We’ve had to wait a little while longer for this fourth and final expansion to medieval RPG Kingdom Come: Deliverance. Preceding it were three promising, but ultimately disappointing diversions in From the Ashes, which saw you becoming the bailiff of the recaptured Pribyslavitz, rebuilding the settlement building by building; The Amorous Adventures of Bold Sir Hans Capon, which saw you become entangled in a series of side quests for the pompous noble, attempting to help him in his quest for love; and Band of Bastards which tasked you with roaming around with a group of mercenaries to clear up an increasing threat from raiding bandits.
I say that these were disappointing with a heavy heart, as while not providing an excuse for being lacking, the game’s uniqueness and charm screamed out for more content, and a trait that all of these DLC offerings shared was being too short and limited. Questlines that just felt like ordinary side quests, content that was clearly supposed to be in the game from the beginning (tournaments for example) and concluding after only a few short hours left them feeling stunted. I suppose From the Ashes was less about questing and more about building a settlement – which is an interesting concept in its own right – but even this ended up being less complex and engaging than one might have hoped.
As a result of this, and the reason I’m harping on about it, a lot of weight has been thrust on A Woman’s Lot to offer something more substantial as the final expansion to the game (that we know of). And while it falls into some similar pits as its predecessors did, it brings me great pleasure to say that A Woman’s Lot is the best of, well, the lot.
The core of this expansion is set up slightly differently to the other ones. Of course, the main questline on offer is Theresa’s experience during the attack on Skalitz at the beginning of the game, and so to start this you need to speak to Theresa and ask her to tell you about it all. This will launch you into her shoes back in time, when everything wasn’t quite so violent.
Theresa is living at the mill getting on with her ordinary life – completing chores for her father and getting involved in some shenanigans with the other inhabitants of Skalitz. The first half of the quest is Cuman free and simply has you engaging with your neighbours and performing day to day tasks for your family, but this isn’t to the detriment of the experience, in fact there’s a lot of charm and nostalgia to walking around Skalitz again and seeing the characters that you knew all the way back at the beginning of the game just living their normal lives (some who are dead now) – you even get to have a word with Henry, which is a lovely scene (though it does end with you battering him with a wooden sword).
There are a couple of zany quests thrown in, as you would expect from Kingdom Come, which includes trying to set up a date between Johanka and Matthias, and recovering stolen silver from a mine. These are enjoyable and allow you to enjoy the gameplay in more detail as Theresa, who as it happens is a great character to play as – not just for her good dialogue, but also that she’s just as capable of punching the shit out of people as Henry is. But obviously when the fateful attack does take place, the light hearted tone shifts dramatically, though Theresa’s adventure keeps on giving.
The gameplay shifts to more of a stealth focus, with the sudden attack forcing Theresa to flee for her life with little way of defending herself (or supposedly – we’ll get into that in a bit). From then on you have to sneak around avoiding Cumans in a bid to help as many survivors as you can. The quest shows how much of a hero Theresa really was – which was only really suggested in the main game – and she certainly has an interesting story to tell.
For those who might be put off by the focus on stealth, there’s no need to fear as the difficulty isn’t significant in any way. Theresa starts out with a dagger and the ability to stealth kill, and apparently is inherently stealthy, so there’s not as much of a hurdle to jump over as you might expect – given that Henry’s venture into the world initially seemed so difficult.
Theresa’s also a dab hand at combat, despite – as mentioned just earlier – her not really being fitted out for it. You can pick up weapons and use them, though not armour, and while she isn’t strong enough to efficiently wield anything, you can still defend yourself relatively easily in one on one combat. This is, however, made all the more easy thanks to your trusty canine companion.
Yes, you read that right, dogs (or two dogs) have been introduced to the game and along with them a new skill branch. Theresa’s quest acts more like a tutorial for the use of your dog, so you don’t have to worry about unlocking its abilities, but Henry will have to treat his dog right and gain experience as a handler in order to unlock some of the more useful traits. Your dog can sniff out undiscovered locations and chests, use him to help with hunting (both seeking out animals and bringing back once killed), and most useful to myself helping out with combat. He’s not the most ruthless of dogs, but even just distracting an enemy is valuable enough in some of the game’s tougher encounters.
