Who hasn’t wanted to run a fantasy tavern before? I know I have. The constant stream of adventurers, flush with cash, ready to drink and tell a mighty tale. It isn’t just working hospitality, it’s acting as a hub for the lifeblood of roleplay.
Epic Tavern is aiming to bring some of this experience to players. Currently in Early Access, players are put in charge of a new tavern and tasked with building the business’ reputation and facilities. As well as this, adventurers are hired under the taverns banner and sent on quests which provide upgrades, cash and other boons.
There appears to be an ongoing story which can be followed, as quests are divided up into Story and Tavern. So while the player is building a successful tavern, it looks like this is to support the ultimate goal of completing the story segment.
Game play falls into two basic segments, the tavern and the questing. The tavern is a 3D environment where the player interacts with patrons, plying them with food and drink to increase their friendship, gain information from them, and maybe hire the person into the taverns roster of adventurers. This is all achieved by spending action points, which once they run out, denote closing time.
The questing portion is quite different. It is the player’s job to add up to four adventurers to any of the quests in the available list. Each adventurer has four different attributes, which are added to the party total. A percentage of the party’s likelihood of success is also helpfully given. When the player is happy they can send the party out on the quest, which is communicated via a series of short descriptions and button presses.
I really like the conceptual idea of Epic Tavern, but at the moment the game feels a little flat. Admittedly a host of options are currently unavailable, like some upgrades, but even so the core systems of the game seem to be running as intended. So at this point I feel like I can start making some assessments.
The way the player recruits adventurers and sends them out on quests is an interesting idea. There is some challenge in deciding what adventurers to keep on your roster, in order to make the most balanced party you can. This can be quite enjoyable, upgrading and equipping the adventurers and preparing them for their journeys.
Unfortunately the actual quest element falls quite flat. All player interaction is taken away, with the party basically testing its combined attributes against a series of events. The player makes no decisions, and just clicks a Roll button occasionally as they watch a series of repetitive animations slide along a map.
Even in the tavern section options are limited. The player cycles through patrons, talking to the most important first (those who are offering quests), then the rest. All patrons do is sit and drink, so the fantastic visuals become largely redundant. The tavern doesn’t feel alive, but rather populated by a bunch of generic automatons.
Really my biggest bugbear is that there isn’t a lot to actually do. Players will quickly start to go through the same motions as they are forced from tavern to quest and back again, over and over. Adding the various upgrade portions may increase the interest, but at the moment I can only imagine this adding slightly more variety.
I really hope that the developers use this Early Access build wisely, and listen to the player feedback. As I said, I really like the conceptual idea behind Epic Tavern. But the game as it stands needs a lot of refinement to turn it into something which players are going to have no choice but to return to.
Epic Tavern is available now on Early Access through Steam. You can learn more about the game on the Epic Tavern website.