America - Front
America - Back
By Lee Mehr 22nd Jul 2021 | 2,146 views
Reviewer’s note: if you'd like to know more about the main game, feel free to check out my thoughts on it here.
Since the release of its latest RPG, developer Spiders has been breaking new ground. The foremost example being the 1 million sales bar GreedFall eventually vaulted post-launch. Fast forward ~1.5 years after its release, now the team's first ever story-based expansion coincides with a 9th-gen upgrade; further, there's also been a Gold Edition re-release. Just like the main game, the expansion's more-modest price tag compared to its peers ($6.99) places it in an odd spot for comparison and brings up an important question: how does the quantity and quality compare?
Before getting into the plot synopsis, it’s important to understand the pre-placed quest hurdles to unlock The de Vespe Conspiracy. Naturally, you're in the clear if you load a save file before the climactic showdown. If coming in fresh, two main questlines must be unlocked first: “Searching for Constantin” in Constantin’s Faith and “On the High King’s Trail” in A Cure for Malichor. Upon accomplishing that, a letter from Lady Morange will be placed at every camp or ambassador house.
Her distressing letter informs you, Sir/Lady De Sardet, of the rivalrous de Vespe noble family (pronounced de-vesp) arriving onto Teer Fradee. As fate would have it, this unwelcome arrival occurs during the search for your cousin, Constantin d'Orsay. But the arrival of Aurélia de Vespe doesn't come with the intent of violent conquest but of... holy matrimony? From a distance, such an arrangement with Constantin makes sense: two contentious factions are using marriage to settle decades-long squabbles. Perhaps he's a fan of redheads too! Of course, things aren't as simple as they first seem with this family. Shortly after meeting Aurélia, De Sardet and their crew are embroiled in intrigue that has seismic repercussions on both the island and the colonial continent.
Conspiracy's new location folds in perfectly with the story's mood. The Aidág ol creidaw region (colloquially called "The Flaming Blood") is a breathtaking coastal locale near Hikmet. The background of splendid waterfalls, wonderful vistas, and foreboding volcanic activity perfectly corresponds with the beautiful & fiery nature of Aurélia. Like the embroidered linen trimmed around her armor, there's an extra bit of "poshness" to her combative intrigue that distinguishes her from other antagonists. The only complaint with her, as with the expansion altogether, is her limited time on-screen, especially since the chemistry with De Sardet is enticing and the voice actress hams the character up perfectly.
If you're familiar with GreedFall's quest timeline, you may be suspicious of how immediate these circumstances are meant to feel given Constantin's disappearance. Aurélia's certainly a cunning foe, but there's something about my De Sardet's managed alliances that makes any threat to my family's rule seem artificial. It's not stretched to ridiculous lengths, mind you, but certain main quest moments amp up De Sardet's diminished reputation to a far-fetched degree.
The intricate webs of diplomacy & intrigue found in other main quests (or the better character quests) don't get the same amount of breathing room here. This doesn't dismiss the classic GreedFall DNA. Even a tautened sub-plot against a conniving dame here is still guaranteed to be more than a convenient fetch quest. It's actually quite impressive how each major faction is incorporated into the modest runtime. Still, you can tell the constraints of budget & its location within the main plot put it in a weird place.
Just like its web of political intrigue, the original’s RPG systems remain intact. What I brought up in my GreedFall review still applies here. It's an action-emphasized RPG with light stealth to avoid certain conflicts or get the jump on opponents. With new armor and weapons, crafting plays a role in improving various stats and buffs. A pleasant benefit in placing this expansion towards the conclusion is that some of the rare, epic, and legendary gear was a sizable improvement for most of my companions. All of the other game design accoutrements are here too: the resting place during fast travel, dialogue options, skill trees, and on and on.
So what new gameplay additions beyond pretty new swords make Conspiracy more alluring? Aidág ol creidaw is more than a pretty hotspot. The new feline creature, named "Egsregatt," is actually a fun foe. Its swiftness will initially catch you off-guard, and there were a couple occasions when they genuinely surprised me by starting the battle. I was pounced by one whilst running through an area I'd previously cleared. Just as deadly, Aurélia's cool-sounding "Spadassins" are nuanced human enemies with quick teleport abilities and ranged poison flasks. I was bested on a few occasions thanks to their surprising viciousness.
As with complaints about Conspiracy's narrative, the quest line's structure doesn't hit the same highs as the original. There's still a nice intersecting web, but some of the bullet points within said web feel quite basic. One successful Persuade option results in a de Vespe loyalist handing over documents or the next objective location; moreover, there's only one opportunity to utilize a special attribute (Intuition). There was also one portion where I expected more complexity. Having done my due diligence to sneak around the back of a hideout (and slightly damage a faction reputation), I figured there'd be a special reward for the effort; instead, I had to go back to the front door because that's what the story demanded. There aren't the same amount of creative little extras as there are in the base game.
All of this is through the lens of playing on an Xbox Series X too. As I previously referenced, the release of GreedFall - Gold Edition coincided with this DLC and official next-gen upgrades for XS and PS5. Given that this wasn't a technical powerhouse compared to $60 AAA titles of 2019, it stands to reason your mind won’t melt from these upgrades; that said, 60 fps remains consistent in performance mode and the new load times are blazing fast. I'd also call special attention back to The Burning Blood as well. You may exit a dense forest and spot a distant volcano in the background, an idyllic waterfall, the coastal waters, and more within 10 seconds. There's a nice collection of visual tones and intersecting pathways packed into this layout.
GreedFall - The de Vespe Conspiracy finds itself in strange territory compared to other self-identified "expansions" I've played. Not as pricey as most out there, but doesn't capture a unique tone from the base game either. It also feels like Spiders had to do some prying for this story to fit; concurrently, its existence feels more like a developer's victory lap. For me? I was reflexively happy to see more GreedFall regardless. But after its 1.5 hour runtime, the conclusion didn't leave me satiated to the same extent as many of the original's extensive journeys.
Despite being one of newest writers on VGChartz, Lee has been a part of the community for over a decade. His gaming history spans several console generations: N64 & NES at home while enjoying some Playstation, SEGA, and PC titles elsewhere. Being an Independent Contractor by trade (electric, plumbing, etc.) affords him more gaming luxuries today though. Reader warning: each click given to his articles only helps to inflate his Texas-sized ego. Proceed with caution.