Let's Talk About Greedfall

So, this game has been getting a lot of attention lately due to the idea of it being an underdog successor to Bioware RPGs. A lot of game footage has come out about character creation, dialogue, choices, and so on. It has a very Mass Effect/Dragon Age kind of feel to it. Spiders, the developers of Greedfall, have done previous RPG forays with games like Technomancer, Mars: War Logs, and Of Orcs and Men. It seems like this is their biggest project to date, however.

Here’s a gameplay video:

But immediately you can already see how problematic it is. A fantasy/colonial story with a strong connection to the imagery of Spanish/English colonizers coming to a ‘native’ land that is connected with nature and magic, and then exploiting it for their own gain.

Yeah… It’s a lot. It looks like, from a lot of the videos I’ve seen, that they want to address the themes of colonialism at the heart of the game, but time will tell whether it comes off as exploitive or thoughtful. I already know of some indigenous friends I have who are already not going to buy it for such connections, despite having a deep love for Bioware-style games.

So how do you all feel about it?

3 Likes

I’ve been warily eyeing this one for a while. I’m holding off for reviews to drop about how it handles the pretty obviously distressing colonization stuff. I want it to be good, because I’m a fan of classic bioware, but it sounds like they’re going with a “players decide what’s right” sort of stance with multiple endings (they’ve said there is no “good ending” and everything is supposed to have shades of grey).
They have confirmed queer romance options though…

2 Likes

It seems like there’s an option to side with the natives against the colonizers… But there’s no option to play as one of the natives, as far as I can tell. And also there’s totally an option to side 100% with the colonizers instead. Does the game make it clear that the latter is the “evil” option, or does it go absolutely all in on the not-choosing-sides player-driven morality thing?

I dunno, I saw a preview somewhere that made me maybe 10% less skeptical that I was before, but I’m definitely also still waiting on detailed reviews before passing judgment. Unless the post-launch praise is unanimous, though, I’m probably just going to skip this.

2 Likes

This developer’s past work (Mars: War Logs, The Technomancer) has been firmly in the category of “low rent post-KOTOR BioWare”. Their visual presentation and combat system looks like a notable step up from those past games, but I don’t have much confidence in their ability to handle a topic like colonialism.

I’d like to be proven wrong, but I’m not exactly giving them the benefit of the doubt here.

1 Like

I think every indigenous person in games I’ve seen on social media was very viscerally like “fuckkkk this” so I’m inclined to just pass on this one tbh.

7 Likes

I’m going to go out on a limb him here and say we can do much much better than the BioWare games now that any prospect of them making another honest-to-god RPG is almost nil.

This whole new world to explore and you’re The Special who has to do the Important Thing with a team of lovable and meme-able teammates is some dull played-out shit and the fact that they’re mixing that with actual colonialism is baaaadddd. Not good.

Even without including the bad thing, do we still need to make RPGs about flattering the player in 2019? It sucks that Tyranny didn’t sell, basically.

8 Likes

Oof. Just from this trailer alone (but I’ve also seen the others), it uses every problematic fantasy world trope I can imagine. I mean, even the classic copy-paste LOTR-style fantasy worlds aren’t as clear as analogies to the real world and its history as this seems to be.

I could imagine a few things which could potentially turn this scenario on its head and make this an interesting critical narrative exploration of all these tropes and their real-life analogies, but the successful execution of this would require an amount of care and depth in terms of writing that few video games have been able to achieve and the track record of this studio doesn’t make me hopeful.

But yeah, gameplay wise this looks like Dragon Age with more interesting (read: more action oriented) combat.

2 Likes

Sure. The market is large and there’s room for all kinds of RPGs. You may not care for the power fantasy element to RPGs but others still do. And yeah, Tyranny not doing well was a major bummer. But that game was barely marketed.

