I knew I would enjoy going back to Greedfall when the “Greedfall Gold Edition” was announced. First released in 2019 – developed by Spiders and published by Focus Home Interactive – Greedfall already felt like a game out of time. In many ways, it still feels like it belongs at the beginning of the last generation, sharing more in common with older RPGs like ELEX, The Witcher 2, and Dragon Age: Origins. Not to say that was a bad thing as the bulk of the experience feels “classic” rather than dated.
Greedfall does little to innovate the genre. Rather, it relies on tried-and-tested designs: complex characters, an unpredictable main questline, lengthy secondary and companion quests that influence the main plot, and plenty of player choice when it comes to dialogue and character-builds. It also does something The Witcher games do so well – ensure no quest ever goes to plan and provide outcomes that are rarely predictable.
What Is Greedfall?
In Greedfall, you take control of De Sardet – male or female, slightly customisable – a newly-appointed legate for the neutral, commerce-focused, Congregation of Merchants – a small princedom wedged between two warring nations on the mainland. De Sardet is tasked with assisting their governor cousin in managing an outpost and maintaining relations with the other powers on the recently colonised island of Teer Fradee.
On one side, there’s the religious Theleme with smooth-talking missionaries and fanatical inquisitors. On the other side, the science-oriented Bridge Alliance that pursues morally- and ethically dubious research. Naturally, the concerns of the nature- and balance-oriented “Yecht Fradí” natives are broadly ignored.
The colonial powers are on Teer Fradee to find a cure for a lethal plague, the “Malichor”, that is ravaging the mainland populations. Naturally, they’re using the opportunity to push their own agenda upon the native population (think forceful religious conversions or unwilling test subjects). Despite the setting, Greedfall doesn’t do much with its “age of colonisation” themes. Sure, you get perspectives from multiple sides as different powers attempt to justify aggressive expansion, one-sided conflicts, exploitation of resources, and experimentation; however, the plot quickly reveals the protagonist has a link to the island and ultimately revolves around a major threat to all factions.
The setting does, however, provide a solid narrative and structural foundation that pushes the importance of maintaining diplomatic relations and the trust of your diverse companions (which includes romances that I avoided in my playthroughs!). These gamified relationships have an impact on the ending sequence and state of the world post-game but feel most impactful during the second half of the game when you begin to see the ramifications of your early choices and are forced to make far-reaching decisions under pressure.
You’ll quickly realise companion and secondary quests are vital, as key events can play out differently based on their trust levels and interconnected events. Although it may not reach the lofty highs of BioWare’s classic Infinity Engine RPGs, Greedfall always rewards you (or punishes you) based on your choices and party composition.
Avoiding hostilities and aiding characters early in the game can drastically simplify events later when their support is needed. When dealing with one of the major factions, taking a companion who belongs to that faction often results in unique dialogue options, the ability to push for preferable outcomes, or an alternative way of resolving the quest. Even if every other element of the game puts you off, Greedfall still has great writing and a divergent narrative that you’ll want to see through to the end.
Greedfall plays like Spiders’ prior RPGs but with plenty of refinement. You travel between semi-open regions; engage with quest-givers; solve quests through dialogue, investigations, subtlety, or violence; tackle a few puzzles; and continuously improve your character.
From the opening moments, GreedFall leans into its classic inspirations. The prologue sequence can last you 3-4 hours if you do everything on offer; a microcosm of the game that lets you know what you’re in for. The impact of player choice – with regard to your build, dialogue choices, and quest solutions – is made obvious early on. Skills, attributes, and talents affect combat, exploration, and the potential solutions available to you. That said, you’re never locked out of progress. If, for example, you don’t have the ability to intimidate or sneak past foes, you could always fight your way through. However, a subtle or diplomatic approach almost always offers a better outcome.
Skills dictate your combat abilities – a gameplay element that still features prominently when you’ve got numerous beasts, bandits, and rogue elements to deal with. You can wield melee weapons, firearms, alchemical potions, and magic spells. Attributes define your proficiency with weapons, armour, and magic, limiting your ability to equip high-tier gear without them.
Talents are by far the most important and will have the greatest impact on quests. If you’re being diplomatic, Charisma, Intuition, and Science offer a range of dialogue and investigation modifiers (in addition to highlighting stealthier paths and allowing for the creation of potions). Lock Picking and Vigor open up new routes in and around each location (as well as into locked chests with gear or potential evidence). Craftsmanship is perhaps the most limited in application as you can still buy quest items you can’t craft yourself, but it does allow you to enhance your gear (which includes modifications that boost other talents).
Compared to many streamlined RPGs or action-RPGs, your progress is – at least initially – limited by your character build. It’s a rare experience these days, where limiting the player in any way is seemingly considered taboo by most developers. However, you’ll quickly discover your companions can play an important part in bolstering your abilities (beyond their aforementioned contributions to dialogue and quest solutions).
You can attempt to play as a jack-of-all-trades – viable on easy and normal difficulties – but companions always follow a min-max leveling path. This ensures you always have party members that can equip the best gear and remain efficient fighters. Better still, improving your relationship with them unlocks passive talent bonuses when they’re in your party.
By default, combat plays out in real-time. There are light and heavy attacks, parries, dodges, and a dozen hotkeys for abilities, spells, and consumables. However, you can always tactically pause to prioritise targets and queue up skills or consumables. On lower difficulties, the responsive controls and (mostly) robust AI companions make it viable to simply play as an action-RPG.
