Open-world actions, adventures and RPGs are not something that can surprise or easily impress players anymore. The last decade has been filled with many amazing releases – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Red Dead Redemption 2, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla to name a few. In fact, the genre has become so popular that it’s become hard to find a non open-world RPG to enjoy!
Yet there exists a largely unexplored niche, mostly occupied by Bioware, of heavily companion-centered and party-based titles. Hundreds of hours can be spent exploring Hinterlands and Hissing Wastes in Dragon Age: Inquisition or Eladaan or Eos in Mass Effect: Andromeda. Additionally, these games provide you with an option of creating a protagonist of your choosing with the possibility of customizing their appearance.
However, the problem with Bioware is the infrequency when it comes to the company’s releases. Dragon Age: Inquisition, for example, was released in 2014, which means that the next title in the series would arrive after an eight year gap in the best case scenario.
All that remains is to search for alternatives, especially when there are small studios willing to provide them. Enter GreedFall.
GreedFall is a fantasy open-world action-adventure published by Focus Home Interactive and developed by Spiders (Bound by Flame, Mars: War Logs, The Technomancer and the upcoming Steelrising). The game is available on PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC via Steam in Standard and Gold Editions that also includes the recent De Vespe Conspiracy DLC.
Unlike The Witcher, Dragon Age and The Elder Scrolls, the world of GreedFall is roughly modeled after the 17th century over the usual medieval times, providing a refreshing change of aesthetics and, most importantly, guns. Lots of guns to take on the local wildlife, bandits and various traitors.
You play as De Sardet, a legate of the Congregation of Merchant – which your character will be reminding to various NPCs in every second conversation. As the continent and your home city of Serene are ravaged by a deadly illness called the Malichor, you are sent to a mysterious island of Teer Fradee to search for the cure.
However, before you can get your quest underway, you also have to navigate the shark-infested waters of cross-faction politics. Besides the Natives who just want to be left alone, Teer Fradee is also being pulled in all directions by the religious Theleme, science-driven Bridge Alliance, sea-traversing Nauts, materialistic and militaristic Coin Guard and your very own Congregation of Merchants.
There is no love lost between any pair of factions, and, as a diplomat, you will have to traverse carefully not to sour the relationships with any sides. Thus a lot of the quests given to you will require running through a variety of locations, talking to a number of NPCs to report to your initial quest giver, and perhaps going through a couple more circles like that.
Of course you will frequently get an option to just stab or shoot your way out of the situation, but it is not available at all times and will likely not be the best option to pursue anyway.
Prepare to be the busy bee of the Congregation!
On your journey, you will be accompanied by a cast of companions belonging to various factions and social standings, each coming with their own lengthy personal quest chains and insights into their side’s politics. If you are into that sort of thing, most of them can be romanced as well!
While De Sardet’s lot aren’t as deep or talkative as various Bioware teammates, they are still delightful and the recent DLC, The De Vespe Conspiracy, added quite a lot of lines to every companion, so don’t forget to chat with them often if you decide to try out the expansion.
The companions also can not be directly controlled but the AI does a valiant job of having them be relatively helpful – provided they are not stuck somewhere, which also happens frequently enough.
Greedfall’s combat is simple yet can feel quite satisfactory: De Sardet can equip two main weapons in addition to a firearm. Depending on your skillset, it can be a light dagger or a rapier, a mace or a giant two-handed sword or hammer, or even a ring that allows you to deal magic damage. Doing damage fills De Sardet’s bar of Adrenaline, allowing the protagonist to use stronger attacks or even an ultimate ability like Bomb.
In terms of defenses, you can either block or dodge an attack. Note that magic/ranged attacks can not be blocked but can still be dodged. However, once you unlock the Roll passive actual blocking becomes a thing of the past as De Sardet summersaults across the battlefield.
You have 12 quick action keys that can be used for abilities or consumables such as healing or mana potions or traps to set up. You can also afflict the enemies with a variety of Status Effects that will make it easier to dispatch of them: Bleeding, Poisoned, Stunned, Unbalanced, etc. But watch out, because enemies won’t hesitate to do the same to you and stun lock De Sardet.
Compared to Dragon Age: Inquisition or the latest entries in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, GreedFall is a more guided, straightforward experience. You can easily finish the game in about 30 hours – and that is the beauty of it. Personally, I have been rather daunted with a variety of open-world action-adventure titles as of late knowing that it can take me up to a hundred hours to complete the journey. GreedFall provides all of the thrills of an open-world title, but with only a fraction of time it takes to actually beat the game.
In particular, it features fewer quests than one of the games you saw mentioned through the article, but at the same time the side-quests can almost rival the main story for how deep they are. Of course, there are also meaningless “kill bandits”, “bring box from a broken caravan down the road” tasks but they are marked appropriately and can be skipped completely, unless you have the need of gold or extra experience.