Niche Gamer were invited to the virtual press tour for Disciples: Liberation, learning the game’s release date and 20 minutes of gameplay.
Niche Gamer was invited to the virtual press tour by Kalypso Media. We got to see new gameplay played by Frima’s Studio Creative Director Louis Lamarche, and ask some burning questions to him and Game Director Eric Latouche. Additional gameplay was also shared with us, which you can find below.
Lamarche described Disciples: Liberation modernized, open-world tactical RPG; built to give players impact and choice. It tells the story of Avyanna, a Nephelim and connected to the story of Disciples III: Renaissance (which in turn takes places in Nevendaar, the world of the prior two games).
The player’s decisions will affect Avyanna’s relationship with the four factions; the Empire, the Legions of the Damned, the Undead Horde, and Elven Alliance. While players are initially guided through four regions, they can access a total of thirteen. This freedom is only held back by obstructions that will require special abilities and skills from Avyanna and her companions to break down.
We were shown an example of player choices early in the demonstration; with a human and an elf arguing. The latter had just killed a 10 year old human child for entering hallowed ground. The players choices at this stage include killing both parties, attempting to vie for peace, doing nothing, or asking more details from both parties to pick a side.
Lamarche sided with the father of the boy for this demonstration (certainly the right choice in my opinion), which in turn raised his reputation with the Empire and reduced it with the Elves. Other choices can affect how Avyanna developers, but more on that later, because the elf is mad and just called his friends to kill us.
Avyanna’s leadership stat determines how many units she can bring into a battle; each being in one of four tiers with greater costs and power. As Avyanna took to the field, we noticed a backline for both us and our pointy-eared foes.
While up to ten units and two companions can accompany Avyanna on the field, three can be on the backlines offering passive abilities. Units on the backline cannot be called in as reinforcements however, so players will need to weigh up whether a passive ability is better for all, or another set of feet on the ground and fighting.
The hexgrid battlefield featured scattered hazards and even buffs for friend and enemy to take advantage of, each taking their turn based on initiate. The two action point system has slight twist however. An action point can be one of three colors, which affects what it can be spent on. Blue for movement, red for actions and attacks, and gold for anything. As such, some units can attack or move twice, but not all.
Even in a demonstration with an intentionally overleveled army and character, the evasion buff from the elves’ backline managed to make things a little more challenging. Should players find a fight too difficult however, the open-world nature of the game means they can come back later when they are a bit beefier, even venturing to far distant areas.
The wounds taken and mana spent is carried between battles; but players can replenish them via health and mana fountains scattered across the map. After the battle was done and we ventured off a bit, Lamarche offered to take us to the “second playable character,” the city.
Players can teleport to this instantly, picking up more troops, forging gear, and developing the city. Units are accessed how much a faction likes you, and building the appropriate tier of domicile (there’s also a Marketplace for mercenaries). For example, a devil-worshipping church allows you to summon Lesser Devils, but gain favor with the Damned, and you can hire the more powerful Infernal Golem instead.
Players aren’t forced to sticking with a faction either. Should they want to hire the same kind of troop from a different faction, buildings can be be “phased out.” Rather than being truly demolished, players can switch in other buildings, while still keeping their development. So you can swap out your tier II demonic church for a tier I Empire church.
It should be noted these units do not promote into one another, but a building can produce units of its tier and below. The appropriate tier IV Empire building will allow you to recruit the White Dragon, but also the tier III Holy Avenger, tier II Paladin, and so on.
Units of different factions don’t mind working together under you, but players should keep those factions happy. Morale can increase their power and critical hit chance; with three positive and three negative tiers. Units can also level up, but can be no higher than Avyanna’s level.
Players should also revisit the city to pick up resources. We were told captured mines generate resources per-hour. When we inquired what was to stop someone abusing AFK to have all the resources they’d need, Latouche explained there was a cap on how much the city could hold.
Along with revisiting the city for resources and troops, players can forge gear and emotion shards to bolster their forces. While units can only equip shards (giving them a boost to their stats), companions are story characters in their own right, and can wield weapons as well. There are nine companions in total; with 27 story quests between them (the game has 132 quests in total).
Avyanna, enjoying her main character privileges, can equip a weapon, emotion shard, and armor for her head, chest, pants, and boots slots. The chest armor is also reflected in her character model, and gear also seems to have the common, rare, and beyond rarity grade system.
In addition, Avyanna has a skill tree. This can be reset for a small free, so players can experience all four classes more easily; Seeress, Hexblade, Witch, and Warlord. Each of these bring their own skill trees, along with Avyanna’s own Nephelim tree.
Just before we concluded our demonstration, Lamarche showed off one last feature. While the overworld features scaled down trees and buildings, Avyanna can enter dungeons and underworld regions on foot. Along with being in scale, this is where players can continue to find fights and quests.
As the Q&A segment started (we’ve incorporated most of what we’ve learned into the above), we dared ask about older fans. Disciples: Sacred Lands and Disciples II: Dark Prophecy were turn based strategy games, and many objected to the shift in gameplay Disciples III took.
Some also objected to the absence of the Mountain Clans, the faction of dwarves and giants. We know they were not playable in Liberation, but we asked what was going on with them lore-wise.
While the details are “something we might tell in future updates,” how the development team interpreted events was elaborated upon. In summation, they don’t know. Or rather, nobody in Nevendaar truly does. All that seems to be left of them are the bones in old dwarven ruins. But the lore provided hints that they may be found in the farthest corners of the world, scattered after gods clashed.
“After Wotan was murdered by Mortis, the dwarves fought for their lives. One by one they fell and their remains were awakened to fight alongside Mortis. She corrupted their flesh and turned them into bone golems and other, even more hideous forms.
But as is evident in the region of Wotan’s tomb, Wotan’s essence lives on. Nevendaar is only one plane of many, and an image of Wotan remains at least in the Urdva – the plane of Slights.
So if the god could avoid true and final death, why not his people?
Although most believe that the dwarven clans are extinct, there are rumors. The dwarves have locked the gates to the smaller fortresses in Skymine and Grayhelm, but some say dilapidated, broken gates have been found within. Without being bound by their allegiance to a savage and unpredictable god, they may have used these gates to escape. To the north, beyond the barbarian lands, they would be safe. They could live in seclusion, at peace, free from the whims of the lesser gods.
Some even claim to have sighted dwarves on their expeditions to the north. Although anyone making such claims is usually laughed off as crazy or drunk or both.”
Finally, we bit the bullet and asked what the developers would want to say to older fans to bring them aboard. In summation, Lamarche explained that the tactical genre, and what they’ve done thus far, are big motivations to honor those past games. The title Liberation was in fact chosen because it was about “keeping the legacy intact.” It is modernized, but not removing what made it Disciples.
Disciples: Liberation promises a 60 to 80 hour playthough, with deeper tactical combat, and building on the story of Avyanna, and by extension the world of Nevendaar.