Expeditions: Rome, the review of a game that oscillates between role-playing and strategy



Expeditions: Rome review, a role-playing game with strong strategic elements set in Republican Rome

We are in the late Republican era and Rome, while its military power allows it to expand throughout the Mediterranean, internally are multiplying conspiracies and friction between the most powerful families. The situation is explosive: the gap between rich and poor increases and many soldiers seem to be more loyal to their commanders than to Rome itself. In this not-so-quiet scenario begins the story of the protagonist, the son of a patrician family who escaped a conspiracy in which his father lost his life. In order to save himself, he had to leave for Greece, where a campaign is underway against some rebels, fomented by King Mithriades of Pontus. From a simple privileged, ours will have to become a real commander, to return to Rome and do justice to what happened to his family.

This is, in short, the story behind Logic Artists’ latest effort. In the review of Expeditions: Rome we will try to explain the hybrid nature of this interesting project.

Hybrid gameplay

The general map where parties and troops move around

Logic Artists’ title oscillates constantly between being a role-playing game and a strategy game, with the user not only having to take care of a party of well-characterized characters, all with their own stories, but also having to manage an army by leading it on the battlefield, albeit indirectly. As was the case in Expeditions: Conquistador and Expeditions: Vikings, the previous games in the series, the game scenario is partly historical and partly pure fiction. So expect to meet personalities of the time, that you will surely have known from school books, who collaborate with fictional characters, created ad hoc for the game.

In terms of gameplay, we are faced with a title as varied as ever, which offers many systems and that has as its main flaw is not to deepen some. Let’s say that the experience as a whole turns out to be intriguing, for reasons that we will explain, but that sometimes you really feel the need to deepen some aspects, especially the strategic ones. As a role-playing game, Expeditions: Rome is very reminiscent of the Baldur’s Gate formula, albeit with appropriate differences. So we alternate phases of exploration framed from above in areas well defined, to other pure combat to others where we are called upon to make choices, often radical, which determine not only the course of certain events, but also the relationship between us and our subordinates.

Let’s say that here stands out a lot of work done by the developers to make the story as interesting as possible, even in the theoretically weaker moments. In particular, you can see a great effort to make the events more interesting, since they have very strong designs. This stands out in particular for the fights. So on many occasions winning does not mean having to defeat the enemy, but to achieve different goals, such as setting fire to a number of ships, defending a character, reducing the supply of a particularly strong enemy so as to isolate him and so on. In this helps a lot the turn-based combat, based on the expenditure of action points, which allowed the designers to think about the various topical moments in a much more strategic way than we could hope.

Exploration

The combat system offers several opportunities

The exploration itself is divided into several levels: that of the general map, in which you can reach the different places, but you can also collect resources from various points of interest, as well as participate in events from which you can draw benefits or penalties (for example, attacking adult boars increases the food supply, but can hurt one of our companions); that of individual places, where you can find vendors, get missions and information or fight, which are then one of the fulcrums of the experience. The latter stages are in fact the most interesting, because they allow us to get in touch with the backstories of our fellow travelers, or to discover the internal discontents of the territories we have to occupy. Here are also held most of the dialogues, strictly multiple choice, and events in which we will have to decide what kind of commander to be.

A special praise deserve the missions, all in line with the role of the main character (technically is a legatus of Rome). So not only the other characters tend to show the respect that our role requires, but would never dream of asking us to go and collect herbs or clean a cellar from mice. Throughout the game we will therefore find ourselves taking part in conspiracies, trying to find traitors or infiltrate high-risk territories. This is a refreshing choice, to be honest, that goes against the current trend of making heroes perform miserable missions that must save the world, just to add content and lengthen the broth.

Combat system

There are several areas to explore

As mentioned, the combat system of Expeditions: Rome is based on a turn-based model, which recalls the classics of the genre, such as Divinity: Original Sin II (with appropriate differences). At the beginning of each fight we are given the opportunity to position ourselves in an area of the map, then we must act all our units, making them move, making them attack, using their skills and items obtained by exploring or in the Roman camps (which serve as bases of operation). Once our turn is over, the ball is in the hands of the opponents. All characters have a skill tree that determines their class and usefulness on the battlefield. For example, Beast Tabat is a former gladiator very well versed in combat, while Julia Calida is a spy excellent for surprise attacks and for using bows. With the passage of time (to finish Expeditions Rome took us about 56 hours) and the accumulation of experience points, you can unlock new skills, which will make the fighting more varied and engaging in their own way, thanks to the strong narrative of many of them. To spice it all up we think the many systems outline, which make the micro-management of the party deeper than we expected. Of course around you can find items to improve our equipment and that of our companions, moreover often linked to specific skills. So we have well-constructed fights, often with multiple objectives, in which to use characters with skills both personal and related to their objects, both related to the opportunities given by the map itself.

The strategic side

Variety is not lacking

As a role-playing game Expeditions: Rome works really well. Of course, some explorable area could have offered some more interaction or secrets, but in general there is little to complain, given the high number of places to visit. Less successful, in our opinion, is the strategic side. Basic we will soon get the command of a legion, which we will have to use to conquer some territories. Our army will be manageable from the camps (actually always the same that follows us from conquest to conquest), where we can replace the lost troops, hire generals to lead them into battle (each with bonuses and maluses related to class and personality), distribute rations and study our next moves. It should be noted that the camp is expandable, that is, you can buy additional buildings to increase the improvement options for your army and party. The problems begin when you take the field, because in reality the fighting is not managed directly, but through a series of tactical decisions from uncertain outcomes, aimed at favoring the various aspects that can determine the victory or defeat. The system itself is not very deep and we confess that we often resorted to automatic resolution, that is, we did manage everything to the CPU, especially in the secondary battles, which in the long run become almost a nuisance compared to everything else.

Graphics

Technically Expeditions: Rome isn't exceptional, but it isn't bad either

From the technical point of view Expeditions: Rome is a game without infamy and without praise. Let’s say that graphically is not amazing, while presenting environments quite detailed and well characterized, as well as well built. Even the art direction is fairly anonymous and functional, and never offers particular virtuosity. It’s okay, for a role-playing game with top-down budget AA, but do not expect miracles or to be amazed by characters or landscapes. The same goes for the soundtrack, which is limited to being a decent accompaniment to the action and nothing more. Finally, a few words should be spent on the cleanliness of the title, which proved to be very high. Some bugs are there, but nothing really decisive or destructive to the gaming experience. Of course, maybe we are among the lucky players, while others will have had life worse than ours. However, we can tell you that we arrived at the end of the game without unrecoverable blocks and without having encountered bugs that have forced us to throw some save. It is not little, these days.

Comment

Expeditions: Rome we really liked a lot and we recommend it to all those who are looking for a deep and multifaceted role-playing game, albeit with some critical issues, especially on the strategic side. It is a worthy new episode of the Expeditions series, moreover from the scenario really fascinating (Republican Rome). It is an engaging experience full of significant choices, with events and situations built with great wisdom. To be honest, we expected much less and perhaps that is why we were particularly impressed by the end result.

PRO

  • Very various
  • Well-designed events and fights
  • No dumb quests
  • The strategic part is a bit weak
  • The art direction is anonymous
  • Have you noticed any errors?
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