Kingdom Come: Deliverance Reminds Us Why Realism Matters
Why do you play RPGs?
Chances are, you don’t play franchises like The Elder Scrolls or The Legend of Zelda purely for their value as hack-and-slash action games. When you’ve killed your thousandth bandit, you probably aren’t savoring the opportunity to do it again. Even in a game like Skyrim, killing dragons gets old.
At first, killing a dragon feels awesome because it walks the fine line between challenging/stressful and trivial/boring. In other words, it puts the player in a psychological state of flow. The problem is, most games struggle to maintain this precarious mental state that keeps the player on the edge of their seat.
Flow lies between boredom and anxiety. It’s the optimal challenge for the player’s skill.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance does RPGs differently than a lot of the unrealistic hack-and-slash equivalents we see these days. Instead, KC:D maintains flow by challenging the player with realism that brings consequences into every decision.
Say you’re playing Skyrim as a heavy-armor-wearing, mace-wielding warrior who runs at people and whacks a stick at ‘em. You charge into a camp, clobber a bunch of bandits, and go about your business. You’ll do another quest or two and only return to town to repair your gear or sell loot.
In Skyrim, the player’s health, magicka, and stamina regenerate to the max after a brief time. On the other hand, in KC:D, the player’s health will not regenerate on its own. On top of that, the player’s stamina only regenerates to match the remainder of their maximum health.
If you’re going to massacre a mercenary camp, don’t be surprised to lose a lot of health doing it.
This means that if you lose half of your health during a fight, you’ll only have half of your total stamina to work with for the rest of the fight. In other words, the more damage you take, the harder it will be to keep fighting.
Not only does the player have to pick their fights carefully and ensure the fight starts well, but they also need to pick each move wisely once they’re wounded. It mimics the realistic consequences of actual combat and exhaustion while also challenging the player with changing decisions depending on their current health.
Compared to Skyrim, combat is far more realistic and punishing in KC:D. If you want to do more than clear one bandit camp before going back to a town to sleep, eat, and repair your armor, you better play smart. So, even a small detail like health regeneration can have knock-on effects that make each decision in combat more meaningful – therefore engaging the player in a flow state.
Notice the helmet obscuring vision – like a real helmet would.
Plus, taking a hit from any enemy in KC:D has a chance to stun the player for a moment. During this time, you’ll also be vulnerable to taking damage from other enemies who show no remorse. In times like these, it might be best to go aggressive and kill a weaker enemy so that you won’t have to deal with them for the rest of the encounter. Fighting multiple enemies at once is hard – as it should be!
The extra realism added by mechanics like these creates a challenge out of every combat encounter. If you want to optimize your playtime, make sure to hold onto as much health as you can at the end of every fight – or you’ll be heading back to town all the time. Combined with the threat of multiple enemies and diminishing maximum stamina with every hit point lost, the player is constantly faced with realistic choices that maintain the state of flow.
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