Developed by French studio Spiders, Greedfall is slowly building up to be the sleeper hit of 2019 video games. The official reveal trailer was posted to YouTube back in February 2017, it has since gained about 426,000 views. When it premiered its first E3 trailer back in June 2018, it gained not even double that with just 809,400 views. Most critics praised the game’s Baroque-inspired art style, but many were confused over what the game was trying to accomplish? Was it a promising entry poised to become the next The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, or was it a bug-riddled game trying too hard to live up to more popular competitors? It seemed that the fantasy action RPG wasn’t really on anyone’s radar…until this year’s E3.
Just before E3 2019 kicked off, Greedfall released a new story trailer that has since raked in a whopping 2,550,000 views. Soon everyone from PC Gamer to Kotaku couldn’t stop praising the 17th century-inspired colonial fantasy as serene, the best parts of Dragon Age and The Witcher, and filling the void left by BioWare.
That’s a lot of expectation heaped onto a developer that has nowhere near the same teams or budgets as an industry story-telling giant like Canada-based developer BioWare. But what BioWare and Spiders have in common is a shared love for deep narrative experiences.
This focus on story, as well as Greedfall’s unique setting help set it apart from other RPGs. Greedfall takes place on the island of Teer Fradee: an island paradise inhabited by native elves, recently discovered and colonized by various human factions. It is a fantasy world of magic and monsters, but the human colonists have also brought with them 1600s-style muskets and swordplay. Interestingly enough, that are very few video games set in or based on the 17th century. The closest would be possibly Bloodborne, which even then is more Victorian era London than Age of Exploration. Spiders seems to be blending their own history of French colonialism with more traditional fantasy to create a truly unique open world.
In the recent trailer from Gamescom 2019, Spiders ambitiously promises an ever-changing world whose story changes based on the choices the player makes or even DOESN’T make. Unlike most of the humans coming to Teer Fradee, the player character in Greedfall starts out not as an assassin or a soldier, but as a neutral diplomat with a surprising amount of power and status. Which makes sense, because when the player character arrives at Teer Fradee in the colony of New Serene, their cousin Constantine is the governor. The player character is free to visit every settlement and faction, to meet and interact with the powers that govern each. In fact, the player is encouraged to remain neutral and make allies within every faction, in order to overcome various challenges they will face ahead. Five of the six factions will have a companion character who will journey and fight alongside the player character.
The influences from BioWare are apparent as the player can have a party of up to three companions they have recruited. Who they have in their party will have consequences in not only how their party fares in combat, but also how others react to the player character in dialogue. Each companion has their own quests, and ignoring their needs for too long will result in them leaving the party permanently. Complete a companion’s personal quests and maintain close friendships with them, and the player can even begin a romantic relationship with some companions.
The companion characters for Greedfall (and their respective factions) were revealed to be:
- Aphra is a talented scientist from the Bridge Alliance. She is an expert in rifles and thrown explosives.
- Petrus is a missionary of Thélème (pronounced “Tuh-lay-may”), whose fatherly nature hides his deep-rooted ambitions. A versatile fighter, Petrus’s armor ensures that he can fight just as well from a distance as he can close-range.
- Kurt is the loyal master-of-arms to the player character and a mercenary of the Coin Guard His status as a melee combat master makes him ideal as a frontline fighter.
- Vasco is a secretive captain of the sea-faring Nauts…which is saying a lot considering how the seas ravage the shores of Teer Fradee. He is an extraordinarily agile duelist, though he can also handle a gun if need arises.
- Síora (pronounced “See-or-uh”) is one of the Natives of Teer Fradee. She is fiercely protective of the Natives’ rights, and siding with someone antagonistic to the Natives may force her to angrily interrupt with her elemental magic.
- There does not appear to be a companion character for the Congregation of Merchants, as they are the faction that has hired the player character to come to Teer Fradee in the first place. It is possible that there might be a secret companion allied with the Congregation that has yet to be revealed, or that could be added through post-launch DLC.
Perhaps Spiders really will become “the next BioWare”? Or maybe it will just remain a small developer with the same passion and dedication to story-driven RPGs? Regardless, Greedfall has set itself up as a truly unique entry on the market. And with video game consumers craving something new and exciting – the next big thing – there’s definitely an interest to literally explore unfamiliar shores. Greedfall releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam for PC on September 10, 2019.
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