GreedFall is a newly released action RPG published by Focus Home Interactive and developed by Spiders, the studio behind Bound by Flame and The Technomancer. In GreedFall, you’ll explore the island of Teer Fradee as a diplomatic envoy in a colonial setting. Exploration, diplomacy, and conflict are the driving elements behind this choice driven narrative. Engage in dynamic interactions between companions and factions and be ready to reap the consequences of your decisions. GreedFall is currently available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Teer Fradee is in no shortage of places to explore, and you’ll spend much of your time traversing the various landscapes it has to offer. Many glades, cliff-sides, and caves await the intrepid explorer to discover. Some of these can be locked down due to story progression, but the vast majority of Teer Fradee is available from the second you get there if you are dedicated enough.
The island is divided into giant map segments and isn’t a true open world, but that doesn’t mean there’s any shortage of areas to explore. In between each segment, instead of a lengthy loading screen, you are presented with a camp area, which allows you to address your comrades, craft, and interact with a camp merchant. During your light reprieve, the next area will be loading. I found this to be a particularly welcoming method of intermission between areas where I could focus on crafting and character development.
Exploring the island fully will require a myriad of skills and you may not always have the necessary traits to complete the specific area you are in when you get there. These areas remain open however, and can be revisited at a later time. Many secret items and treasures are hidden in each area, so a judicious look around can often be rewarding. Areas, their creatures, and their harvest nodes respawn after a certain amount of time so there is no limit to certain resources and experience.
During your questing, you will revisit many areas again, but once you have accessed a new map segment, you may go there directly from any travel node without having to go through the preceding maps. Each map, and every camp you set up contains travel nodes from which you may quick travel at any time at no cost to yourself. In the early game, caravans are also available to help you get from one major city to another without risk of encounters. This allows people who choose to focus on nonaggression, or those who are simply under-leveled, a means to progress while they continue to gain experience.
Character growth is divided into three main categories, namely skills, attributes, and talents. This development is reminiscently formulaic of their previous games like Technomancer and Bound by Flames and will be familiar to anyone who has experience with those titles. If you don’t enjoy the path you’ve chose, you can respec your character via memory crystals and respend your points. Experience is gained in the traditional manner, via combat, quests, and story progression. After each level, you will gain access to skills, and potentially new attributes and talents.
The skills tree has interconnected branches but to reach major milestones, you will have to invest in particular lines. Each line will share a path with a different but symbiotic ability until you start to broach another archtype. Skill points are accrued at each level up and can also be found at skill altars located throughout the game. This tab will be how you cultivate the primary combat methods of your character.
Attributes are traditional RPG stats which determine how your character is physically and mentally developed. You gain one of these points every three levels.
- Strength: Increases the power of all melee attacks and determines what heavy weapons you can equip.
- Agility: Affects fury generation, the power of all melee attacks, and determines what blades you can equip.
- Mental Power: Increases the power of all spells/magic and determines what rings you can equip.
- Endurance: Increases life, balance, and determines what armor you can equip.
- Accuracy: Increases the power of all firearms, alchemical. preparations, and determines what firearms you can equip.
- Willpower: Increases your MP, spell duration, and determines what amulets and necklaces you can equip.
Talents are gained every four levels and determine major game functions and interactions. Many of these can decide things such as whether you can access certain areas, your ability to resolve conflicts, and crafting.
- Charisma: The principle stat for negotiating and diplomacy. It is also used for strengthening the abilities of your companions.
- Science: Allows for the crafting of potions and alchemical mixes. It can also be used for additional purposes such as destroying monster nests exploding/dissolving barriers.
- Vigor: Represents overall physical fitness and allows the main character to traverse areas otherwise inaccessible. It also restores HP and magic outside of combat.
- Lockpicking: Is exactly what it seems. In addition to allowing access to locked doors and chests, it also affects your ability to see and remove traps and can eventually make you immune to them altogether.
