Like it or not, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is an IP we’re likely to be hearing much more from over the next few years now that THQ Nordic have the rights.
And with a third DLC pack launching just recently with a fourth still to come, it’s clear Warhorse Studios are enjoying extending the life cycle of a game which just passed its first birthday on market.
Band of Bastards puts KCD’s combat at the forefront, then. Focusing on its divisive mechanics, you travel with a band of mercenaries in a series of patrol missions, protecting the realm in the name of Sir Radzig Kobyla.
At the head of the patrol is Baron Kuno of Rychwald, an old acquaintance of Sir Radzig, who is indebted to him in more ways than one. But when it becomes clear that enemies from Radzig’s past are catching up to him, loyalties will inevitably be tested and interesting stories told.
Kuno’s camp is a new area added to the map, just outside of Rattay. It’s full of rogues and bandits who enjoy drinking, swearing, and generally doing whatever the hell they want. It’s a different, occasionally uncomfortable scenario for Henry, and one he certainly struggles to get to grips with.
But this definitely lends itself to the DLC’s strongest point and that’s the way in which the story is told. There’s a surprisingly good narrative here, and the characters are well developed, each one offering unique perspectives from the mute soldier known as The Stone, to the quirky, seemingly harmless Jakey.
You can learn more about each character at the camp, asking them questions about themselves and even take part in a little wager centered around a ring. But things take even more interesting turns when you venture out on patrol and witness each character do something that can change your opinion of them.
These aren’t good guys. Their views on the world are narrow-minded, their outlook is bleak, and they’re all about self-service. It’s up to you how you react in each situation, though, sadly, the consequences of that usually boil down to one or two simple outcomes.
Outside of the story, however, this is still very much KC:D and personally, for me, little has changed since my initial review. Sure, there’s been plenty of cleanup for the glitching, but as patrols often lead to battles and there’s occasionally duels at camp, you’re going to have to get pretty proficient at swordplay and archery, especially for Band of Bastard’s dramatic conclusion.
Which you can’t run from by the way. Believe me, I tried, and the game completely froze and crashed me out to the desktop. I belly-laughed.
At this point, I’m willing to admit that the combat probably just doesn’t work for me. It’s an interesting system and certainly a bold approach for this genre, but despite spending hours with the game beforehand, then checking out some tutorials online ahead of jumping back in for Band of Bastards, I just don’t like it.
I often feel like I kill people out of sheer dumb luck, then other times I get unlucky because I’m surrounded by enemies battering me into the ground. The good thing with BoB is that you’re often in a group, so they can and will help you out and the advantage in numbers certainly helps.
One on one, though, I’m an easy target. Although, amazingly, I managed to stumble my way through to the end of this DLC. Don’t ask me how.
Unfortunately, combat is such a big part of Band of Bastards. Which makes for a very obvious recommendation or lack thereof. If you hated the combat of KCD, I cannot recommend Band of Bastards, no matter if I found its story more interesting than a lot of the base game.
And I really did find it interesting. To the point where I couldn’t put the DLC down because I wanted to see how it all ended up. I did not expect to enjoy Band of Bastards story as much as I did.
True, it’s a bit short and the rewards aren’t massive or memorable, but there are multiple ways to end the game which offer up some interesting conclusions for all involved, then seeing how they play out on screen.
As a piece of DLC goes, Band of Bastards surprised me as much as it didn’t. I knew what I was getting myself in for. I didn’t like the combat in Kingdom Come: Deliverance and I still found frustrating glitches and mechanics in my playthrough, like glide on my controller and overall maneuverability and targetting in the game. Thank God there’s no lockpicking…
I also couldn’t believe that they didn’t turn Kuno’s camp into a fast-travel point! It’s the one area of the map you have to keep returning to throughout the story, but you can only fast travel to Rattay’s Mill which is several minutes away, meaning you have to cross that infernal bridge on horseback which is a convoluted nightmare.
Hell, there’s not even a designated bed for you at the camp, so you can’t even hang around there without someone waking you up in the middle of the night telling you ‘This isn’t a hotel’.
But I stayed for its story, which is something I couldn’t have expected in my wildest dreams. Ideally, I would have loved to have had more influence on the events in the game and maybe had the game recognize my positive impact on how characters might react in certain situations. I never felt like anyone learned anything from being in Henry’s company.
For better or worse, Band of Bastards sticks to what it knows and as DLC goes does a good job of adding to the overall narrative, giving Henry several surprising, encouraging opportunities to express himself. Hopefully THQ Nordic shake things up in more ways than one for the inevitable sequel.
+ Surprisingly well-engineered story
+ Interesting cast of characters
– The combat still feels luck-based and irritating
– Glitches manage to keep cropping up
– No fast travel point for the camp
– Limited outcomes
Kingdom Come: Deliverance – Band of Bastards DLC Review
7 out of 10
Tested on PC
Code kindly received from the publisher