Cutting Deep into Bastard’s Wound
Hey folks, Old Man Mordaith here, and if you’re familiar with any of my previous reviews – I love Role Playing Games. It’s been a bit since I took a look at Tyranny, with my last outing being the smaller DLC Tales from the Tiers and Obsidian/Paradox are back at it again with the much anticipated Bastard’s Wound. This DLC promised a new area to explore and new peoples to subjugate for the glory of Kyros. But on top of new items, quests, and events, we get an interesting expansion relating to the lives of three of the awesome supporting cast of Tyranny.
I was a bit nervous setting out on this journey. While I really enjoy Tyranny, it did fall flat on its launch in regards to a few things: The third act was woefully short, the ending felt rushed, and there were some things that people wanted from the game which were simply non-options. While this new DLC itself doesn’t set out to address any of these problems directly, a free update coming alongside it makes some headway. The free update promises a beefed up third act and a new direction for the ending, should you choose.
So I foresee a look from you, dear readers. It’s the same look I get from the young man at the grocery check out as I lose count of my nickels for a second time, trying to pay him, but then decide to pay with my electronic money card. That “No, Seriously, just make up your mind” look. See, I have conflicting opinions about this one. Just bear with me, hear me out, and we’ll get through this together.
Assessing the Injury
The biggest portion of the update is likely to be perceived as the Bastard’s Wound itself. This is a new, multi-area location set in the Bastard’s Tier. First off, this is fantastic because the area was woefully underused. In the original release of the game, you have conquest options regarding the Bastard City, the seat of power for Archon Turon, but the game really doesn’t do much with the region. This matter is rectified with this DLC. I spent a lot of time in the Bastard’s Wound – not all of it was time well-spent, however.
The gist of it is simple: In a broken-down tower you come across a community of war refugees. The community is an illegal settlement made up of people fleeing the wrath of Kyros. It’s not a purposefully created place, but more of a settlement of convenience that expanded over time as more and more people happened upon it. In it, you have two factions struggling for power as recent events in their community has upset the balance of control.
So, we will talk a bit about the factions first. One is led by an arrogant Forge-Bound mage, who really thinks he is the bee’s knees. (Back in my day we rated entertainment level by the number of insect knees we could muster.) The other is a Tidecaster with a serious attitude problem. I was really happy to see various NPCs in the settlement with an allegiance with one or the other of these fellows. That, and some were simply aligned to the settlement itself. “Oh boy!” I naively thought as I rubbed my hands together with glee. “This is going to be full of quests that will let me sway one side or another, or both if I am careful. And it will all pay off in a meaningful way in the end!”
You see, the DLC’s biggest problem here is the comparison to the core game itself. The main game allows for a vast number of options when dealing with the different factions in the game, including last minute treachery on your part. You can even, as the main story of Tyranny progresses, have various powers bend the knee to you out of admiration or fear. You do this through the careful handling of various plots, and in the short-but-sweet third act it all comes to a head as you get to decide the fate of those who opposed or allied with you, even making last ditch appeals to various powers based on how much you helped them in the past. It’s very rewarding.
The factions here in the Bastard’s Wound… not so much. They are really minor factions that sadly don’t offer any bonus abilities, their attitudes don’t change, and no matter how many quests you do for them or how you handle things, it has no tangible impact in the final scenes of this DLC. I mean, it seems you basically get two starter quests, one for each group, then you can kind of choose which one you want to work with and the other one is a bit of a jerk to you. Eventually you decide the fate of the settlement, but it really feels, outside of taking the murder-stabby option, the NPCs just grumble and shuffle their feet at your choice.
And oh boy, be sure to get all those side quests done before finishing the main Bastard’s Wound story, because most of the NPCs wouldn’t even talk to me afterwards. How do I know I missed some quests? Well, it’s a bit complicated, and my biggest gripe of the new area. And that gripe is that I stumbled into a game breaking bug that killed about 4 hours of gameplay for me.
Once I had finished Bastard’s Wound’s story, I got ready to dive back in to the main plot and see about the new NPC side quests. I was very excited. Except… boy golly, I could not find that map point where I was supposed to go next in Act II. It sure wasn’t on the map anymore. Sure enough, something glitched along the way, and by going too far into the new DLC it removed a vital location marker. 12 hours back into my adventures in the Tiers, I had to start doing some major backtracking.
See, I had already gotten the new achievement you’re given for doing all the quests in the Wound, so I wasn’t really excited to do over the entire four hours again. Pushing along, I found the point at which the game messed up. I was able to find a work around, one that involved me pushing through the main Tyranny plot past the point where the disappearing location was relevant. It veered me off-course, soured my enjoyment, and more grievously it messed up my schedule! I had birthday beverages to drink. Curse you Kyros, you clever monster!
My second pass, I didn’t bother doing all the little side quests, since I suspected it wasn’t going to change anything – and it didn’t. I got the exact same ending I had before. The only difference is you get some experience and rewards, but what I am really looking for out of quests are reputation changes.
