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The Bard's Tale IV combat is layered and gridlocked

by: Randy -
More On: Bard's Tale IV Wasteland 2 Torment: Tides of Numenera

Lead Designer David Rogers walks us through a little bit of inXile's upcoming Kickstarter success, The Bard's Tale IV.

He addresses rather quickly the changes his backers are clamoring for, such as: 1) to make the character portraits stop bouncing when they talk (ooookay), and 2) to give us free-form movement and grid-based movement. That second one is, frankly, something that would only come out of a Kickstarter-backed game. Making movement switchable between free-range and gridlocked? Crazy. But hey, I'm not the one that had $1.5 million thrown at me to make a game that tries to please everybody.

The movement in this video is uncanny, but, as Rogers mentions at the end, that's because they added a ton of mouse smoothing to make the player's movements easier to follow. Walking around, as far as this video shows, is in real time. But combat is turn based and operates on strict grid lines. You set up your party, dictating who's in front and who's in back. The enemies do the same, moving forward or sidestepping to attack in generally straight lines. Though it appears that archers are tricky, as they can hang back and seemingly fire arrows into your party from what look like blocked lines of sight, but I could be interpreting that wrong in the video.

There are three damage types: mental (which ignores enemy armor), and—I'm assuming—magical and physical types of damage, although those aren't called out specifically.

There's a funny moment when your mage debuffs some enemy goblins, then the goblins turn to each other and start making fun of each other because they are weaker now. That's cool. There's even a custom death animation for one of the goblins having died from a psychic attack. That's also cool. These things won't happen all the time (at least not the self-punking goblins), but those are little easter eggs thrown in there when the developers could manage.

What seems kind of difficult, though, is how the entire combat scenario is triggered when one enemy creature spots the party—and is then immediately joined by several other creatures; but before the battle wraps up, yet another creature drops in with boss-level strength and abilities. Brutal. That's not how every fight goes, no. It was included as an example of several layers that can be added to combat. But woe betide the adventurers running into that scenario too many times in a row.

The Bard's Tale IV is a Kickstarter success, with 33,741 backers bringing in $1.5 million of an originally stated $1.25 million goal. Not to mention inXile's previous Kickstarter bangers, Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera [GN score 8.8 out of 10]. Estimated delivery on The Bard's Tale IV is October 2017 on PC.

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