Are you ready for King Arthur: The Role-Playing Wargame Collection? No? Well, go get ready. I’ll wait. Ready now? Okay. You’re seriously going to wear that? Never mind. It’s time for a heavy mix of real-time strategy, turn-based strategy, and role-playing elements working together to bring you an epic medieval experience. You’ll march across provinces as the British king overthrowing empires, breaking alliances, recruiting soldiers, taking prisoners, and gathering knights all to satisfy your twisted lust for power. Want to be the first middle aged hippie? No problem. The game also provides plenty of ways to make allies and complete quests that will help rid the world of tyranny and let innocent civilizations live happily ever after. No matter how mean you are, you’ll find something to do in King Arthur.
The story is thin, but stays true to the old Arthurian legend. You’ll quest for The Lady of the Lake and fight armies accurate to the time period across the land of Britannia. If it was mentioned in the King’s tale, it will probably make an appearance in this game. You play King Arthur (what a twist!), a man tasked with leading his men into whatever dangers he deems “worth it.” The legend serves as an overall theme for the game and provides the motivation behind some quests, but the tale is more referenced rather than told. Besides the occasional barrage of text, you won’t find a whole lot of storytelling here.
A view of the Campaign Map
The gameplay is deep and probably one of the most convoluted experiences under the sun making it tough for anyone to get over the steep learning curve without a comprehensive background in strategy. The Campaign Map is your main view of the world where you can see every province and kingdom that can be fought or negotiated with. Movement is a turn-based affair and no physical fighting actually happens on this map. Each player, human or AI, can move their armies a certain number of spaces per turn. Moving to an empty town will conquer it, arriving at a Quest Location will launch a specific objective, and placing your knights toe to toe with an enemy will start a battle.
Even though the Campaign Map is a turn-based affair, every action you perform on the map thrusts you into a different style of play. Getting involved in a military scuffle will load a standard RTS map for a classic real-time experience and finding Quests will launch a text-based, choose-your-own-adventure sequence. The Campaign Map is simply a means to get to the real gameplay, but it does a good job of making every battle feel relevant. Each victory in a skirmish helps your borders grow on the map and takes you one step further to domination.
The RTS sequences are very involved and just as complicated as the rest of the game. There’s no base building like other genre classics such as Command & Conquer. The battles focus solely on infantry gameplay with a heavy emphasis on tactics like flanking and army formations. Every unit serves a specific purpose with a number of pros and cons. Calvary are quick and good for flanking but weak against spearman. Spearman perform well in all types of terrain but lose to swordsmen. It’s the same kind of rock, paper, scissors balancing act that makes any RTS fair and fun.
RTS sequences decide the winner in military conflicts
The Knights of your round table can accompany units to battle for an extra boost of strength and abilities. However, if your knight suffers defeat, you have to wait a specific number of turns (depending on the injury) before you can use his expertise again. Placing all your knights in one unfortunate battle might make any subsequent conflicts near impossible to win.
The game also provides a unique way to achieve military victory besides simply killing every enemy you see. Both sides have a certain amount of Morale at the beginning of the skirmish. The first team to lose all of their Morale is defeated. Morale is drained in a few different ways. Getting a lot of your units killed senselessly is a big one. Each map also has a certain number of capture points called Victory Locations. Grabbing up these locations before your enemy also causes the other teams Morale to drop. This gives the game an extra helping of tactical warfare that will, again, scare off new players but cause strategy fans to salivate.
King Arthur also provides a number of distractions during gameplay in the form of Quests that will reward you with units or items meant to help you in battle. Going to certain locations detailed on your map will shove you into a text-based “adventure” full of choices and monotony. Every Quest is told purely through choosing actions or dialogue that will spawn more text prompting you to select more actions or dialogue. It gets tiring quickly and becomes a tedious part of gameplay that’s only braved for the rewards, not the entertainment factor.
A Victory Location on an RTS map
King Arthur: The Role-Playing Wargame Collection is a collection (another shocker!). It comes with a couple pieces of downloadable content and two expansion packs previously only available separately. The downloadable content provides some new units & weaponry while each expansion contains a brand new campaign. The new content is nice, but the gameplay gets slightly repetitive towards the end of the original campaign and there simply isn’t enough different about the extra content to merit 30 more hours of very similar gameplay. The quests and campaigns are new, but the concept is the same and the battle’s entertainment value continues to depreciate.
King Arthur is a competent strategy game but far from the best. The battles get excruciatingly repetitive and that’s 90% of the experience. There is an Auto Battle feature allowing you to wave your right to participate directly in the action at a greater risk of your units dying. This fixes the apathy of your 100th fight, but then reduces the game down to a turn-based map with bland, text-based quests. If you’re a huge fan of all types of strategy (real-time, turn-based, text, etc.) it might be worth checking out at a cheaper price. King Arthur is decent, but barely earns its credit in a world where strategy games are numerous at a quality better than this.
Epic battles | Tons of options for strategy fans
Epic repetitive battles | Monotonous quests
Little David Galanter grew up in Orange County, CA loving videogames and anything else that repelled girls. After getting his Bachelor's Degree in Theatre Arts, David decided to start contributing his soft silky words to the world via online media. He currently owns a website with a weekly podcast (www.drgman.com) and is a reviewer for Default Prime!
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