After sinking roughly 90 hours into Kingdom Come: Deliverance, it’s time for a review of its pros and cons. Is it really the Skyrim-killing RPG that we were all promised, or does it fall short of its hype and fail to live up to expectations? Let’s take a look.
This review is based on the PC version.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Summary: Long story short, KC:D is pretty good. It’s not mindblowing, but it’s not terrible either. It’s definitely worth a playthrough, but it’s really nothing special at this stage and the story is never actually concluded. Combat is initially fun, but becomes far too easy. Side quests can be enjoyable but are mostly fetch-based. There are lots of bugs but patches are on the way.
Overall Score: 7/10
Story, Side Quests, and Encounters
Kingdom Come: Deliverance puts you in the role of Henry, a somewhat lazy and kind-of incompetent son of a blacksmith in 15th-century Bohemia. He’s a nothing nobody with practically zero skills outside of drinking and throwing horse manure at houses. But, that all changes very quickly when manure is flung in the other direction and Henry’s village is hit by a surprise attack and all but entirely razed.
Assuming Henry doesn’t find himself locked up in a prison cell shortly before the attack, he makes a narrow escape from his now burning village and sets out on a path of vengeance with just a single goal: find the people who did it.
Or, if Henry does find himself locked up in a prison cell shortly before the attack, well, then it’s a pretty short story. KC:D is all about decisions.
The first half of the main storyline in Deliverance is fairly decent, not including bugs. After that everything starts to slowly fall apart and it almost seems as though the second half was rushed, or at least portions of it. Like I said in the intro, the actual story is never concluded and instead the ending’s only purpose is a setup for the sequel. This is because KC:D was initially planned to be 3 acts, but that was later changed and Deliverance includes both acts 1 & 2 while act 3 will release in the form of a sequel at a later date.
That being said, the ending is still quite the letdown. No questions are answered and nothing related to the main storyline is ever really wrapped up. It’s set up in such a way to make you think “ohhhhh, things are about to get good!” and then the credits roll… Going into it, I knew that Henry’s story wouldn’t be wrapped up in Deliverance, but I didn’t expect such an abrupt ending right in the middle of the action either.
Side quests are primarily made up of fetch quests. For the most part, you’ll be running around gathering <item A> for <person A> or taking something (a message, an item, an inquiry, etc) from <person A> to <person B>. There are a few more-unique quests that either tell a story or are simply more exciting than “find this item”, but they’re seemingly few and far between.
There are a handful of random encounters that’ll spring up when you’re traveling around the map, like bodies on the road (everywhere), random bandit attacks, and 2 different “knights” to duel. There are also beggars to give money (or food) to, thieves selling stolen goods, beggars selling treasure maps, and even a 15th-century Bohemian version of The Riddler. That said, most of the encounters become old and boring after a while, especially the knights who always reappear no matter how many times you’ve relieved them of both their gear and lives. There could be more encounters that I just didn’t see, but in my ~90 hours, that’s all I’ve run into.
The combat system is about as deep as a puddle which is sad because it was a huge selling point for KC:D. Yeah, while you’re initially learning it’s lots of fun; but, by the time you’ve learned the system Henry has already become a God and you can effectively mow down anyone in your path within 2-3 strikes regardless of their gear.
In the early game, 1v1 combat or even 1v2 combat can be extremely fun and exciting. Once you become outnumbered by 3:1 or more, your chances of survival go down significantly partly due to Henry being raised as the incompetent son of a blacksmith, and partly due to a finicky system for switching targets. Part of me says “yeah, this is legit and Henry would get destroyed here” but another part of me screeches “JUST F****** CHANGE TARGETS!!!”
Remember that time I said combat is really exciting in the early game? Well, by the end of the game it’s basically the polar opposite assuming you’re at least wearing some clothes and are using a mid-tier weapon. Once your skills are getting close to being 75% maxed, Henry becomes a complete machine and has no issue mowing down anything in his path within 1-2 hits. I mean, if a lvl 15 Henry was at the Battle of Thermopylae the movie 300 would have told a story of how one person managed to single-handedly fell an army of 100,000-150,000 while the Spartans stayed back to clean camp.
It’s also worth noting that combat is almost entirely focused on swordplay and using axes, maces, or polearms is effectively a waste of your time. Archery has its uses, but only if you’re either really sneaky or very accurate.
Fighting a knight decked out in full plate? Longsword.
Fighting a peasant in rags? Longsword.
Seems realistic enough.
This is only made worse by the sword skill tree basically containing more perks than the rest of every skill in the combat tree combined (not quite, but almost). Maces and axes share the same 4 perks, 3 of which can only be used when you’re using your weapon without a shield; a shield will effectively make 3 perks useless under these trees. Polearms, as far as I could tell, have no associated skill level nor perks. Unarmed has no perks and neither does archery.
Speaking of archery, I actually liked how it was executed in Deliverance. It’s not super difficult, but it’s not super easy like in Skyrim or other open-world RPGs that allow for archery. Until you’re rank 5, you suffer major penalties like causing damage to yourself if you’re not wearing arm protection (from the string) and tons of swaying back and forth. However, once you rank up and increase your stats it becomes much easier and also quicker to fill your enemies with arrows. That said, I could see why a lot of people didn’t like the system as it’s pretty hard to get used to.
