We’re now on the third main DLC in the run of extra stories for Kingdom Come: Deliverance, and while the previous two concerned themselves with more passive pursuits, albeit involving quirky quests and activities, Band of Bastards takes the route of warfare.

Henry is still acting as saviour of the land and taking tasks and orders from his liege lord Sir Radzig, so who better to help the noble clear up the roads of his Kingdom. Of course, this would be ridiculous to ask of one man, however Band of Bastards, as the title suggests, sees you ride out with a rag tag group of mercenaries.

To keep the explanation short, the leader of this band of fighters and ex-criminals owes Sir Radzig a hefty favour, and so agrees to saddle up with his men to figure out why violence and bandit attacks are becoming more prominent around the various settlements. Of course, the band are a little unruly and not too familiar with the area, so essentially Sir Radzig wants Henry to keep them in line and guide them on their patrols.

What this means for the player is communicating with the mercenaries – with a few dialogue choices that could impact on how the story pans out – investigating areas with them in hunt of bandits, and of course fighting alongside them when you inevitably run into trouble. The group combat in Kingdom Come was exhilarating, but landed a little on the clunky side. I always felt irritated by being outnumbered and so would look forward to the bigger battles in the game, however the combat is clearly designed for those one on one duels. Unfortunately nothing has changed here, and riding (or running more likely) into battle with your mercenary friends is quick and confusing.

Having said that, the encounters that Band of Bastards offers are well staged and prefaced by some good cut scenes, so this acts as a counterweight to the silliness that ensues on the battle field. The story is the strongest part of this DLC, and I’d say this questline has some of the better dialogue and characters. Kuno, who is the leader of the band, is a rough character, but has a complex history with Sir Radzig that often calls on him to check his honour – despite the line of work he’s best known for. There are two brothers who find brawling and boozing the preferred way of spending their time, a young lad called Jakey who acts the comic to make up for being cowardly and naïve, there’s the charismatic archer who’s also a dab hand at tracking, and even a mute who just sort of tagged along for the journey and Kuno didn’t feel the need to get rid of him.

They make up an interesting lot, and talking to them reveals some droll backstories. It also makes you more invested in the band, particularly as you play along with their game of “steal the ring”, which they perpetually play with each other – whoever has the ring gets free drinks in whatever alehouse they end up in, and so it’s in everyone’s self-interests to take the ring and hold onto it for as long as possible. Henry of course is more interested in accepting money for stealing the ring on their behalves, and so you end up charming, fighting and sneaking your way to the prize.

Unfortunately, as with each of the DLCs released so far, there’s a severe deficit of content. While I praise the characters for being interesting, there’s really not enough time to get to know them properly, and that investment in the band and their well-being isn’t allowed to take hold. It’s clear there was an intention to have Henry able to gain and lose reputation with the group – and there are a couple of endings that you can get depending on this – but it’s so shallow and ineffective that there’s barely any point in paying attention to it. It would have been cool to have more instances where you can challenge the band on their behaviour and this to have various effects on the way they see you (as an outsider or a friend, for example), but there’s just not enough time or opportunity for this to work.

The idea of travelling the land with a band of mercenaries is an exciting one, however in practice it is misleading. The quest-line is much more linear than I was expecting, with you not actively travelling with the band – this being instead presented via the quick travel screen – and each mission effectively just involving investigating a small area or/and having a fight with some bandits in the middle of a field. It’s disappointing to say the least. It was a cool idea, but just as with From the Ashes and The Amorous Adventure of Bold Sir Hans Capon, it fails to deliver anything more than a distraction to the main game.



Author

John Little
John Little

I started gaming with the release of the PS1 - Crash Bandicoot and Ridge Racer Revolution being the first 'real' games I ever set eyes on - and have been enthralled with the medium ever since. I particularly love strategy and horror games, the sort offered by titles such as Total War and Silent Hill, though I also have a soft spot for a good RPG. I studied Journalism at university in the hopes of progressing into writing about games. You'll most likely find me covering indie games as I'm always on the look out for interesting little titles, and generally I stick to the PC and PS4 platforms. I'm not interested in MMOs or really any kind of online game, and I have an unusual and frankly worryingly expensive obsession with collecting gaming guide books, but aside from that I like to think I'm a well rounded average gamer. Find me on twitter @JohnLittle29