While it sounds like I am doing a large amount of complaining, the characters introduced in Bastard’s Wound are very interesting. I like the little settlement they have, and what options you have for interacting and affecting their lives are fun. The game takes its magical key stone system and tweaks it just enough to make it a little more interesting. While I still think it is lacking some complexity to reach its full potential, I am left unsure what could be done to make these puzzles more rewarding without bogging down the game. But what really made me happy with Bastard’s Wound was the Lore. Sweet, tasty Lore. You go into a deep detail exploration of the Spires, the mysterious Beast-persons tribes, and the history of the Tiers. I won’t spoil it, but if you’re like me and enjoy reading the lore on these games, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
A Bastard’s Choice
A game with a strong supporting cast is able to accomplish great things. This is especially the case if the game allows your choices, conversations, and insights on these NPCs to be reflected in a meaningful within the context of the greater story. Tyranny does this, and the core game left many fans craving more from the cohorts of our beloved Fatebinder. As fans, we want to get invested in the characters. We wind up with our favourites – and our less than favourites – and we really enjoy seeing the NPC’s grow in both their power and their stories.
Without a doubt, my favourite character in Tyranny is Lantry – the aged roguish sage who is dead-set on chronicling the development of the Tiers and the personal history of the protagonist Fatebinder. So, it is with heavy heart I say that his new plot… did not grab me. While the new quests for Verse and Barik were interesting in different ways, and I can see the appeal to the extended quest for Lantry, it did not appeal to me. Had I not suffered the game breaking bug that I did, I may have been able to dive more into the material for Lantry. Sadly, the introduction to the new quest was a glorified scavenger hunt. While I found the implications of what we were finding interesting, I had no desire to hunt for them all again after reloading my game. It’s too bad, really. The idea of ethics vs morality in the recording of historical events, tainted with the mournful hint of a lost love, would have been fantastic. Maybe I’ll pick it up in a while and try it again.
Verse, on the other hand, has a very good expanded quest line. We get to dive into her past, what bonds she finds important, and her thirst for blood. It adds several new areas and ample chances to instill my favourite skirmisher with both fear and loyalty. The conclusion is also very satisfying, and I would happily go down that rabbit hole again just to see it play out in a different way.
But the show stealing addition, and possibility worth the price of admission itself, is Barik’s storyline. The straight laced follower of the Disfavoured, permanently bound in a set of armour, finally gets the full treatment he deserves. I’ll be honest, Barik was not my favourite character… but after this wonderful and fully fleshed-out arc was added for him, he became a must have in my party. Without giving too much away, his story revolves around his armour, why he can’t escape it, and the possibility of freeing him. But more importantly, the ramifications of doing so.
In addition to all of this, we are treated to some new post-game information for the characters who have their new stories explored. That’s always a nice touch, as it makes you feel like you really left a mark. Sadly, we’re left with half our cast of characters missing new stories. I can only hope that new stories for Eb, Sirin and Kills-in-Shadow will be coming down the pipeline. But only time will tell.
Top Tier Stuff
Along with the rest of the main meat of the DLC, we get some smaller things that are nonetheless important towards the overall experience. New conversations which lead to new voiced lines of dialogue are all well done and seamless. I’ll be honest, when I started Barik’s quest line I was a bit confused because I wondered how I had missed it in previous play through, but then it dawned on me that it was new content from the DLC. This doesn’t always happen, as you can sometimes just tell when a company has rushed the actors back into the studio to churn out some dialogue (particularly if they’re phoning it in). Allegra Clark, D.C. Douglas and Patrick Seitz are, as always, fantastic professionals who deserved to be recognized for their talents.
While there are new pieces of gear to acquire, I don’t feel comfortable going in to any great detail, as that dangerously dances in the realm of spoilers. However, rest assured there are some very satisfying chances to get new toys for your characters. Beyond the gear, the new quests grant a chance for new powers for your favourite minions. The new abilities, like the gear, are impressive enough, but don’t dwarf anything in the main game. Like so many things with Tyranny, the synergies and power output of your abilities and gear will be highly dependent on the development choices you made early on.
Closing the Wound
While it comes with the free update which launches in conjunction to the new DLC release, I feel it prudent to mention the new Kyros loyalist ending. While I was skeptical what such an ending meant for the future of the Tyranny game, it seems those concerns were unfounded. Making use of the New Game+ features given out last major update, I was able to once again play my goofily named Fatebinder, Gladsidious, and tear into the Tiers. The ending was very fun, but still the third act seemed to pass by far too fast.
This DLC adds a decent amount of time to the game, considering the price of 14.99 USD, so I was pleased with this regard. I was disappointed that it came out a bit buggy, but I’ve been assured the studio has been notified of the issue so I don’t imagine the bug being there at launch. The sad side effect of this DLC is it makes the characters without expanded backstories less developed, and thus, less rewarding to play.
Still, if you are a returning fan of Tyranny, I strongly recommend this. Take your beloved Extreme-Legal Clerk and hit that New Game+ option. If you are new to the Tiers, I recommend this DLC strongly, bearing in mind that three companions will have more interesting stories to tell.
Review by Joshua Smith
Edited by Jesse Roberts
This game was received for free for the purposes of reviewing.