The Expeditions series from Logic Artists has like the steady march of history been slowly building a name for itself in the historical action roleplay genre. While Northern Europe has been a big focus for developers in recent years, (Kingdom Come: Deliverance, Mordhau, Mount and Blade II: Banner Lord all come to mind) Logic Artists are looking towards ancient Rome.
Expeditions Rome takes place in the late republic during the time of Julias Caesar. Only in this version of history Caesar never lived. You will step into the gap and play out the history of Caesar’s time and may even end up being Emperor.
“We built around four pillars,” explains Logic Artists Creative Director Jonas Waver “the personal, the story of your companions, the political struggle of the Roman senate and the imperialism of Rome.”
You’ll indeed get to immerse yourself in Roman politics as well as small to large scale battles across Greece, North Africa, and Gaul. At the beginning of the game your father is murdered by a rival family. You flee Rome to join a campaign abroad and gradually work your way back home. But will you sacrifice the empire to avenge your father? The devs are leaving it up to you.
With multiple endings and branching storylines, there’s many ways a playthrough of Expeditions can unfold. Will you expose your rival as a traitor to Rome? Doing so may end up losing you the war and you’ll pay a political cost for it upon your return to the capitol.
Expeditions has you shuttling between Rome and the frontiers of the empire between campaigns. The choices you make not only affect the outcome locally but will favor or fault you after returning home. Lose a battle and you’ll have to explain to the Roman senate. Secure conquest for Rome however and fortune and status will flow.
The developers stressed while previewing the game that it’s deeply rooted in the real history. “A rich tapestry of historical events” is what Waver calls it. You’ll not only live and breathe the Roman life but interact with several real-life figures from history. Cato the Younger, the Roman senator who opposed Caesar, will debate morality with you on the floor of the senate among other encounters with some of history’s notable names.
So the world and story have gotten bigger but what about the gameplay? The devs described this incarnation of the game as refined over previous installments. You’ll control a party of six and engage in turn-based combat that focuses more on tactics and abilities rather than just stabbing people in the face.
Every action has an extra effect and there’s no basic attack move. Swinging a sword may hit more than one opponent or a thrown spear may get blocked by a shield. There’s also consumables but using Greek fire while you’re aboard a ship at sea is not recommended.
Your enemies likewise have abilities tied to their actions so it isn’t simply a matter of carving through basic units until you’ve cleared the field. Your enemies will have their own strengths and weaknesses as well as unique abilities. You’ll also get more control of your army in this installment with you issuing orders to spread Roman progress across the world map. There will also be things like siege encounters that up the ante from regular battles.
Like previous installments there’s a healthy amount of resource gathering and literal conquesting to do. When you’re beyond Rome’s borders you’ll need to win the hearts and minds of locals, suppress resistance, and gather resources. You’ll build an aqueduct or two along the way as well as a few roads and maybe even a library. Rome’s conquest of the world at least came with some technological progress.
You’ll even get to upgrade your warcamp to better advance the empire as well as your career. Are your officers getting mutinous? Build a bath to soothe their tempers. Barbarians attacking the perimeter? Better cover the walls with sharp spikes. Getting into the minutia like this will not only make for a great history lesson but satisfy world builders after a healthy portion of combat.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Expeditions Rome. It’s been four years since Expeditions Vikings was released and it looks like Rome will improve on the formula on every front. Tons of story content, deeper combat, and the freedom to shape your own destiny as well as that of an empire.
You’ll get to strap on your sandals and don your toga some time this year.
Alexander Eriksen | Gamepressure.com