I returned to the Groggy Wench, piqued by the prospect of newly upgraded shinies, and not sure what to expect as I stared at the rarely cleaned wooden entrance. Gosh, my tavern was a dump. Renowned for its BBQed rate and questionable water quality. I’d be damned if I wouldn’t revisit my tavern dreams in Epic Tavern. So return I did, sauntering in to my dimly lit, wretched hive of scum and villainy – whoops, wrong universe. But saunter I did. And inside I found a more polished Epic Tavern than I was expecting with welcome quality of life improvements, fleshed out quests, new adventures, and more reasons to interact with my patrons. Below you’ll find my analysis of the new content and new improvements, and you can read the Autumn Update notes here.
What most stands out in the Autumn Update is the quest map UI while questing. Your adventurers take a prominent seat at the top of the quest tracker with equipment icons next to their portraits. The map looms large on the right half of the screen, encouraging players to take interest in the world and locations. There is still little reason to watch the map, however, as there is still no reason to remember locations or paths or anything related to it. On the whole, the new UI helps with immersion during quests and provides much needed helpful information about the adventurers. It is also easier to follow and process everything on what was once a cluttered screen of activity.
The team at Hyperkinetic Studios want players to have more agency during quests and the Autumn Update is the first step in that direction. In my first foray into the game during its very first early access days, a player’s agency was simply hitting the roll button and praying to the brew gods that their adventurers would succeed. It was an entirely RNG process where player’s couldn’t affect the quest at all outside of choosing which adventurer was sent. Players can now choose which stance the adventurers are in before the quest begins. These stances help control the RNG of their rolls in different ways: aggressive raises their skills but might make the encounter harder, cautious which does the exact opposite by lowering the skills but making the encounter easier, and balanced which is, well, balanced. This is a minor change in what will hopefully become a much more interactive mechanic and let players have more control over the course of the quest.
When I first played Epic Tavern, many of the quests were unfinished and nearly impossible to complete. Their difficulty level was so high and my adventurers remained such a low level that I had a hard time completing any quests. Placeholder text was more common than written content. All of that has changed. The Groggy Wench is inundated with quests, backlogged for my merry band of verments hoping to find a hoard and make it rich (I have complete control over how much gold they get from quests and will never allow that to happen). The quests themselves are written with the same wit and humor as before, enjoyable, characterful, and fun. The writing falters in some places, but there is ample time for adjustments and rewrites.
Since I was able to finally complete a ton of quests, I was able to add on to the Groggy Wench. I was able to build an infirmary and a brewery of my own, adding my own house made ale of questionable quality to my menu of BBQ rat and stale bread. Things are shaping up for my little hole in the wall. These expansions have no physical presence in the game. They exist within menus that, while easy to navigate, are a bit disappointing. The tavern improves and gains these additions but none of it translates to the actual, graphical tavern that patrons visit.
Epic Tavern still doesn’t deliver a great sim in this stage of development. The Autumn Update is full of quest content, cleverly written entries of wit and mayhem. I helped a poor business who was having trouble with his ledgers. Embezzlement is hard. I stole a one-eyed pirate’s eye patch worn over his only good eye. It’s all good fun. However, the gameplay loop still needs improvement because clicking a button to roll the dice to read a bunch of text isn’t the most engaging gameplay mechanic. Even if I’m harping on the same parts of the game again, Epic Tavern is coming together in a direction players will enjoy, and in the end could be the tavern master sim we didn’t know we wanted.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on PC with a code provided by PR.