- Craftsmanship: Allows you to modify items without an NPC, to craft upgrades, and can increase the number of items yielded when recycling unwanted items.
- Intuition: Determines how well you have insight to things in the world around you. Not only does this include dialog options, but can determine whether your character will notice hidden or alternative paths on some maps.
Enemies are engaged by approaching them or by landing an initial attack. Each encounter has a fixed range and sometimes I found myself intermittently resetting encounters more than I wanted just by being evasive. By action RPG standards however, the combat in Greedfall performs fairly well. The development team has improved their combat mechanics from their previous games to be a little more smooth. And while it does feel somewhat limited in the beginning, once you start getting used to the flow, parrying, evading and proper skill utilization, any feeling of clunkiness disappears.
Your base combat abilities are born out of all of your skill selections and the combinations are really only limited by how many levels you have and your imagination. Whether you want to combine guns and magic, sword and traps, or status attacks and alchemy, those options are entirely left up to you. The game really doesn’t do much to limit your build except for the threshold set by levels.
Your enemies will consist of the wild beasts of Teer Fradee and other humans of various factions. Each of these enemies present their own unique dangers and weaknesses. You may start to feel good about your combat abilities only to find an enemy that puts you in your place rather quickly, especially in the early game where things like a shot from an arquebus can be fatal if your already missing any health. Mastery of the evasive and parrying mechanics are what will be the difference between life and death.
Regardless of the path you choose, once your build fleshes out combat becomes a lot of fun. The variety of encounters can keep the combat interesting, but every now and then the flow of the game will either see you not fighting for 30 minutes or fighting for a whole 30 minutes. A patient RPG gamer won’t be bothered by this, but anyone looking to be constantly steeped in action may get bored from time to time with some of the side quests.
Selecting the right companions for each task is pivotal. You will have tactical advantages or weaknesses based on your choices. Additionally, many companions offer advice on certain quests and often give you insight to the game’s lore. Taking some companions may not always be preferable however, as each of them belong to a specific faction, and your choices may not always please them. Personally, I find this gives a breath of realism that modern RPGs typically lack.
Not only do the companions add an extra layer to combat and world exploration, they are also heavily invested in the narrative and possess their own interests. As the story progresses, you have chances to further develop your relationships with the various companions both for better and worse. The companion mechanics in Greedfall allow for both romance and betrayal to a limited degree based on how well you invest in or ignore their needs. This has always been one of Spiders’ strongest suits and I’m glad to see it return here in GreedFall.
Difficulties and Replay Value
GreedFall comes with four different difficulty settings for you depending on your preferred style. These difficulties range from easy, which is essentially for those who want to just enjoy the story, to extreme where tactical planning is a necessity in most encounters. I personally found hard to be the most enjoyable difficulty for a full play-through. It forces you to capitalize on the defensive aspects of the game without being too easy, brutalizing, or unfair. If you pick a difficulty that doesn’t fit you, you can change it any time within the game so there’s no need to give it too much thought until you are ready.
GreedFall is easily a 50-60 hour game if you are going for full completion and exploration. If you want a bare bones play though you can probably accomplish it in 30 hours give or take. The replayability factor is fairly high here, given the different arrangements of companions, factions, and major choices you can make.
Caution: Minor Spoilers
In GreedFall you will control De Sardet, an appointed legate of the Congregation of Merchants and a cousin to Prince Constantin D ‘Orsay. Constantin was sent to the island of Teer Fradee as a governor. De Sardet, serves as his aide and performs a diplomatic role with all of the other factions on the island. As a member of both nobility and an ambassador, De Sardet commands a great deal of respect from all of the inhabitants on Teer Fradee.
Naturally, it is up to the player to wield De Sardet’s diplomatic influence to their own whims. You can either do your best to please everyone or ostracize one or more factions. You can be generous or self serving, a hero or a tyrant. All of these options culminate towards the finale to give you an ending that you helped craft.