I’ll most likely picking this up for the PS4 since I have an itch for this kind of RPG. I’m curious to see how it deals with colonialism, but chances are it’ll be, at best, just the setting for all the RPG stuff. It’ll maybe pay some lip service to the shittiness of displacing the native population from their lands and exploiting their resources, maybe do a “there’s both good and bad on both sides” kind of nonsense so players won’t feel too bad for siding with the folks with the fancy hats.

Who knows, maybe it’ll surprise us. Like Way of the Samurai 4 lets you side with the fanatical ultra nationalist faction and the ending to that story path doesn’t go well. But chances are it’ll be another decent but problematic game that fills a niche. I do like how they stress that quests can be solved in different ways, so that’s the main draw for me.

2 Likes

yeah this is where I’m at. consistently itching for more games ‘like dragon age’, yknow.

having ‘greed’ in the title suggests to me it may not be taking a “neutral” view on colonists, but I mean, we’ll see I guess.

and I hadn’t actually heard of it before this thread so, thanks :+1:

1 Like

I’m not particularly sympathetic to works that try an make the point that their aesthetics and politics are Bad Actually, because that’s not what they’ve been about for the rest of the game.

Spec Ops The Line had to beat its message into the skulls of its players because being a war criminal is a) a thing all military shooters do, and b) could potentially be ignored by players because they’re the ones doing the playing, and so infer that they’re in the right. And that game only took 6 hours.

The only way a game like this approach these themes respectfully and effectively is if it turns out to be a 50 hour interrogation of colonialism, because if it releases the pressure on the subject matter for any stretch then the player’s inductive assumption that everything they do is fine because they’re the one doing it will take over.

Honestly, a “yo, you were being a bad guy the whoooolllleee timmmeee” ending would be insulting. No shit, friend. You made me play as a settler.

5 Likes

It’s not looking good so far.

2 Likes

I’m not sure what people expected from a Spiders game. Their games have occasionally been endearing in their abrasiveness, but mostly they’ve been an atonal mess. I would not trust this setting and these themes with any major game studio, let alone the people behind Of Orcs and Men.

it always give me kinda a sick feeling in my stomach when media like this really reveal just how complete and successful the genocide of indigenous culture was. It seems like most people are generally positive on the game, and everything I’ve read about the setting is just a bunch of bemused “oh how interesting and quaint”. It’s hard to even put into words.

8 Likes

Disappointing, but not really surprising.

Greedfall had been on my radar since I originally heard about it, because it is SUPREMELY easy to sell me on “janky b-tier rpg with ambition”, shit is my catnip, but this just sounds dull. I may still check it out, but probably not anytime soon.

I guess it’s pretty much what I was expecting. This is a setting which is pretty difficult to nail, which perhaps shouldn’t even be tackled from this sort of perspective or mechanics (as Dia Lacina consistently points out). In the same way as a Prison Architect style Concentration Camp Simulator can easily work mechanically, but would be utterly despicable as a game.

On the other hand, I would be interested in a wide ranging RPG type game set in/inspired by a pre-Columbian American culture without any reference to Europeans. I think these sorts of RPGs are great at communicating things such as lore and mythology and might actually be a good way to introduce people to other cultures…since school curricula don’t do a great job right now. But again, I do not think it’s something that could be properly handled by a team lead by non-indigenous people though, so it might never happen at this rate.

2 Likes

Here’s an interesting take going the other way. I’m really curious to see what people say about the legacy of this game with more time to it.

White guy: “This game about colonialism is maybe good actually, but I’m only like a couple of hours in so idk.”

Yeah, ringing endorsement, that.

10 Likes

It’s necessary to intellectually justify why doing the colonialism in the settler RPG is Good Actually, to me.

1 Like

I haven’t seen this talked about, but the Native American analogue elves seem to be white but wearing some sort of red-face makeup? I get that they are supposed to be Celts mixed with Native Stereotype mixed with Elves, but I’m not digging that look at all. Starting around minute 17, and the most noticeable being at minute 20 of this Kotaku stream:

That’s not really what he’s saying…