More screenshots: http://logicartists.com/press/
http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/09 ... quistador/
Although it’s a fairly attractive turn-based tactical game already, the polish is all in the writing. I was genuinely surprised by how much I became invested in the characters and plotlines and it’s not just because the setting is impressively captured and less well-trodden than elven forests and dwarven mines. There’s a willingness to engage with the conflicts of the time and place, particularly the struggle between the strictures of faith and culture, and the freedom of being far from the watching eye of court and crown. This plays out in branching dialogues and missions that allow the player to define their own character as well as that of their followers.
An open-minded doctor might not be particularly happy if you gleefully massacre every native you meet, while a hunter with a belief in the superiority of his race and creed might be annoyed by your lead if you decide that all those who are different aren’t necessarily fit to be slaughtered. That said, the dialogue isn’t heavy-handed and moral choices don’t flash onto the screen. There’s no bar fluctuating between Cortes and ConquistaDora The Explorer. There are loads of well-written characters though and decisions made in conversation and elsewhere that have an impact on the flow of the campaign.
As for the actual combat and exploration, it’s as might be expected. It’s all turn-based, and flanking makes positioning almost as important as preparation. I haven’t played a great deal yet but the simplicity of the early fights is already fading, with new unit types and map layouts forcing tactical rethinks. There isn’t a great deal of variety in troops – essentially they excel in either ranged, melee or healing – but the need to balance movement and attacks provides plenty to think about.
Set in Central America in the early 1500's, Expeditions: Conquistador offers players the opportunity to take the role of a Spanish Captain on an explorative mission of the New World, leading a troop of soldiers and other followers. The heart of the game is the tactical, turn-based, hex-grid combat but exploration and dialogue play key roles in the gameplay. The setting is historical - no magic here - but while the tone is authentic, Logic Artists aren't trying to re-tell a piece of history; players have the opportunity to pursue their own story, changing history in the process.
The game opens with the main character creation where you choose a name, portrait and five stats - Tactics, Healing, Diplomacy, Leadership and Hunting. These are not used in combat directly, but influence elements such as dialogue, the cost of healing, feeding your troops and so on. Next, players select a roster of followers from a selection available. There are 10 "slots" in your troop and you can choose from a range of Doctors, Hunters, Scholars, Scouts and Soldiers.
Each follower has Endurance, Defence, Ranged, Melee and Movement stats plus three traits, such as "Aggressive", "Proud" and "Adventurous". Since these units represent you in battle (the main character leads from off the battle field), these stats are directly used in combat. The combined troop also adds to the leader's stats - Scholars will increase your Diplomacy and Doctors increase Healing, for example. Obviously, part of the gameplay is choosing a play style - do you have more soldiers, or sacrifice outright strength to improve healing and hunting for provisions?
Once your troops have been finalised, the gameplay opens with an overhead view of the map replete with hex-grid and the main character and followers represented by a single mounted soldier. You start in a small port town, with half a dozen buildings. "Events" are represented by an icon hovering over one of the hex grids and you click on hexes to move about or encounter one of the events.
I was broadly reminded of Mount & Blade-meets-King's Bounty. There's an abstracted view of the game world coupled with hex movement and turn-based, "arena" combat.
The first event players encounter is a minor interaction at the docks, but you can immediately glimpse the potential depth of the dialogue system. There are choices, Diplomacy impacts your success and, sometimes, there are other actions; that first encounter sees local officials confiscating your equipment and supplies and one of the actions is to leave a man behind to make sure nothing is stolen. It's a small event but you can see the potential for bigger choice-and-consequence down the track. I also really appreciated the descriptive text; beyond the actual dialogue lines, you often get descriptions of NPCs' demeanour and reactions. It seems well-written and adds considerable flavour.
Exploring the map, you may find treasure and food (your troops need rations every day!) but, of course, combat is one of the main gameplay pillars. Combat encounters take place on separate maps - you are transitioned away from the abstracted overworld map to a detailed local combat map, after selecting the troops to join the battle. One of the first "tutorial" fights is a six-on-six battle that introduces barricades. You can choose where to place these strategically and then the battle begins.
Expeditions combat will feel familiar to any fan of turn-based combat -- but there are some unusual twists (bear in mind this may be different further into the game or in the final version). In each of the battles I played, my troops moved first - I'm unsure if this is always the case, or whether my superior Tactics score gave me an advantage. Unlike many turn-based systems that use a "stack" based on Initiative, I had the choice of using my followers in any order. Selecting a follower shows their movement range in green hexes and you can move, act and move again in any order, until that unit runs out of movement points.
For example, I wanted to use my doctor to heal one of the soldiers, but the area was narrow and a hunter was in the way. I was able to move the hunter, send the doctor over to heal the soldier - but then return to the hunter again to move into a good position behind partial cover to fire his musket. Once you have finished, pressing [space] finishes your turn and the other side gets to engage. Actions include skills (one of the early skills trades ranged accuracy for getting off two shots, for example) but I didn't get to level up enough to speak much of the options available. It's a simple but flexible system that shows great promise and I look forward to playing some more advanced scenarios when the game is released.
Expeditions involves two types of characters. The first is the protagonist; he/she does not fight in battles, and in fact is generally not present in the gameworld, but interacts at a more abstract level, such as in dialogues. You begin the game by picking a name and gender for your hero, and distributing points into 5 attributes: Tactics (greater maneuverability in combat), Leadership (follower loyalty), Diplomacy (persuasion in dialogue), Healing and Hunting (self-explanatory). It’s hard to know how well balanced these attributes will be over the course of the entire game, but nothing immediately stands out as useless or obvious at the present - an advantage of a simpler system. The downside is that there is very little scope for customisation or personalisation; you can’t even choose a portrait, at least in the press build. I missed that little extra dash of colour, perhaps like a small selection of backgrounds à la Arcanum.
The real focus is on the followers, who are disposable, pre-set characters with their own specialties and personalities. You begin by choosing ten followers from a static pool of 30, divided into five jobs (the Kickstarter page promises ten): doctor, hunter, scholar, scout and soldier. I didn’t get much use out of scholars in the press build, especially as they and scouts cannot fight, but the other three roles were very generic, falling into the tank / archer / healer stereotypes. In addition, they have a mix of personality traits like 'Pious', 'Narcissistic' and even 'Racist', and come with a short bio that knits it all together into simple but believable personalities. They might be best understood as a simpler version of Jagged Alliance 2’s mercenaries. Subsequently, I found two main ways of customising the followers. Each battle accrued a shared pool of experience, which I could expend on any follower to level them up. I don’t know if the press build hiked up XP gain, but I could generally level up one follower after two battles at most, and there were only 5 levels. Each level seemed to unlock a new skill, making it 5 skills per class. The doctor begins with a basic heal skill, for example, while the hunter begins with a double-shot then unlocks an aimed shot that negates the distance penalty. I could also find or purchase ‘equipment’, again a general resource I could use to increase a follower’s melee, ranged or defensive capabilities.
Kickstarter page: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/212 ... nquistador
Official trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl ... E8CwIdCkcs
Softpedia video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl ... baOTaFC1Y#!
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SrxYzbuNAM
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-D1Rh0y1FEY
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9N3AeV-Zxys