"This Expedition Isn't for Beginners"
Sailing the high seas, charting undiscovered territory, and meeting new civilizations. For Europe, colonialism was a time of expansion and adventure that forever changed human history and the world we live in.
Expeditions: Conquistador explores the colonial world via a traditional turn-based strategy format, but it adds enough RPG elements to flesh out a robust storyline, with sometimes mixed results.
Considering that the subject matter is colonialism, specifically Spanish colonialism, developer Logic Artists had a lot of history to wade through. To their credit, they explore some pretty mature themes with honesty and grace.
Your crew members all have personality traits that affect how you play the game. If you pick a crew full of adventurers, don't plan on backing down from random encounters unless you want to lose morale. Don't pick racist characters if you want to be friendly with the native Taino indian population -- as a game set against the backdrop of colonial expansion, one of the traits that define your crew is racism. Yup, Conquistadors grabs that bull right by the horns.
The RPG elements extend to your main character as well. You customize your character and flesh out his skills, and those skills directly influence your interactions with the world around you.
The game comes with plenty of tutorials to help ease players into the game, but sometimes it seems as though they focus on the obvious and forget to explain all the details.
In terms of gameplay, navigating the map is an exercise in frustration, and at times it feels like a high-tech version of Oregon Trail. After one of the inumerable nights spent hunting for food and trying to patch up whatever ailment has besieged my doctor, I kept waiting to hear "Francisco has died of cholera."
Likewise, some of the controls could have been designed better. Nothing is broken, but there's a level of frustration when things don't work they way you'd expect them to.
The story elements are clearly one of the stronger draws for Expeditions: Conquistador. Uncovering the back story for each of your party members as well as the main quest should satisfy your RPG fix nicely.
Micromanagement is the order of the day. In some instances (camping) you have the option of auto assigning your followers and the rationing, but with Conquistador it's always better to do it yourself.
The dificulty seems intent on proving Murphy's Law. Even on average difficulty, you will find yourself tested, and random chance rarely plays out in your favor.
Fighting enemies on the familiar hex-map will be comfortable for anyone that's ever played a strategy game, but sometimes the quirks and specicfics of Conquistador take some getting used to. This isn't Final Fantasy Tactics. If you rush in and just expect to brawl your way to victory, Conquistador can be a very cruel teacher. The same goes for provisioning, assigning duties, and pretty much every aspect of the game.
There are probably better titles for a strategy novice to start out with, but gamers familiar with the genre will find a lot to like about the depth and complexity of Expeditions: Conquistador.
GameDynamo's Score for Expeditions: Conquistador (PC)
A freelance writer, gaming fanatic, and technology enthusiast, Len lives in Long Beach, California with his dog.
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