When you first set foot on Teer Fradee, the mysterious island at the heart of GreedFall, it’s pretty impressive. While the intro of the game takes place in the “Old World,” which is based on Colonial Europe, Teer Fradee opens up a land of infinite promise. After you step off the boat with your companions, who knows what you’ll discover?
Exploring your new home is exactly what you’d expect from an open-world RPG like GreedFall. Boxes glow yellow if there’s loot inside. Citizens give brief rebuke if you knock into them. Little hints at story elements lie in plain sight.
Suddenly, a character shouts in a language you don’t understand. A question mark appears above their head. Oh yeah, it’s side quest time. Welcome to GreedFall, the best and worst of the open-world genre.
Wonder by Wonder
GreedFall is first and absolutely foremost designed for people who want an open-world RPG experience. Your map is jam-packed with stuff to do almost from the get-go. Quests dot the map. Points of interest pop up as question marks. Camps, merchants, crafting benches bob against the horizon. There are little icons everywhere!
Especially early on in GreedFall, the amount of stuff you can do is a bit overwhelming. While you’re still figuring out the basics of the game’s controls, it’s quite possible to wander into an off-limits zone and get attacked by guards — all because you’re trying to follow your map.
It can certainly be a lot to take in, but as you start to get into the groove of things and figure out how GreedFall differs from other games of the same ilk, it all starts to come together.
In fact, one of GreedFall‘s biggest shortfalls is that it is not The Witcher or Dragon Age. Surely, it’s tough to compare a lower budget game from a small studio to those genre behemoths, but since GreedFall shoots for the stars, it’s worthwhile making at least a loose comparison. In many ways, though, it has a lot going for it if you’re searching for another RPG in which to lose yourself.
The main thing that helps GreedFall stand out in a crowded genre is its setting and story. As mentioned at the top of this review, it’s inspired by the Colonial period and the age of piracy. That doesn’t mean you’re sailing to Bermuda, however.
Teer Fradee is full of monsters, elves, and all sorts of interesting takes on standard fantasy tropes. The developers do an excellent job pulling you in and making you care about the world you’re interacting with.
Equally, GreedFall also does a great job of making you feel like your decisions impact its world. As the Legate, you are forced to listen to several different sides and stories and proceed accordingly. There are several different factions to interact with, and each faction’s opinion of you can open up new questlines and story options.
Even with all these different options, GreedFall never comes out and says, “These are the good guys, these are the bad guys.” Instead, most of the people you encounter (and your own character, for the most part) exist in a sort of moral grey area. There are definitely bad people, but they are spread out all over the world. There is a sense of realism lent to the universe knowing you can navigate its complex web however you like.
Little details stand out and help the world to feel alive as well. One of the driving story points is searching for the cure for a horrible disease. Some elements of the plot take some predictable turns, but it’s nice to see plague doctors, citizens in different stages of the disease, doors with big, red “X”es painted on them. It’s equally that a wizened old hermit explaining the world to you isn’t found at each and every turn.
You put things together on your own, which makes everything feel a little more real.
Every Turn a Surprise
The story and world-building are great, but not everything in GreedFall is as polished. The combat is just OK. It gets better as you progress and unlock more abilities, but the “Tactical Pause” option, which lets you instantly freeze combat and pick your next move, doesn’t gel for me.
Maybe I never found a good key binding, but I would accidentally hit that key instead of the dodge or secondary attack button, bringing the game’s action to a standstill. Some of the more complicated attack options, like GreedFall‘s magical abilities, make combat more interesting, but I often found that smashing through things was the most tactically sound plan.
That’s not to say combat is bad. There just isn’t all that much to it.
You have a few different attack buttons, depending on the weapons you’re using. You can quickbind about a dozen items and abilities: health potions, spells, and the like. The tactical pause always gives you the option to take stock of what’s happening around you but, otherwise, everything is happening in real-time. Especially if you want to focus on other elements of character building, combat is just a fine element of the game.
GreedFall also seems to have some technical issues regarding graphics. Turning quickly around, especially in the middle of the city, would often cause stutters and tears, and things often look great until you get close. Scenes with extended talking venture into the uncanny valley with poor lip-synching and glossy eyes, and the background blurs horribly to help make the characters look sharp when you’re up close and personal.
Finally, the sheer amount of quests tend to drag because so many of them are a bit fetch-y. For example, the quest I mentioned at the top of the article regarding the merchant is nothing more than a bunch of running back and forth and back and forth for dozens of minutes.
Maybe that’s how colonialism actually works: tons of bureaucracy, a lot of backtracking, and an unfair death at the end of it. But it sure isn’t a lot of fun to just traipse around the world as a glorified gopher simply to pad out the length of a quest in a game that has so much more to offer its players.
A Whole New World
- Interesting setting and story
- Voice acting is solid
- Lots of options and ways to approach
- Decisions feel like they matter
- Tons to do
- Quests can get drawn out
- Technical issues
- Combat isn’t as streamlined as it could be
There’s a lot to like in GreedFall. It ticks many of the most important boxes an RPG should. It makes you care about the characters and the world, all while giving you a sense that you can actually impact those things. Building relationships with your companions, deciding which factions you want to ally with, and changing your armor and weapons so your character looks dandy as all hell, GreedFall has all these elements covered and covered well.
However, GreedFall‘s limitations rear their heads frequently. It tends to be a combination of the “best and worst” of the open-world RPG genre. For some, that may be exactly what’s needed, The Witcher in a new setting, with hours upon hours of new quests to run.
For others, GreedFall might not quite scratch those hard to reach itches due to its less impressive aspects.
[Note: A copy of GreedFall was provided by Spiders for the purpose of this review.]
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