But getting back to Theresa’s questline, the dog in particular makes your time fending off Cumans much easier if you do get into a tangle with them. The questline continues with you exploring during the night, Skalitz still under attack from Cumans, as you try to find items to heal your brother, and overall concludes with Theresa heading back to Skalitz the next day and assisting some lingering survivors before saving Henry’s ass in his fight with Runt. A lot happens in this quest, and there are some delightfully droll and dramatic events, however unfortunately Theresa’s quest falls into the same trap as the previous DLC items in that it is simply too short. In this instance, however, at least I feel like the quality of the overall experience makes up for it in part – as while the previous expansions lacked substance, this questline feels like a proper story, and actually fills in a gap from the narrative (or a side gap, I suppose), but I do feel like there could have been more to it all, if only just a few more little quests to take the whole thing above the 2 hour mark.
Having said this, there is an additional questline that proves much more substantial, and is just as high quality. Johanka is another neglected character during the base game, but A Woman’s Lot gives her a brand new purpose and a handful of quests to get involved in. Johanka is experiencing visions from the Virgin Mary, and with this she asks Henry to investigate. With each dream she has, she sends you on a new errand until she eventually decides to start prophesising to the town. The questline takes an interesting turn as you have to deal with the consequences of her actions and visions – whether or not you actually believe her, and of course the attitudes from the church towards her actions (without spoiling, the quest culminates in a rather dramatic bid which will depend heavily on your actions and choices).
Also, interestingly, given the religious context of the questline, a lot of your past sins come back to haunt you, and don’t think you can escape them so easily. Frustratingly this does mean that the quest is a heavy ‘reputation’ focussed experience, so you can expect to lose and gain reputation at the drop of a hat depending on how you react to certain things – remembering that Henry is a Christian and if you provide answers that are not pious enough, you can be seen as a sinner (equally if you take it too far you can lose reputation). This might trigger the perfectionists out there, but rest easy in knowing that ultimately your reputation isn’t all that badly affected, unless you deliberately act like an arsehole.
Both Theresa’s and Johanka’s questlines manage to trump anything offered by the previous 3 DLCs, and even a lot of the side quests in the base game. But also A Woman’s Lot provides some small things that are beneficial to the game overall. I really appreciate that Theresa is an actual interact-able character now. In my review of Kingdom Come when it first released, I criticised Theresa for being a useless AI once you ‘had your way with her’. Now at least you can actually talk to her, take her out and even recruit her assistance to repair your clothes. I realise reading that back that this all sounds a little sexist, but I suppose contextually it’s a game of its time – Theresa even expresses concern that the miller would marry her off if he had anything to profit from it.
And of course your dog companion. Henry gets one as well, and you can look forward to levelling up your Hound Master skill to aid you in so many useful ways. One issue with this particular side of the game though is that it does seem to take a while to level up this skill – therefore locking out the useful attributes till much later. This would be an issue for those who’ve completed the game and are returning for the DLC, as unfortunately there probably won’t be a great deal of opportunity for you to level up naturally while questing. Additionally, while I didn’t experience any bugs myself, I have read on forums that some have experienced glitches with the dog, and even the dog refusing commands despite having high obedience.
Otherwise though, A Woman’s Lot is a stand out expansion and, aside from being a bit short, doesn’t really make any missteps along the way. The DLC is about reuniting with characters from the beginning of the game – some of which were unfortunately overlooked – but also about the lesser considered female plight during the game’s hard times. The 2 main questlines are delivered with good pacing, dialogue and, crucially, are actually enjoyable to play, and with the addition of the dog the base game is made even better as well (that just being my opinion, though if you don’t like the dog you can always send it away whenever you like). I’d definitely recommend this DLC, though particularly if you weren’t so impressed by the previous ones, this is a good way to end its run.
+ Theresa becomes a proper AI character
+ Dog companion is very useful
+ Markedly better than previous DLCs