War doesn't make anyone great
Combat was always an important element of the King's Bounty series, and this is also true here, although not without surprises. The authors obviously aim to reduce the number of encounters and their length, so that battles should only take about 30% of the total time needed to complete a campaign. Emphasis on "only" because that's a lot less than in previous installments. Is that bad? It depends on the point of view. Most fans of the series will probably agree that combat with humans and monsters has always been the best thing about the series, but beating wussies is never as satisfying a standoff with a true hero. Reducing these proportions could bring very positive results if...
...exactly. It was hard to judge the quality of combat in the fragment presented by 1C, because the authors admitted they didn't really work on the balance yet, so every army we encountered was either labeled as "weak" or "very weak." As a result, I won every battle without much fuss. Bearing in mind the core principles of the series, I regularly supplied my army with powerful units, so the enemy troops were always decimated in the blink of an eye.
I also liked the fact that each hex contains a realistic number of units. In his gamescom report, Jacob criticized this solution, but I simply enjoyed it. Seeing the enemy infantry melt away under your fire is much more exciting than watching pawns and some numbers. Battles have become more legible, and you can immediately see who needs to retreat, and who can stay and fight. Unlike my editorial colleague, I also have had no problems distinguishing between my units. While they do look alike a lot, spending a few hours with the game allowed me to comfortably recognize them at a glance. During the initial stages of the game, the management of the army was facilitated by the legible interface (which is very nicely done, I should add), because all of the parameters are easily accessible. There icons of units are also quite large, so that even a complete beginner will not confuse archers with crossbowmen.
I was also pleased with the things that were immediately visible in the interface. The troops have many special attack and passive abilities available. It was one of the biggest advantages of the previous parts of the series – sometimes, you wouldn't opt for the units that were generally most powerful, but rather some dudes who were able to compensate their overall weakness with rather quirky abilities. I'm glad 1C didn't mess things up here, and now I'm convinced they're going in the right direction. The demo offered less than ten units, but the full version of the game is supposed to bring a few dozen in total.
The next thing I was stoked to see was that the devs preserved the rules governing the size of armies – it's determined by the command coefficient. This parameter determined how many units of the given type we could obtain, so increasing it was one of the main goals of our actions in The Legend or Princess. Nothing changed in this matter, so the pressure to level the character up and get new command posts is even bigger.
I would also like to spare a few words about the maps, on which battles take place. They are clearly smaller than before, so setting up your army before the battle is more important now, especially since, in King's Bounty 2, the shape of the terrain will be very important. Previously, mobility was limited by various obstacles lying on the ground – here, the shape of the terrain may, for example, provide cover from archers and crossbowers. The developers have said that the battlefields will match the terrain, where the skirmish takes place, and I honestly have to admit that this is indeed the case.
It's pretty out here
Finally, some general remarks. Visually, King's Bounty 2, looks more than decent. The graphic style evokes associations with both The Witcher 3 and Kingdom Come: Deliverance, although the colors in the Russian game are certainly brighter, and the graphics less realistic. Compared to previous installments, however, the improvement is very apparent, and there's no trace of the fairy-tale style known from The Legend or Warriors of the North. Overall, it's better than GreedFall – I'm currently playing the RPG from Spiders Studio, I should know.
I have already mentioned the really good user interface. For me, it's always an important aspect of the game and it's great that it looks pretty much ready, even at this early stage of production. Bot its design, as well as readability, are really good, and since King's Bounty is a game, where reading the interface and keeping all the stats in check is crucial, this is great news. Again, I will compare to GreedFall, in which interface is not only ugly, but also not functional. In this respect, King's Bounty 2 looks like the best game on the planet compared to that game.
I can't say much about the dialogues, because the game only had the Russian version of voice-over available, and the devs thought I'd have a better experience without any voices altogether. 1C already promise the game will wait for the full Polish language version that for compatriots who like a little toporne RPG from the shelf AA, but it is, speaking in our (I look at You, the representative of gothicowego concrete) does not matter.
Overall, I must say I had a lot of fun. Not everything in the demo version has worked as it should, but it was still difficult to find fault with something particular. A few hours spent with the game convinced me that the development of the project is going in the right direction, and if only the Russians do not mess the core elements, this should be a good follow-up to the famous series. On the one hand, the sequel is diametrically different from The Legend, but still remains firmly rooted in the same premises that once made KB great. I expect that to be the case here as well.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I've been a fan of the King's Bounty series, I've finished all installments, including this first one, since 1990, some of them even a few times. I reviewed three games from Katauri Interactive, giving them decent scores, somewhere "in the greens."
The expenses related the trip to the game show were covered by gamepressure.com
Kristian Smoszna | Gamepressure.com