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10 Reasons Kingdom Come: Deliverance Needs A Save-Anywhere System

by Jeff Marchiafava on Feb 21, 2018 at 03:12 PM

Kingdom Come: Deliverance has been garnering a lot of buzz since its release last week, and with good reason. Unlike other open-world RPG series like The Elder Scrolls and The Witcher, Kingdom Come is grounded in historical accuracy. The game takes place in 15th century Bohemia, and features real cities, characters, and conflicts. The gameplay is equally focused on realism, with weighty combat and dedicated systems for everything from potion brewing to reading. I'm a whopping 60 hours into my review of the game, and I still feel like I've got a long ways to go in the story, and plenty left to discover and learn.

Unfortunately, not all of the buzz around Kingdom Come has been positive. At the top of the list of player complaints right now is the restrictive save system, which requires you to either drink a limited and expensive potion or track down a bed you own (or rent) and sleep to save your progress. The game will also autosave at certain times during missions, but these can be few and far between. Modders added a save-anywhere system to the PC version in record time, but the developer is taking a more modest approach.

Warhorse Studios has promised to update Kingdom Come's save system, but only in a specific and limited way: They'll be adding a "Save and Exit" option, so if you need to abruptly quit the game for some reason, you can do so without fear of losing progress. However, that won't do anything to address the much larger issue with Kingdom Come's save system, which I will now outline with 10 in-game examples from my current playthrough:

1. After finally discovering a way out of Talmberg castle in the opening hours of the game, I headed out into the wide-open world. Then I got stuck in a bush. No amount of jumping, spinning, crouching, and swearing could get me unstuck. I was forced to reload an old save, losing about 30 minutes of progress.

2. Later in the game, I received a horse! During a jaunt through the forest, however, Pebbles got stuck on a slanted boulder. I dismounted, because as great of a companion Pebbles had been, sometimes you just need to move on with your life. I promptly got wedged between the rock and Pebbles (oh the irony), taking continual damage until I died. I lost about 40 minutes of progress.

3. During a side quest, I received a hot tip on some buried treasure. I made my way out the loot's general location in the countryside outside Rattay. When I opened my map to see where I was, the game froze. I had to manually shut down the game from the Xbox menu. When I reloaded my last save, I had to redo several steps of the mission again, which took another 20 minutes or so.

4. In the midst of an exciting siege on an enemy encampment during one of the main missions, I made the foolish mistake of unsheathing my sword, which brought the game stuttering to a hard crash. The quest saved right before that, so the only time I lost was how long it took to get up and manually reset my Xbox, then go through the game's lengthy opening load time (and then the load time for the actual save file).

5. Later during the same siege I had an epic showdown against a main villain. Unfortunately, when the game autosaved before the fight, I was down to a sliver of health and was bleeding out. My foe killed me in one swing. When I reloaded the save, the screen was already red with my own blood. I was forced to revert to an earlier save and replay half the siege again.

6. Another mission tasked me with stopping a suspect fleeing on horseback. Aiming your bow while on horseback is a nightmare on Xbox One, because the gallop button, trigger, and joystick you use to aim are all on the same side of the controller. The game doesn't have an aiming reticle either (once again for the sake of realism), so lining up a shot was nearly impossible. However, I managed to do it! My last arrow (out of 20) hit his horse, causing it to buck him off and gallop away. With my foe stranded, I dismounted Pebbles (who miraculously survived the boulder encounter, apparently), unsheathed my sword, and approached him. As soon as he got up to his feet, however, he instantly teleported back to his horse clear across the field, and mounted it without even slowing down. Before I could even run back to Pebbles, he had escaped and I failed the objective. Granted, there were other leads I could've pursued to progress the mission, but I landed that one-in-a-million shot, dammit – I should've been able to see the objective through, or at least reattempted it without having to redo the entire chase sequence again.

