One of the strengths of Renowned Explorers, a game I liked so much that it was the third best game of 2015, is its score chase. Sure, it tells a great story. Sure, it’s full of memorable characters, treasures, and encounters. Sure, it forces you into difficult but gratifying choices as you decide which three adventurers to bring along this time. Sure, its combat is unique in a genre that can’t stop chasing X-com. But in the end, it all comes down to your renown. Your score. How famous did you get? How did you rank on the list of world’s most renowned explorers? And how did you rank on the list of other players? Did you beat my score of 1,917 renown? The six of you on my friends list with higher scores aren’t invited to answer that question.
But the score chase is about to get a whole new leaderboard when developer Abbey Games releases the generically titled More to Explore DLC. Which does indeed offer more to explore. Two new expeditions, to be precise.
The Andean Adventure: A 3-star expedition into ancient Incan mountain territory. Find extremely valuable treasure by helping the different cities rise against the oppressive Emperor. Pay for the Llama Express to jump between areas of the map quickly.
The Lost Island: in this new end-game expedition the secrets of the Anti-Explorers will finally be revealed…if your crew is capable enough to make it through. Go above and beyond, and you might just find the prehistoric and dangerous secrets hidden in the mysterious pink mist that covers this island.
That’s good and well, but I still haven’t beat Shangri-La, so whatever is behind the pink mist on Lost Island is well beyond my reach for the time being. But where the More to Explore DLC is really going to be my downfall is with the innocuously named campfires.
After the jump, grab a marshmallow on a stick and have a seat.
As you work your way through an expedition, a little bar in the lower right hand corner fills up. When it’s full, a campfire icon flashes. Click on it and night falls. Now your characters are hanging out by a campfire. But hey, what’s that underneath them? A hand of four cards! And look, you get to pick one for the bonus resources indicated on the card. Pretty nifty. But then you get to decide whether to keep the other three cards in your hand or discard them. But since there are only five cards in your deck, and since you only get one campfire on each of your five expeditions, it doesn’t make sense to discard them. They’re just going to be shuffled and redealt at the next campfire. Get through all five expeditions and you’ve played all five cards. What gives?
It doesn’t make sense until you finish your adventure and you’re on the screen where you get your first booster pack (this one’s free, but the later ones come along based on how many expeditions you finish). Now you’ve got more cards, and they’re invariably better than the five basic cards. They add special abilities to your characters, or free perks, or new ways to score points. Only certain characters can use any given card, so you build an adventure’s deck based on your choice of characters. Furthermore, each of the 20 characters has his or her own card to unlock a storyline with unique bonuses and interactions with other characters. So far, I’ve got the Agatha von Brunswick and Kwame Amanquatia cards. Here’s how Agatha’s storyline begins:
You’ll have to collect your own Agatha card to find out what’s in the bag. I’ll just say that it wasn’t what I expected. And I didn’t expect what happened afterwards. Which lasted for the entire adventure. There’s something like this for every character in the game. Which means two down, eighteen to go.
So why the new leaderboards for More to Explore? Because there are all sorts of new options for scoring renown. I’m guessing folks without the DLC would feel awfully inadequate comparing their scores to folks with the DLC. I handily beat my previous high score by a couple hundred renown on an adventure that was cut short by voodoo monkeys. Next time I might show up with Agatha and her unusually large bag.
More to Explore will be available on May 31st. The price hasn’t been announced yet, but you should probably pay them whatever they want. Time spent playing Renowned Explorers without unlocking campfire cards is time wasted.
Correction: The release date was incorrectly listed as March 31st. Wishful thinking on my part, because then I would have already been playing it for a month!