From the first time I saw a Greedfall trailer I knew I was going to be hooked. What’s not to like? It’s got a very Witcher 3/Dragon Age vibe but set in a colonial backdrop, reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed III. If this hasn’t already peaked your interest, then you’ll be happy to know that I enjoyed the vast majority of my time with Greedfall, even after about 30 hours worth. French studio, Spiders, last known for Technomancer, have finally brought a release that not only stands up alongside others in the genre, but stands out as well. Yes, it’s flawed, but I couldn’t put it down until the credits (eventually) rolled and came away incredibly impressed by its beauty, mechanics and depth of lore.
There’s a horrible disease spreading called the Malichor, seemingly unstoppable and killing nearly everyone it infects. With no known cure, De Sardet and their cousin set out for a mysterious and relatively unknown island, Teer Fradee, in search for said cure. Having a noble background, you’ll start an investigation into the Malichor, what’s causing it, and more importantly, how to stop it. Doing so will not be a simple task though, as you’ll need to navigate not only dangerous lands with wild beasts and enemies, but have to handle the political sides of a civil war between settlers and natives.
With a 17th century European backdrop, the world is completely believable, looks the part and is surprisingly gorgeous to take in its vistas. The towns and cities are bustling and look aged, and the woodlands have some great backdrops full of foliage and pathways that house secrets. Your dear cousin is taking the new role of Governor on Teer Fradee, so naturally you’ll be given special access to areas and leading the expedition to find a cure. As the Ambassador, you’ll have no navigate very delicate situations when it comes to politics and warring tribes, as well as beasts trying to eat you.
I don’t want to give much more away about the narrative, but I will say that it’s wonderfully written and keeps you hooked until near the very end. My only real complaint is that it feels very padded near the last act or so, as I was forced to help many people to progress, but to help them I needed to prove my worth by helping other people, and so on. When I thought I was at the end initially, I still had a few more hours to go before the credits rolled. Some may see that as great value, but it definitely felt like it overstayed its welcome just a little too long. That being said, the writing was fantastic, the story compelling and the voice acting top notch.
If I had to choose a single game to best compare Greedfall to, it would be most likely Dragon Age. You’re on foot exploring a vast island with magical properties. You’ll upgrade your weapons and armor, have companions of your choosing at your side and be hooked on a deeply lore rich narrative for at least a few dozen hours. You’ll first begin by choosing your male or female character then customizing their appearance; choose wisely, as you’ll be seeing this face for a very long time with hours of cutscenes and dialogue.
From there, you’ll choose a starting ‘class’ per-se, setting you on a guided pathway of skills and abilities, but you’re by no means locked into that specific playstyle, as you’ll be able to earn many skill points and abilities to completely customize your character to play however you wish. I chose the typical melee warrior build, but by the end of my journey I was able to heal my party, set traps, explode bombs and use the highest tier guns as well. Your initial choices are just a starting point, but you are able to reset all of your points and abilities should you wish later on. There are a ton of different skills and abilities, allowing for very unique gameplay and custom builds, so it’s a matter of experimenting and finding what works best for you.
As your adventure progresses, you’ll meet new companions that will aid you in your journey for their own reasons. You’ll be able to take two alongside you at all times, and they are also categorized into specific classes. Since I was a melee archetype, I chose to have the healer and the ranged damage dealer alongside me, but there are other choices as well that can mesh quite well together. When you outgrow your gear and find better pieces, you’re also able to give them to your companions, like a hand-me-down to a younger sibling. Any weapons or armor that isn’t going to be used can either be sold or deconstructed for materials, which in turn will be used to improve your gear, but more on that shortly.
As you explore towns and countryside, you’ll unlock camps and villages which can in turn be used as fast travel points. While Greedfall is made up of a bunch of areas, you’re able to freely fast travel to any point you’ve been to at any camp or zone boundary. This will save you an immense amount of time, as Teer Fradee is deceptively large. Sometimes it can be a little tricky to find a correct path when having to search for something or someone up or downstairs, but you’ll need to refer to the map quite often as there’s no glowing breadcrumb trail, just an icon on your HUD pointing you in the correct general direction.
