King Arthur Knight’s Tale is a very exciting mixture of role-playing game and military economy simulation in the style of Age of Empires 4. In which we rebuild Camelot, draw up defensive lines, promote resource extraction, but also collect taxes. We can be a morally good ruler in the spirit of King Arthur. Or a tyrant. King Arthur Knight’s Tale in the hands-on test.
King Arthur Knight’s Tale is essentially a role-playing game, but it integrates many aspects of building strategy in the style of Age of Empires 4. An exciting mix.
Camelot is on fire. The hordes of evil overrun the ranks of the armies of men and the knights of the round table. Horrible monsters, like in the Lord of the Rings, storm by the thousands on Camelot, which is exposed to a siege, much like Minas Tirith once did. Thousands of catapults hurl their burning load against the proud walls, witchers grill soldiers with lightning, orcs slaughter their way through the ranks of Camelot’s soldiers. Armies of the dead are trudging towards the city, flying monsters, huge demons. And our job is to rebuild Camelot – its defenses, towers and barracks. To prepare the proud city for battle. Restart the production of weapons and resources. To recruit new knights for the round table and to defend Camelot at all costs in this work that is somewhere between Age of Empires 4 and the turn-based battles of an XCOM in the fantasy middle ages.
Camelot as a setting is exciting, the Arthurian saga was not often taken up in video games. Mainly because the creators approach the subject from a side that one would not expect: We play Mordred, the butcher of King Arthur. Once he led his armies against the kingdom and threw it into darkness. Now the Lady of the Lake gives him the opportunity to advance from traitor to hero. Or stay on course. We are in full control of Mordred’s bow and can choose whether to let him atone and seek redemption – whether to embark on the path of light. Or keep thirsting for power as the prince of darkness. Interestingly, there is no right or wrong here, but different paths that open up different quest lines and introduce us to different characters. One tries to fortify Camelots, to reorganize the Knights of the Round Table, to encourage his people and to be a good ruler. But we can also, as black knights, use fear and our power to subjugate Camelot’s citizens, extort higher taxes and thus get the war machine going faster.
Developer Neocore comes from Warhammer 40K, you can feel that right away – this boss is fighting with a chainsaw sword.
This moral component is played out through our decisions, similar to, for example, The Witcher 3. But it also has direct and indirect effects on the gameplay – the knights of the round table and the wizard Merlin will only join a good king. A black knight attracts other comrades-in-arms. As in Age of Empires, we expand our defenses, install mage towers, barracks, arched courtyards, forges, etc., but don’t raise troops, but set off with a small group of heroes who get their bonuses from these buildings – magician Merlin, for example mix new elixirs in his tower, archers optimize the weapon of their choice for more penetration or faster shooting of arrows. There is a hospital where we care for the wounded, but also a cemetery where we have to make sure that the dead would rather not be resurrected as enemies. You will remember the siege of Winterfell in the final season of Game of Thrones and how corpses can quickly become dangerous.
If heroes are wounded, they have to be cared for in our fortress. For this we need a kind of sick wing that we can greatly upgrade. Wizards can also remove curses.
What is innovative about this idea: If we decide to play a good knight, we have to do justice to the round table. The 30 heroes we recruit may well turn against us if they don’t like our decisions and thus weaken our army. There is, for example, a quest in which we can take a dragon dungeon and decide to install this dragon head as a new throne in our fortress – noble knights of the Round Table would see that as a little regal. The tax component, which reminds us of Anno or Stronghold, is also exciting: In order to be able to move forward quickly, we can extort high taxes from our compatriots. If they refuse to pay these, we can expropriate them. This moral component also plays a role here: A good ruler strives for fair taxes and enacts laws that enable free trade, for example. A tyrant works more like a dictator who lets all control pass to himself.
The 30 heroes can stand against us if we don’t live up to their values
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale surprises us less with its classes, but certainly with the importance of moral history.
We can recruit heroes of different classes, such as Defenders, who wear particularly heavy armor and cause a lot of damage with their swords, but who initiate their attacks rather slowly. They act like tanks. Damage dealers are called champions who wield their ax with two hands, strike fast and hard, but without a shield have significantly less protection than a Defender. Arcanists are offensive wizards who can summon walls of fire, hurl fireballs, and infect enemies. If one of our own heroes is cursed with a spell, he has to be brought back to the base, cured there and is out for a few rounds. Each of these warriors is not a run-of-the-mill soldier, but has their place in the story – Lady Dindraine, for example, is Parzival’s sister and plays a decisive role in the story of the Grail. She is a shooter who excels at ranged attacks and causes massive damage. However, you are quickly wounded if the enemy comes too close.
If it comes to a battle, we switch from the ISO perspective to one that is more reminiscent of XCOM, gives us certain action points per round and lets us fight turn-based. After every battle, we can return to the fortress, have new weapons forged there, unlock upgrades or research new spells. Two axes symbolize whether we tend to be good or bad, which in turn unlocks different quests. Morgan Le Fay, for example, will only join us if we act in a Christian way – and yes, the game understands Christianity as the path of good and leaves out the fact that it was Christians who invaded the Orient in the course of the Crusades and slaughtered thousands of Saracens – for a chalice from which one promised eternal life. But now. All of these heroes want to be kept happy, not just with quests that promise fame. But also honorable deeds: if a whole village is bound by a curse and we burn it down, some of our group will leave. If we ignore the problem, the residents could soon face us in skeletal form or pose a threat to our residents. But with Merlin by our side, there may be another way to break a curse without shedding blood.
The game has a lot of innovative ideas. We can make this dragon dungeon our new seat of government, which of course would put off the knights of the round table. They prefer us to lead Camelot as a good king.
First conclusion: a creative mix of Age of Empires 4 and high fantasy XCOM
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale has many exciting ideas that make an interesting mix. For example, our heroes’ armor weakens over time when they are damaged in combat. We should then let them pause or order better armor from our blacksmith in the fortress beforehand. Companions can die if not properly treated because of their injuries. Injuries and illnesses take time to heal. What looks like a simple hack & slash in Diablo style quickly turns into an interesting mix of action and economic simulation, as we can also collect taxes and bleed our people to death, as Mordred would normally do. Or mimic the good ruler, as the Lady of the Lake demands of us. That has a humorous note, because Mordred isn’t really someone who helps others and likes to say: “Is it worth dying for them? It’s just the mob. ”Our heroes are equipped with weapons, which in turn are refined with dozens of runes, and crude creatures and peoples await in Avalon. The Formorians, for example, whose king Balor is reminiscent of the Balrog from The Lord of the Rings, only without flames. And strange aliens that could also come from Starcraft like the Tuatha De Danann who wear golden shrines on their heads and have beef with the Formorians. And then there are also three-meter-high mutants with chainsaw swords. So there’s a lot going on in this Avalon.
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