7. While pillaging Talmberg for all its riches (that'll teach them to confine me to their castle for my own safety!), a guard caught me in a room I shouldn't have been in. Normally this isn't a big deal in Kingdom Come; if you're caught in a "private area," NPCs will simply ask you to leave before getting angry. The only problem? The guard was standing in front of the ladder I needed to climb up in order to leave. After trying in vain to nudge past him for a minute, he arrested me, confiscating all my hard-earned ill-gotten loot in the process.

8. While journeying into the town of...oh, I don't even know anymore...a friendly NPC asked if I wanted to partake in an archery contest. I paid him the 10 groschen and waited as the screen turned black. A second later I was standing in front of the target lane, as another guy with a bow – who totally wasn't there a second ago – walked off, having apparently won the nonexistent competition. I tried it again, just to see if it was a fluke. Same results. Twenty groschen is a pittance at this point in my playthrough, but that doesn't make it any less of a rip-off!

9. After rescuing an important character from a group of bandits and watching the ensuing story cutscenes, I was stopped by guard for a random search. The search request happened right as I re-entered the world, while the game was still saving. Even after acquiescing, however, the "surrender" prompt didn't disappear from the bottom of the screen. I reloaded the latest save file, but the prompt was still there. I found the nearest guard and gave him a slap, hoping I could override the message – instead a second "surrender" prompt popped up above the other. I was forced to revert back to the next save, forcing me to fight the bandits all over again.

10. And then there was the time that I lost four hours of progress to a bug that disabled saving of any kind. I didn't realize it at first because I was in the middle of a main quest with multiple objectives, and as I mentioned, the game can be a bit stingy with its autosaves. As I ticked off one step after another, however, it dawned on me that I hadn't seen the "Game Saved" message flash across the screen for a long time. So I fast-traveled back to my home outside Rattay to drop off my most recently plundered goods (I have a problem) and take a quick nap. An in-game hour later and my character was back on his feet – but still no "Game Saved." Maybe it wasn't long enough? I went back to bed and slept the entire evening. Still nothing. I pulled open my inventory, ready to burn one of my precious Savior's Schnapps – only it was grayed out. So was the save option on the main menu, which also consumes one of your potions. Selecting it offered an additional note: "Can't save during the current activity."

I thought maybe it was the campaign mission I was on, so I plunged ahead, even more paranoid about not dying or getting stuck on any unwieldy geometry in the environment. But I wasn't completing individual objectives anymore – they were entire missions. Desperate, I looked over my active side quests. Had I started something that's still technically running in the background? I took Theresa on a date and beat up some chump at the bar in her honor. Still nothing.

At 3:30 a.m. I finally gave in – I was essentially ironman-ning the game at the point, and the longer I spent denying the inevitable, the more time I would eventually lose. I opened up the load game menu and looked at the latest save file. It was from 11:30 p.m.

Everything worked normally after the reload, and the game resumed autosaving my progress as I redid the half-dozen missions I spent all night playing.

***

Presumably Kingdom Come's save system is designed to prevent save scumming, and on paper it makes sense – what's the point in creating a realistic, challenging world if players can just save before every fight/lockpicking attempt/game of dice and reload if things don't go their way? In the real world – or Kingdom Come's virtual world, that is – things play out differently.

In Kingdom Come it's not about save scumming – it's about safeguarding your hard-earned progress. The game is simply too unpredictable and technically unstable to play for a prolonged period of time without saving. The autosaves can guess when it's important to back up your progress during story missions, and they do an okay job. But when it comes to all the good stuff in-between – the exploring, the emergent adventures, the hare-brained shenanigans that make Kingdom Come worth playing – Warhorse Studios needs to trust the player to know when it's important to save, and it shouldn't require a lengthy detour to the nearest inn or sacrificing an expensive consumable to do it. A save-anywhere system won't fix everything (who knows when the next inescapable bush will strike), but it would help players circumvent the game's myriad problems and provide some much-needed reassurance along their journey.

Early in the game, Henry tells his reluctant father that he wants to get out and see the world, to have an adventure. Players shouldn't have to overlook game-breaking bugs and hours of lost progress in order to feel the same way.