Spiders, the developers behind GreedFall, have slowly but surely been cementing their mark in the AA RPG space. Their previous titles, such as Bound by Flame and The Technomancer, have demonstrated the studio’s potential, albeit marred by nagging frustrations. With GreedFall, what we see is the studio’s finest work yet. A studio the size of around 40 full-time employees, GreedFall is a testament to what a small team can do. Compared to recent BioWare RPGs that had hundreds of developers work on them, GreedFall truly is a great accomplishment that Spiders can be proud of.
GreedFall is set in a 17th century-styled Europe where the Old World is dying. There is a plague (Malichor) with no cure ravaging the known world. There is hope, however, a remote island with promises of safety and a fresh start. Teer Fradee, the unexplored haven, is your destination; you are at the forefront of the expedition to this new land. After a heartfelt goodbye to your mother, the game introduces you to the various political factions before you embark on your adventure. Like in the BioWare games, political motivations have a significant role to play in GreedFall.
Dialogue and path choices heavily influence your relationships with various significant figures and factions. There are multiple and often conflicting agendas present that force you to make impactful choices. For instance, your choices can earn you favour with one faction whilst simultaneously harming your relationship with another. This is enhanced further by the dialogue skills you can upgrade. This often means there are multiple ways to approach a mission as you choose between a diplomatic, heavy-handed or a stealthy approach. This freedom to approach missions how you like truly is a welcome feature.
When you start out in GreedFall, you select a class (of sorts). These character archetypes include warrior, technical and magic classes. The warrior class specialises in close-quarters melee combat. Warriors in GreedFall have access to their choice of two-handed heavy weapons and one-handed blades. The warrior class focuses on the craftsmanship and vigor attributes. Craftsmanship will allow you to craft pieces of armour and weapons, whilst vigor will enhance your balance and health.
Next, the technical archetype focuses on controlling your enemies and the battle. Designed to control enemy movement and attacks, the technical class provides one-handed and dual-wielded swords. Further, the ability to lay traps adds an extra level of strategy to your fights. The technical class specialises in science and lockpicking attributes. Lastly, the magic class is straightforward and allows the manipulation of magic to allow you to engage enemies from a distance. The magic class focuses on science and intuition as attributes.
Though these archetypes do exist to lay the groundwork, GreedFall does, in fact, feature a very deep and open skill system that permits you to be fluid in how you build your character. This means you are not restricted by what class you pick, it merely serves as a blueprint that you can choose to follow or not to follow. Progression in GreedFall is akin to branches on a tree. Skill points are rewarded following XP progression, which can then be spent in various branches that grant various bonuses.
This freedom is very welcome indeed and allows you to customise your character to your playstyle. As aforementioned, GreedFall allows you to choose a hands-on, diplomatic, or stealthy approach to most missions. Thus, you can tailor your skills and attributes towards your primary playstyle. For instance, a stealthy player can allocate their skill points into detection and lockpicking skills. Alternatively, a diplomatic player that likes to get involved in the political side of things can improve their dialogue to unlock new options.
Personally, I tailored my character towards being a diplomat as there are a lot of interesting interactions between the various factions. There are a total of six factions in GreedFall:
- The Congregation of Merchants: This faction is a trading nation ruled by prince merchants. They use their vast riches to gather power and increase their influence.
- The Bridge Alliance: Scientists seeking to learn more about the world and those around them, this nation believes in science above all else and that knowledge is power.
- The Coin Guard: The main guild of mercenaries on the old continent. The Coin Guard is made up of military companies, bodyguards, paid assassins, and combat instructors.
- Thélème: A nation of magic users who represent both religious and political power. Their mission is to preach their holy word and convert the Native Islanders to their religion.
- The Nauts: The crew of navigators that can cross the high sea. They’re main work is helping other factions to cross the sea.
- Islanders/Natives: They are native to the island of Teer Fradee. They are not a united faction, but all of them live as one closely with nature, which they consider sacred. Some of them seem to have an even deeper, physical link to their environment, able to use elemental magic or to call for creatures. There is a close similarity between the natives and the Na’vi in the film Avatar.
My playstyle of a diplomat meant that actual combat was a last resort. I also secondarily built towards stealthy skills so I could approach missions stealthily and, thus, reduce the damage to my reputation with the factions. I favoured this approach even more because, frankly, the combat is not as well refined as I would’ve liked in GreedFall. The variety of styles and weapons makes combat fun, but it can feel clanky sometimes, and honestly, I preferred the political manoeuvring compared to combat, so I’m glad GreedFall catered to my desired playstyle.
Graphically, GreedFall is an impressive looking RPG. Textures are of a high quality, and the aesthetic is perfectly suited for the 17th century Europe setting. From the design of the armour and weapons to the buildings, taverns and embassies, the game feels very alive and populated. The minor bugbear issue, however, is the repetition of interiors. Many building interiors look almost exactly alike due to texture and design repetition, a necessary method, I’m sure, due to the small size of the development studio. The game also runs very well on a base PlayStation 4.
Ultimately, GreedFall is a callback to the BioWare games of old. The political manoeuvring between the various factions all with conflicting objectives, as well as the multi-styled freedom to approach missions in your own playstyle, makes for a very fun and engaging adventure. My 30+ hours in GreedFall have been spent balancing my reputation with the various factions whilst stealthily orchestrating moves behind the scenes. Now that I’m finished, I am looking forward to jumping back in and trying out a new, more direct playstyle in my second playthrough.
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: 10th September 2019
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