Other elements include a simple stealth system, a disguise mechanic if you keep a set of faction-specific armour on hand, and – most importantly – the need to juggle your diplomatic and companion scores by justifying your actions, betraying other factions when needed, or lying your way past accusations. It ensures simply resolving a situation is not enough – you have to convince the involved factions that your actions were the right ones.
What’s in the Gold Edition?
The first and perhaps most underwhelming addition to the Greedfall Gold Edition is The De Vespe Conspiracy expansion. It plays out as a lengthy secondary quest in a new region in northeast Teer Fradee. For first-time players (or replaying from the beginning), you’ll have to progress through a good chunk of the story to access it. Events follow on from earlier investigations into De Sardet’s link to the island, and certain characters need to be indisposed to avoid potential dialogue and interactions that were not planned for.
The new location looks as beautiful as the rest of the island but feels underutilised. There are new enemies to fight – with a greater focus on speed and mobility, rather than just more armour – and new unique gear to find. The missions themselves dig deeper into continental lore and political machinations, but events both feel detached from the main plot and you still spend a good chunk of time in old locations.
Sure, it’s the downside of an expansion that was probably never planned for, but the basic premise lacks the urgency of other quests available at that point in the story. At least your companions and several key allies all have a part to play and unique lines of dialogue. All things considered, it was an enjoyable enough 2-3 hour diversion but could have been better integrated.
The second big addition in the Greedfall Gold Edition is the next-gen visual upgrades (Xbox Series consoles and PlayStation 5). However, based on my fuzzy memory, that simply means a choice between “quality” and “performance” modes – higher resolutions at 30fps or lower resolutions at 60fps.
Before tackling these modes, it’s worth noting GreedFall looked great at times and still does. Bustling colonial towns and native villages, windswept coastlines, temperate forests, hazy swamps, mountain paths – outdoor areas still look great thanks to the use of vibrant colours, fine details, atmospheric lighting, ambient audio, and serene soundtrack. The reuse of assets is less obvious in outdoor locales, whereas interiors are the worst offenders as you’ll visit the governor’s palaces and barracks repeatedly.
Sure, distant terrain can look simple and you’ll spot low-resolution textures alongside detailed ones, but Greedfall still manages to create a world that feels epic in scale, mysterious, and magical. The day-night cycle ensures you get several beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Major landmarks are visible throughout the island, and several large landmarks are found in each zone, ensuring it all feels cohesive.
Going back to the next-gen upgrades, they don’t radically change the visual makeup of the game, but the choice of a quality and performance mode is a welcome one. Personally, performance mode is the clear winner, running at a near-stable 60fps, which is well worth the hit to resolution. Movement and animations always felt a little stiff in Greedfall, so running at a higher framerate makes the experience feel more fluid, while still looking better than last-gen versions. The other notable improvement is the loading times. You’re looking at maybe 5 seconds for a large zone and instantaneous within a zone – a boon considering late-game quests often have you bouncing between cities and villages.
Despite my love for Greedfall, it’s not a perfect game and there are some caveats. Spiders have come a long way some but old habits die hard. Navigating city streets and labyrinthine interiors is still annoying when you have to do it repeatedly. As a result, investigation and dialogue-focused missions in these cities are much less exciting than exploring ancient ruins, forests, swamps, and caves.
Greedfall is also a game that makes use of every location for something quest-related, so those fond of systematically exploring regions could find themselves annoyed having to return later. The gear system could probably have done with more visual variety and the fast-travel system – which works 80% of the time – still lacks fast-travel points outside governor’s palaces and the city barracks. It’s an infuriating oversight, given how often they feature in quests (some quests do allow you to fast-travel at their conclusion but this is inconsistently applied).
That said, while those gripes have the potential to frustrate players, I still feel Greedfall does far more right than wrong. It takes classic elements, introduces (some) modern sensibilities, provides an engaging new world to explore, a ton of lore, deep diplomacy and trust system, and enjoyable combat. It also has brisk pacing and very few quests feel like the bland filler used in so many RPGs to pad their length.
The Greedfall Gold Edition reaffirms my belief that a lot of thought and intelligent design was used by a small team to create a complex, diverging narrative and beautiful world to explore. I just hope the release of the Gold Edition introduces more gamers to this fantastic IP.
A review code for Greedfall Gold Edition was provided to Gameblur by the publisher
Greedfall Gold Edition (Xbox Series S) ReviewGreedfall Gold Edition (Xbox Series S) Review
Story9/10 AmazingA combination of a great setting, complex characters, player-choice, unpredictable quest outcomes, and divergent paths, all make for a fantastic story.
Gameplay7/10 GoodExploration, combat, finding a unique quest solution, seeing the consequences play out...these are all great moments. However, the need to bounce between locations in the second half of the game does get tiring.
Visuals7/10 GoodIf you stop and look closely, there are plenty of rough spots, but Greedfall still manages to create some incredible vistas and magical atmosphere.
Audio8/10 Very GoodThere's a lot of dialogue in Greedfall but most of it feels well-written and well-voiced. The ambient sounds and music are excellent and instrumental to the atmosphere.
- A great new setting and deep lore
- Unpredictable, morally-questionable quest outcomes
- Strong emphasis on character-build and player-choice
- Gameplay fluidity when using "Performance" mode
- Back-and-forth quests paired with conspicuously absent fast-travel points
- The rare rough-looking animation or AI bug