by Derk Bil
previewed on PC
King Arthur II
Neocore’s King Arthur games aren’t for the faint of heart. They aren’t colorful fairy tales where the prince kisses the princess and gets to save the day. Instead, they are dark, gritty games full of beasts and brutes fit for a nightmare and a world looking back at you as if all hell is about to break loose. And it will - of course - but the good news is that you will still get to save the day. Neocore’s Orsolya (PR) and Linda (Community Manager) guided us through the many changes of King Arthur II and even allowed us to take the helm for a battle unlike we’ve ever seen before.
Back from hell
King Arthur II takes the player back to Britannia, not too long after Arthur and his knights defeated their enemies, vowing to turn their lands into a brighter place for all. Alas, things did not work out that way. Arthur suffers from a magical wound which the best healers and magicians have been unable to heal. The Holy Grail is missing and the Knights of the Round Table have disbanded. Some fled, some are rebelling and to make matters even worse, a monstrous race, the strength of which was hinted at in the first game, has emerged. The Formorians are demonic creatures that usually come in the “big and scary” variety and they have their own agenda for Britannia and Arthur.
The player is tasked with creating a new army, one with even stronger knights and with a whole range of new units available to recruit. The most formidable of which are the dragons: hard to kill due to their thick skin and leathery wings and fearsome as they breathe fire and destruction over their targets.
Though the overall concept of King Arthur remains unchanged, Neocore has crammed a ton of changes and a number of innovations into this sequel. You still cruise the map with your knightly heroes and command forces that seem to have stepped right out of a dark fantasy novel. And like before, your actions determine whether you will go down in history as a saint or a tyrant through the game’s deep morality system. At the heart of this system are the quests which come available through diplomacy, adventuring or battle. The more extreme you are in your choice between good or evil, the higher will be the rewards.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
Dragons! Fans of the original game and its expansions will instantly recognize what the addition of dragon units entails: flying units take combat in King Arthur II to the skies. Unlike before, mountains are no longer crossable by ground troops, making flying creatures that are not restricted in their mobility a valuable asset to any commander. But like so many things in this franchise, having no restrictions is a double edged sword. Unless you plan carefully, flyers are the first to die as they are quick to arrive and have nowhere to hide.
Dragons can cause quite some chaos though, especially when they’re breathing fire on melee units that can’t defend themselves. In the battle we played, the melee units were not alone and as we sent our dragons into battle, the Formorian’s responded with their own flyers: gargoyles. Like a scene in Hitchcock’s “Birds” the gargoyle swarm attacked the dragons and started wearing them down, revealing another weakness of these scaled giants of the sky: dragons can only attack one gargoyle at the time. Powerful? Certainly. But not invincible.