The various factions in Teer Fradee are what gives the game its source of political intrigue. In a relative sense to the real world, each faction has its own share of good, bad, temperate, and extremist individuals. This leaves the decision of support or condemnation up to the player.
- The Merchant Congregation: Money talks within the Merchant Congregation, and while it is made up and run by wealthy merchants, it also features a ruling class of nobility which governs its various laws and aspects of trade. They have a close relationship with the Nauts, who are the primary facilitators of trade logistics on the home continent. The Congregation also is in a state of alliance with both the Bridge Alliance and Theleme. The citizenry is largely in support of their capitalistic way of life, but have various opinions on its leaders. Many just individuals exist here, but unscrupulous characters can be found within its borders as well.
- Theleme: Religion is the binding agent of Theleme. Named for and centered around their founder, the City of San Matheus, supports the various denizens of Theleme. Each order and individual have varying degrees of religious fervor which range from benevolent and accepting to fanatical and depraved. Theleme are in constant conflict with The Bridge Alliance and their disdain for their practices.
- The Bridge Alliance: Science is the driving force behind the Bridge Alliance. The citizens of Hikmet are practitioners of botany, medicine, alchemy, and pursue intellectual discovery over all else, sometimes with unethical regards. They despise Theleme and their beliefs.
- Natives: The Natives are the natural inhabitants on Teer Fradee. Though they are often referred to as savages by the other factions, their development isn’t really far behind the others in terms of magic and some science. The largest difference between the Natives and other factions is their methods of construction, and their lack of sea travel.
- The Nauts: A seafaring association, the Nauts are comprised of both seaborne individuals and infants given to them to broker trade. As oceanic based nomads, the Nauts live their lives at sea with a few exceptions and responsible for the migration to Teer Fradee.
- Coin Guard: The Coin Guard serve as a sort of universal militia. Though noble in appearance and structure they have their own hidden secrets as well.
GreedFall utilizes a colonial style setting for its story. During the advancement of the game, each faction is rushing off to make discoveries, and to shape the island in their own ways. To complicate matters, a disease called the Malichor has set upon the main continent and finding a cure for it is one of De Sardet’s primary goals. De Sardet is able to steer each faction by aiding or hindering each of them based on your choices while playing.
Outside of the main storyline, the world of GreedFall is very much alive. NPCs will go about their business and some will make light conversation, but GreedFall maintains a marginal approach to unnecessary interaction save for important characters. I find this approach to be preferable since you will spend a great deal of time on quest related conversations. There are a number of side quests and lesser scope tasks called missions to complete as well. While side quests actually have some significance to the main story, missions have no impact on the overall narrative but provide smaller rewards for fetch-quest type tasks.
Controls in GreedFall are apt and after the first hour or so of acclimation I had little to no difficulties performing any function. Movement and changing directions executed smoothly and the only issues traversing the game came from the occasional patch of ground that you couldn’t walk over when you clearly should be able to. While there wasn’t a lot of ground that had this attribute there was enough of it that I think it deserves a mention.
The camera was limited in scope for vertical movement, and while this didn’t inhibit the game experience in any way, I would have loved a full camera scope to take more pictures with. GreedFall is such a gorgeous game that I felt it really deserved the additional camera movement. Otherwise, I had no difficulties navigating or adjusting my view at all.
Combat mechanics once practiced were easy to pull off and the Iframe parry mechanic was outstanding. I never once had a moment where I felt my parry was perfect but still got hit anyway. That in itself is a hard mechanic to pull off, even in fighting games, so I applaud Spiders for their efforts there. Canceling attacks into dodges worked wonderfully and tactical pause menu, assigned shortcuts, and in game menu all flew without any hitches whatsoever.
My only true full blooded complaint here would be the looting mechanic. Looting can sometimes be awkward, forcing you to have a proper camera alignment on what it is your trying to interact with. This made for some frustrating times post-combat especially when you had to loot five or more corpses.
