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Author Topic: My Expeditions: Conquistador impressions  (Read 20440 times)
Vince
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« on: February 12, 2013, 03:18:42 PM »

Remember Expeditions: Conquistador?  A Kickstarted "tactical roleplaying game with a touch of strategic resource management and a pinch of choose-your-own-adventure"?

http://logicartists.com/
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2128128298/expeditions-conquistador

I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a press build, courtesy of Logic Artists, so I'm going to play it and post my impressions as I go, which I think is the best way to introduce new games and explain various concepts.

Without further ado:



We start the game by creating the main character and assigning some points. I don't know how important these stats are, so let's make a very diplomatic leader whose idea of tactics is yelling "Chaaaarge!" and who might not survive the hard journey that undoubtedly lies ahead.



Open-minded and greedy? Sign right up!

The next step is to put together a 'cultural exchange' crew. Our options are:

- soldiers - slow melee fighters, aim penalty with ranged, bonus to tactics
- scouts - fast melee fighters, can't use ranged at all for some reasons, bonus to scouting
- hunters - ranged specialists, weak at melee, bonus to survival
- doctors - support troops, bonus to healing
- scholars - support troops, bonus to diplomacy



I picked 4 soldiers, 2 scouts, 2 hunters, 1 doctor, and 1 scholar. Each character has three different personality traits, like Aggressive, Open-minded, Greedy, Cautious, Proud, Altruistic, Courageous, etc. The list is impressive, let's hope they do have a noticeable effect on gameplay.

As you can see, my crew has adjusted my stats and hiring 4 soldiers has turned me into a tactical genius. We're ready to set sails and bring much needed multiculturalism to Americas!





We safely arrive to the land of gold and opportunities and discover that my good name isn't as good as it was back home.







The dialogue system is nicely done. It shows your resources, different options, and what's been said previously. Most options appear to be aimed at role-playing a personality and sometimes you're forced to go along no matter what you say, but the different outcomes are there as well. For example, if you leave one of party members behind to guard your cargo (the game's resources), it will be safe and sound. If you don't, you'll lose some to thieves. Very text-adventurish.

Speaking of the resources, you have:

- Valuables - generic treasure you'll be using to buy things and bribe officials.
- Medicine to heal wounded (more on that later)
- Rations to eat every day to keep morale steady (hungry men start getting all kinda ideas)
- Equipment (upgrades weapon and armor of your troop whatever that means)

Now, let's explore the first settlement and pay our respect to the governor (we can't leave until we do, anyway)







As you can see, the dialogues are well written and draw you in easily. After playing for two days, I think it's one of the strongest aspects of the game. Our next step is a mock battle to test my aforementioned tactical genius and to introduce the combat system via pop-up tutorials, which are very well done and very informative.




^ Flanking attack!



Thoughts on the combat system:

- the attention to detail is superb and I don't mean just the graphics.
- the system itself works very well, although it would have benefited greatly from different attacks and borrowing a few pages from Jagged Alliance.
- it does appear to be a bit on the easy side (but what's easy for me may not be easy for someone else)
- the wound system is a bit counter-intuitive:

Two of my men were wounded in the tutorial fight but were auto healed after the battle (see the screen). In another, much harder battle, three men were out cold (party members don't die, at least not yet), two more were gravely wounded, yet after the fight all but one were auto-healed (no injuries), which sort of goes against the idea of having doctors and medical resources. I did have to assign a doctor and resources to the wounded, but overall, it feels almost random (and makes combat and survival much easier).


^ Some romance


^ Party members' management. I like this a lot.


^ The journal.

To be continued. If you have question, ask.




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Nick
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« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2013, 04:09:17 PM »

Mmm, definitely looks like my cup of tea. Let's see how this "let's play" develops, of course, but so far I have a feeling I should pick this one up when it's out.
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Nova
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« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2013, 05:45:39 PM »

The wound system works in the way that, the longer a unit has been down, the bigger the risk of an injury carrying over to the exploration part. The type of injury is based on the attack that incapacitates them.

