Shiro Games’ open-world RPG Wartales, a really vast and sweeping take on a medieval adventure where players can navigate a violent and brutal world in search of money and fame, has officially launched in Early Access today. While the game previously featured a playable demo, we’ve been exploring Wartales in its entirety over the last several weeks to discover what this game has to offer and what new players may expect.
Our initial impressions are varied but largely good; however, we’ll get into the specifics of that decision in a bit. What is Wartales about, you might wonder before we get into our thoughts. The story opens up a century after the magnificent Edoran Empire fell victim to a violent and deadly plague that swept the country. Following this reversal, the country has been plunged into uncertainty and unrest, with the populace now living in a dangerous and chaotic environment. The adventure begins with the player commanding a group of individuals (chosen based on several attributes prior to the start of a new game) with the goal of surviving and gaining money in a world filled with bandits, mercenaries, and unfortunate peasants subjected to various forms of brutality.
It’s a gritty environment and story that doesn’t try to comfort the player in any way. This is a difficult RPG in which knowledge and comprehension of complicated RPG principles are essentially required to survive for more than 30 minutes. And what we mean by that is that even in the least setting, you must treat the world as though everything is out to kill you, because if you don’t, your team of survivors and adventurers will be slaughtered by armed bandits, chasing officers of the law, or even wild animals.
To that extent, Wartales is a crammed and deep set of RPG systems, with players managing their party members’ statistics (i.e. health, armor, hunger, how you intend to level their base values, such as dexterity and willpower, and more), as well as keeping track of more overarching stats like your wanted level (assuming you’ve been up to some naughty deeds). There’s a lot going on, and Wartales doesn’t do much to assist the player in figuring out how to effectively manage everything. Instead, it’s more of a trial and error approach, in which you’ll learn the ideal way to explore the planet after a series of mistakes. It’s harsh, but then again, so is the continent of Edoran.
Because this is an RPG at its core, players can approach the vast world with abandon. Quests, bounties, explorable areas, and lootable materials are all present, as is the case with most RPGs. Wartales, on the other hand, takes pride in its non-linearity. You can begin an adventure by just walking into the first homestead you see, killing all the peasants who live there, and seizing their things as tribute, even if this will bring the law’s wrath upon you. Similarly, you can take a more traditional approach and just look to assist disadvantaged civilians, shielding them from the world’s dreadful miscreants. Because Wartales doesn’t actually have a central plot around which everything else revolves, the decision is entirely yours. You’ve been thrown out into the open, in the middle of nowhere. You’re simply dropped into the open world in the middle of nowhere and told to get to work.
While we’ve gone on and on about the game’s enormous scope, it is, in fact, its greatest strength. You can have members of your party trained as anglers to fish in lakes and rivers for food for the rest of the company, or you can have a member trained as a tinker to upgrade and repair armor when you set up a camp to rest and recuperate.
When it comes to combat, Wartales employs a turn-based system in which players must maneuver members of their party and attack opponents intelligently based on the strengths and weaknesses of each individual member. Because your party is created fairly randomly at the start of the game, it will take some ingenuity to figure out how to approach combat. For example, one character might be a great bruiser, soaking up hits and dealing out attacks in a wide radius, while another might be an archer who packs a punch at a distance but falls very quickly when attacked. Combat is difficult, especially when the odds are stacked against you, but the real challenge comes after a battle, when gathering the resources and gear (or failing to do so) to heal your party and repair armor may be, and frequently is, a game-ender.
Despite the fact that our time with Wartales was dominated by one impression: the game’s severe challenge, it’s evident that this is a well-crafted and rich experience that plays flawlessly and looks amazing. We wouldn’t be shocked if the game’s harsh nature turns off some RPG fans, but if you can get over the learning curve and establish a foothold in this savage medieval realm, Wartales is a competent and expansive adventure with a wide range of ways to dive in and tackle the story. We’ll admit that during our stay here, we’ve run into a few strange and small difficulties, such as text being shown in French. But, for the most part, the experience that Wartales has provided so far has me enthusiastic for the game’s future, and we’re excited to see how Shiro expands on this grim universe as the game proceeds through the Early Access process.Now buy and Save 10% on Wartales on Steam