There are 3 larger scale battles you get to take part in throughout the story. None of them are memorable and they’re all extremely short. Chances are, your side will completely mow through the enemy and it’ll all be over with very minimal friendly casualties. The final battle you get to take part in, as an example, is only about 3-5 minutes long. The cutscene leading up to it is probably twice the length of the actual combat section… and then the game ends.
Skills, Perks, and Levels
As I’m sure you well know, KC:D is a level-based RPG. Meaning, you level up enough and eventually those pesky
peasants bandits can barely even put a dent in your health before you consider attacking them and they drop dead from what’ll seem like sheer terror. This is to say, there’s a point in the game where Henry quietly transitions from “incompetent son of a blacksmith” to “lord of the battlefield”.
When all of your skills are at level 1 and your attributes are mostly the same, there’s a real sense of tension and danger involved in pretty much everything that you do – you’re the incompetent son of a blacksmith after all. But, then, eventually, once your skills are leveled up a bit, there’s literally nothing that can stand in the way of Henry as he does as he does anything he wants without as much as a single obstacle in his way.
When that point comes, all sense of danger and tension will leave as you’ll be fully-confident in your ability to quickly and easily dispatch basically anyone that gets in your way, assuming they don’t have 5 of their friends with them. To me, how insanely deadly Henry gets kills the whole “just learned how to use a sword a week or two ago” vibe. He should definitely get better and more competent with weapons, but not to the point of going from completely untrained to insta-killing fully armored mercenaries!
Some of the skills and perks in Deliverance can really make Henry an OP “god of everything” akin to the Dragonborn in Skyrim but without the magic. As an example, the maintenance skill has a perk that makes any armor you repair practically noiseless – even plate. There are other OP perks that do things like make it so you don’t lose energy or nutrition when you’re not moving – effectively making it so you can wait forever with zero drawbacks.
A couple of skills have no perks at all, namely archery and unarmed; this is kind of strange considering there are lots of different perks that could go under each of these skills.
Graphics and Performance
I have to hand it to Warhorse Studios, they really know how to make a beautiful and almost more importantly believable world. From the vast and thick forest, the compact villages and the wide open fields, almost every scene in Deliverance is something you want to stop and admire, if not just for a moment. That is, when everything is loading on time and you’re not waiting for random textures to pop in. Installing KC:D on an SSD can help this quite a bit, but on an HDD it’s almost unbearable.
Other than texture pop-in, the overall performance is fairly decent but you’re going to need a pretty strong PC to run Deliverance well on any settings. To max it out, you’re going to need a high-end build sporting a GTX 1080 or 1080 Ti, an i7 processor (or equivalent) and 16GB of RAM or better.
Saving, Bugs, Etc
The save system is unconventional but its something I actually liked, I can definitely see why other people do not like it at the same time. Whatever your preference, you should know that it takes a specific item or sleeping in specific beds to save – by the middle of the game you’ll likely have stockpiled 50 of the “Savior Schnapps” which are required to save. Once you can autobrew potions at an alchemy bench, saving becomes a non-issue very quickly. There are also tons of unmarked beds around the world that act as save points, not every bed you come across will work, but quite a few will.
There are a ton of bugs, that much I’m sure is common knowledge by now. One of my biggest gripes is that hoods simply do not work for Henry. NPCs can use them, but Henry cannot. You can equip the “hood” item, but never actually utilize said hood. I know, this is small, but it’s extremely annoying.
The sheer amount of bugs are honestly borderline excessive, even for an open world RPG where lots of bugs are basically a given. From animation bugs, shadow bugs, audio bugs, pathing bugs, and even a handful of game-breaking bugs that will practically force you to either load a much earlier save or start from scratch. Some of the most annoying bugs I’ve run into involve things like gravity and physics, or a lack thereof. I’ve had a couple of semi-important NPCs spawn 20 feet in the air and fall to their death, I’ve also had semi-important NPCs fall through the world which made certain quests impossible until they reset some in-game weeks later.
Honestly, I really don’t want to even get into listing off all of the bugs as it’ll easily double the length of this review.
All-in-all, it’s okay; it’s not mindblowing but it’s most definitely not bad either, it’s very much mediocre. Although I feel the main storyline could have been handled better and seriously deserved a much better ending than it got, at the same time the ending we did get got me excited for where the sequel is going to go and what we’ll be able to do. Everything leading up to that point, aside from becoming “Henry – Lord of the battlefield” a little over half-way through, was very much enjoyable. Even the fetch quests can be enjoyed due to how beautiful the world design is.
Do I recommend it? Well, not for everyone. If you’re dying to play an RPG based on realism with awesome graphics, sure, give KC:D a try. But, if you’re looking for a complete experience that’ll keep you coming back, this probably isn’t the game for you. It’s good for 1 playthrough, anything more will probably become boring in a hurry to all but the most hardcore of roleplayers.
Otherwise, pretty much every question about Kingdom Come: Deliverance could be answered with a very vague “sometimes” while still remaining accurate.
Is it good? Sometimes.
Are the side quests and main story both entertaining and compelling? Sometimes.
Are the fighting mechanics good? Sometimes.
Is the save system good? Sometimes.
Is the level of realism and historical accuracy actually, well, accurate? Sometimes.
I think you get the point.
What are your thoughts? Did you enjoy it? On the fence about buying it? Let me know in the comments!