When The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt released in 2015, it raised the bar for story telling and world building in open world RPGs. In the four years since it's release, no other game has managed to capture The Witcher 3's magic. Mass Effect: Andromeda was a major flop, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is still a buggy mess, and no one bothered playing Elex.
Greedfall, so far, feels like the best of the bunch. It's unfair for any game to have to live in The Witcher 3's shadow, considering it is arguably the greatest game of this generation, but Greedfall simply doesn't do all that much to differentiate itself, thus begging the comparison.
Greedfall takes place in a fantasy world inspired by the Baroque style of the 17th century. You play as De Sardet, a noble-born diplomat tasked with protecting the people an interests of your faction on the newly colonized continent of Teer Fradee. There is a terrible blight known as The Malichor that is ravaging the old world, and the various factions vying for control of Teer Fradee believe the cure lies somewhere in the new world.
Greedfall's strength is in its meaningful and interesting quest lines. Studio Spiders does a fantastic job of avoiding the fetch quest pitfall of many RPGs, instead opting to craft complex side quests with branching paths, political intrigue, and strong world building.
The reputation system tracks the decisions you've made and interactions you've had with each of the factions of Teer Fradee, many of whom are at odds with one another. Cause and effect is not always clearly laid out, creating the opportunity for organic relationships and choices that actually do matter.
Your companions serve little use in combat; they can't be leveled up individually with new skills or commanded directly on the battlefield, but outside of combat they become indispensable. Bringing the right companion with you to a negotiation can be enough to sway opposing leaders to your cause. These are particularly rewarding moments that always make me feel smart for having the forethought to include the right party member in a meeting, just as a good diplomat would.
After 10 hours combat is just starting to become interesting as I weave together magic, melee, and traps to take down large enemies with a variety of attacks. If you're coming to Greedfall for the combat you might be disappointed, but then again, I never thought The Witcher had particularly interesting combat either.
The skills trees and character track may seem rather plain at first, and leveling is particularly slow (about 1 level an hour). However, there's something of an immersive-sim quality to the RPG system that speaks to me. How you progress through quests is based entirely on the skills your character has, and while you can dump all your points into combat abilities and slaughter everyone that stands in your way, the reputation system heavily discourages it. I find I'm getting the most satisfaction from investing in non-combat skills like intuition, charisma, and vigor to talk my way in, outsmart people, and sometimes even make a skilled climb into a locked building.
The full review for Greedfall will be up within the next couple days. This is meaty experience, and despite my best efforts, I find myself constantly diverted by side quests because I'm just so intrigued by the people (and monsters) of the world. The stranger in a strange land theme works well for Greedfall and the mysterious island of Teer Fradee. Here's hoping the next 10 hours are as engaging as the first.