Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a first-person, open-world realistic RPG set in 15th century Bohemia, developed by Warhorse Studios in the Czech Republic and set for release in 2017. The cornerstone of the project is historical accuracy rarely seen in a video game, from battles which really happened to settings and characters that really existed. As a plug in a teaser on youtube reads: Dungeons, no dragons.
“Kingdom Come: Deliverance takes place in 15th century Bohemia after Charles IV’s death. Charles IV had been a very successful ruler and he had several sons, King Wenceslas IV of Bohemia and King Sigismund of Hungary. Wenceslas was a weak ruler, more interested in hunting, and drink, and women, and he was deposed as king of the Romans. His half-brother, King Sigismund, was more of a fighter and he came to his half-brother’s “aid”; but in fact he took him hostage and his troops sacked and pillaged towns in Bohemia.
“In the game, you play Henry, the son of a blacksmith, who lives in Stříbrná Skalice, and living a peaceful life until one day the town is attacked by what for you is an unknown army. It is the army of King Sigismund, the Cumans, who wear mysterious armour with is complete with helmets and full-plate masks that include metal moustaches in the design, so it is very Oriental-looking and unusual to you. The town is attacked and is destroyed, almost everyone dies. The character you play, however, survives and escapes to come into the service of a nobleman, Racek Kobyla, and he forms something like a resistance against the invading army. “In the beginning you are driven by revenge because your family dies and your friends die and you have to flee and you carry a bad conscience because you didn’t fight back. But then you realise that it is more than just personal revenge: that your king was kidnapped and that the kingdom is under attack and that you have to fight for Bohemia.”
“In the game, you play the son of a blacksmith, who lives a peaceful life in Stříbrná Skalice until the town is attacked.”
And all of these places really existed…
“That’s right. They all existed: the churches, castles, Sázava Monastery and we visited them all so that we could remodel or faithfully recreate them in the video game…”
Some are just bits and pieces now, I suppose… or parts were destroyed so you had to complete them as they would have appeared then.
“Of course. The Sázava Monastery, for example, was never fully finished because of the Hussite wars which broke out later, but one of the churches is no longer there, so we have a full-time historian on our team who helps us recreate those old buildings. Not only from the outside but also the interiors. We know that the small church which was there was dedicated to St. Barbora, so we consulted what other others dedicated to the saint would have looked like inside and replicated that.”
That’s very cool. Now… this game is an RPG, you’ve described the inciting incident but how free in the story is the player afterwards in the direction she or he takes? How much of the decisions are really up to the players and how much of the story is ‘scripted’, so to speak?
“You have two things: one of them is the main story or thread, the main quest, and you do follow this to move the story forward. If you want to know what happens and to move ahead, you have to follow that. On the other hand, you have tons of side quests which branch out form the main story and which ones you follow and how you chose to approach them is largely up to you. For example, the Sázava Monastery is a very important location in the game and at one point there is a side quest of trying to catch a murderer who is hiding inside. You have to overcome obstacles on your own of how to get inside. The story doesn’t give you a list of options of what to do but you have to figure it out.
“You know that you are looking for a man who has a scar on his face but how will you get in? Do you storm the monastery and kill everyone inside? That decision would impact your moral standing in the game and spiral into other events such as being hunted down by villagers. Or, do you attempt to sneak inside? Or do you attempt, using bribes and other means to get inside, by posing as a monk yourself, and play the part by doing activities which monks do until you find your man? The options which are out there were all consulted with an historian so that they would be realistic. Otherwise, it is completely up to you how you solve the problem.”
“The options in the game were all consulted so that they would be historically accurate or realistic.”
And that adds to the replay value…
“Yes. One of the things I am looking forward to is hearing players compare their experience and realize that they went on very different journeys at points when one or the other talks about a moment or development the other never encountered.”
At this point in the development of the game, do you know how many hours it will take to complete?
“Yes, right now we finished the internal alpha and that means we have feature stop which means we know what is in the game form the beginning to the end. In an RPG, it is always relative, depending on how players move about the world. We estimate that is around 30 but with side quests and other factors it could be closer to 50 hours.”
“The thing that makes Kingdom Come: Deliverance so different from other video games is that the player learns that their character is no one special. You can make your character better through training and experience but in the process you will still have limitations and will not grow into a superhero. You are just a regular soldier among other soldiers and there are things you can do to succeed but you can also easily be killed. What we want above all for the player to experience is what the 15th century really looked like, how the people behaved, what kind of ears and struggles they had, to see history as it really happened and to see how it shaped today’s Europe.
“Even if you progress, you will still have limitations and will not grow into a superhero.”
“We invited and filmed real swordfighters to the studio to record how battles were fought. We think that it is the best representation of sword-fighting ever displayed in a video game. It is a system that is easy to learn but hard to master. Even once you are super trained you can still lose, if you don’t take care. It is a big journey through Bohemia through history which really happened, where you will meet NPCs (non-payer characters) who really lived. Daniel Vávra, our creative director known for the original Mafia games, has provided a story that is really intriguing. He is a great storyteller and the game is full of plot twists and surprises. Then, there is even a ‘Darth Vader’ in the game… so prepare yourself!”
Wait, what? I am going to have to ask you to elaborate on that!
“Well, I can’t at the moment – once the game is released you can find out!”