• July 17, 2021

King’s Bounty II Preview – Welcome to Crownlands

In June, Tim McDonald was able to see a preview of King’s Reward II, an adventure role-playing game from 1C Entertainment that promises to return to the roots of the series. Tim was only able to play as Warrior Aivar in the previous version. As such, I decided to choose Katharine, the wizard class, this time.

Katharine has innate bonuses for learning the “Air and Fire” and “Death and Darkness” spells. Similarly, it reduces the morale penalties incurred by Finesse-type units if there are troops of other ideals (more on this later). There is also a third class, a Paladin that provides advantages to armor and resistances, although the character will remain unnamed for now.

Morality and ideals in King’s Reward II

King’s Reward II has an ideal morality or system that comes into play every time you complete missions. This concept is also tied to the talent tree where you choose your perks, as well as the units you recruit. There is the ideal of Order that represents doing good works or following the law. You will see this when your character tries to help oppressed refugees or when he reports criminal activity to the captain of the guard. Naturally, you will get blessings for spearmen, archers, knights, royal mages, and spirits of light.

Order is opposed to anarchy, an ideal that implies going the dark way. For example, instead of returning an amulet to its rightful owner (Order), you would give it to a ruffian (Anarchy). Those who follow this role would be better off with units like assassins, raiders, ghosts, and various undead.

The other two ideals are Power and Finesse, also diametrically opposed. Power means resorting to brutal actions, such as deciding to immediately fight evil spirits or fight a powerful Chimera. Finesse, meanwhile, is about using your wits, cunning, and arcane knowledge to solve problems. For example, instead of immediately fighting these inhabitants, you can seek puzzle solutions or a means of distraction.

Power-type units include wild animals (that is, wolves, bears, and eagles), as well as dwarves (that is, militiamen and servants). As for Finesse, you’ll often see magical creatures like stone elementals, golems, and spirits of the wind. To clarify, sticking to an ideal doesn’t mean you can’t field a unit of a different type early in the game. However, you should take note of the effects on morale when your selections do not match.

King's Bounty Ii King's Bounty 2 Preview Early Access Impressions 1

Turn-based battles

The beginning of my character’s journey in King’s Reward II saw his release from prison. I then participated in various turn-based battles, many of which were part of missions. Examples include fighting corrupted guards, assisting an eagle tamer by defeating bandits at an outpost, assisting an entity that ends up summoning the undead in a swamp, and speaking to the Scryer to conduct tests.

Turn-based RPG veterans will feel right at home. You will move units in hexes, shoot enemies from afar with your missile units, and smash through enemies with your infantry. Since singular unit types are squad-based, taking enough damage will cause you to lose multiple soldiers. Fortunately, you can make up for your losses through healing, a post-battle option that costs gold. Alternatively, you can draw soldiers from your reserves.

The character you choose doesn’t actually fight these battles as a unit. Instead, they will simply cast offensive and defensive spells each turn. Since I chose Katharine the Mage, you can bet she was spamming Burning Ray (a fire-based spell) as often as possible.

King's Bounty Ii King's Bounty 2 Preview Early Access Impressions 2

Defects that put the “no” in Nostria

Unfortunately, the King’s Reward II The construction I played had a litany of problems. For example, it was a bit difficult to distinguish which unit should take its turn during battles. There is a number that denotes initiative, but sometimes I forget which ones have already completed their actions. Instead, I would prefer a bar or feature at the bottom of the HUD that shows the order of the units. Similarly, moving your troops won’t necessarily tell you if you have line of sight (or if the enemy can detect it). It led me to times where I deployed my archers and mages incorrectly because I assumed they would be able to hit targets that were further away.

Then there is the general scan. Although the environments are vibrant and picturesque, with all the RPG flair you can imagine, the character movement and animations feel clunky. Your character only has two speeds: walking and jogging, which really slows down the pace. Although it has a mount, the controls can sometimes be cumbersome. You should also dismount every time you have to interact with a chest, item, or NPC, which makes the process tedious and jarring.

Finally, the information on spell tools, units, and inventory might take a bit of work. I must have sold the wrong items a couple of times because I had the tooltip enabled, and this prevented me from clicking on another item that they overlapped with.

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Mind you, this is still an early access version of the game, so these issues are to be expected. We have also been told that a large number of fixes will arrive eventually.

In any case, this preview was only intended to show the first 10 hours of the campaign. In fact, the Crownlands region told me about numerous conspiracies and threats, as well as a prophecy related to your character.

Then when I had a mission to visit the Wizard’s Tower, I realized that the door in the town of Rickville cannot be opened beyond that point. This left me wanting more, and I am looking forward to how 1C Entertainment would wrap up the rest of the trip once. King’s Reward II Releases Aug 24.

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