Renowned Explorers [Official Site] first came out nearly a year ago and I enjoyed what I played of it, remarking back then that it was a game that could be made even better by adding new expeditions and content. Abbey Games’ have done just that with their free updates and content patches, such as the Mali Expedition, and have added two more expeditions, along with a couple of new mechanics, with the first paid DLC, More to Explore. Here’s what I thought.
The first thing I’d like to touch upon are the two new mechanics, which you’ll enjoy throughout the entire game regardless of expedition choice. The first of them is the ability to set up camp after exploring a certain amount of an expedition. When you set camp you’re given a set of cards to choose from, each giving certain benefits – usually a set amount of the game’s tokens, resolve or, once you’ve completed a few games with the expansion enabled and unlocked new booster packs, character-specific stories. I placed an emphasis on the last one because while the token bonuses will help you out, their accompanying descriptions are generic – the character-specific stories, however, aside from offering exclusive, unknown bonuses (and at times penalties!) have particular story snippets and offer some insight into your different party members.
The second novel mechanic is that treasures now have unique bonuses as well. When you find a treasure you’re now given the option to choose from a determined set of bonuses, such as gaining a flat amount of tokens from a certain type or gaining another bonus whenever you complete a specific task, and each treasure has both generic bonuses that it shares with others and specific ones that you can only get from that treasure. This adds a new facet to the whole treasure gameplay and contributes to making each of them feel different and unique. The one thing I’m not sure of is whether the game will get easier or remain balanced with the changes, since from my time with the DLC it seems that getting tokens and renown has been made easier with no counterweight to keep things as hard as they were.
I won’t go into much detail of the particularities of each of the new expeditions, Andean Adventure and Lost Island, so as to not spoil you, but you can expect more of the tongue-in-cheek humor and dialogue, along with new enemy types, locations and multiple special encounters for each of the new expeditions. I can’t say if either of the expeditions was particularly more in-depth or longer than others of same star-value, but they did both have multiple purple encounters and exclusive quests that seemed at the very least on par with the base content.
More to Explore doesn’t change Renowned Explorers in any fundamental way, and when you consider that the base game was already snarkily fun, that’s not a bad thing. With the playthrough-wide changes granted from camping and the new treasure mechanics you can expect some gameplay variations even when outside of the new expeditions, while said new expeditions will offer you entirely new content and spruce up your three and five-star expedition choices. In the end, More to Explore gives Renowned Explorers more of what made Renowned Explorers fun in the first place – treasures, witty dialogues and several quests and interactions that had me breathing sharply through my nose (with a chuckle or guffaw at times, even) – along with a couple of gameplay changes to keep things interesting for those who played a lot of the base game and came back to it, and anyone who enjoyed the base game will certainly enjoy this.