Now suppose I DON’T want to replay the MQ as a privileged blacksmith’s son? Why can’t I have the sandbox option to create my protagonist character at the main load screen? Start the game with multiple starts as a lowly beggar, merc, aspiring priest etc etc who is NOT named Henry? The devs could’ve designed all subsequent Skalitz tutorial replays to have a 2 day game timer before it was attacked. If the player wanted, their PC could accomplish all of Henry’s tasks, but as an unknown town villager (typical of Elder Scrolls style).
If player wanted to replay the tutorial with their custom PC and NOT as Henry
You still have all the creative problem solving ways to accomplish Henry’s goals. The only difference here is your success will depend upon how much charisma, courage and fight skill stats you gave your character at the start of the game.
Basically after waking up, your PC would need seek honest work i.e. with Henry’s dad as a smith apprentice. Your PC would have the sandbox ability to:
1.Receive the Kunesh quest as an employer side quest. Be as creative as they want to be in getting the items (be it honoroably via combat or illegally by knockout/looting)
2.Perform Henry’s other side activities (like hanging out with Henry’s friends, training with the merc etc). But just NOT AS HENRY. So NPCs would relate to you slightly differently. i.e sword training would now cost gold instead of being free, which means your PC would have to earn the coin for it.
3.Practice smithing which would be as detailed and interactive an activity like the alchemy crafting. So your PC would need at least a game day to get acquainted with smithing/producing armor/weapons (think this was planed for vanilla but got pulled for technical reasons). So there would be a trade off on how the player managed their work (earning potential) Vs leisure (skill training potential for sword training, riding horses, stealing/pick pocketing, etc) Vs. regular things like eating and sleeping all within the 2 day time limit.
4.Meeting Radzig (not as a cutscene but in real game time). Smith would task PC to practice smithing. Like making horse shoes, sword pommels etc etc. Once the PC’s smith skill hits high enough, the PC would be then tasked by the smith to craft a weapon or piece of armor. Then deliver these supplies to Radzig at his castle. If the quality of your crafted weapons/armor is high enough to impress Radzig, your PC gets the opportunity for a free training session with one of the guards in the courtyard. If this fails:
5.Use your coin to train with the sword merc trainer in town.
6.Since smithing is so extensive, then realistically, this is the only honest coin your PC could make before the town got destroyed after 2 days. But the goal here is to improve your desired skill sets (that you decided your PC should have before the start of the game). This means
7.The player would have to find time (outside work) to train on any other skills like lockpicking, archery etc. before the 2 day timer ends.
If player didn’t care to do the tutorial with their custom PC: You could earn coin however you wanted. Examples:
1.visit the smith and ask if he wants anything done. You could pick up the Kunesh side quest here and/or other side quests Henry was tasked with like getting the ale. Or you could be directed to drop off theresa’s nails at the mill.
2.Get a Thesesa quest (non vanilla ones) to take a horse from the mill to the smith’s & get it horseshoed.
Realistically earn a horseback skill of 1 doing this.
3.Get Theresa quest to bring grain to the tavern cook, or for use as brewing alcohol.
4.Get a (non vanilla) quest from the smith to visit Sir Radzig in his castle (which you NEVER get to vist why WH?) & deliver some armor/weapons supplies. While inside the castle courtyard,
5.Get a speech check opportunity to meet Radzig & charm him in a speech check so that he offers you free training from one of his guards. This could lead to
6.Your PC getting free training in swordplay/archery etc. as Radzig’s gratitude for delivering his equipment ahead of time.
7.If you failed to get this free training, you could still use all that coin earned from your errand boy services. Use the coin you made from your favor errands to pay the merc and let him train your PC instead.
So how would a sandbox approach work in KCD? Right after character creation at the menu screen, your character would just:
1.Wake up on a pile of hay somewhere in Skalitz , resolved to to leave the town and improve their lowly lot in life.
Your PC doesn’t know where they’re headed yet, but knows they lack the coin. So they can seek honest work like in the 1-2 day game period
2.working as smith apprentice for the town smith
3.Doing favor quests for smith and other towns people
4.Improve whatever combat/stealth/charisma skills desired in this time. If going the combat route, PC could
5.Ask the merc in town for training. But since your PC is NOT Henry, this service is no longer free (as you’re not friends with him the way Henry is). Or
6.Get it free by doing an armor/weapon supply delivery errand for the smith. Deliver supplies to Radzig at his castle. Impress Radzig if your PC charisma is high enough and you managed to deliver the supplies early. If this fails then
7.Pay for training. Return to the castle later and pay Radzig’s guard from whatever earnings you’ve acquired.
8.doing other favor/errand quests like visiting Teresa at the mill, running errands for the Tavern, grocer to deliver things around town, learning how to ride a horse during this time FFS.
When Skalitz gets destroyed:
When this happes, your PC would have the added realism of fleeing on foot in addition to hosreback if they had acquired the riding skill. Your PC simply makes a run for Talberg, trying to avoid/survive the Cuman army pillaging the town and surrounding villages. But now as an alternative to riding, you have the option to sneak and/or fight your way to Talberg in real game time on foot. If you become injured along the way, you have to beat (a reduced) bleed out timer. And do so with the added difficulty of reaching Talberg within a certain number of game hours or the mission fails. If you opt to ride, then eliminate the Cuman archer cut scene as it serves no purpose. Simply ride as fast as you can while being attacked/chased (by randomly generated NPC mercs along the way) and beat the bleed out timer as before.
KCD gets having consequences for your actions dynamic right. It retains the sort of player driven/cause & effect problem solving, that is fast becoming a lost art in the industry. KCD had the potential to be as complex as Witcher or New Vegas by how it approached solving its quest line, interacting with NPCs and PC development. But it missed the mark by denying the player the freedom to sandbox and innovate by some of the ways I explained above. It limits the player’s ability to fully interact with the game’s environment. To be able to use whatever objects or NPCs the player has at their disposal to achieve their goals. Be it MQ or sandbox gameplay driven.
So by replay value, I’m basically NOT re-playing the MQ. I want the ability to use the highly interactive/immersive game world environment as a sandbox canvass. Which I can then play a completely different game (aka MY game). Much the way you have unlimited potential to innovate and sandbox in franchises like the Mindcraft and Sims. This sandbox feature btw, is the reason why Gary’s Mod still ranks in top 20 on steam—and it’s not even a game!
Replaying the MQ for the Nth time (i.e. after exhausting multiple youtube/personally discovered playthorugh tactics and approaches to solve side quests/MQ) has its limitations. Without the advantage of mods (that increase the game’s shelf life by adding new world spaces, quests, game overhauls, flora/fauna, interesting NPCs etc etc) replaying KCD will become stale.