Constantin De Sardet, who's about to become the governor of the colony of New Serene.

Teer Fradee is the best chance your people have to find a cure for the Malichor disease. You're here as Constantin's troubleshooter, sent out to solve his problems for him, as well as explore the new continent in search of riches, allies, and knowledge. (Constantin, it should be said, has all the tell-tale signs of the "gonna betray you eventually" NPC. I'm just saying, he might as well have that written on a button on his lapel. Even his English voice actor sounds like he's going to foppishly sentence us to execution.) Along the way, you can work to gain the favor of five separate factions, each of which can provide you with a new NPC ally for your team.

In the demo at E3 2018, the job at hand was to set out to negotiate with the local elves, alongside their princess Siora. Two of their tribes are fighting, and you're ostensibly there with Siora to try to get them to agree on terms for a ceasefire. Your options for doing so include diplomacy, outright lying, violence, and so on, with multiple possible outcomes for the events at hand; the E3 demo ended with Siora's mother being sorely wounded in a fight that was already going on when we got there, which might have gone another way if we'd arrived sooner or made different choices.

Exploring the countryside in GreedFall is instantly familiar. Your NPC allies have different areas of specialization and can be set to act on their own, as well as micromanaged in a "tactical pause" screen if you'd prefer. The world's full of monsters without any attention paid to scaling, so you can and often will run into something you aren't equipped to deal with yet; however, the game also encourages you to explore, since the world's also full of crafting materials scattered around everywhere. You can gather herbs and hunt small animals to make poisons, potions, and new armor, which appears on your characters when equipped.

I barely got a look at the game's skill tree, but it's massive and offers you a lot of options. You can equip axes, hammers, pistols, swords, and magical spells, as well as using consumable bombs, potions, and traps for a temporary advantage. The game has a heavy focus on breaking enemies' armor when you can, as well as knocking them down.

My abiding impression, however, was that GreedFall is an iteration on the same sort of action-RPG as Bound By Flame, which itself felt like a somewhat ambitious, somewhat janky Dragon Age fan game. If GreedFall learns from the previous game's mistakes, it could be a decent action-RPG, which is a field that could always use a few new entries. Even if it doesn't, I have to respect what's going on here, as it's drawing from a decidedly different influence pool than most fantasy games. We've seen enough J. R. R. Tolkien to last a lifetime; why not go up against boar-men and plant monsters as a French musketeer?

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