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Expeditions: Conquistador – Preview

Marie-Anne Soetje August 28, 2012 Editorial, Gaming, Indie, Opinion, Previews, Videos Comments

Expeditions: Conquistador 

or How women were totally the best soldiers ever!

There was a time in videogame history when players were not coddled. They were not hugged and no one held their hands while they attempted to take their first fledgling steps across level 1.
No. That shit was hard!

The first computer gamers (let’s ignore pinball and coin machines like Pong) were mostly made by geeky kids with geeky brains who tried to make the geekiest game for their geeky friends to play. Most of that is gone today, games are played by everyone. Literally, I don’t think there is  single age or gender group that is not catered for since the breakthrough of social and mobile games.

Although it’s great that geeks don’t have to hide their faces and be accused of being childish when playing games anymore, a lot of us miss the old bend over backwards difficulty levels. You miss those story driven RPGs which required you to make decisions with no save point so that when you later realized you should have chosen A instead of B, there was no way back. You were screwed, you cursed, and maybe you started a new game if you had OCD.

Well, if you want to have the awesome feeling of not being treated like a five year old by game designers once more,  Logic Artist’s Expeditions Conquistador might be your game.Heavily story based, but with awesome tactical combat to back it up, Conquistador puts the control back in your hands.

You start out as a Captain for a Spanish exploration crew which just arrived in the New World. Talk about a universe of possibility for a premise. I mean, even before you play the game, with this basic idea you imagine freedom and ability to do anything you want!

Conquistador doesn’t disappoint either. Similar to a choose your own adventure game, each conversation with relevant NPCs gives you an interesting series of answers, each of which might prompt a different response from the interlocutor. You build up relationships, whether in good or bad, from the beginning.

I won’t go in too much details, because the fun part of this game and it’s dialogue system is the suspense. Playing it through the first time, you’re bound to oversee a few things, or answer without thinking of the consequences. And it might not go as well as you thought, but that’s the fun part!

As for the combat, it’s my type: avoidable if wanting to play a diplomatic character, and very bloody if playing a ruthless one. What more can you ask? You get to chose members of your expedition, each of which with special abilities, but also wants and needs! Take care of the personalities and background of the men and women you pick, as they will have very real consequences as the story unfolds.

Now onto one of the topic I hold dear: women in video games. So we’ve already mentioned the time and place of this story, 1520 Spanish, religious of course and New World. So far so accurate. But is historical accuracy a winner in games? Well, I don’t think so.

The nice thing, the small twist, of Conquistador, is that women being soldiers seems to be perfectly normal in the game. And I like that. Is it proper and historical? Hell no. But I enjoy not having to go through the same stuff over and over again in my story driven medieval/renaissance games (I’m looking at YOU Mount & Blade). So this time, if you chose to be a woman – it’s all good. Don’t get me wrong, there are dialogue options you can chose about women being fighters and is it proper and all, but you can skip it if you just don’t care!

It’s cool too that they didn’t just ignore the gender difference, so that there are different dialogue options if you are male or female. That gives a nice individuality touch and makes you more interested in creating a new game from a new point of view.

The world map exploration is nicely done as well, with the threat of hunger and disease lurking over you night and day, you are rewarded for having a daring spirit. Food and medicine can be found in the dangerous jungles of South America, if one looks closely enough.

All in all, Conquistador is a solid game which delivers exactly what it promised. Wonderful dialogue, great story and most importantly: liberty of choice.

 

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jonas Waever the Creative Director of Logic Artists at Gamescom and ask him a few questions.

XP4T: Expedition Conquistador takes place in Hispanola. Is this only a first campaign of many? How vast is the story in this first story arch? Does it have a “proper” ending as it stands?

Jonas: Hispaniola is designed to be an intro campaign – as such it’s a bit more linear and significantly shorter than the “real” campaign we’ve planned, which takes you to the territory of the Aztec empire. We’d also love to make a campaign set in the Incan empire, but we’re focusing on the Aztec first. It should take you about 5 hours to play through Hispaniola, and by comparison our aim for the Aztec campaign is 20 hours. The main questline of the Hispaniola campaign is finished up to the point where you’re ready to leave the island, but at present you can’t actually leave since there is no Aztec campaign to travel to.

XP4T: How deep will the player’s choices influence the NPCs around the world and the story events?

The player’s choices will influence the game to a huge degree. Entire communities will turn on you or rally to support you, people will live, die, or join your enemies to fight you depending on your decisions. We have loads of systems in place behind the scenes to remember your choices and to remember what happened to whom, and your major decisions will even be able to change things on the world map. The sort of choice-and-consequence you may have seen in Hispaniola is only the tip of the iceberg. In the Aztec campaign, we’ll have many more NPCs that you can recruit into your expedition, we’ll have a whole faction system to keep track of your  interactions with the natives, and we’ll have a lot more optional content like side quests and exploration events.

XP4T: How does combat progress in terms of tactical choices and difficulty level? What difference will players notice between a “level 1″ battle vs an end game battle?

Jonas: The major difference is in the progression of your characters – you can improve a character’s stats by giving them equipment (either Melee, Ranged, or Armour), which will show on their character model in a battle. Moreover, you gain experience points throughout the game which can be used to promote characters. Promotions also improve a character’s stats, but the real difference is that they unlock new abilities that your troops can use in a fight, and those abilities can really change the way you use a certain character. Of course the enemies can get more powerful as well, and as the main storyline progresses you’ll not simply find yourself fighting larger groups of enemies, you’ll also find yourself in more difficult tactical situations facing off against tougher and better equipped foes. It may be worth noting that we have no dynamic difficulty scaling system, so the random or incidental fights you’ll stumble upon during your exploration will be as easy or as difficult as it makes sense for them to be.

XP4T: Are there any multiplayer plans for the future of Conquistador?

Jonas: Multiplayer isn’t a part of our Kickstarter plans, but we’re exploring our other funding options, hoping to add a hot seat and TCP/IP skirmish mode after the release of the Aztec campaign. We’re picturing something where you unlock multiplayer battles as you progress through the singleplayer campaign, and then you can load those up with a friend. Each of you will select your combat party, the host decides how much XP and how much equipment each player gets, and then you fight. I can’t promise anything yet though!

XP4T: The dialogue and story are pretty intricate, did you have a dedicated writer or did the whole team work together on it?

Jonas: So far I’m writing everything myself. I’ve done a lot of work with interactive narrative in games before (both the writing and the scripting), so I’ve got the routine to write a lot of this kind of stuff fairly quickly with a minimum of glitches and bugs. It also helps that we have a really good dialogue editor designed specifically for this game. The whole main storyline in Hispaniola was written in about two weeks. On our last project, our other designer (technically he’s the “Graphic designer” but like me he’s kind of a jack of all trades) Daniel aka. Novaesky has helped out with the writing as well, and I imagine once we kick it into gear with the Aztec campaign, he’ll lend a hand again.

Look for it as a digital download January 2013!

Help Logic Artist and donate to their kickstarter project here! Every penny counts!

Additional information
Main site: http://logicartists.com/

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Full time mother and gaming industry professional on a high speed race to hopefully somewhere