Expeditions: Conquistador ReviewPC
key review info
- Game: Expeditions: Conquistador
- Platform: PC
- Gamepad support: No
- Reviewed on:
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Developer Logic Artists and publisher bitComposer Games have finally given me an alternative to Colonization, the old Sid Meier game I have always relied on when I wanted to use my intelligence and skill to conquer the Americas.
Expeditions: Conquistador is a very good indie effort, a game that has interesting choices for the player, solid tactical battles and manages to nail the theme, although a little more polish could have worked wonders.
As the game opens up, players have to create their own character, the leader of the expedition, and then recruit their party, using a role-playing inspired system.
The core gameplay of Expeditions: Conquistador uses two core gameplay concepts: exploration complemented by role playing and tactical battles.
As a conquistador, the player has near total freedom to move around the island, take on quests, interact with other Spaniards and with the natives, trade resources and develop the members of his own party.
There are plenty of interesting choices to make here, from how to handle a certain tribe (character traits make a difference here) to how to respond to the biographical details that soldiers or scouts reveal about themselves.
The island of Expeditions is a rather inhospitable land and players will have to manage resources ranging from food to medicine, deciding each evening how to best protect their camp, how far to range for new supplies and how to use specialists like the party doctor.
Starvation is a real threat, as I found out during my very first game, when just a lucky boar encounter allowed me to get back to base after thieves made off with the majority of my rations.
As the game progresses, gamers can also talk to their followers, uncovering more information about them and about their views on the colonization mission and the natives.
Expeditions: Conquistador could have remained just a management game focused on the overland map and it would still have delivered an impressive set of gameplay ideas.
The biggest problem is that the start of the campaign is relatively set in stone, which makes restarting to explore new options somewhat of a chore.
When diplomacy and special skills fail, Expeditions: Conquistador moves to a tactical battle scenario, with players selecting six of their party members in order to face off a variety of potential enemies.
The battles are turn and hex based, with each character able to deliver a long-range assault via matchlock or a close quarters attack with a variety of weapons, while also moving around the battlefield.
Players need to remember that Expeditions does not feature counterstrikes, which means that attacked units do not automatically retaliate, but that they all have zones of control that trigger attacks of opportunity.
This means that players need to think in innovative ways instead on relying on tactics borrowed from other turn-based tactical titles like Heroes of Might & Magic, focusing more on choke points and on solid use of encirclements in order to quickly eliminate enemy units.
Judicious deployment of character abilities and good equipment are also crucial to success, especially when faced with a superior number of enemies.
The big problem with the tactical battles in Expeditions: Conquistador is the relative ineffectiveness of ranged weapons, which seems to mess with the A.I. and makes it too easy to win using soldiers designed for close quarters fights.
It might be historically accurate, but the choice makes the game a little less enjoyable.
The only other big problem with Expeditions is how close the camera sits to the main character on the strategic map, making it somewhat difficult to see the surroundings and decide where to go next.
Expeditions: Conquistador is developed using Unity and the team at Logic Artists has managed to create a good-looking strategy title that has a useful interface.
The colors are muted and the portraits all seem hand drawn, adding some personality to the setting, but there’s none of the glitz seen in other strategy launches of the year, like the most recent Heroes expansion.
Expeditions: Conquistador can deal with some pretty horrific themes and the look of the game seems designed to reflect its complex and sometimes dark nature.
The sounds are also well selected for the game world and the period and the musical theme was a nice surprise, augmenting the immersion level.
Expeditions: Conquistador can also be played in multiplayer, either by connecting to another player or via hotseat.
The entire game is impressive given that it’s coming from an indie team and can easily gobble up 20 hours or more, especially when playing on a difficulty setting that makes survival, let alone success, hard to achieve.