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Expedition: Rome combines historical grand strategy with epic RPG

Expedition: Rome combines historical grand strategy with epic RPG


Over the years, the Expeditions series has had its own epic voyage. From the early days of Spain’s conquest of South America to the rich (if a little puzzling) Viking frolic in 2017, developer Logic Artists is back with a third game. This time you’re not leading a Viking raid, but commanding the entire Roman legion during the heyday of the republic.

You are the child of a recently murdered senator and have been taken to one of the various war zones of the Roman Republic so you can escape the political infighting that has erupted in the capital while making a name for yourself.

The implied intimacy of an RPG doesn’t sound like an obvious sidekick to a game where you lead legions of thousands, but Expedition: Rome handles the environment and your place in it gracefully. You are the tip of the spear, an elite group of SAS-like warriors called Speculatores. Despite the specific anchor of a military campaign, Expedition: Rome is a familiar mix of exploration, side quests, and light RPG party management.

Massive combat is handled through a fun, if slightly barebones mini-game, somewhat similar to a Paradox grand strategy game.However, the true essence of Expedition: Rome lies in its squad-based tactical missions, in which you lead an elite team of companions (or even rank-and-file soldiers, if necessary) into various missions that require more targeted exert force. These can range from covert operations and raids that later lead to larger military clashes to less aggressive missions like forging new alliances, finding information, or tracking down some sweet loot.

A direct comparison to Expedition: Vikings is harder than you might think – the setting changes to Ancient Rome and the military campaign system make this feel like a very different game. Even the RPG mechanics are more streamlined – the skill tree is very compact and there is less work on character creation. But there are also more clearly defined roles. RPG purists might complain about the lack of depth, but it’s easy to get into and I found myself thinking more about the quest than the complexity of my build.

Smart positioning is as important as raw combat data

The series’ core turn-based tactical combat is the best ever. In Expeditions: Rome, members of both sides act at the same time, rather than individual units from each team taking turns wailing at each other under active orders. This allows you to choreograph some poetically beautiful combinations; you can move and attack with a soldier, complete the target from range with the archer, then drag the archer to the first soldier so that vulnerable units are not caught isolated.

Clever positioning is as important as the character’s raw combat stats, and environmental factors such as terrain and cover can also affect the outcome of skirmishes. During one battle, I came across a pile of oil barrels; I ordered one to throw it in the enemy’s direction, and then ordered my archers to set it on fire with rockets, which set a large area of ​​the battlefield ablaze and set multiple targets on fire. But be warned – the enemy AI can and will use the same tactics against you.

Military operations are a fun pastime when you don’t want to be on an active mission. Your Legion is like a second party, and you can command, build infrastructure, conquer settlements or defend key positions threatened by enemy forces across the map.

Expedition: Roma has become the best game in the series

Your Legion camp form has a typical RPG “hub”. This can be upgraded to give you bigger and better abilities, such as improved party healing and clan combat stats, crafting, and other support abilities, although you’ll need to make sure resource nodes on the campaign map fund these upgrades. You can even send companions here to lead recruiting, oversee production, or get some much-needed R&R.

When it’s time to engage in large-scale battles with your Legion, you can effectively hand the reins to a handful of key NPCs who you can recruit and train for different types of engagements. During battle, your job is to choose the commander you think is the best fit for the scenario, then choose a three-stage strategy card for your commander to execute – more strategies will be unlocked as you level up your Legion camp.

Logic Artists strike an excellent balance between RPG missions and strategic campaigns. It’s natural to hang around, complete quests, and prepare for the massive battles that trigger periodically. While missions are the game’s bread and butter, you’re trying to eventually conquer the map, so the military metagame ends up being the culmination of each campaign area, offering a greater sense of scope and scale than previous games.

Expedition: Rome is more than I’ve seen so far. For example, during the campaign, you’ll return to your ancestral home in Rome in some parts and dive into the political underbelly of the republic. While the first realm is no small feat, military operations become more dynamic and complex as you wage war across North Africa and Gaul in later chapters.

Expedition: Rome has become the best game in the series. Vikings are great, but many of its mechanics are overworked and might keep you away. Logic Artists expertly distills what made the previous entry interesting and adapts it into a new setting that immerses you in the violence and politics of ancient Rome in all the right ways.

What it lacks in mechanical depth, it makes up for in neat tactical gameplay, and while it’s approachable, Logic Artists keep challenging you as you progress through the campaign.

Expedition: Rome will be released for PC via Steam on January 20th.

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Kirsten Bennett
Kirsten is a passionate writer who loves games, and one day he decided to combine the two. She is now professionally writing niche articles about Consoles and hardware .