It’s a tough gig at the moment for a multiplayer game, especially those which only have a local option which requires the physical attendance of friends. As we slowly get back to normality, we will soon hopefully be able to enjoy these to their full potential once more. In the meantime, the ability to play games with others online has become even more crucial to their success. So for a game such as Knight Squad 2, which is based entirely around multiplayer, the stakes are even higher.
As the eagle-eyed amongst you may have already noticed, this is a sequel to the original Knight Squad that was released for the Xbox One way back in 2015. Despite looking much sharper and bursting with colour, the same DNA runs through this follow up. Thinking of it as Knight Squad 1.5 will give you a good idea of how it stacks up.
Once again you’re given the choice of several knights to fight as right off the bat, as well as the opportunity to unlock more by completing certain challenges as you go. These range from hitting a certain number of kills, to pressing a pattern of buttons whilst in the main menu, just like cheat codes in the days of old.
There are plenty of different ways to play Knight Squad 2 and all 13 game modes provide short, chaotic bursts of gameplay designed for players to easily drop in and out of. When matchmaking you can invite friends for private games or open it up to the rest of the world, allowing anyone to join in with the freedom to drop in and out between rounds. It is possible to play solo against bots but it’s a much less enjoyable experience than battling human opponents.
You can play with up to seven others, and choose a simple match or set up a tourney. However, the latter just means the first to win three rounds is victorious, rather than the kind of setup you’d find in Super Smash Bros. which was what I had pictured in my head. Simple matches allow you to change the game type after each round, which keeps things a little fresher.
You’ll be able to play classic modes such as Battle Royale and Capture the Grail, as well some other more unusual ones. Payload, for example, sees opposing teams fighting to push a mine cart full of explosives to the opposite side of the arena. In Minion Master, as you slay your enemies their souls will spawn extra troops that will attack the enemy fort en masse. Whoever sees their HQ destroyed first, loses. Depending on the type of game, you can play as a free for all, duos or in squads.
Knight Squad 2 is all about customisation; in other words giving you lots of options in how you play. Weapons and upgrades are scattered around the arenas you play in, allowing you to wield crossbows and drills as well as setting proximity mines. Pickups such as speed boosts and shields can also change the gameplay in the blink of an eye.
The choices don’t stop there though. You can also alter the conditions of the arena, such as enabling slippery floors, choose which weapons and upgrades will be available (or set them to random) and dictate the scoring limit.
After playing through all the various modes, unfortunately the gameplay never really moves on from feeling anything more than a button bashing exercise. Specifically, running around and hacking away at your opponents. There are differences between different game modes, but there isn’t enough variation to fundamentally change the game. All the choices are welcome, but ultimately end up as cosmetic differences.
The online lobby system is thankfully smooth, and throughout my time with it there have been some active players who have dipped in and out of my game, most likely helped by the fact Knight Squad 2 supports cross-play. You’ll probably have to rely on bots to bring the player count up to eight, however it is an encouraging sign for a game which has just been released on Xbox systems.
The other gripe I have with Knight Squad 2 is the price. It’ll set you back £12.49, which is pretty expensive given you’ll have seen everything on offer in under an hour.
Knight Squad 2 on Xbox looks the part and offers plenty of customisation options. However, thanks to the shallow gameplay the price tag feels too expensive to be fully justified and as a result the fun is short-lived.