Kingdom Come: Deliverance launches later this month promising a huge open-word RPG, without any of the mystical creatures, magic and fantasy we’ve come to expect from such games.

This has a lot of people wondering what developer Warhorse Studios is going to do to make their title as exciting while still maintaining a realistic setting.

What we really wanted to know is how weapons and armour will be enticing to quest for, when they’re not on fire or made out of dragon bone.

We got on a Skype call with Ondrej Bittner, a designer, and Tobias Stolz-Zwilling, the PR Manager, to find out. How does Kingdom Come: Deliverance make loot exciting without the fantasy element? What’s the equivalent of something like a flaming sword?

Bittner I would say that instead of fire attacks and freeze attacks – stuff like that in classical RPGS – our weapons have a number of stats with three types of attacks. We have a slash, a stab and a blunt or trauma damage attack. Every weapon also has its own defence and durability so, even out of the gate with all the realistic stuff, we have a lot of numbers to play with when we design a new weapon.

For example, you may have a sword that is extremely durable but it’s also very heavy and slow. Or you could find a different sword that is much lighter with faster attacks and more damage, but it is much more fragile with low durability so it breaks faster if you’re not working with it properly. There’s a skill for this called fencing, without this your blades will dull easier and their overall durability will go lower.

With all these stats we don’t need something like fire attacks, but we do have extra affects such as bleed to make up for it.

Stolz-Zwilling Weapons aren’t just something beautiful that you carry around, they’re tools that you need to keep you alive. You need to think about how it will affect combat. The sword may look better, but the mace may just be way better for the quest you are going on. In general it’s very important to remember that, in this game, you need to fight more with your brain than your muscle.

Of course you can charge into battle, but the archers will cut you down and the front line will encircle you. It’s better to analyse the field, see who is fighting who, maybe backstab someone or poison the enemies beforehand. There’s a lot of thinking before the actual combat. How does weapon durability work in the game? Can you only fix your gear at a blacksmith or are there kits for the road?

Bittner There are several types of kits [to repair] armour and weapons, and there’s even tailor kits to repair clothes and cobble kits for shoes. There’s a skill called maintenance that lets you salvage more damaged things. For example: if something is under 50% durability, and your skill is low, you won’t be able to repair it yourself, but you can always go to a professional. A tailor will repair your clothes, an armourer will repair your armour, and a blacksmith your weapons, etc.

The maintenance skill. Can you upgrade weapons?

Bittner We don’t have upgrades for weapons per se. You can’t, for example, take a weapon and put it in a forge and upgrade it. Instead, you can buy [or find] a better weapon. How do loot drops work? Does every enemy drop exactly what equipment they were using (like in Skyrim) or do they have a drop table?

Bittner What you see is what you get. So, if a guy is holding a sword and a shield and he’s wearing plate armour, you will loot all of that. It’s very realistic, but it’s problematic for the game economy. We have a few systems to fix this. When you loot items [from defeated enemies] they’re usually in worse condition as they’ve been damaged in the fight. Our weapons and armour also have roughly realistic weights, and Henry [the player character] can’t really carry that much. In other games characters can usually carry a lot more I’d say, so you can’t really haul everything away after a fight.

When you carry the armour it’s a good idea to have it repaired, either by yourself or at a blacksmith, and then sell it, as perfect condition loot sells for the best price. Can you increase that carry limit with a horse?

Bittner Of course, a horse is actually a really big step up in the game. Until you get a horse, you will sometimes struggle because you always want to carry more. There’s different types of horses, some of them are faster and some carry more, and there’s even specialised perks in the game so you can carry more, and your horse can be upgraded with saddle bags too.

Stolz-Zwilling There’s a whole system tied into this. The horse can also have armour, horseshoes and so on.

Bittner Also, your carrying capacity is derived from your strength. If you’re really strong, you’ll carry more.

The submenu for your horse. As you can see, even your choice of horseshoe makes a difference. Are weapon stats set or are they randomised?

Bittner The contents of loot is a little bit randomised, but weapons are set. If there’s a sword with a specific name, [that sword] will always have the same stats. The only difference is in the durability, which varies and will affect how much damage it does. Are the contents of chests and dungeons random or is it also set by you?

Bittner I’d say “partially randomised” would be the best way to describe it because we have something called “inventory preset”. This means that, for example, the pockets of villagers will have some random items in them, but every villager will have a scarf, or something similar between them.

There’s a certain degree of randomisation, but we don’t want it to be too random so you don’t find items where they shouldn’t be. Will any weapons or armour be added to the game as DLC or microtransactions?

Stolz-Zwilling Because we don’t have a DLC plan yet, we’re currently working on this with Deep Silver, our co-publisher, and once we know exactly what will be there we will talk about it. We don’t have any precise [plans] yet. There is a pre-order bonus up to release for a special armour set.

Bittner You don’t just get it though, it’s not like every other game where they give you a super weapon at the beginning. You have to find it through a treasure hunt. There’s maps you need to follow and you’ll be rewarded with a really nice set of armour.

This merchant will not only sell you swords, but repair them too. How many kinds of weapons are there?

Bittner Because we have the three types of attacks and also the three types of defence for the armour, this means that we can do different classes of weapons. So swords are the staple of medieval warfare, but they’re not very good at full plate armour. For that you’ll want to use something like an axe or hammer or a mace with a lot of blunt damage.

Weapons such as pole arms don’t have a number advantage in combat, but they’re more effective thanks to their size. You can hit your enemy before they can even reach you.

Stolz-Zwilling You need to think about it like a rock, paper, scissors situation. The fourteen-slot inventory system that we have allows you to layer armour and fabrics to protect against the different types of weapons and attacks. Soft gambeson is better against blunt weapons, and full plate armour on top of that protects against slash damage, so you have all-around protection. If you only have one part it, you’ll be much weaker against another type of attack.

The customisation choices you have are deep and you’ll need to manage it carefully. By making your own armour sets you can customise your appearance and build to your playstyle. If you’re going for archery you don’t need full plate because it’s heavy.

Bittner And limiting. A helmet with a full visor will actually limit your field of vision, which is terrible if you need to shoot someone.

Stolz-Zwilling You also need to try and predict what opponents you’ll face.  Enemies with heavy armour are best taken on with a mace.

Bittner We call it the medieval can opener. On the other side of things, I also wouldn’t be afraid that your weapon will have no affect. Even if you’re not hurting an opponent, every attack will damage armour, so over time you will weaken his armour and penetrate it. Speaking of pole arms, can I charge at someone with a lance on horseback?

Bittner Horse combat is a little bit simplified, there’s no five zone attacking, but the weapons have the same numbers on foot and on horseback. The horse does add speed and velocity to your attacks.

Stolz-Zwilling We also have bow shooting on horseback. If an enemy destroys your armour will it fall off and offer you no protection anymore, or will it always give you some kind of cover?

Bittner The latter. Haha, your armour will never fall apart. There are graphical effects for when armour is damaged (they’re very nice, lots of dents and scratches) but your armour will always give you some kind of protection. What kind of individual customisation is available? Can you dye items to change their colours?

Bittner There are colour variations of much of the armour, but unfortunately you cannot dye it yourself.

I must also mention that colour matters here, and not just for vanity. There’s stats for stealth that tie into colour so black armour is better here. Bright, polished armour have higher visibility, but also give you a charisma bonuses. So with sun glaring off my armour archers will pick me off in a field easier?

Bittner It’s mainly for stealth, so shiny armour will trigger the enemy perception earlier. But, the shiny armour will mean that villagers greet you as a proper knight.