Very interesting read so far, looking forward to the rest Smile
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Vince
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« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2013, 06:39:53 PM »

May I ask why you decided against letting the player heal all wounds? Just curious.
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suibhne
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« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2013, 07:49:53 PM »

Looks gorgeous. Eager to see more gameplay.
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OldSkoolKamikaze
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« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2013, 10:30:56 PM »

I'm a backer so I've been able to play the second, updated beta. My favorite stuff is the camping screen and the random events that can popup during camping. Are halberds implemented in the press build? I was curious how those would play out.
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Nova
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« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2013, 03:17:41 AM »

The player CAN heal all wounds (Through the treatment tab in the camp management). If you let them untreated there's a chance they get worse, or die (When they've reached fatal). Or did you mean in combat?

All the weapons are in the pressbuild.
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Vince
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« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2013, 07:12:25 AM »

I meant, why did you decide to auto-heal most party members instead of dumping this responsibility on the player? My only guess is that the game would have been a lot more difficult if the player had too many wounded men in his party.
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Nova
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« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2013, 07:45:32 AM »

They're not auto-healed, they're just lucky enough to not sustain an injury. If injuries were certain after being downed once, it would make the game nearly impossible very quickly because of the way it's designed (Your start with 10 followers, 6 vs 6 combat, can't bring injured people into a fight).

I guess we could have done it in a way where you could bring injured people into fights and have to account for their injuries and so on, but it would have been a very different game, and it's not really the game we wanted to make. The way it works now, you hopefully feel relieved when the guy that's been down for 4 rounds escapes with only a harmless injury and you feel devastated when one of your promoted men gets a critical or fatal injury (Especially if you're low on medicine). We feel the bit of uncertainty adds to the gameplay and helps build suspense.

Hope that made sense.
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Vince
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« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2013, 11:44:06 AM »

Thanks for the answer.

... meanwhile in the New World....





So, we leave the safety of the starting town and travel to the temple, using the map and the compass (top right corner). The landscape is littered with points of interest - ruins, herbs, roaming boars, chests with goodies, and such, reminding me of Storms of Zehir. Unfortunately, it doesn't have any marauding bands (at least so far) or any combat encounters, which I think is the biggest missed opportunity of the game, as it makes exploring a bit uneventful.

How far you can travel until you have to camp depends on your scouting skill (I assume). When the counter reaches zero, you have to break camp and rest for the night.



As usual, the screen is very detailed and tells you all you need to know to make an informative decision. I absolutely love the level of complexity there (brings back memories of older games) and how the info is presented. Many developers can learn a thing or two from these guys.

My only complaint so far is that they shouldn't be afraid to make games harder.

So, you have a list of tasks (guarding, patrolling, hunting, herbalism (converting found herbs into medicine), and preserving (converting meat into rations) and the challenge level of the area. So, if guarding is hard, put more men on it, if not, put the extra men on hunting or patrolling.

Unfortunately, you won't be attacked if your patrolling/guarding efforts fail. Usually, wild animals or thieves will steal some of your food, valuables, medicine, or resources.

On to the ruins...











I like the fire in her eyes. "We could have slaughtered them all! Have I mentioned that slaughtering natives make me extremely wet?"

Anyway, as you can see, we have some tactical choices (when to approach) and the main choice: diplomacy vs warfare. Let's give peace a chance and see what happens. The native leader agrees to leave in the morning, my open-minded followers nod in agreement, where my pious followers are worried that the white Christ won't be too happy that we didn't kill some idolaters. Plus Chiquita Banana won't fuck me now, which is a loss in itself.


500 valuables! I killed people for less. Well, worry not, being a great leader I will appeal to their loyalty.



Oops! Slaves have no honor. Back in the town I was given an option to hire paid servants (which would have cost me) or go with slaves. I assumed that it's a silly and mostly cosmetic question aimed to test my political correctness and went with slaves. Oh well...



Yeah, explain THIS, Carlos!



We've delivered the bibles to another town, which has proven to be a very profitable operation. We're swimming in valuables now. Here is a chance to use diplomacy to knock down some prices.



Some hunting.



My treasure.



I found a small settlement in need of some valuables. I can trade valuables for some much needed rations (only 6 left, which is good for one night).



Promotions and upgrades. You have one pool of experience and equipment points. Say you fought a battle and earned a 100 points. You can use the point to promote a single character to the next level, which gives you 3 skill points, an option to pick a feat-like ability, and it unlocks a new weapon type to upgrade to.

