Expeditions: Conquistador is set around 1520 and you take on the role of a Spanish Conquistador, who has just landed in South America. A time and place rarely visited in games but it’s rife in mystery, political intrigue and violence bringing a lot to do in this game. At the start of the campaign you create your character, choosing the name and traits. These traits will then determine how your team perceive you and how characters you interact with, will respond to you during conversations. The next step is choosing your 10 person expedition team, which can consist of Doctors, Hunters, Scholars, Scouts and Soldiers. These all have their own strengths, on and off of the battlefield, which you will have to learn to use in the correct situations, otherwise it could have dire consequences. I learnt this the hard way and lost a few of my expedition early, by not utilising my teams skills in combat and then when setting up a camp. That then created a completely new challenge of it’s own.
I felt like there were three main aspects to Expeditions: Conquistador, Diplomacy, Resource Management and Combat. You could concentrate on one more then the rest but ultimately they all play a vital role in keeping your expedition into South America going and if one fails then the others won’t help you. I sided more on Diplomacy as there are too many games out there (even RPG’s) that are centred around fighting and as Expedition: Conquistador gave you the opportunity to calmly talk the situation to a peaceful resolution, it was a nice change, rather then getting into fights every time the opportunity arose. When conversations arise there are always multiple choices to choose from, giving the chance for peaceful or violent outcomes from encounters. So if you’d like to just fight your way through and show your aggression and dominance over the locals, then it seems possible you can play like that but you would miss out on a lot of great dialogue in the process.
There are four resources that are tradable in Expeditions: Conquistador, Valuables, Rations, Medicine and Equipment. They are all tradable and also useful in other features of the game. For example, getting into a fight and losing while travelling can cause some of your group to get injured and make you use some of your medicine, so it’s necessary to keep adequate amounts of each while traveling between settlements, or out on missions, so you can keep your people safe. That type of item management was incredibly enjoyable, as it’s not just buying and selling for coin like the majority of RPG’s. Also starting off you don’t have a lot to trade ,so it’s a case of juggling between the essentials you know you’ll need and anything else you can carry, just in case disaster strikes. There are also craftable and perishable resources that come into play. These are more straight forward with building barricades and traps in fights, consuming the craftable resources and meat and herbs to stock up on rations and create medicine while out in the jungle, using the perishable resources.
As for the combat, it’s very simple to get used to. It’s a grid based battle with each fighter getting a turn and on this turn, they can all move and either use a skill, build a barricade, set traps, defend, attack or move extra spaces. The most important thing to get right in a battle, is the formation and members of the battle. Do you go for a full out assault ,with only aggressive members who can deal damage? Or do you add a doctor in there to heal anyone who gets hit? Either way, if you don’t think of a strategy, it can quite quickly mean your demise. After a battle your members will rank up and get skill-points to add to them. This is where it can get quite confusing if you haven’t played a game like this before and I got a bit lost and felt it was more trial and error but I got there in the end.
Expeditions: Conquistador looks very timely of the era, with minimal buildings in settlements and vast jungles with camps and tribes darted throughout. The fights play out very smoothly and look good, but this game isn’t about high end graphics and how great everything looks. It’s the story, dialogue and detail in every encounter, that makes this game so enjoyable.
This game is a challenge but it’s incredibly immersive and if you are a fan of tactical RPGs or turn based, strategic fighting then you’ll have a great time with this game.
Expeditions: Conquistador is available on PC, 30th May, 2013 from multiple retailers and if you would like to know more or purchase the game then check out http://conquistadorthegame.com for more info.