30 years feels like a long time, but in the broader term of ‘time’ it is but a mere heartbeat. Waiting 30 years for something though makes it feel a lot longer. That is what fans of King’s Bounty have been doing, likely biding their time with the Heroes of Might and Magic franchise in the meantime. Now though, King’s Bounty II is arriving in the not too distant future, and we had the chance to see what it was all about.
King’s Bounty II is set to be a tactical RPG with deep, technical gameplay and a ton of customisation options. Players have a choice of three characters – each with their own unique backstory – in a non-linear adventure but rather than dialogue choices affecting the path ahead, it is your actions that will have longer lasting consequences. Characters have a choice of four ideals: Strength, Art, Order and Anarchy. These act as your skill trees when levelling up in the traditional sense, but also have a major impact on how the story unfolds.
The character you choose won’t necessarily be partaking in the battles themselves on the front line, but rather acts as the general, leading, ordering and improving troops. They do act as spellcasters though, but mana itself isn’t as readily available as you would expect.
The presentation by Koch Media and 1C Entertainment showed us the start of the game and a few of the introductory battles. From what we saw, these were standard tactical-RPG battles. The battlefields take place in the same areas you are exploring rather than exist in a different map, but the camera changes perspective to give you a better view with a top-down approach in this phase of the game.
These battle arenas are now in 3D too, and height does have a major impact in your attacks. Also, a unit isn’t a singular unit in the traditional sense: it could comprise of six or seven fighters in the same hexagon; it fills out the battlefield but also gives the sense of controlling much larger armies.
King’s Bounty II features two distinct phases for its core gameplay loop; exploration and battles. During the presentation we were given a small glimpse of how both work. They complement each other and the massive world has been designed to accommodate them both.
After this, we got a glimpse of the huge world map, and were shown a bit of the exploration side of King’s Bounty II. A side quest took the party into a dungeon and an ambush from some of the undead residents. Just as with more fleshed-out companions, the various undead can also be recruited into your army. In fact, many of the various enemies can be recruited at some point. That is, except The Blight. We did manage to briefly see The Blight in action, but little is known about them for now. They are the main enemy faction in the game, so you probably wouldn’t want them on your side anyways.
When exploring, King’s Bounty II has completely subverted the perspective of the original from 1990. Exploration has changed from a top-down view of a world map to a full 3D perspective. This decision has been made to modernise the look and feel of King’s Bounty and from what we saw, it certainly feels more in line with 21st Century RPGs with stunning vistas and wonderfully detailed towns.
Exploration is just as big a part of King’s Bounty as the battles. There are side-quests galore and puzzles to uncover. These aren’t just to fill up time, as the rewards will testify. There is a deep customisation element as well, and those rewards will help you kit out your squad with the best gear possible when on the battlefield.
Currently, King’s Bounty II is set to release sometime in March for the Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and PC. At this point today, it is in a completely playable state and the development team at 1C Entertainment will be using the time between now and release to squash the bugs. With a play length of over 40 hours they will want to avoid the same fate of other large games and remove as many bugs as possible.
I was too young to remember the original King’s Bounty, but this sequel 30 years in the making is shaping up to introduce several new generations to a tactical-RPG stalwart. If you remember the original, let us know in the comments if you would want to play the second offering when King’s Bounty II releases.
Huge thanks to 1C Entertainment for giving us the chance to sit in on their presser for King’s Bounty II. We’ll be sure to follow this piece up with development updates as the months progress.