Expeditions: Conquistador, released in 2013, was a fairly unique strategy game that had you traveling the South-American jungle and managing a small group of people, hunting, fighting, and having adventures against a historical backdrop. It felt a bit like the King’s Bounty games with a smaller scope and slightly shifted gameplay priorities, and I feel that it didn’t quite get the attention it deserved. Late next year, Danish developers, Logic Artists, will follow up with another game in the Expeditions series, this one obviously Viking-themed. You start out, having inherited the leadership of a small clan.
In the game’s first campaign, you gather your most trusted allies and work towards consolidating your power in your home region. The second campaign will have you and your merry band of plundering Northmen travel to Britain and begin raiding. All of this will follow a branching, but generally fixed story line. Considering that the narrative design of Expeditions: Conquistador was one of its standout features, I have high hopes for Viking.
It won’t be an easy feat, however. The problem with Viking lore and mythology is that most of the information available to us today was written by their enemies, while most records of Viking origin have been lost due to having been carved into wood or embroidered on fabric. Logic Artists still hope to convey a decent level of historical accuracy, but considering its origin, it cannot be spot on and will possibly be filigreed with a good deal of Nordic mythology from the Viking sagas.
While the general game mechanics are inherited from its predecessor, Expeditions: Viking will feature lots of refinement. You still move around a strategic map, advancing the story and managing your resources. Each region contains large exploratory areas with quests and encounters. The camping mechanic has been completely overhauled. While camping in Conquistador frankly had the charm of an Excel spreadsheet, it’s going to be really pretty in Viking, showing a time-lapse of the camp after you arranged the nightly activities.
Hunting, preserving, guarding, healing, and resting – all of your characters have different stats for those actions, so delegating tasks feels a bit like a minigame, and the outcome will depend on your organization skills. It’s definitely far more engaging and feels more authentic than just hitting a ‘rest’ button and continuing the next day, miraculously well-rested.
Encountering resistance or being assaulted at night switches you over to turn-based combat mode. As far as I could tell, Viking still employs the same system as the previous game, which was a fairly standard turn-based tactics affair – think Heroes of Might & Magic or King’s Bounty, but with single units instead of whole stacks. It does already look a lot prettier and definitely nastier, though. The game promises pretty gory fights, featuring decapitations, dismemberment, and lots of blood, as well as a more dynamic camera that zooms in for the kill. I’m not certain if there are other refinements planned, but Conquistador’s combat system was already quite solid and engaging and I only saw an early build of the game, so there might be more changes ahead.
I really liked Expeditions: Conquistador. It was by no means a perfect game, and a few gameplay flaws like the aforementioned camping spreadsheets and a rather unforgiving difficulty kept it from ever reaching the fame and fortune it deserved.
However, it seems that Logic Artists are well aware of these issues and intend to not make the same mistakes again with Expeditions: Viking. Furthermore, the attention to detail, from trying to incorporate Viking lore as well as possible to little things like the hand-woven look of the map screen, is already pretty impressive. Considering that I saw an early alpha build of the game and it won’t be out until late 2016, I have high hopes that Expeditions: Viking will be a memorable, interesting, and awfully pretty strategy game, so keep an eye out for this one.