Long before the glorious days of King Arthur, even before his father, Uther Pendragon was born, Britannia saw the arrival of the Legions. In the name of the Roman Emperors they invaded the south, then set out to conquer the whole land. At the northernmost point of their conquest, where they met the sav—blah blah blah blah. King Arthur II has a story, but you're not here for that. You want to hear about the big battles. You want to hear about the political intrigue. You want to hear about the dragons.
And we saw all of those in our short time with King Arthur II: The Role-Playing Wargame, NeoCore's sequel to their popular strategy game. We recently sat down with the game's prologue and, mouse in hand, marched into the twisted, fantastical world, ready to do battle with massive armies... after taking part in some political back-stabbing, of course.
Above: The battlefields are massive and beautiful
Arthur II reminded us a lot of the Total War series. When the battles occur, they're about a hundred times bigger than those found in games like StarCraft or Red Alert. Our army had several thousand units, each separated by type into over a dozen different squadrons. Archers, cavalry, soldiers, and other unit types had much different properties that we needed to use in order to take down our enemies. This meant launching ranged attacks from afar with our archers, attempting to flank with our cavalry, and initiating up-close and personal battles with our regular soldier units. But there are things that make it different from Total War – namely, the monsters.
Our enemy's army had some flying bat creatures and a few giants. These giants could take down a number of units by themselves, so we needed to be careful to initiate at the right time. We also had to make sure that we had weakened our enemy's shield enough before casting more spells – another thing that makes this game feel more like Lord of the Rings than Rome. Both sides have magical shields that grow weaker as they're assaulted by magic-based abilities, leading to us trying to find the best way to lower their shield without leaving our heroes without the mana to use their magical powers effectively.
Above: The inclusion of non-humanoid units definitely spices things up
Outside of battles the game takes place on a large world map, where we were able to travel between cities to trade, discuss alliances, and do other political stuff that we couldn't really get into during our time with the game. Everything we did see, though, looked very promising and, most important of all, very in-depth. Everything we saw looked like it was fully fleshed out – we could equip our heroes with items, craft magical artifacts, engage in high-level political discussions. Arthur II doesn't appear to be a casual game in any sense of the word; it doesn't pull any punches. It looks like it's going to be a rewarding, complex, involved experience, and one that we're looking forward to seeing more from as its early 2012 release approaches.
In the meantime, check out these exclusive images, and enjoy the giant, beautiful, creepy, enemy-filled landscapes of Arthur II.
Above: No, this isn't an image from Brutal Legend