Sprawling RPG Kingdom Come: Deliverance is finally out in the wild. Despite being an indie game, at least as far as Steam is concerned, developer Warhorse Studios has forged an ambitious medieval title that reportedly spans hundreds of hours. I haven’t had hundreds of hours to play Kingdom Come: Deliverance, but I can tell you these 10 things to expect from it after playing the opening hours.
It’s slow to start
I’m talking really slow to start. Hell, it takes at least an hour before the opening credits roll. Initially, there’s a lot of talking, and while you can skip it if you like, it’s clear Warhorse Studios has put a lot of time into researching the area, and it shows. Sometimes this is to the detriment of pace, but if you love history—and, specifically, the Holy Roman Empire era—you’ll get a lot out of it. The persistent player will be rewarded once the game eventually opens up, but that does require diligence to the main path initially. Beyond the opening titles, you’ll feel compelled to stick to the main quest for a bit, but you can start to branch off and do your own thing once you have a mount.
You really should be good… at first
Your average trader won’t accept stolen goods, so it’s worth ignoring those light-fingered urges early on. You’ll lose a bunch of your stuff pretty early in the campaign, so it’s not worth getting attached to much, and you’re better off main-pathing it until branching away from the campaign feels more organic. There was one bit early on when I stole something to advance the main quest, but I’m confident there’s another way around it (I was too impatient to discover it). After you get off the initial main-quest stuff, then you can engage light-finger mode.
Play with a controller and keyboard/mouse
Kingdom Come: Deliverance has inspired me to use my Steam Link again, which is great. It plays really well on controller, for the most part. Interacting with the world, using the map, inventory management, and combat all feel great on a controller. What feels infinitely less great is the lockpicking, which can even feel finicky with a mouse (even if it’s a whole lot easier compared to using joysticks). Archery, too, is a mad pain in the arse when starting out with a terrible bow and fighting against your character’s fledgling aim. I jump between controller and keyboard/mouse, even when I’m playing on my desktop, and it doesn’t have any issues with that. Visit the controls or tutorial pages to familiarise yourself with the different control methodologies.
It’s kinda janky
And that includes after downloading the 20GB day-one patch. Make no mistake: this is a very impressive title, given the fact it’s built by an indie team. That said, the ambition of Kingdom Come: Deliverance is curbed by its jankiness. Getting up stairs is sometimes a problem (pro tip: crouch to make it easier). Sticky corners and objects abound. Pop-in is noticeable even on the highest-fidelity settings and draw distances. Early in the game, I was teleported across the map to a cutscene that a peer of mine said they had to walk all the way to. It also doesn’t appear to be properly optimised, even with the latest Nvidia drivers, meaning frame rates consistently tank on my 1080Ti when I’m in towns, or even in certain houses at night.
The combat gets better
At first, the combat feels clunky. It’s kind of like an expansion of what Ubisoft Montreal did with For Honor, albeit without the required directional aiming for blocking. Still, it feels more For Honor than Chivalry, and the pace is quite slow (at first: things speed up when you fight people who know how to string swipes together). The biggest problem initially is judging depth, given the fixed first-person perspective, but once you get your head around this, fighting becomes quite satisfying (particularly when there are multiple foes).
Forget about save-scumming
I’m probably one of the worst save-scumbags out there (even if I rarely roll back to a previous safe; I just like the security of knowing they’re there), so the way Kingdom Come: Deliverance handles saves is positively nerve-wracking. Saving happens automatically at critical (read: developer-determined) points during quests, (supposedly) after sleeping (it didn’t work all the time for me), and when you drink a special (and limited) concoction. At its best, the save mechanic adds to the tension of the game. At its worst, you can literally lose an hour of progress, which is made all the more painful when you might have to reload because of a bug.
The world goes on
Hit ‘escape’ or ‘start’ to properly pause the game. Everything else doesn’t stop time from moving in the world. You really don’t want to learn this the hard way. This also applies to fast-travelling, which doesn’t magically teleport you to where you want to go: time plays out, and there’s a chance you can be ambushed along the way.
Respect it as a survival game
At its core, yes, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is an RPG. But there’s a liberal splashing of survival game in here, too. You need to sleep and eat, for starters. You can also overeat, and food doesn’t last forever in your inventory. Combat leads to bleeding or damage to specific parts of your body that has to be attended to. On top of this, armour deteriorates, not just in terms of its defence value, but also in terms of appearance: another element that has to be managed when interacting with certain people.
Your horse can carry stuff
Even if it looks like it doesn’t have saddlebags (mine didn’t), you can use your horse to cart stuff around. This is particularly handy for players (like me) who can’t resist looting absolutely everything they find. Even if you’re not into thievery—I’m trying to be good at the moment—there’s still a tonne of stuff to collect in Kingdom Come: Deliverance. Walk up to your horse, enter your inventory, and hit the key/button to transfer items to your steed (the key/button will be listed at the bottom of the inventory).
Dive into perks
Early on, there are quite a few static tutorials that are designed to help you get your head around the basics of the game. I don’t recall seeing one for the perks system and, honestly, had to have it pointed out to me by a peer (the same one who told me about the horse tip; thanks, Joab!). Bring up your inventory, and tab over to the Player screen (or just hit ‘P’ to head straight to it). Here you’ll find expandable categories under the Stats, Combat, and Skills tabs. The star indicates ‘Perkpoints’, and you need to hit certain levels in each category to unlock higher-level abilities. It’s worth sorting through them. Like Skyrim, you level-up each category just by using those abilities.