Following on from the success of the King’s Bounty video games, 1C Entertainment look to bring an all-new experience to fans of third-person RPGs with King’s Bounty II. Boasting a huge game world, intricate quest and dialogue options, turn-based, tactics-fueled battles, and fully voiced dialogue, it has a lot going for it.
King’s Bounty II Hands-On Preview
Having minimal experience with the original King’s Bounty games, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with King’s Bounty II. I often find myself wasting nights away, searching through Steam’s endless library for something to keep me occupied. Browsing through King’s Bounty II, the hex-style combat system immediately caught my attention, and its interesting combination of third-person style RPG exploration and tactical combat definitely piqued my interest.
We were fortunate enough to be given access to a pre-release look at King’s Bounty II before its full release on August 24. It wasn’t the full game, and we weren’t allowed to take any screenshots or capture any footage (the screenshots in this post were provided for us to use), but we did get chance to explore about 8-10 hours of content near the start of the game.
The story begin as you, the hero, are released from prison by order of the Prince. The local guards, a ruff and rugged bunch, quickly inform you that you have be summoned. They offer an escort to help you reach the city, and that’s it. It’s a quick introduction to the game but a welcomed one, waiting only a few minutes before letting you dive into the game and experience its wonders for yourself.
The third-person style is done well; it’s familiar, easy to navigate, and allows you to explore the large game world quickly and easily. You’re given a horse right at the beginning of the game and then your objective, what path you choose is down to you. Making my way to the main city, I quickly found myself exploring off the beaten path. Treasure chests, secret quests, miniature puzzles – I ran into a lot of exciting and rewarding content just exploring the first main area.
While much of this is very standard for a game in the RPG space, King’s Bounty II sets itself apart with its high fantasy setting and almost RTS style of combat and unit management. The main character doesn’t directly fight in combat. Instead, they command a number of different troops and sometimes cast powerful spells. Even with the limited time available during the preview, I discovered an impressive array of different units that I could add to my army.
Human Spearmen, Archers, and Healers served as the holy trinity of tank, support, and DPS. However, before long I was resting my bows and laying down my spears in favor of ghouls, skeletons, and other ghastly creatures. While the fantastical was definitely more exciting than the average fighting farmer, I quickly learned that not all folk play well together. Mixing my human styled units with those of the dark depths quickly created discourse among the ranks, causing some of my units to randomly skip turns due to their distrust of the walking dead. I mean, it makes sense, right?
I didn’t understand the mechanics behind managing my army until I had lost half of it, but it delivered a level of depth I wasn’t expecting. There is a huge talent tree, skills that the main character or general of your army can unlock that lessen some of these penalties, but I’m unsure how far the full release will go. There’s a lot of potential and the thought of combining the different unit types as you measure the strengths and weaknesses of each factions strongest units is an exciting one. Despite this, it’s not something I got to experience too much during the preview.
The turn-based strategy layer of combat is arguably King’s Bounty II’s most exciting attribute, but there’s a glorious world to explore outside of combat. I only played a single play through using Aivor the Warrior, but I immediately discovered various types of content I was not able to explore. Different characters have different alignments, with the decisions you make influencing your overall reputation and changing the options available ahead of you. This creates a constantly branching path of choice and consequence with actual impact and meaning, stretching far beyond a simple reply in the next line of dialogue.
The initial hours of King’s Bounty II have left me excited. If enough unit variety and spells are available in the full game alongside careful managing of difficulty and challenge, the strategic combat alone will be worth the experience – and that’s without an already impressive and expansive environment.