Greedfall 2: The Dying World - three things I loved and one that I didn’t in an early hands-on

A screenshot showing the starting village in Greedfall 2: The Dying World.
(Image credit: Nacon)

I recently went hands-on with an early build of Greedfall 2: The Dying World and came away with cautious optimism for the game’s future. A highly ambitious successor to 2019’s action role-playing game (RPG) Greedfall, it seems as though developer Spiders is set to shake up the formula quite dramatically with brand-new combat mechanics and a new approach to its world this time around. 

As far as follow-ups go, straying this much from a pre-established formula is definitely a risky move but, launching in early access for PC later this year, the studio is eager to collect lots of community feedback and use it to craft a single-player experience that can be enjoyed by both new and returning fans alike. I was able to play through roughly two hours at the beginning of the game and, while it is still very early days, there were plenty of things that I loved in my time with the game - and a few things I didn’t.

What I liked...

A fresh perspective on Teer Fradee

A screenshot of Greedfall 2: The Dying World.

(Image credit: Nacon)

Greedfall 2 takes us back to the magical archipelago of Teer Fradee, giving us new insight into events that took place three years before the start of the first game. In this earlier time period, it remains a rich and morally fascinating setting, populated by tribes of indigenous islanders who are just beginning to contend with the existential threat brought by the arrival of bloodthirsty colonists from distant lands. While Greedfall saw you step into the well-polished boots of De Sardet, an established diplomat representing one of the game’s major colonial factions, Greedfall 2 flips the script by putting you in the position of one of the island’s oppressed natives.

This fundamentally changes the nature of most of your interactions, especially when it comes to the attitude of the world’s many residents. Colonists are immediately more hostile, for example, treating you with suspicion and even outright bigotry at times. What you lack in standing with the colonists you more than make up for with a deeper knowledge of the island and its people, however, communicating more easily with other natives and benefiting from first-hand knowledge of the island’s culture. It’s quite a major change and one that keeps things feeling fresh and will undoubtedly go on to impact many of your choices in any moral decisions down the line.

Although my preview only pertained to the very first section of Greedfall 2, the finished product will see you captured and taken to Garcane as the story progresses. It’s almost a grim parallel of De Sardet’s own journey and could go a long way to help flesh out the world. The crumbling Old Continent and original home to the settlers, Garcane is in the grip of both a brutal war and a deadly plague known as the Malicor. While returning players would have already solved the mystery of the plague’s origin, it’s still a setting that is ripe for expansion as it was only really alluded to in passing after the first couple of hours of that game.

Exploring the beautiful natural world

A screenshot of Greedfall 2: The Dying World.

(Image credit: Nacon)

With the colonists just starting to gain a real foothold in the region, we see Teer Fradee in a liminal state. It’s still an absolutely beautiful environment when I see it; it’s filled with lush autumnal forests, gentle streams, and patches of bright flowers, but the disastrous impact of colonization is starting to become apparent. As you venture further away from your home, you begin to encounter barren stretches of land that have been spoiled by deforestation and aggressive wildlife driven hostile by hunting. Fortifications loom in the distance as you survey the landscape, conveying a brilliant sense of intrusion from these unwelcome visitors.

I felt as though I only really began to scratch the surface of this world during my preview session and with the radically different Old Continent, not to mention several new regions, expected to be added throughout the early access period, I’m really looking forward to seeing what else is in store.

Character skills are impactful

A screenshot of Greedfall 2: The Dying World.

(Image credit: Nacon)

One of the best things that this sequel retains is a detailed character creation system. While I wasn’t able to try out any of the cosmetic options that will be available in the full game, which will let you extensively tweak the look of your protagonist, I could experiment with a small handful of the skills on offer. I built my hero with a focus on perception and willpower, selecting the diplomacy starting talent with the hope that I would be able to find ways to resolve any problems without the need for violence.

This decision paid off almost immediately in an early quest that challenged me to drive out some greedy colonist trappers who were destroying the local ecosystem with their excessive hunting. After finding my way to their encampment, making liberal use of a new vision ability that highlighted nearby animal carcasses to keep me on the right path, I was faced with a group of armed men just raring for a scrap. This took place in an area of the map that was obviously designed for a large combat encounter too, with a sizable clearing surrounded by archer fortifications. 

With no healing items on hand, my hero was in no state to survive the inevitable brawl. Luckily, my powers of persuasion allowed me to convince the hunters that a huge army was waiting just around the corner to back me up in the event of any trouble. They quickly agreed to pack up and ran off with their tails between their legs. In the same conversation, I also spotted the alternate option to pay them off with a pretty hefty sum of gold. Although getting that much money would have likely been a struggle that early on, I have no doubt that it would be achievable for a character with the right skills. It might be quite a small example compared to the freedom of choice in some of the best story games out there, but it was still very satisfying to see my decisions in the character creator make a real difference that early on. 

...and what I didn't like

The overly chaotic combat

A screenshot of Greedfall 2: The Dying World.

(Image credit: Nacon)

While I did my best to avoid combat in that specific instance, there were still plenty of occasions where I got into fights with both humans and magical creatures. This gave me plenty of experience with the brand-new combat system, though I can’t say that I was completely enamored. Unlike Greedfall, which features methodical third-person hack-and-slash mechanics with an optional tactical pause for quickly selecting skills, the system in Greedfall 2 focuses much more heavily on the role of your companions. 

Lots of inspiration has clearly been taken from massively multiplayer online (MMO) titles and the likes of Dragon Age: Origins, with you selecting a target and sitting back while your character attacks automatically. A bar at the center of your screen displays any abilities that you can trigger and you can switch to a companion at any time using a hotkey to make use of their abilities too. The pause is still available but takes on a much more significant role as it allows you to queue up various ally commands.

The intention is clearly to create a much more tactical experience, but I found the whole thing pretty overwhelming at times. What should have been simple encounters with basic enemies felt unnecessarily complex, requiring me to take a lot of time switching between characters to ensure that I was making the best use of their powers. Adding to the chaos were things like my allies getting stuck on level geometry, or wandering off in the middle of a fight, making everything much more difficult to manage.

Still, this part was clearly unintentional and I’m optimistic that such blemishes will be ironed out before launch. The developers also told me that there would be a wide range of settings available to customize the combat to your liking, even giving you the option to make it much more similar to the first game if desired. 

I’m eager to try these out for myself when Greedfall 2: The Dying World launches in early access for PC this summer. Full PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S versions are then expected to follow at a later date.

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Dashiell Wood
Hardware Writer

Dash is a technology journalist who covers gaming hardware at TechRadar. Before joining the TechRadar team, he was writing gaming articles for some of the UK's biggest magazines including PLAY, Edge, PC Gamer, and SFX. Now, when he's not getting his greasy little mitts on the newest hardware or gaming gadget, he can be found listening to J-pop or feverishly devouring the latest Nintendo Switch otome.