For example, as you can see on the screen, the swordsman progression is cutlass, longsword, broadsword. You can put 3 points into cutlass and increase damage by 3 points (from 41 to 44), but you can't upgrade further until you level up the character, which unlocks the longsword. Then you can invest 4 points and increase the damage to 48.

So far so good. To be continued...
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Imbecile
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« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2013, 12:00:09 PM »

This does look pretty good. Colour me interested
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Palmer Eldritch
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« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2013, 06:58:07 AM »

I've been following the news on this game for a while. I'm now convinced that it would be worth purchasing. Thanks for the "let's play", Vince. Looking forward to the next chapter.
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Vince
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« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2013, 12:07:28 PM »

Part 3: Combat and observations

After dealing with the indians at the temple ruins and delivering bibles, I decided to explore instead of returning to the starting town to report that the mission was accomplished successfully. So, I explored the land for 20 min and made the following discoveries:

- the land is ripe with wild boars, which means that it's very hard to run out of food.
- the land is kinda empty and chasing boars and looking for chests are kinda boring. It's the weakest aspect of the game. The chests don't offer enough to justify the running around and the risk of losing some supplies during camping. The boars merely replenish the food supplies. Visiting a certain number of observation points complete exploration quests and give you some xp, but it's very basic and a lot more can and should be done with this gameplay element.
- the game has a robust Realms of Arkania-like camping system, but not the danger and hardships of Realms of Arkania traveling system, which makes the complex camping system a bit redundant. The way it works now, it's literally a walk in a park, which does take away from the atmosphere.

I stumbled upon a mine that was supposed to have a hard combat encounter, but the battle can only be triggered by receiving the associated quest first, so I had to go all the way back and do thing properly.






^ I can make torches and barricades now!

Now, back to the mine:





Once again, I had different options there. An option to ambush them would upset the aggressive and courageous guys. An option to attack would upset the peaceniks and so on.

I spent all my upgrade points before the battle, being pleasantly surprised that the upgrades had visual representations and you could see which troops had upgraded equipment, which makes it easier to use them in the heat of a battle.





The first attempt caught me off guard. I didn't expect the enemy's troops to do so well. The fuckers swarmed me, quickly and efficiently taking out party member (one every turn) and using poison and stun. As you can see, even though I've lost the battle, the game could continue.

Attempt #2:






^ look at the 4-man rape squad to the right, surrounding a spot where one of my valiant conquistador stood his last ground.


^ And then there was one...


^ Ouch.

Attempt #3: And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance!


^ Hold the line!


^ The bastard circled the rocks and took out our doctor. We are on our own now.


Victory is ours! Almost... Three against two, they don't stand a chance.


Two against one, they don't stand a chance! I hope...


Sheee-it. How did three against two became one on one? No matter, he's almost dead anyway. I shoot and miss, he shoots twice and hits (but of course), if I miss now, he'll drop my ass dead next turn. Fortunately, I don't miss.


Victory!


I offer Esteban two choices, but the ungrateful swine makes a daring escape instead, to live to fight another day.


Our first moral dilemma. I have three dying men/women and one doctor. Didn't think I'd need more when I started the game. So I picked one, hoping for the best, and the other two died during the night, making this a tragic tale.

Thumbs up for the challenging combat!

And in conclusion:

It's a good game. Backers won't be disappointed, people who were skeptical or cautious will be pleasantly surprised. If you like games with a lot of details and complexity, well written text adventures and dialogues, and challenging combat, give it a try or buy it outright to support the effort.

My only criticism is the traveling (everything else is either good or very good), but take it with a grain of salt. We used teleporting in our game because we consider running from A to B to trigger a quest a bit pointless, but I'm well aware that not everyone shares my point of view.

I'd like to thank Logic Artists for letting us play their game and wish them all the best.
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Nova
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« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2013, 12:27:36 PM »

Thank you, for a very nice Let's Play! I agree that the travelling in that build was weak, but fortunately that's one of the things we've improved a lot since! Both in terms of level design but also difficulty.
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Vince
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« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2013, 12:34:47 PM »

Salute
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