The cinematic sequences and animations in Greedfall are well rendered and definitely aid in conveying the story. Individual character animations are also well done, particularly for main characters and prominent NPCs. There are some scenes that are emotionally powerful and Spiders spared no effort in crafting them to have a powerful cinematic presence.
Special and atmospheric effects are also enjoyable and are integrated with each stage smoothly. Environmental effects such as weather, and particle effects like smoke clouds add a sense of ambiance and realism during exploration. The refraction of aerated water which ebbed with the tides was also particularly beautiful.
Exploring Teer Fradee itself is simply a visual treat and was one of my favorite things to do within the game. In each of their games, Spiders have always crafted convincing worlds to stand alongside the storytelling and GreedFall is no exception. The little details are what often sticks out the most, particularly in the landscapes. Every fallen tree or odd glade is enjoyable to examine and since there are many secret areas within the game, it also pays to look twice.
One thing I would have liked to see however, is different architecture from the three different cultures. While the native culture was well represented, the other three major factions felt way too homogeneous in their cities and some buildings were even recycled, save for some rooms here and there.
My only criticism within the graphics department would be the lip synch for speaking. Though it could match up well at times, for the most part it felt a generation behind. Normally, I wouldn’t contrast this in a lower detailed RPG, but since other details and animations had a more polished feel to them, the bad mouth movements just felt like a disservice. This really didn’t detract from my overall experience much but it was noticeable. Additionally, some places like houses had some mild clipping issues with flora poking through the floors, but all in all, GreeedFall remains a graphically gorgeous game.
Each area in GreedFall was alive and bustling with sounds from flora, fauna, and people alike. Unique sounds such as birds or a blacksmith’s hammer were carefully placed and were louder relative to your proximity. Each environment also had its own ambient noises which blended well with the soundtrack. Combat noise had many high quality sounds and some abilities like the Stasis and Storm spells stood out nicely.
Voice acting for the most part was convincing and was well performed. In a game like this where different options, responses, dialects, and accents have to be recorded, it can be a tough job to make all options feel like they flow seamlessly. With all but a handful of conversations, particularly with the native accents, I feel that top marks were achieved. The few that did suffer were more likely from different recording sessions rather than bad acting.
One area where GreedFall stands out here is the various accents. Each actor was clearly dedicated to selling their accents and maintaining consistency, whether it was subtle or not. With so many factions, and even differences here and there in the clans, to keep track of all of these custom words and speech patterns must have been difficult. I feel they really hit the nail on the head with singular language spoken by so many native and nonnative speakers.
Composed by the talented Olivier Deriviere, the OST to GreedFall easily registers as another gem in his crown. From somber pieces such as Death is Upon Us, to the ethnically derivative tracks like A Different World, Olivier maintains his firm and diverse grasp on what makes music important in gaming. There isn’t a single track that feels odd or out of place and the music in GreedFall serves as a sort of symbiotic pedestal to the narrative.
No tool used is out of place as serene vocals blend with strings, wind, and percussion in a seamless tapestry of internal and external exploration. Audible precursors to combat were used to heighten the senses as you approached an enemy and with each end to battle, a well timed closing marked the conclusion.
There are simply not enough words for integrative elements such as this when it comes to interwoven music and gameplay. The only sad note regarding well composed OSTs such as this one is that it is more often the exception rather than the norm. I truly hope that one day more development directors will see the value in well implemented scores such as the one in GreedFall.
When the day is done, I recommend GreedFall to any action RPG lover or anyone looking to explore a gorgeous world with integrative auditory elements. The contentious plot line, solid voice acting, and outstanding OST only serve to stand the game up. While the combat is far from cutting edge and doesn’t take too many chances, it’s a solid system with very few flaws and really emphasizes personal customization. The companion and faction systems are also major highlights which gives each player their own personalized feel to the experience. Since diplomacy is the driving force of the game, your choices, successes, and failures actually feel important rather than hollow decisions that don’t affect the world around you.
Spiders have continued to make steady improvements in each new game they make. I thoroughly enjoyed GreedFall, and am looking forward to what they have in store next.