The mission “Baptism by Fire” is a poorly-designed nightmare that is almost impossible to complete. It exemplifies everything that is wrong with Kingdom Come. The game is clearly not designed to handle large-scale battles with multiple NPCs, given the sheer amount of glitches and AI oddities that occur throughout the mission (and that’s saying a lot considering the game’s reputation for glitches). The mission is way too hard even with improved weapons and equipment, and the only time I’ve ever beaten it was through sheer luck.
First, you fight a ton of guys that are all better armed and armored than you. Then you fight a ton of guys that are all better armed and armored than you. THEN YOU FIGHT A TON OF GUYS WHO ARE ALL BETTER ARMED AND ARMORED THAN YOU. Then you fight Runt. All without being able to properly heal or save. That is ridiculous. And don’t even get me started on the archers. I’m sick of hearing Radzig yell at me to “deal” with the archers. WTF am I supposed to do? Kill them all by myself? Yeah, I’d be lucky to cut down two before they light me up and kill me. And isn’t it great that even though archery for the player is infuriatingly sluggish and difficult, the enemy seems to have impeccable aim?
In KCD, going up against more than two enemies at a time is practically a death sentence unless you’re kitted out like a damn paladin. So whose bright idea was it to throw young Henry into a hornet’s nest of heavily armed soldiers? It doesn’t even make sense from a story perspective. Why on earth would Radzig and Robard throw an untrained, underequipped Henry into the middle of the fray knowing full well that he’d easily be killed? He’s not a soldier, and he’s already nearly lost his life to these thugs already. It would have made more sense if Radzig had ordered Henry to stay at Talmberg again, but he escapes (again) and rides into the battle, where there would be fewer soldiers to deal with since the battle is already raging. Sure it’s repetitive, but it’s better than being thrown to the wolves. Maybe he runs into Runt who’s been wounded and is escaping, and Henry has to chase him and fight him to the death after taking out his goons. I think that would have been a better way to go about it.
Another thing that grinds my gears is that the espionage and sabotage you do in “A Nest of Vipers” has no effect on the battle whatsoever. I scoured the entire camp and managed to both burn the arrows and poison the food, and even though Henry noted that there was a path that would be great for a surprise attack, no matter what, Radzig always takes his men over the bridge. Every time. And there are always a ton of soldiers and a ton of archers which makes me feel like the sabotage did absolutely nothing. What’s up with that? Why even put that in if it has no significant effect on the battle? And why even present the option of a surprise attack when the game puts you on the same battle path every time? It’s a false sense of variety that is antithetical to what a good RPG is supposed to be.
What’s more, the win/loss conditions seem to play by their own rules. The “You’ve lost too many men” failure is frustrating as hell, since it seems to appear out of nowhere even if there are still a ton of men on the field. And because of that failure condition, you can’t just sit back and let the AI take each other out. I know that’s not what you’re supposed to do, but the combat in the mission is so broken and frustrating that it’s the viable alternative. But what’s even worse is when the game just flat out fails the mission by saying “You have lost the battle”. No indication as to how I lost, it just fails for literally no reason. I’ve noticed it often happens after clearing the Cuman camp. Sir Radzig will run after the archers like an idiot while the rest of the men stand around with their thumbs up their arses, and when they finally get moving and I’m about to leave the Cuman camp, the wagon that was blocking the entrance magically reappears and I fail the mission. That is some grade-A bull right there. It’s bad enough to fail because you keep dying because you’re either underequipped, being ganged up on by heavily armored bandits, or take a stray arrow to the face just when you’re about to win. But the fact that the mission will just fail for no damn reason is beyond enraging.
I hate this mission. I hate everything about it. I am currently stuck on it in my second major playthrough, and have been trying for days to beat it. The last time I beat it was through sheer luck. The patches clearly changed some elements of the mission, and while I don’t know if they made it more difficult, I do know that I am not having fun playing this game as long as I’m stuck on this mission. I don’t hate KCD, in fact I think it’s one of the better RPGs in recent times. But this mission puts on display all that is wrong with the game. It’s infuriatingly difficult, plagued with glitches, and just flat-out unenjoyable. I know there’s probably not much the devs or anyone can do about it, seeing as it’s vital to the story (supposedly), but I needed to get this off my chest because I was about to punch a hole through my screen, I was so mad.
Oh and fun fact, I never beat the whole game, my first playthrough got wiped by some electronic BS along with half the stuff on my hard drive. So I don’t know if this is the hardest mission in the game, but it certainly feels like it.
tl;dr F**K THIS MISSION