It's rare for games to never hold your hand throughout your time with them. Most flood you with hints about how to succeed, and almost all of them give you a detailed step-by-step guide to everything at the beginning of the game. However, this is not the case with Kingdom Come: Deliverance.
Aside from a very brief prologue that nudges you in the right direction about things, Kingdom Come lets you figure things out on your own. While that makes the game more difficult, it also makes it a much more interactive and immersive experience. Pair that with the realistic mechanics, and I believe Warhorse Studios struck gold with the formula. Here's why future role-playing games (RPGs) should follow in the company's footsteps.
Figuring it out yourself
When games make things easy by constantly showing the player what to do and how, it tends to feel boring and unsatisfying. You never feel like you're learning anything as you level up. Tather you're just gaining more health or stamina. This typically makes the progression system feel lackluster and can make the gameplay repetitive.
However, Kingdom Come gives you only a general idea of what to do. The rest is up to you to figure out, and that makes it feel all the more satisfying when you get the hang of things. Instead of feeling like a linear checklist of things to cross off, it ends up becoming more of an open and free experience. You can get used to everything at your own pace, and you're able to learn from your mistakes, not the hint screen.
Realism goes a long way
Mechanics are more engaging when you have to figure them out yourself, but making them realistic further adds to the experience's depth because it makes things more punishing and rewarding. For example, in Skyrim, every character can fight in the same way; the only differences are in the statistics like health or damage. However, in Kingdom Come, having poor skills in sword fighting makes your character clumsy and awkward in battle.
In Skyrim, this often doesn't impede your chances at success because you fight the same way an enemy does. But in Kingdom Come, having a low skill means that you'll be outclassed in every way by someone better at that skill then you, with things like speed and steadiness of the blade included. This punishes you for trying to take on stronger opponents, and that's a good thing. If this isn't present, then the fact the enemy is better then you is redundant.
This may sound too punishing to the player, but I see it as an incentive for you to learn those skills and master them. This is where the realistic type mechanics begin to feel more rewarding. When you train hard, improve your abilities, and come back to the same scenario described above, you will be the one kicking ass, because you put in the time to learn how to do so and learned how to manipulate the sword in combat. If this was Skyrim, you would simply just do more damage per hit.
Realism also makes everything more immersive. The more real the in-game world feels and operates, the more you actually feel like you're in it. It makes it easier to put yourself into your character's shoes.
Do you think Kingdom Come: Deliverance's design style should be seen in future RPGs? Let us know.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is available now on Xbox One for $59.99.
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