Expeditions: Rome – Review
Follow Genre: CRPG, Turn-based strategy game
Developer: Logic Artists
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Expeditions: Rome – Review

Site Score
8.6
Good: A wealth of content that will keep you occupied for dozens of hours
Bad: Enemy AI can take a very long time to finish a turn.
User Score
10.0
(1 votes)
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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Back in 2013, developer Logic Artists released Expeditions: Conquistador, a title partially funded through Kickstarter. The game was successful enough to receive a follow-up in the form of Expeditions: Viking, in 2017. Now, the series of turn-based strategy RPGs inspired by history receives its third entry with the highly anticipated Expeditions: Rome. The previous titles in the series received critical acclaim. Can Expeditions: Rome continue this winning streak?

Story

If you were hoping for Expeditions: Rome to care about historical accuracy, then those hopes would be pretty much immediately crushed once you actually got to grips with the game. The game’s protagonist is a Legatus, a high-ranking general in the Roman army. The issue here is that you’re able to play as either a male or a female Legatus -despite there being no historical evidence that women ever played a military role at the height of the Roman Empire. We understand Logic Artists’ inclusion of both male and female protagonists in Expeditions: Rome, but it doesn’t bode very well for what follows. Admittedly, should you play as a female protagonist, then the other characters will continuously remind you of a woman’s role in society, but there are no real consequences for going against the norm.

The story sees your self-created Legatus being sent away by their mother, after their father dies under mysterious circumstances. The mother’s general idea is to keep their child safe, but of course, this isn’t what happens… After all, there wouldn’t be a game worth playing if the story ended there. Instead, our Legatus ends up smack in the middle of a series of battles, seemingly cherry-picked from actual Roman history. This further emphasizes that Logic Artists plays it loose when it comes to adhering to what we actually know. In fact, your self-inserted character plays such a central role in the campaign that they could arguably be considered the most important character in the Roman Empire. It takes a bit of suspension of disbelief that no historical records would exist about someone this important, especially given how many run-ins they have with actual historical characters like Caesar and Cato the Younger.

Graphics

The least we can say about Expeditions: Rome’s visuals is that they are impressive. Environments are filled with lavish details, lighting effects are stunning and the character art shown during dialogue looks fantastic. The 3D character models used in-game are slightly less impressive, especially when looking at them in the equipment screens, but during battle, the lack of detail isn’t as noticeable. Granted, we would’ve liked to have been able to zoom in a bit more on the action during battles, and it’s occasionally difficult to identify characters at a glance, especially on nighttime maps or when they are wearing similar outfits.

Sound

As soon as you hear the first notes of the game’s epic cinematic soundtrack, the tone is set for a fantastic soundscape. THQ actually released a 12-minute video about the design philosophies behind the OST -which is definitely worth checking out- but even without this background information, it’s an impressive array of music. Then there’s the voice cast, which does a fantastic job of bringing their characters alive -with the occasional exception. We weren’t a fan of Gaius Julius Caesar, who sounds like he’s still in puberty, but the rest of the cast did an excellent job. Of course, the sound effects are great as well, sounding realistic and crystal clear.

Gameplay

Expeditions: Rome is a turn-based strategy game that sees you take direct control of a limited number of units as you take on enemies in a campaign consisting of several battles, in a similar vein to XCOM 2. The game is built around a system that relies on movement and action points. Each chapter of the game’s narrative is presented through a series of objective-based missions and it’s always clear where you should go next. Despite this, Expeditions Rome is not a straight-up railroad experience either: there are branching outcomes and different endings, which play out according to choices you make throughout the game.

Your success in the game is largely determined by how you assemble your warband. So, before you even set foot on the battlefield in the first place, each of the characters that join you in your cause can be customized to fit a specific role. For the most part, this is determined by what equipment you give them rather than by individual skills. This gives you access to a wide array of customizability and allows you to build your team according to your playstyle, at the expense of having your characters feel less like unique individuals. There are different classes at your disposal and many of the missions can be completed in different ways, which increases replayability.

Outside of battle, there is an extensive management system in place, which feels somewhat out of place for a game built around skirmishes and more like something you’d see in a classic RTS title. In this part of the game, you’ll have to manage resources, use materials you’ve gathered on missions to create new weapons and improve existing gear and engage in heated discussions with other characters, which determines how you are seen by friends and foes alike. It’s a surprisingly deep and extensive section of the game, which really adds a much-needed break from the onslaught that is provided by the meat of the campaign. Even so, there is still plenty of action to be found here as well, as this is where you’ll actually be put in charge of a large-scale army and engage in full-scale warfare -including massive sieges. This is done through a mini-game of sorts, and the outcome of the battles you engage in ties into several other aspects of the game, including resource management and the reputation of your protagonist.

From a gameplay perspective, Expeditions: Rome provides an engaging and fun experience overall, although there are a few issues that we hope to see resolved in the future. Our biggest gripe involves how slow the game can be at times. We’re not talking about performance here, but simply about the game’s resolution of certain actions. When you’re on a map that has a plethora of enemies, then when the enemy AI takes actions, it often takes several minutes before all of the individual units’ actions are resolved. If it’s a large map, where the enemy needs several turns to reach you, this can really drain the excitement as you simply sit there waiting for everything to finish moving. In the same vein, moving your own units around in a non-combat situation can also take a long time as they simply move from one point to another very slowly. There is no way to speed these parts up as far as we could find either.

We also felt like the controls could’ve been optimized a little more, especially when it comes to moving units around. There were quite a few times where we wasted precious movement points simply because we misclicked, so an undo or rewind button would’ve been a great help. While these are only minor gripes, all things considered, they can harm the overall experience, especially early on while you’re still getting used to some of the finer mechanics. Fortunately, the more time you spend with Expeditions: Rome, the more used you get to the initially awkward controls, and eventually, they’re not that much of an issue anymore.

Speaking of time spent with the game, you’re certainly going to need a lot of that if you’re a completionist. Not only are there different endings depending on your character’s choices, but there are four difficulty levels as well. If this kind of game is your cup of tea, then Expeditions: Rome is definitely worth the price of entry as you can easily spend dozens upon dozens of hours before you’ve unlocked every achievement and witnessed all endings. Thanks to the sheer variety of classes and skills, no two playthroughs of Expeditions: Rome will end up feeling repetitive either.

Conclusion

If you’re a stickler for historical accuracy, then Expeditions: Rome definitely isn’t going to be your game, but for anyone else, what you’re getting here is a fantastic turn-based strategy RPG. Admittedly, there are a couple of gameplay blemishes here and there, and we’d absolutely rate the game a bit higher if there was a toggle to speed up enemy movement in battle, but overall, Expeditions: Rome is one of the better outings of the genre we’ve played recently. The fantastic soundscape and gorgeous visuals are the icing on the cake. We feel like we’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to telling you about the game, but there is only so much we can cover in a single review.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Expeditions: Rome - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
SebastiaanRaats


1 Comment

  1. […] this year, we took an in-depth look at THQ Nordic and Logic Artists’ latest Expeditions title, Expeditions: Rome. While we did have a few minor gripes concerning historical accuracy, we were still impressed with […]

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