inXile Entertainment is on a bit of a streak recently. Their CRPG throwback Torment: Tides of Numenera released to great reviews, they’ve broken ground on Wasteland 3 with a crowdfunding campaign that raised over 3 million USD, and also in development is yet another title, The Bard’s Tale IV, a continuation of the beloved series that has been a defining one in the RPG genre. It is set to release October this year for PC.
Bard’s Tale IV is a throwback to classic party-based roleplay. It’s in first person, but before you think Skyrim, it’s combat is turn-based and plays out on a grid system as you explore dungeons and solve puzzles. Along your journey you’ll recruit a variety of NPC companions as you tackle quests with branching paths. Your choices and party composition all have lasting on impacts on how the world will react to you. The world’s visuals, art and of course, music take center stage all drawing inspiration from Gaelic culture. In the story, evil has returned to the land, and magic which is the best offense against it has been outlawed by a suspicious church. You and your companions will take up the mantle yourselves and protect a world that has turned its back on you.
You’ll be making your way through all manner of locations: dungeons, forests, crypts, castles and more as you explore the realms of the different races. The game will have a large focus on mystery, as you’ll be making new discoveries and charting your own path through the non-linear world. The choices you make during quests will literally become the stuff of song and local bards will sing of your deeds. This will spread your reputation and affect the attitudes of people and what’s available to you in quests and locations.
Paying attention to the details will also yield rewards as many items have hidden properties that you can unlock by examining them. You may find a dagger with a hidden dial that when turned releases a poison into its blade. Crafting will also be present and will allow you to make all different kinds of gear and you can use the game’s magic system to further augment the properties of these created items.
Your party will consist of up to 6 companions and you will be able to also summon creatures to fight with you. In combat when it’s your turn you can choose any of your party members in whatever order you’d like, allowing you to queue up your own tactical cadence. Each one of your companions will have access to a collection of spells and skills to use during combat and how they are mixed will have a large impact in your battle style. As you level up, you’ll be able to choose from a group of unlocked spells to add to the repertoire of your companions.
With the tactics like gameplay, a lot of time is being spent on developing the combat beyond simple turn-based mechanics. inXile is designing the game to make large scale battles that constantly evolve. You’ll have to be reacting to changes on the battlefield often; it’s not just going to be a simple, “ok kill these 3 guys who are more or less going to stand in this spot for the battle”. There are going to be trade-offs at play between what you want to do and what’s the best thing to do. Additionally, care is being put into enemy AI to make them unpredictable, smart and dangerous, meaning you’re going to have to use every tool in the toolbox to clear an encounter. And even then, you’ll be taxed to the end.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on this one as it develops. Keep checking back for more including a full preview in the coming months.