When we hear about a game that attempts to blend genres, it can sometimes illicit uncertainty. Will the game be unwieldy? Will it handle one part well and another part not-so-much? Kingdom Under Fire is a franchise that has explored a myriad of genres in its releases with the likes of strategy, MMORPG, and action under its belt. In Kingdom Under Fire 2, Blueside has chosen to bring everything that came before together and improve upon it in a cohesive and unique experience. It’s a hybrid of real-time strategy and action MMORPG. That might sound difficult to handle at first, but when we had a chance to see the game firsthand in a chat with Blueside and Gameforge (who are publishing the game on PC in Europe and North America), it was surprisingly easy to grasp and an intriguing game at that.
According to Blueside Creative Director Jubo Kim, it’s almost a natural evolution, “The original Kingdom Under Fire was a pure real-time strategy,” Kim explained. “Further games explored the action RPG and hack n’slash experience, and Kingdom Under Fire 2 is the first of the series to combine those elements under the addition of a true MMO experience.”
How Does Kingdom Under Fire 2 Teach Players to Play?
So how does it work? Putting all of these elements together is neat, but does it help you figure it out proficiently? From what we saw of the game, yes. Kingdom Under Fire 2 doesn’t just throw you into the fray with an RPG character and tactical decisions to make. It seems to ease the player in at every step of the way.
You start in the RPG elements, hacking and slashing at enemies, leveling up your main character, gaining skills, and acquiring treasure and resources like you would in any RPG. Then, as the scope of the quest expands, you start to amass a few troops under your command. It’s not an overwhelming amount of units mind you, but just enough to that when you start to engage in some small-scale battles beyond your player character, you ease into commanding your main character and units in tandem. As the game progresses and your character grows stronger and amasses more power, you then unlock and gather stronger and more unique troops to command, to the point where you’ll choose build a set of which units you field in a battle.
All along the way, the game guides you up its slope into eventual large-scale battles. Even when we finally got to the part of the demonstration of Kingdom Under Fire 2 where those huge battles are happening. It didn’t look overwhelming. You switch between taking control of your character and occasionally moving out from them to direct your units in movement and combat, working to strategically position your units for a tactical advantage while your main character works to sway the battle with their powerful abilities.
According to Gameforge Executive Producer Botond Nemeth, that curve of learning and education was everything.
“They had to pace it out carefully before we were ready to show Kingdom Under Fire 2,” Nemeth explained. “It’s cool to be able to heal your troops or blast a group of troops with an ice blast, but it absolutely needed to be something where it wouldn’t be that complex as you learn it.”
And to that end, Kim says the acquirement of your troops and units is a part of the growth of your hero.
“Our game is more about the experience of becoming a general or commander, rather than just you slashing your enemies the whole game,” Kim further explained. “During the journey to reach the max level, you start with a small group, and then unlock troops. Meanwhile, the game takes the steps to show you how to command them. So, all along as you achieve max level with your character, you’re learning to become a master of a whole entire army as well as the skills that your hero has to influence the battle.”
How Is Kingdom Under Fire 2 Split Up Among Heroes & Their Units?
With all that said, factions are a huge part of real-time strategy and classes are a huge part of RPGs. So how does Kingdom Under Fire 2 handle these aspects? Well, for the RPG side there are 3 main factions, but one is an unplayable enemy. The other two are Humans and the Dark Legion. For these two sides there were five classes laid out to choose from for your hero. For the unit side, the available units are not split among the factions at this time, but there are still around 80 different units to amass, mix, and match in your armies as you progress through the game.
It’s worth noting that both Gameforge and Blueside confirmed that there would be further classes and units planned to expand the roster on both ends after launch. It was also worth noting that each battle doesn’t just level your hero. It levels the effectiveness of your troops as well. So, as you develop your hero, choose which units suit you, and level up skills that benefit champion combat and the bolstering of your armies, there will be a ton of customization for players to explore.
How Much of Kingdom Under Fire 2 Is PVP vs PVE?
We certainly can’t bury the fact that Kingdom Under Fire 2 is still an MMO. In fact, it’s the biggest new addition to gameplay in the series. You won’t just battle enemies. Other players can assist or battle you in the various offerings of Kingdom Under Fire 2. With that in mind, we were also rather curious to know how much of Kingdom Under Fire 2 would demand we engage with other players, and how much could be done on our own. According to Nemeth, it was important to offer players the versatility to join up or go it alone in the main quest.
“In general, you can play the whole story alone if you want,” He expanded. “It’s one of the reasons we’ve taken so long to get here is building that variety for the player. You can play PVP, PVE, do the main story solo, or not.”
Of course, if you do want to join up with your fellow players, there are plenty of rewards to be had in that regard as well. According to Kim, not only would players be able to engage with each other regularly on their way to the end of the main quest, but there would also be a lot of end game content waiting for them.
“There’s a significant amount of content after the main quest,” Kim explained further. “The biggest thing there is Raid Missions where you can join with other players in PVE content to engage and defeat a difficult mission for extremely unique rewards. There’s also PVP in which you can go up against other players and see how your hero and army composition stacks up. We also have various PVP and PVE missions planned for after the launch which we can’t reveal at this time, but rest-assured, we are going to continue to engage both sides of the community.”
No Compromise On Genre In Kingdom Under Fire 2
One of the most ambitious parts of Kingdom Under Fire 2 is the sheer challenge that even though it is mixing a lot of genres under one roof, it isn’t leaving any particular area by the wayside. The goal for Blueside and Gameforge is to present a game that doesn’t lose out on one aspect in focusing on the other. It won’t be a good RPG with okay strategy or a good RTS with mediocre role-playing elements. It also won’t be a middle ground where it’s only a mid-tier level of everything in it.
“What we’re doing here takes a lot of balance and tweaking, but ultimately, our hope is that players will find it all feels really, really good.” Nemeth offered. “Players will judge, but we ultimately want Kingdom Under Fire 2 to be something that will deliver excellently on all fronts.”
For what we saw, Kingdom Under Fire 2 may sound like a handful, but it’s coming together in a way that leaves us wanting to explore all of what it offers. The game is slated for North American and European releases in November 2019 and pre-orders are open now on the Gameforge website. If you’d like to stay up to date on the latest news and information on Kingdom Under Fire 2, be sure to also check out Gameforge on Twitter.