King's Bounty 2 preview: Reviving a classic

1C Entertainment is preparing a full-blown sequel to King's Bounty more than thirty years after the original release.


It would not be unfair to call King’s Bounty one of the most influential PC games of its time. Its combination of turn-based combat with traditional fantasy tropes found a living audience back in the early 90s with releases on various personal computer platforms as well as an appearance on the Sega Genesis. Originally developed by New World Computing, King’s Bounty would go on to serve as the foundation of what would become the wildly successful Heroes of Might and Magic franchise.

The series saw a mini-revival just over a decade ago as 1C Entertainment published several Russian-developed strategy titles under the King’s Bounty banner. Now under the eye of Prime Matter (Koch Media’s premium label), 1C is back at it again with a full-blown sequel to the original adventure. While it is still rooted in the tactical turn-based combat that franchise is known for, all other parts of the experience get a modern upgrade built on Unreal Engine.

The world of Nostria hangs in the balance

For King’s Bounty 2, players are tasked with restoring order and decency to a land known as Nostria. Players assume the role of the great savior who must cleanse the land of evildoers, deal with rampant necromancy, and sew up any loose ends found along the journey. There are three playable characters to choose from at the beginning, each with their own perspective on the story. These heroes will assemble their own unique battle parties and work their way towards victory through the various turn-based battles that litter the game world.

From basic human conscripts to unsettling creatures, players will be able to shape their battle party to fit a playstyle as well as dress up participants. Why go to the trouble of saving everything if you can’t look cool while doing it? Which type of entity your party mates are will have an effect on the strengths or weaknesses in battle. The Royal Guard excels at decisive positions while the Bandits work best when going on the offensive early in conflicts.

Like any RPG worth its salt, you will come across a variety of items that can swing the tide of battle in your favor when used efficiently. When your hero character is carrying artifacts that boost certain stats, those buffs will also apply to party members. The same encounter could play out differently if players choose to outfit their heroes with gear that compliments a certain playstyle.

Players can also get a glance at their party makeup within the game’s UI. Party member stats and skills can evolve following successful encounters, allowing them to grow with the hero over the course of the adventure. Like most tactical RPGs, the placement of troops on the hexagonal field of battle is of the utmost importance. Using elevation changes and the physical attributes of an environment to one's advantage are encouraged. On the flip side, you probably don’t want to be in a battle where you are underneath a ledge holding enemy archers while your team is mostly composed of combatants that only do well in close-quarters combat. Party size is tied to your hero’s Leadership skill and each hexagon has a hard limit on the number of units it will hold. Large units like dragons will eat up an entire hexagon, but you can fit several spearmen in a similar space.

The return of an old friend

The team at 1C is working hard to make sure the campaign for King’s Bounty 2 will have lots of easter eggs and references to moments from the original game while still being engaging for newcomers. There is a large group of potential players who weren’t even born when King’s Bounty debuted, so this new sequel is carrying the pressure to successfully introduce new blood into the franchise while still being the sequel that franchise diehards have waited more than a generation for. While King’s Bounty 2 will not hit digital store shelves until August 24, 2021, the early sections of the game carry lots of promise. If you have a PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, or PC and have a tactical RPG itch that needs scratching, make sure to get King’s Bounty 2 on your list.

This preview was based on a pre-release PC build provided by the publisher for coverage consideration.

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

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