- Total Score - 8.5/108.5/10
Expeditions: Rome is a stellar title from a promising studio, and the finest title in the Expeditions franchise yet.
Developer – Logic Artists
Publisher – THQ Nordic
Platforms – PC
Expeditions: Rome is the latest game to come out from publisher THQ Nordic. It’s developed by Logic Artists and is described as a tactical RPG set in Rome. Expeditions is a long running series, and after Conquistador and Vikings, Rome takes this franchise to the next level. It may not have the brand recognition of Fire Emblem or X-Com, but Expeditions has become a name to take serious in the tactical RPG space.
In Expeditions: Rome, players spend their time exploring Rome and its neighboring countries. You play as a young Legatus whose father is mysteriously murdered, and you take refuge with a handful of allies in the midst of suppressing a Greek rebellion. They operate out of a military base and this Greek campaign serves as a fantastic tutorial for all of the games various aspects. From tactical battles, huge narrative story branches, and long war campaigns where you must manage resources across your legions and territories..
Rome has a strong premise, and the narration that kicks off the adventure is colorful. If you are familiar with the over the top language of a Spartacus, you will find yourself at home here. The story and setting the table for the next 50-60 hours of tactical exploration the player will embark upon.
The story line is important and your companions have a lot of story themselves. Outside of the hub, a lot of the story comes from banter between your party members as they discuss a wide range of topics, and react to how you are growing as a leader. One of my favorite aspects of the story is your group’s persistence and how much they develop as individuals and with each other. Bestia, a Gladiator who has earned his freedom, is a personal favorite and he will surely leave a lasting impression once more people get their hands on him.
Overall the story is satisfying, with a variety of endings based on how you play the campaign out. If the voice acting was poorly written or acted the sparse storytelling would fall apart, but instead I was eager to hear the party converse about any numbers of topics. It was a pretty big motivation to keep going and explore each relationship more and more as the overall campaign progressed.
The game itself is a unique blend of open exploration, stealth, and a healthy dose of tactical turn-based combat. To say it’s X-COM influenced wouldn’t do it justice. There are similar cover mechanics, overwatch, but most of the similarities end there.
Unlike X-COM, Fire Emblem or many other turn-based tactical games that have followed, you don’t have an open-ended game with an endless array of randomly generated soldiers. Instead, you move around a map, then enter larger “zones” where your small, set cast of characters will walk around exploring for loot and stealthily picking off enemies.
It provides a nice change of pace and is a pretty decent gameplay loop. If it seems pretty straightforward that’s because it is. Throughout the entire playtime the gameplay never really changes. You should immediately be able to tell if the style it offers is for you or not.
The gameplay is backed by a leveling and gear system. While offering a bit of diversity and options, they are about as lean as the core gameplay itself. Just enough to get your feet wet but nothing that will have you taking out a DPS sheet and calculating numbers. This may have its root in pen-and-paper RPGs, but it’s a pretty simplistic take on tactics, RPG mechanics and gear.
I didn’t find it to be too big of an issue. If it dragged on any longer that simplicity could have grown stale, but the game doesn’t overstay its welcome despite its lengthy playtime.
You have a clear goal, and your progression is nice and tight for the entire journey. Some battles near the end can drag as the enemy count constantly grows. That can be frustrating, but the AI provides a decent challenge without resorting to cheats or obvious unfair CPU advantages.
Expeditions:Rome is not without problems, especially repetition as new war campaigns can feel like a slog. Its refreshing take on turn-based, tactical RPGs and its unique approach to Rome setting has left a strong impression.
Logic Artists delivers an early 2022 delight with a deep, challenging tactical tale of revenge and the Roman landscape of 100BC. Expeditions: Rome is a stellar title from a promising studio, and the finest title in the Expedition franchise yet.