King Arthur: The Role-playing Wargame PC
Published by: NeoCoreGames
Developed by: NeoCoreGames
There’s no denying that when you first see the screenshots for King Arthur: The Role-playing Wargame, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that this is a Total War clone. Such conclusions would be a little unfair however, and for the most part erroneous. However, whilst it’s clear to see that the Total War series has had an influence on the developers in respect to way the battles play out, it soon becomes clear that what we have here is a different kind of game and it’s one that should please those who are interested in Arthurian mythology.
The campaign in King Arthur: The Role-playing Wargame is a combination of turn-based and real-time game-play. In the campaign the basic idea is to conquer the whole of Britannia. When you’re on the campaign map the game will play out in a turn-based fashion with each turn representing a season. It’s worth noting that each season is of special importance here. In the summer for instance your armies will have a greater range of movement and in the winter you won’t be able to move the around the map due to the adverse conditions.
The campaign map isn’t simply about organising your armies and shifting them from one battle to the next. The campaign is split into five chapters and in each chapter you’ll have an assortment of quests, some of which are mandatory and some of which are random and optional, to complete. Some quests involve battles but some are classified as text-based quests and here you’ll get to make dialogue choices with the outcome being dependent on the choices you make. You have to consider morality here of course but not everything is as black and white as you’d expect so you’ll have to be careful with your dialogue choices. There are always a lot of things happening on the campaign map with the AI controlled factions and it’s never dull. It’s also pleasing that the quests you take usually offer multiple choices of who to side with. Not only does this help to get away from the linear feel of most strategy game campaigns, but it also gives you a high degree of replay value.
Of course this is a role-playing wargame and there are plenty of role-playing elements here. Your units and knights that you’ll amass around your round table will earn experience from battles. Knights can also earn experience from quests and you’ll get to choose which knight takes a quest and earns the experience. When they level up you’ll get to improve the attributes of your choice. This is a nice touch as it effectively allows you a greater degree of control over shaping the nature of your armies. There’s also a morality chart to show how your actions are being perceived in Britannia. It shows whether you’re of the Old Faith or leaning towards Christianity as well as whether you’re classified as rightful or a tyrant.
Battles are played out in real-time although you do have ability to pause the action and think about your strategy should the need arise. One of the key differences between this game and the Total War series is that when initiating a battle, you’re often given a choice of up to three locations to fight in. Each location has a particular terrain type and a certain amount of victory locations. As in the Total War series, different units benefit from different terrain types so this is something you’ll need to take into consideration. Morale is something you’ll have to keep an eye on during battles and for that purpose you’ll want to claim as many victory locations as you can because morale can increase or decrease depending on the number of victory locations you are in possession of. Some victory locations also give you special abilities on the battlefield and these can help to swing the tide in your favour in the more challenging battles.
You’ll play through a lot of battles in King Arthur and as you’d expect, you can avoid some of these by allowing the AI to auto-resolve them. Just as in the Total War games however, this isn’t necessarily a good idea because the AI certainly doesn’t seem to do a decent job of protecting your forces. Battles you should win easily are still won but they often come at a far higher price than you may have anticipated with a high amount of your units being killed. As a result you’ll find yourself wanting to personally take charge of the battles to avoid unnecessarily depleting your forces. Even when you take charge of the battles personally however, there are times when you are left wondering why your units occasionally appear to ignore your orders. It doesn’t happen all of the time but it’s annoying when it does and can cause unnecessary casualties.
The general difficulty level of the battles in the campaign varies wildly and whilst some are easy and most are absolutely fine, there are some which are devilishly difficult. There are some who will appreciate the challenge of course but I suspect most will become frustrated by the difficulty spikes, even on the lower difficulty levels. By default the Bowmen seem overpowered and can cause a frightening amount of casualties. You can choose to make them weaker in the options menu but it’s strange that they are overpowered to begin with.
Aside from the single-player campaign there are also scenario and multiplayer modes. The scenario mode allows you to jump into one-off battles with the AI. You’ll get to configure your forces and those of the AI and select one of the many maps available to you. It’s a fairly useful way of practising your battle technique but in truth it’s not a mode that will hold your interest for long. If you fancy a one-off battle against human opposition there’s always the multiplayer mode. Don’t get your hopes up of finding some human opposition easily however. I’ve tried numerous times to play the multiplayer mode only to find that no opponents or games have been available.
Graphically this is a fine looking game. I really appreciate how each of the seasons look on the game’s campaign map ranging from the lush terrain of spring to the snow covered landscapes of winter. The battles don’t look quite as impressive as those in the recent Total War games but they certainly look good enough. I didn’t appreciate the rather nauseous spinning around of the camera at the start of a battle which shows you the victory locations but thankfully you can simply press the ‘ESC’ key which enables you to bypass this. The general presentation of the game is absolutely fine however.
King Arthur: The Role-playing Wargame does offer subtitles but sadly, not everything is subtitled. The opening cut scene, and every major cut scene in the game, isn’t subtitled. This is very unfortunate and slightly annoying as in almost every other respect the game is fine for deaf gamers. Comments made by your units when giving orders on the battlefield aren’t subtitled but tutorial messages, objectives, quest details and other essential information is given either through the use of text or icons. Cut scenes aside then, the game won’t give deaf gamers any problems.
There’s a lot to like about King Arthur: The Role-playing Wargame. The game is steeped in Arthurian lore and legend and anyone who is a fan of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table should consider the game an essential purchase. The single-player campaign is very enjoyable and manages to deal with the Arthurian source material very nicely. Yes the difficulty level can be a little uneven at times but in the grand scheme of things it’s a minor problem. You might struggle to play an online battle, due to the lack of players online, but the single-player game is strong enough to make this a recommended purchase for those with an interest in its themes.