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King Arthur: The Role Playing Wargame (PC)

King Arthur: The Role Playing Wargame (PC)

Hungarian developer NeoCore Games have designed a strategy wargame along similar lines to the Total War series. The game delves into the legend of King Arthur and manages to create a strong fantasy role playing atmosphere. It is up to you to guide Arthur to the throne of Britain by killing enemy monarchs and their armies.

Initial impressions of King Arthur are impressive with a stunningly well designed engine taking the center stage – the landscapes are beautifully designed and when the sun hits the trees it does set a really firm foundation for this fantasy epic. Soldier models are well detailed and the developers give the player the ability to zoom in for extreme detailed close ups of the skirmishes.

The presentation quality is strong and although we noticed some typos on the menus the graphic style is surprisingly dark, yet appealing.

Total War gamers will feel immediately at home as the developers have clearly used this franchise as the ‘sounding board’ for the overall core design. You take the role of Arthur himself in the single player campaign and one off skirmishes and multiplayer battles are also offered, although the main content is within the single player element. You have to work to unite all of Britain by using turn based tactical moves on a country based map screen which comprises various provinces. If you are familiar with any modern strategy game then the learning curve is easy to get to grips with. The economy is easy to handle because there are only two sections to manage – gold and food, which are automatically collected.

The main part of your time will be taken up building armies which you recruit in towns you control and then moving them around the map to dispose of your enemies and therefore expanding your control. Controlling the armies on the main map screen is straightforward and after every turn a yearly season passes, much in the same style of the Total War games. In the Winter attacks are stopped while all the armies take refuse from the cold.

The troop design is traditional with cavalry, spearmen, bowmen and axemen making up the masses and they all gain experience and level up. Further customisations are available by buffing their skills – such as defence and attack and shooting accuracy.

Combat takes place when two forces try to occupy the same part of the map and when this happens the action shifts to a real time battle environment, you position the troops with basic formation commands. Battles take place in an identical manner to many other strategy games, when combat is initially instigated you get the option to choose the terrain and location so you can pick areas such as open plains or hills and swamplands to suit your particular armies or gameplay style. Various environments for instance have defence bonuses such as trees and foliage – ideal places for archers to hide in, on top of a hill. King Arthur introduces victory locations to every map, each battlefield has a handful of key strategic spots that can be captured to provide boosts to your overall army morale. Equally so it’s important you don’t let too many fall as your own army morale will drop and battles can be lost due to this alone.

Interestingly battlefields also contain specific buffs and have access to special healing abilities and spells. These locations provide in game rewards and also can hold key tactical importance, positions such as churches and buildings or Stonehenge style rune circles. While these are of critical importance to your success attempting to take more than one proves a challenge as you need to divide forces and hope your individual forces can deal with opposing forces. This is a key part of the game as you ascertain how exactly to split up your forces and take the key positions.

Sadly there are some key issues with game pacing which ruins the overall enjoyment – initially the difficulty level seems just about right with the developers easing you in the controls and overall methodology however after a short while you are required to multitask with events from chapters two, three and four – these offer a confusing array of multiple choice options such as taking sides between various personalities, searching for the Lady Of The Lake and even promoting various religions. While these are individually excellent concepts and build the foundation for a fantastic story they are presented in such a way that you struggle to keep up with exactly what is going on.

Not only that but some of the missions offered to you early on are just too difficult to complete until you progress a little further into the game. I admire the free range of choices on offer but it really is such a difficult system that perhaps a little more linearity would have been beneficial. Yes, I can’t believe I said that either.

Objectives can also be confusing because while most people will expect a ‘confirm’ to accept the mission, all you have to do is read a description of what is happening in the objectives screen. This then arranges all the revealed options into a flow chart and you can tackle them. The game then tells you later what you have been successful at and directs you on a path forward. This is actually a pretty serious issue because there are times you can click on the wrong town and wind up making an enemy out of someone you actually wanted to be allied with later. Sometimes you will even click the wrong location and end up fighting an enemy with massively superior forces – ending up with most of your armies destroyed and heading into the ‘load’ menu to retry from an earlier point.

Additionally there are issues with balancing because if you have a few armies of Bowmen you can wipe out a huge number of heavily armed melee troops. Bowmen do a massive amount of damage and you will need to spend a lot of resources and time making sure you have multiple ranged units in your army to make sure you stand a chance. Unless you know this beforehand then playing this game in the early stages gets very frustrating, especially as the game does very little hand holding in relation to learning how everything works together.

The difficulty level is also way off because initially everything seems fine and dandy then suddenly you will start getting your ass handed to you on a regular basis with little idea of how to improve your chances. Bear in mind im talking about the easiest difficulty setting here, not the hardest – I actually dread to think how difficult this game is on the highest level. Even on easy enemy troops will level up faster than you can achieve and there will be many times you send out forces with third level troops to face eight level forces. Not at all enjoyable and massively frustrating.

While the game also incorporates role playing elements these are secondary when taken into comparison with the strategy aspect. You have a team of knights at hand (the Knights Of The Round Table) and these guys are heroes with special skills. Divine powers allow spell casting that can damage enemies or heal allies and the fog spell comes in extremely useful against forces of enemy bowmen. The knights can also get access to magical weapons and other artefacts which is an excellent addition.

Quest locations are marked on the main map via glowing scroll icons and if you visit these locations with a knight you take on a story mission told by interactive dialogue sequences. You answer about a dozen questions and can choose between fighting and sneaking and progress until the end point.

These are basically interactive stories, some of which detail the mythology of Arthur. These are actually more enjoyable than they sound and the end result will always effect the game. Your actions are recorded on a wheel of morality that will show your history as a ruler and leader. Religious decisions also have an impact on your overall persona so if you spend a lot of time helping the druids you will gain points with the pagans but damage your relationship with the Christian provinces.

King Arthur: The Role Playing Wargame is a brave attempt to encompass an exciting and rich time in fantasy history, sadly however the game really needs a massive path to address the difficulty and other key issues we discussed today. As it stands it is entertaining for a few hours but it will alienate all but the most patient and dedicated of fantasy gamer. I would find it hard to recommend in its current state.


If the issues were resolved this would be a lot higher. Fantastic potential, sadly marred by a lack of playtesting.
A superb engine, incredibly detailed and beautiful to look at.
A decent score, but it all becomes slightly repetitive after a few hours
In its current state long term playability will be a concern

In need of a huge patch to resolve issues.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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