The review of Kingdom under Fire II, finally arrived on western PCs after a ten-year development
Finally we came to the review of Kingdom Under Fire 2, a long-awaited new chapter – and finally arrived in a western version – of a series that was able to effectively mix action, strategy and RPG elements. It is therefore not surprising that this sequel, available on PC and in the future arriving on consoles, still focuses on the combination of different elements. But in doing so it takes a path from a more modest part, in terms of visual detail, and on the other more tortuous, pushing more forcefully on the strategic component and taking on the MMO look.
Kingdom Under Fire in MMO key
Hard task that of the leader of Bersia , busy not only to manage troops of various kinds, but also forced to deal directly with the enemy on the battlefield by dodging fiery arrows, huge boulders, spells and frightening blows delivered by monstrous creatures. And this is precisely the heart of Kingdom Under Fire II, however stuck in an MMO context that allows you to get experience points , new troops to be deployed on the battlefield, upgrades to evolve them, materials, equipment and consumables, dealing with the only hero, temporarily deprived of his army, the classic mass online game missions. The modern current follows, therefore, even if with a little delay compared to the promised timing, so much to suffer an MMO component that does not add much to the game play, being more than anything else functional to strengthen our hero and the ranks of the army in sight of the main missions and raids where instead the action and strategic components, both reinterpreted in a different key compared to the original formula, are in command, even in cooperatives or PvPs.
Fortunately, the MMO turnaround does not include any pay-to-win elements despite Kingdom Under Fire II (paid by us) in some markets is distributed with the free-to-play mode. There are equipment and inventory slots to unlock, there are tickets to resurrect troops and hero, there are prize boxes of various kinds and there are objects related to the three purchasable packages, but everything can be unlocked by playing, accumulating the currency called cubic and connecting regularly. Some aesthetic micro transactions for mounts and characters remain out, which is widely understandable given the very long gestation period. In addition, the online structure makes sense in contextualizing the two factions and guilds, all of which are necessary to obtain special skills and to try their hand at PvPs, but it offers very little more. In fact, it limits itself to the little stimulating monsters killing and material collection missions which, in addition to debasing the game play, castrated by the presence of a few poorly intelligent enemies, force us to go back and forth by characters placed a few meters from each other, absorbing tons of dialogues that very often touch total uselessness.
Fortunately, the areas intended for the distinctly MMO component are small, a click on the map activates the autopilot, the quests are short, the guided exploration and the approximately 200 hours of content ensure a less boring leveling phase than in other titles, but the experience is however diluted and as the level increases, the grinding and repetitiveness begin to be felt. Campaign missions that bring us back to the purest dimension of the series between structured operations, castles to conquer, a rather articulated plot and a game play that finally finds its dimension, starting from the third-person action component that makes us more important catapult into the midst of hordes of hundreds of enemies.
Action and strategy mix
The main missions of Kingdom Under Fire II offer a rather varied range of situations. To block the way there are dragons, troops that attack us from unreachable positions, huge monsters, cannons and even castles to conquer. Not everything is made with the care that we would have liked to see after years of waiting, let’s say it right away, starting from the artificial intelligence of the enemies and troops that touches the non-existent. But overall the campaign manages to push us to use all the possibilities available to us, from the skills of archers who can kill opponents out of range to direct combat, perhaps at the head of our ground troops, which allows us to quickly eliminate entire contingents of monsters with our hero or heroine. The five available classes are in fact gender locked, although the complex character editor guarantees a good margin of personalization, and they are all differentiated also by skills, with the arrival at the tenth level and the capital which, in addition to unlocking the world map, allows you to spend points to acquire new skills, including more powerful masteries, increasing the hero’s personalization.
The setting of the characters, however, remains the basic one. The gunslinger combines sword and pistols attacking even at medium distance, while the spells word, despite having magic available, fights at close range, like the massive berserker. The ranger, on the other hand, can use distance more effectively, like the elementals who can count on both spells and her animal companion. However, they are all united by an offensive and excited game play that is based on activation or concatenation skills and special shots that come together in a large number of short and effective combinations. The influence of the MMO turn, however, is also felt on the game play, with numbered skills and cool downs, but between basic attacks, dodges, final moves and short combos linked in a large number of different ways, the character is always on the move, dragging us into a tight action that gives satisfaction when dozens of enemies are projected into the air between explosions, huge creatures and evolutions of our hero. But however pleasant, the action must keep the accounts of the strategic component that allows us to switch to a Total War view with a button. Compared to a classic RTS, things are simplified, also due to missions with a decidedly guided structure, but there is no lack of special skills to make the function of each of our troops even more unique, all characterized by strengths and weaknesses of which we must take this into account to avoid nasty surprises. Among other things, the strategic component has a decidedly complex background, with 120 different units to be obtained, strengthened and carefully selected, given that the maximum number is severely limited even once all the army slots to be taken on a mission are unlocked. Planning also becomes very important, as it can facilitate our mission, but it also involves an interesting downside, given that in case of error, it gives more importance to the hero who can save the situation. However, it is difficult to remain without options and it is always possible to reformulate or strengthen the army to overcome a particularly difficult mission, perhaps by spending something more on the mission preparation screen that allows you to encourage the troops with an extra pay.
Khurram Raheel Akbar is a reporter for Zobuz. He previously worked at Huffington Post and Vanity Fair. Raheel is based in PAK and covers issues affecting his city. In addition to his severe coffee addiction, he’s a Netflix enthusiast, a red wine drinker, and a voracious reader.