I’m very pleased with what I’ve seen from Acts 1 and 2 of King Arthur: Knight’s Tale with great quality gameplay for an early access title.
Towards the end of 2021, I was browsing Netflix with my wife when we came across 2017’s King Arthur starring Charlie Hunnam. I loved the different take on the Arthurian story, and as I always do when I finish watching an epic movie – I google games to play in that setting. I came across King Arthur: Knight’s Tale which is currently in early access. Developed by Neocore Games, I knew I was going to be in for a treat with this game as they also developed The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing series of games, Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr and other great games. I didn’t expect to get sucked into the lore of the game so quickly, but if you’ve seen the introduction to the game, you’ll understand why. From the game’s Steam page:
“You are Sir Mordred, the nemesis of King Arthur, the former black knight of the grim tales. You killed King Arthur, but with his dying breath, he struck you down. You both died – and yet, you both live. The Lady of the Lake, the ruler of the mystical island of Avalon brought you back to end a true nightmare. She wants you to go on a knightly quest. She wants you to finish what you have begun. Kill King Arthur – or whatever he has become after she took his dying vessel to Avalon…”
This game released in early access on January 26, 2021, and since then, players have been only able to play the first of four acts that will be available when the game fully releases on March 29, 2022. Now a year on, with a multitude of fixes and alterations based on player feedback, I’ve been able to play parts of Act 2 and the game is very good fun. It’s dark and twisted with outstanding voice acting, authentic sounds and fitting music that helps set the mood and tone both in and out of combat. It also helps that the game engine performs well too. Playing as Sir Mordred, and recruiting knights to join his round table, we explore the mystical island of Avalon. Camelot starts off in ruins, so we must venture on knightly quests to earn coins and resources to restore the castle to its former glory and build structures to enhance our knights and their capabilities.
As we complete missions and events, we need to make moral decisions in various encounters where your decisions will have an impact on the story and your heroes’ loyalty. During conversations and at key moments in the story, you will make decisions based on whether you’re a rightful ruler, a reckless tyrant, a devout Christian or a follower of the Old-Faith, or a mix of them all. Each hero has a distinctive personality, and their loyalty is constantly changing through the decisions made by the player – in certain cases they can even leave the Round Table and turn against you.
Once you choose the next mission, you are placed into a game zone where you control your party of heroes. You can change the order in which your heroes will stand, as well as their formation like in other CRPGs. This changes to turn-based combat when you enter a combat encounter. Some encounters will trigger once you get close to a quest area while major encounters in King Arthur: Knight’s Tale are signified by red X squares at entry points to a castle, farm, or other key locations.
Upon entering these areas, you are given time to position all your party members in limited spaces and can change their formation. Once you’re happy with placement, battle will commence. There are melee and ranged units, and as you progress, you will come across tougher enemies that will have shield points you’ll need to get through first. One thing to note here is that, unlike other turn-based strategy games, there’s no percentage chance to hit. Your swings and shots will always hit, which I found to be so refreshing. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a 98% chance to hit in other games and still missing that shot. There’s none of that here.
What is here is some very tactical and strategic battles that take some good thinking. In the classic campaign mode, I learned early on that you should save before a major fight as, if one or some of your party members die, they die permanently. If you don’t want to have the temptation of save-scumming, there is a roguelite mode too which doesn’t allow you to save. To add insult to injury, there is a shrine for the lost heroes back in Camelot where you can see when they joined the party, how long they served, how many enemies they vanquished and the name of their killer which was cool. Those that manage to survive the fight may get injuries and if you don’t treat them quickly, they too could succumb. They can be healed back in Camelot but it takes a number of missions worth of time, unless you want to pay extra gold, in which it will just take one mission to heal them. However, that means your main mission force will be lesser strength for the next mission.
For those that survive, they will earn experience and skill points to invest in enhancing each class’ skills, and the party collects items such as armour, weapons, trinkets, and potions, from chests and caches found while exploring mission zones. There’s a good sense of RPG qualities here and you need to consider how you build your mission parties, and who you choose to stay back in Camelot to provide bonuses to the different sections of the castle. Act 2 of King Arthur: Knight’s Tale adds 11 new missions including a boss fight of the story campaign. New parts of the Avalon adventure map can be explored with new events and higher tiered items to find.
For those that have been playing early access the past 12 months, here’s a quick run-down of things added to this build that includes a lot of quality-of-life changes:
- A Journal to keep track of your adventures across Avalon
- Expanded functions to the character sheets: Hero Traits, detailed overview of secondary skills (Spellcrafting, Perception, etc)
- Extended loot table with more Unique Relics
- Extra functions to Camelot’s buildings – break down and buy new Relics at the Enchanted Tower, Level up your Heroes at the Training ground, appoint Heroes as Masters of buildings for various bonuses
Completing all 15 missions in Act 1 will get some of your heroes up to level 7 in anywhere from 15-20 hours or so, depending on how much you like exploring and how you go surviving the battles. Act 2’s 11 missions aims to get you up to around level 10-11 in the extended lands, and you’ll be able to recruit new heroes to your cause. When the game releases on March 29, all four acts will be playable across around 50 missions and you’ll be able to take your party members up to level 30, so that gives you an indication of how much gameplay we have to look forward to. Once you complete the main story campaign, you’ll unlock new endgame content. Tough new events and missions will appear on the map with challenging, mythic boss fights and random quests, loot, and character progression.
Overall, I’m very pleased with what I’ve seen from Acts 1 and 2 of King Arthur: Knight’s Tale with great quality gameplay for an early access title. I’m looking forward to full release next month and I highly recommend this game for fans of RPGs and turn-based combat. This early access review utilised a key provided by Dead Good Media. King Arthur: Knight’s Tale launches the full game on March 29, 2022 on Steam and later this year on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.
Written by: @ChrisJInglis