The King’s Bounty series is quintessential PC gaming; part RPG in which you build up a character in a medieval fantasy realm, part vast-scale strategy game in which your armies shape the world’s political landscape.
In a way, the series has always been a genre unto itself, its quieter points like character development and intriguing storytelling having always been balanced by a spectacular sense of scale. Turn-based combat can take you from back-alley scuffles with thugs all the way through to epic army-vs-army battles that will shape the political lay of the land.
At a time when a growing number of classic-styled and alternative RPGs beyond the Skyrims and Witchers have made their mark on console, developer 1C Entertainment decided it’s the perfect time for King’s Bounty to stake its claim across multiple platforms.
This video is the second dev diary for King’s Bounty 2. Where the first dev diary talked about the three pillars of King’s Bounty games - Exploration, Hero Development, Combat - this one covers the series’ heroic journey from its origins on PC to today, as King’s Bounty 2 is striving to become a multi-platform hit. It maintains the RPG-strategy spirit the series is renowned for, while dropping some of the more gruelling mechanics that are best left in the past.
The series’ journey to console has been an epic one, with the original coming out back in 1990 for the Amiga. Both developer New World Computing and designer Jon Van Caneghem would go on to make the Heroes of Might and Magic games for PC, making King’s Bounty something of a spiritual predecessor to the famous fantasy series.
King’s Bounty has gone through several evolutions since those fledgling days. The battlefield has changed from a square grid in the original to a hex grid in the 2008 remake, King’s Bounty: the Legend, where a distinction between ‘passive’ and ‘active’ abilities allowed for a greater level of tactical depth. This successful reimagining spawned several of its own sequels, the last of which came out in 2014.
Since then, the series has been gestating, rousing its troops and planning the next manoeuvre that will help it conquer a gaming landscape that’s changed a lot in the last six years. Expectations from an RPG are higher than ever in light of the genre’s surging popularity.
The series has made some big changes over the years. For King’s Bounty 2, the hard time limit from the original game is gone (Thank the Gods!), letting players explore the series’ first fully 3D world at their own pace. The devs want you to take your time in this world. The new ‘Ideals’ system will build your character’s personality based on your decisions, locking off and opening up story branches that can lead to massively varying playthroughs.
Look at a great RPG of recent years - The Witcher 3, say - and you’ll find that many of its greatest sidequests and stories stem from perfectly ordinary folk you interact with in the world - a farmer who you’re trying to help through a family tragedy, or a desperate village terrorised by a roaming beast. In this video, the devs show that they understand the value of such smaller stories - intimate side-quests that are just as important to creating an immersive world as the grand narrative.