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Boys will once again be boys in Kingdom Come: Deliverance 2, revealed today for 2024 release

Warhorse's next open worlder will be twice original's size, and yes, there are dick jokes

A first-person view of a sword fight with blades locking in Kingdom Come: Deliverance 2
Image credit: Deep Silver / PLAION

Warhorse have revealed Kingdom Come: Deliverance 2, sequel to the 2018 open world action-RPG which you will likely remember for a couple of reasons: 1) its ostensibly faithful but inevitably skewed representations of race, gender and class in medieval Bohemia, which were amplified by its creative director Daniel Vávra's qualified endorsement of Gamergate, and 2) being a moderately entertaining, buggy and mucky chivalric fable in which you have to worry about keeping your sword sharp and eating food before it rots.

Going by the announcement video, the new game is the same game but with more cash to burn. It's the work of 250 people, with Jan Valta returning as composer. According to Vávra, "what we are making now is what it was supposed to be in the beginning, but we were not able to do it because we didn't have enough resources and experience."

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Set in 1403, Deliverance 2 continues the story of former blacksmith Henry, whose quest for revenge saw him breaking into the world of knights and dynasties. The new plot centres on the doings of monarchs rather than the first game's relatively minor quarrelling nobles, and takes place in and around the grand and affluent city of Kuttenberg. While this is more of an urban tale, there's still countryside aplenty in the shape of a "Bohemian Paradise" area where you can shoot/admire the CryEngine wildlife. The world is overall twice as large as that of the original Deliverance, and the story features around five hours of cutscenes.

Played once again by Tom McKay, protagonist Henry has come a ways since Deliverance but he's still something of a rough-and-tumble nobody, who must prove himself to the realm's bluebloods. His best friend is Sir Hans, voiced by Luke Dale, a comedy fun-times wingman who says things like "Let's hope this water isn't too cold - wouldn't want your pride and joy shrinking." Top bantz!

As for what you do as Henry, it all seems broadly in keeping with the first game's open world survival simulation. You can use violence to get your way or sweet talk people or sneak into their dwellings after dark. You can steal things at the cost of gaining a bad reputation with townsfolk, who might then withhold opportunities from you. There's an avowedly true-to-life melee combat system in which you can bong fools upside the noggin with a swordhilt, swat their shields aside with repeated blows, and you know, just generally kill them in physically plausible ways. New weapons include crossbows and some early firearms but this absolutely isn't an FPS, though there's probably a diary series in trying to play it like one.

A man and a woman embracing in Kingdom Come: Deliverance 2
A man sitting on a horse in Kingdom Come: Deliverance 2
A view of city spires and trees against a cloudy sky in Kingdom Come: Deliverance 2
A scene of armies gathering around a house in Kingdom Come: Deliverance 2
Image credit: Deep Silver / PLAION

The presentation suggests that we'll have more control over plot outcomes in Deliverance 2 - as design and combat director Viktor Bocan comments in the announcement video, "you can save the world or help punish its sins" - and there's talk of a more reactive social simulation in which, say, you can tell the locals to piss off when they ask why you're walking around blind-drunk with no clothes on. The bits that entice me the most, building on my faded memories of the first game, are the opportunities to engage with a profession or trade such as herbalism - the video includes some moderately wholesome footage of a mortar and pestle.

Little chores like that represent the more innocent and earnest side of an experience whose professions of historical realism appear as flawed as, well, professions of historical realism at large. Back in 2018, Andreas Inderwildi wrote a piece breaking down the prejudices that shape Deliverance's supposedly neutral or documentary interpretation of medieval life. "We're presented with a world where men were still men, where peasants and women still knew their places in society, where wise lords and knights protected their people from barbaric hordes threatening a well-ordered nation from without, and whose foreign ethnicity is conveniently marked by language and costumes," he observed.

I don't see much evidence that Deliverance 2 will turn out differently. Of the approximately two female characters shown in the presentation, one is there to illustrate that you can seduce people, which is very much of a piece with the original game's handing you an "Alpha Male" perk when you went to the brothel. Still, given the new RPG's expanded budget, perhaps it'll grant me leeway to reinvent Henry as a mild-mannered travelling brewer who faints at the sight of skin. Deliverance 2 is down for release later this year.

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