E3 2011: King Arthur 2: The Role-playing Wargame – that’s really what it’s called

Developer Neocore Games’ original King Arthur released in 2009 and was sort of a surprise hit. Sure, your average pedestrian probably won’t know what the hell it is, but the game provided an unapologetically deep RTS experience and received fairly positive reviews. With two years gone by, Neocore is finally ready to unveil a sequel that, aside from sporting a title that leaves nothing to the imagination, looks to continue the trend of relentlessly complex real-time strategy.

Things aren’t looking so hot for King Arthur this time around. Having just recently conquered Britannia, Arthur’s finished proving to everyone that he’s big man on campus. While the kingdom did enjoy a brief period of the whole “peace and prosperity” schtick, Morgause the Witch Queen has decided that she doesn’t like Arthur all that much and incites all-out war between Britannia and a race of demonic creatures.

Even though the game is still in a pre-alpha build, the graphical quality is looking fairly slick. According to Neocore PR rep Orsolya Toth, the campaign map is now twice as large as the original game’s. In addition, King Arthur 2 once again enables players to take on quests, make key decisions that determine your moral alignment (become a “tyrant” or “rightful king”), practice Christianity or “The Old Faith,” ally yourself with key Arthurian figures like Merlin and Morgana, establish laws for your subjects and a whole slew of other things. All of these choices determine what type of special abilities you will unlock (both passive and combat-oriented) as well as which heroes will join your cause.

Another improvement to the sequel can be found in the Total War-esque real-time battles that ensue when you clash with an enemy faction. Unlike its predecessor, King Arthur 2 can render up to 4,000 units on screen at any given moment (we’re assuming that the power of your graphics card is going to play some small part in this). Likewise, players can now train and control flying units such as dragons along with the standard ground forces.

One change in the King Arthur formula we weren’t too thrilled to hear about was the exclusion of competitive multiplayer. According to Toth, the development team reviewed player feedback and found that while some people did enjoy the multiplayer function, the community was more interested in the single player campaign. By removing multiplayer, Neocore Games hopes to expand on the story and offer fans a much deeper, more rewarding experience.

Considering how most RPG developers have been forced to streamline their franchises in order to push more units at launch, it’s encouraging to see a game that doesn’t shirk on complexity or depth; however, we find ourselves a little dubious when it comes to the whole multiplayer issue. PvP has pretty much become the standard fare of RTS games, so kicking it out of the game all together is definitely a very bold choice. All we can do is remain positive and wait for more details to release in the upcoming months. Expect to see this game’s release Q4 2011.

Jun 16, 2011

Jordan Baughman is a freelance journalist who has written for the likes of GamesRadar and Gamer magazine. With a passion for video games and esports, Baughman has been covering the industry for years now, and even hopped the fence to work as a public relations coordinator for clients that include EA, Capcom, Namco, and more.