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Kingdom Under Fire II

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: Gameforge
Developer: Blueside
Release Date: Nov. 14, 2019

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


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PC Preview - 'Kingdom Under Fire II'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on Nov. 7, 2019 @ 12:30 a.m. PST

Kingdom Under Fire II combines the MMORPG and Real-Time Strategy (RTS) genres into a hybrid title unrivaled in its epic scale.

Kingdom Under Fire 2 has not had the easiest time making its way to the western market. Announced over a decade ago, the game has been in near-continuous development, much of that regarding its unique approach as a hybrid MMORPG with RTS elements. At the #TakeTheCastle event held recently in Castle Reichenstein, we got the chance to play the game and ask questions of the development team.

KUF2 is a sequel to the other Kingdom Under Fire games, which take place in a fictional fantasy continent named Bersia. There are two gods within the game's lore — the God of Light and the God of Darkness — who had made a pact to rotate the ruler. However, the God of Light broke the pact and refused to transfer power, so the God of Darkness formed the Dark Legion to try and rightfully take that power back from the God of Light.

Caught in the middle of this is the Human Alliance, one of the main factions of Bersia and the one to which all player characters belong. Also threatening the peace are the Encablossians, which are a demon-like force found in previous Kingdom Under Fire games and led by a familiar old antagonist. Players find themselves in the thick of this chaos when they make a character and set out into the world.

At launch, KUF2 will feature five playable classes: the Berserker, the Elementalist, the Gunslinger, the Ranger and the Spellsword. The Berserker is a durable, tank-like hero who wields a two-handed weapon and uses rage to shield themselves from damage. The Elementalist summons a companion animal (in our case, a large bear) and uses magic abilities to deal damage. The Gunslinger is flashy and uses firearms to deal AoE damage if they aren't getting close with their blade. The Ranger is great at single target damage and can string together combinations of abilities. The Spellsword uses both a sword and a wand to deal ice and lightning damage to their enemies.

We set off in the game with an Elementalist. The character editor lets you change hair styles, hair and eye colors, skin tone, face type, and a few dozen sliders to customize the face. At the start, the game doesn't play any differently than any other MMO. You travel through the tutorial area to learn the basics, and then you arrive at the first real zone to perform basic quests that amount to the standard "go here and do or kill this." Quests are helpfully indicated on the minimap with blue ovals.

The hero combat feels different and is far closer to something like Dynasty Warriors than to a traditional MMO. There is an active block system to reduce incoming damage as well as a dodge move to evade attacks. In the early game, you may only fight enemies one by one, but in the larger fights, you'll need to fight dozens of enemies at once. This is why so many of the game's heroes feature at least some form of AoE abilities.

What seems poised to make Kingdom Under Fire 2 unique is the hybrid blend of RPG and RTS combat. Progress far enough in the game, and you begin to unlock and recruit troops to your command. There are 80 such troops to be featured at launch, and they range from squads of bowmen to giant scorpions. You can bring three such troops with you into combat, and with over 30 types of troops, each with its own strengths and weaknesses, it's up to you to figure out what combination you need. Each troop under your command gains experience and levels up and have their own quality rating up to a maximum of five stars.

What is most interesting is the ability to seamlessly switch between controlling your hero and controlling your hero and troops from an overhead, RTS-like perspective. Troops can be given generic orders, such as follow the hero, or they can be given direct orders to attack individual enemy troops. This interface looks very similar to the more recent entries in the Total War franchise, but we didn't have enough time to see how well it works. It certainly showed promise, and in an interview later on, we learned that to be successful, players must master controlling their hero and their troops in the RTS mode.

In terms of end-game content, players can form parties up to four players to complete the game's 50 missions. They can also form parties to tackle the four- or eight-player raids, and 16-player raids are planned. While these were not shown, it seems possible that this is how KUF2 will deliver the large battles. To make coordination easier, players can also form guilds, which have unlockable guild skills, and the game may later feature guild-versus-guild competition.

The game will feature some planned post-launch content. Currently, a sixth player hero is planned in the form of the Dark Sorceress. A short video was shown of her, and in a later interview, we learned that she plays much differently than the others in that she has no basic attacks of her own. Instead, she is completely reliant upon her wide- and long-ranged abilities. Over 120 additional troops are in development as well to be released after launch.

In previous markets, the game was free to play, and with its in-game premium Cubic store, it was also considered "pay to win." For the western market, the game has switched away from both and is now a buy-to-play model, with the three different editions of the game launching at $29, $49, and $99. The difference between them is some cosmetics and some included troops that can also be unlocked via normal gameplay. The Cubic store now features no game-altering changes and instead features cosmetic unlocks, such as mounts and costumes.

It is true that Kingdom Under Fire 2 has launched in other markets with some mixed results. However, the developers have tried to use those experiences to tailor the game for its release in the western market. With a release date of Nov. 14 of this year, we don't have much longer to wait before we all find out just how well that trial-and-error approach can improve the game.

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