DevDiary 20 - Death or Glory DLC
Ave Legate! The day has finally come! Today we are releasing the DLC expansion we’ve been working on for Expeditions: Rome. Pop open a flask of passum or mulsum and get comfortable because this DevDiary will have a lot of information.
The DLC is called Death or Glory and will center on gladiators and gladiatorial combat. Death or Glory introduces the new playable Gladiator character class to the game with its own unique armor type and an exotic “Scissor” off-hand weapon (pronounced “Skee-sor”). It also adds a new set of side quests to each of the three campaigns – featuring new characters – where you visit gladiatorial arenas and rise through the ranks to face the champion.
Once you become the champion of each arena, you will unlock the option to continue to play randomized matches to your heart’s content, and if you don’t have time to replay the game’s story, you can also access these new quests directly from the main menu as a special Gladiator Mode where every fight will level you up and award randomized loot and legendary items.
Work on this DLC started in earnest right around the release of the game. We had already settled on the gladiator theme, and the art department had started making assets and setting up the levels before Rome was released. Once Rome was out, we were able to informally poll our fans on Discord about how they would like a DLC for Rome to work, and the overwhelming consensus was that it would be best to add new features and content to the main game to shake up the replays. With this in mind, we designed the structure of the quests to fit into the main game as well as to work in a stand-alone Gladiator Mode, and we set about applying all our knowledge of Rome’s existing character classes to designing a new class that would fit into the existing features and feel different and exciting to play.
First off, the Gladiator class. When you start a new game with the Death or Glory installed, you will have the option to play this class yourself. Alternatively, you may choose to change Deianeira into a Gladiator. If you disable that option, she will remain a Princeps as she originally was. Gladiators can also now be recruited from the barracks, and if you assign them as Centurions they will apply a unique bonus in the new legion battle system if chosen to command just like every other class.
The Gladiator class comes with a full set of 24 class skills and is no doubt the most diverse class in the game, with each of its skill trees focused on a distinct type of play: the Secutor is a heavily armored defensive fighter; the Retiarius is a cunning and mobile skirmisher with many tools to manipulate the movement and positioning of enemies or allies; and the Provocator is a bold showman that can bolster the morale of allies or wear down the morale of their opponents.
Setting the class further apart from the existing classes, the Gladiator’s special class stat is Retaliation. This is a percentage probability that the Gladiator will get to make a free counter-attack against any enemy who hits them in melee. This is different from a mere Attack of Opportunity in that there is no limit on how many Retaliations can be made per turn. The Gladiator has an inherent Retaliation chance which can be further bolstered by the new Gladiator armor, helmet, and the exotic Scissor weapon.
The Scissor is an off-hand weapon which is essentially a gauntlet with a hooked blade affixed – like a punch-dagger, but weirder! Only the Gladiator can wield it. In addition to a full set of new weapon skills, it also introduces combo skills for all the existing off-hand weapons in the game. A particularly fun combo is to use Retaliating Strike to apply a couple of stacks of Retaliating to yourself, which increases your Retaliation Chance, and then follow up with Riposte which deals extra damage for each stack of Retaliating you have. Legendary scissors with new charms can also be found throughout the game, such as the scissor called “Invictus” that allows a second counter-attack to trigger against the same attack.
As if that weren’t enough, Death or Glory also adds a couple of new tactical items that can be purchased from the arena merchants: the Acid Flask, which eats away enemy armor, and the Hunting Trap which can be placed on the ground to damage and cripple the first enemy who moves into it.
With all these new toys to play with, you’re going to need some worthy opposition as well. To this end, Death or Glory will add a new arena to each of the campaign maps where you are invited to participate in matches against formidable gladiators. These opponents will test your tactical cunning in encounters using the new Audience Approval mechanic: every fight in the arena imposes certain conditions that will raise or lower the Audience Approval depending on your actions. Reaching a certain level of Audience Approval or gaining enough of it in one turn will grant powerful buffs to your whole team, allowing you to turn the tide of a tough fight. If Audience Approval falls to -100 you will lose the match, but if you can raise it to +100, you will be victorious.
Humans are not the only opponent you’ll have to contend with. In the famous Lion Arena of Lower Egypt, you will face ferocious beasts that will test your tactical skills in entirely new ways. Male lions hang back and wait while female lions work together to take down their prey. Lions do not choose sides, however, and if you are cunning in your positioning, the beasts may be just as dangerous to your human opponents as they are to you.
Each arena has its own champion that you must defeat in the end if you wish to become the champion yourself. Doing so will earn you special prizes, including the privilege of using the unique color themes and emblems of the arena for your praetorian guard or your legion. Moreover, you will unlock the option to engage in repeatable, randomized matches to defend your title. Return to the arena any time you’d like after you become its champion and simply request a match. Random enemies will be spawned, Audience Approval conditions will be chosen at random, and there will even be a chance for catapults or traps to appear to shake things up. Don’t worry, any tactical items you spend in a randomized arena match will be refunded at the end of the encounter.
If you access the arenas directly from the main menu through the Gladiator Mode, you will get your full party of companions starting at level 5, with complete freedom to assign all your skill points as you please. You will also be given a random drop of items, and between each fight you will gain 1 more level, another random loot drop including 1-3 tactical items, and exactly 1 legendary item. In this mode, injuries are automatically cleared after every encounter as you are not allowed to leave the arena to treat them, but tactical item charges do not replenish. Only when you become the champion of an arena are you permitted to leave the level and move directly to the next arena. Becoming the champion of all three arenas in Gladiator Mode will reward you with a unique Victoria Statue trophy for your tent or villa.
As you can hopefully tell, Death or Glory adds quite a significant chunk of new stuff to the game, but that’s not even all. At the same time as we’re releasing the DLC, we will release a patch with a new content update that includes new companion dialogue sprinkled throughout the game, four new Roman legendary armours to find as loot, three new dagger-dagger combo skills, two new hair options for each gender, some new portraits for certain NPCs, and a slew of new quality of life improvements all over the place. Plus of course more bug fixes and balance tweaks than you can shake a tersorium at.
We’re extremely excited to release this big new update to you all alongside Death or Glory, and to read your reactions to everything. It’s been a hectic but wonderful time for us since release, balancing our work on the DLC with the ongoing response to your feedback, and we’re very proud of everything that Death or Glory adds to the game. Please drop by our DevStream today at 9:00 AM Eastern / 2:00 PM BST at http://twitch.tv/thqnordic to chat with Senior Producer Brad Logston, Creative Director Jonas Wæver, and our hard-working combat designer Hans Emil Hoppe-Rauer about Death or Glory and the big update, or whatever else you’d like to ask us about.
Until then, Valete!