Danish developer Logic Artists’ Expeditions series is a strategy role-playing series about different historical eras. Following a game set during colonial times, and another one during the Viking era, Expeditions: Rome is about, you guessed it, the Roman Empire. The gameplay consists of three aspects that I will go over: role-playing, combat scenarios, and controlling armies on a campaign map.
When it comes to the role play, the story fits the period, involving a degree of political intrigue and war. The character you create at the start is a member of a noble family who has recently lost their patriarch, murdered by another noble who wants to take over your fortune and influence. In order to protect you, your mother sends you to the isle of Lesbos, where you meet Lucullus, consul of Rome and a friend of the family. From then on you quickly rise into the ranks of his army and become a relevant figure in the politics of the empire. The story is great and the player has a certain degree of control in how they proceed, with important choices happening in some of the main quests.
I played the game as a woman, and while the gameplay during combat is the same regardless of gender, there are some differences to the roleplaying experience. The first one being the choice of your character name, men get three different names, a first name, a family name and a nickname. Women, however, only get the last two, as women in Ancient Rome didn’t get first names. Besides that, some characters may mention that it is unusual for a woman to be in a commanding position, but when you prove yourself as a capable warrior and leader most will respect your authority. The character’s gender also affects available romance options, both gay and straight.
The combat is very interesting, there are five main classes, four included in the base game, and the fifth one, gladiator, was added in the Death and Glory downloadable expansion. Each class has specific uses, heavy armoured for defense, light armoured for mobility, archers for long distance attacks, polearms for support, and gladiators offering a mix of mobility, support, and defense. Each class also has three different skill trees that the player can pick and choose from, although staying within the same tree is necessary if you want to unlock the higher level abilities.
The main party is composed of the player character and five NPCs, covering every class option. Those have their own backstory and personal quests, with some of them being romanceable. Beyond those, you can (and have to) hire other generic combatants to complement your part. This allows for a high level of customizability of your party. The combat has a lot of depth, I found it to be a balanced amount of challenge which often kept me on my toes and I was rewarded for playing the strengths of each class.
The campaign map is a new addition to the series. In it, you control armies and take over regions, securing different strategic resources in order to get bonuses for your army and characters. The movement in the map happens in real time with pause. And the army combats use a turn-based system divided into four phases where the armies attack each other’s manpower. During those, different modifiers can boost or weaken either side, based on each’s commanders and strategies, represented by cards that are picked at the beginning of each turn. The strategies are randomised, and usually have a mix of positive and negative aspects. Although some rarer, single use ones, can have a much stronger impact.
The system is interesting, but also the most superficial aspect of the game in my opinion. The foremost factor always seemed to be manpower size, and while playing around with strategies and bonuses was fun, ultimately it didn’t feel very challenging as long as my army was bigger than the enemies’. While this form of gameplay is a nice addition, it is one that could be further improved in the next iteration of the series.
All three aspects of the game complement each other well. With choices from the role playing leading to or avoiding some tactical combat situations, and campaign expansions unlocking more story missions as well as upgrades for your party. Expeditions: Rome is a gem and an easy recommendation.
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Developer: Logic Artists
Platforms: Microsoft Windows
Release Date: January 20, 2022
Genres: Tactical role-playing game, Adventure game, Strategy
Pictures of the game: Screenshots, taken by the author.
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