King’s Bounty II Review – Blue Blood

This long-awaited sequel to King’s Bounty is sure not to disappoint if you’re already a big fan. You’ll still find the turn-based tactical combat which inspired Heroes of Might and Magic Series. However, the story is presented in an open and clunky world and has poor storytelling. For newbies, it’s much more difficult pitch.

It has tried every trick to modernize itself, except for combat. The best part is that it’s done them all before.

The move to an open 3D world is the most noticeable change from 2008’s King’s Bounty: The Legend. With a variety of environments that take advantage of a vibrant and imaginative colour palette, the Kingdom of Nostria is a stunning place to visit. You will find rolling hills, sleepy dirt roads and wheat patches that break up otherwise beautiful scenery. The towering Tolkien-inspired architecture that towers over the entire scene would make it look like a medieval painting.

Though the presentation apes the grounded fantasy of series like The Witcher, the world itself doesn’t feel very alive or self-reliant. The NPCs are silent, repeating the same voice-over lines to each other. They don’t seem to be doing much other than waiting to hear from you. Although the villagers you meet will be open to you helping them with their issues, it is rare for these sidequests to resolve in an unexpected way. There aren’t any dialogue options and no way to control how every encounter ends. It’s hard to imagine a wild life not wanting to devour you. Nostria seems frozen in time because there are no day/night cycles.

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You can only explore the areas marked with arrows and clear paths. It is forbidden to jump up and down from ledges, which can lead to difficulties in reaching certain points of interest, particularly if they are far away. Although the term “points of interest” may seem a bit too strong considering what you’ll see in King’s Bounty II’s many nooks, you’ll still find plenty of places to look for random items and gold. However, I don’t remember any standout spots.

Choose from one of the following characters as your starting character: A gruff, cranky mercenary or a mage that’s basically an witty jerk. Or a earnest, ignorant paladin. You can see their differences in personalities through what they tell others. However, regardless of your role, everyone treats you exactly the same.

Battle experience gets ruined by a confusing UI and a busy HUD

The only difference between the characters, other than combat, is the way they deal with problems around the world. Aivar, the mercenary, is incapable of getting past any problem that does not require a basic knowledge of magic. For example, he cannot get around a barrier created by another mage. However, the others can do it perfectly. It feels unfairly restrictive for one of three characters. This is also inconsistent because there are many side quests or puzzles that require magic touch. Aivar, however, can grumble through them.

This is a standard tale of fantasy. Your main character was imprisoned for several months as a unwitting accomplice in an attack on King Charles’ life. You are released under strange circumstances and begin a story full of politics and prophecy against the backdrop of an impending Apocalypse. Most likely, this is a tale you have already experienced in some way in other fantasy worlds. The bland voice acting and dull writing make this quest not particularly appealing, with the exception of a few NPCs.

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This is just a way to encourage you into combat which, luckily, feels amazing. Heroes of Might and Magic fans will recognise King’s Bounty II’s brand of turn-based tactical battling. A unit is an individual group of recruits, which together make up a total health and strength. As a player, your character is able to call plays on the field and cast support spells that can buff or harm teammates. The ability to use single-use or spell book magic is available to all characters. However, the mage, paladin, and warrior have the ability to convert the scrolls into spell books. To learn this ability, you will need extra skill points.

It is forbidden to jump up and down from ledges, making it difficult for people to get around.

A busy HUD with unclear UI makes battle experience less enjoyable. Although I know that moving to a hexagon will bring a ranged unit within line of sight of the enemy, I cannot determine whether an enemy is in line of view of me. If I need to defend my position, I must use my HUD and UI to help me. Sometimes the tooltips can be a bit buggy. Sometimes, you won’t be able to see an enemy’s range of movement even though it was visible in the previous turn.

It is frustrating that many battles in King’s Bounty II require trial and error. Your weaknesses are known by enemy units and they will not be tolerant. One small mistake in the early stages of a match could lead to a catastrophic slide into defeat. Although I didn’t feel like I lost an unfair battle, I did not believe that a comeback would be possible after one mistake. You’ll get better at using each unit, and you will be able to act in the right way, but it takes a lot of time.

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You can defer all battles, even those that come to you surprise, so that you have the opportunity to reshuffle your troops. It is an excellent thing, as sometimes it feels like the battle has been won or lost during the placement phase.
It doesn’t mean that you have to lose. King’s Bounty 2 doesn’t offer many options to rebuild after defeat. It is expensive to recruit new troops and it is difficult to find ways of making gold. You can hoard any useless stuff you can find, and then sell it to vendors to make quick money. Selling junk to finance an army is a low fantasy.

King’s Bounty II’s attempt to open up the world is disappointing. The combat strikes a satisfying balance between fun and challenging, but everything around it feels humdrum when compared to today’s best open-world games. The beautiful world is jarringly lifeless, and some stodgy writing and performances prove that the best RPG games leave very big shoes to fill.

Publiated at Tue 24 August 2021 12:16.48 +0000

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