Having to navigate a political landscape was an aspect I didn’t expect to be as deep as it was. There’s so much lore and history with all of the races and factions, making navigating certain talks and deals quite tricky at times. In general, the settlers and natives are always blaming each other and fighting, so it’s going to take a lot of patience and proof that you can be trusted enough to help them with whatever they want. If you’re dealing with someone that absolutely despises the natives, but have one alongside you as your companion, it’s going to be a much trickier situation to talk your way out of. Since I dumped my skill points into Charisma, there was a ton of conversations that I was able to talk my way out of, or influence them how I wanted, to get the outcome I wanted, though brute force is an option as well.
Saying that there is a healthy amount of quests is an understatement. Not even including the main quest storyline, there’s so much side quest content that could easily keep you busy for many hours. While it may not be on par with the likes of a Witcher 3 in terms of content and depth, it’s still a staggering amount to take in if you’re a completionist. Even better, quests can sometimes be completed in different ways, depending on your skills and choices.
For example, when confronted with a looming battle, do you go head first into war, or sneak around finding dirt on your opponent and blackmail them to stand down? Maybe to gain someone’s trust you’ll need to prove that you hurt another faction. Do you do that or lie, hoping there are no repercussions? Because I had max lock picking skill, I was able to bypass a lot of extra searching guards and rooms for keys, saving a lot of time. There are many situations where you’ll need to decide between stealth, diplomacy or combat, and there’s no wrong choice, just yours. Keep in mind that many of these choices do ultimately matter, as you do have a rating of how the factions like you, which will affect outcomes and options further in your adventure.
Combat feels great and responsive, and with a vast skill tree, you can customize to any playstyle you wish. Able to wield two weapons, I opted for a quick one handed sword and a secondary two hander that cuts down shields and armor. Eventually I was able to pepper in gunfire, magic and traps as well, with my companions keeping my health topped off and damaging from afar. If the real-time combat becomes too overwhelming, there’s also a tactical pause that allows you to figure out your next move and queue up an ability. While I opted to hotkey these to my D-pad, there were certainly times where the tactical pause came in handy against the bigger bosses.
Combat and quests is how you’ll earn experience and level up, allowing you to put more points into the skill tree and unlock new perks and abilities. If you decide to spend points into crafting, you’ll be able to upgrade your gear that has open slots. This allows you to further customize your gear and add a multitude of stats to your gear, but it also physically changes its visual look as well. When I added a rare purple handle to my sword, it had a different look for that specific spot. The same goes for armor, as adding plate additions actually made the armor look slightly different. The crafting may not be the deepest system out there, but it sure was fun and enjoyable to upgrade my gear beyond its basic stats when I started getting high end purple and gold tier gear.
I have to be completely honest; I don’t know what I was going to expect from Greedfall before starting it, as it’s from a smaller studio that’s never done anything this vast before aside from Technomancer. Playing on an Xbox One X, I can safely say that Greedfall looks absolutely stunning at times. The world is created beautifully, be it a city or woodland, lighting is great and monster design top notch as well. Yes, there were bugs and glitches like framerate drops and screen tearing here and there, but nothing that really drops you from the immersion for too long. Main characters look great and have a ton of detail, though secondary NPC’s seem to either simply stand around or wander aimlessly.
The soundtrack is just as good, as it fits the atmosphere and backdrop of the dark and gloomy world of Teer Fradee. As you near enemies or have to be careful, the music changes to indicate danger, swords clang and magic sounds powerful. The voice over work across the board was more than impressive and completely believable, so kudos to Spiders for stepping up, as poor voice acting in a 30+ hour game would have been utterly disappointing.
Having spent nearly 30 hours in Greedfall, I’m glad to have experienced it. The narrative is deep, rich of lore, complex and has many twists and turns; it’s just a shame it feels a little too long by the end with some superficial padding of forced side quests. If you’re a fan of Dragon Age or Witcher 3 and have been craving a new RPG to sink some hours into with some depth, Greedfall should be at the top of your list. It’s a shame that it released in the busiest holiday window and will be overlooked by all the other AAA games out there, but those who manage find it amongst the crowd and give it a chance should be more than pleasantly surprised.
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