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Expeditions: Viking

Expeditions: Viking - Hands-On Impressions

We've sampled an early build of Logic Artists' upcoming strategy-RPG.

  • Text: A. R. Teschner

Expeditions: Viking is the second in the Expeditions line from Logic Artists of Denmark. It is not a sequel to its predecessor, instead telling a new story of the player-character thrust into the role of clan leader of a group of Vikings living in Jutland.

While not orbiting around historical figures, the game takes refreshing care to make it feel like historical fiction, rather than fantasy. From the beginning the player is making choices that seem to have a bit more impact than similar games with multiple dialog options. Almost immediately, a character that could later join you may die, but the game seems to encourage the player to continue with the consequences, rather than consider these choices merely win-or-loss. Choices affect the morale of your hird members (read: adventuring party), as well as your fortunes, potential allies and potential enemies. These changes in status aren't broadcasted to the player; if you're not paying attention to the notations in the corner of the screen you might miss some of them, but they're meant to add up. It's rare to find a game like this that seems to take individual story choices a bit more seriously.

The early part of the game focuses on setting the player up for the titular expedition, helping orientate you on gameplay and the factions of the known world. There is an overworld map reminiscent of games like Baldur's Gate, though points of interest here tend to pop up after quest triggers. Each map location has item stashes and quests to complete, and often have their share of combat encounters. Combat takes place on a hex grid, with characters adjacent to each other provoking attacks of opportunity if they let their guard down in several different ways, as well as flanking effects and cover against ranged attacks, encouraging smart tactics. Equipped weapons dictate the types of attacks, and increasing in skill in those weapons will add to a character's abilities in combat.

Expeditions: VikingExpeditions: Viking

It is predominantly a role-playing game, and follows some RPG conventions in more plausible ways than you might find in an FRPG. Magic is replaced with boons, curses, and herb lore, and weapons and armour sometimes have special properties because they're made well.

As you gain experience points you can spend them on skill increases in several categories that include psychological effects, weapon proficiencies, battle manoeuvres, crafting skills, and passive bonuses. It's hard to know the best choices at the start, but getting past the early bottleneck of battles helps the player prioritise what they should increase. The danger here may be the dreaded "Feat tax" one sometimes sees in other RPGs, where certain choices seem so much better than others that a player might feel pressured into following only certain builds, but this is eased by non-combat abilities being much cheaper, and the game expecting the player to fail sometimes without this necessarily resulting in a game over.

Expeditions: Viking
Expeditions: Viking
Expeditions: Viking
Expeditions: Viking
Expeditions: Viking
Expeditions: Viking
Expeditions: Viking
Expeditions: Viking