Title: Kingdom Under Fire 2
Release Date: November 18, 2019
Reviewed On: PC
Kingdom Under Fire 2 takes place 150 years after the events of Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders, which was released back in 2004 exclusively for the original Xbox. The story behind this pivotal second chapter focuses primarily on the new faction, the Encablossians. Those who played Xbox 360’s exclusive Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom will immediately recognize this name. So with this new quest, The Human Alliance and Dark Legion factions are back to fight for power across Bersia.
Kingdom Under Fire 2 is, at its core, a traditional MMO experience, which was somewhat expected. The idea that the title would be a hybrid RPG/RTS single-player experience has been long forgotten as the title makes its way into a new genre. Luckily for fans of the earlier titles, the MMO formula is not overly extensive, nor demands pay-to-win schemes to grant exceptional experiences. Purchasing the game nets you the full experience, save for some cosmetics.
The first wave of quests in this adventure ends up being fairly boring as it teaches you the mechanics. Still, the character creation system is extensive and vast, but classes have fixed genders, which doesn’t really help deeper class arrangement. Through the game’s five different character classes, there is room for deep customization, especially for the facial features. As for troops, players can expect classes such as Shaman, Ogre, Archer, Royal Mage, and Iron Wall Heavy Cavalry.
When traversing the large continent of Bersia, players will be able to net experience to apply to their character’s growth, which extends their combos and skill-tree. There are some amazing action moves that deal intense damage. During battles, the bigger the combo-chain, the bigger the damage. In terms of strategy, placing troops in the most beneficial areas can be what leads to victory.
Training and ranking up your army is equally important, otherwise sending them to war will result in nothing but losses. The mixing gameplay of action hack-and-slash with real-time strategy works over each phase but can be mixed if players chose to. When fighting up close, players control the main character in a third-person view, but there are options to change the camera and control the troops, which shows an angle over the army and the battlefield.
Commanding the troops is pretty simple depending on their main attributes, players can use archers for long-range attacks and the cavalry for the intense combat. Managing them is also interesting and quite entertaining, as their presence will rapidly become a part of your arsenal, but taking care of them is crucial. After level 30, oriented objectives will be mostly troop-based with different missions. Invade, Defend, and Tactical battles await those who train hard enough and desire the ultimate equipment. Future content and updates will prosperously extend the game’s content with raids and extra quests.
Both gameplay modes are solid, and there are even a few instances where players will be introduced to new mechanics such as commanding a flying ship, ready to destroy foes, but at the same time, your framerate. Despite some technical issues, it’s a smooth, straight-MMO experience that works well with RTS mechanics. The two battlefronts are somewhat rough on the edges but addictive in their own way. There’s a sense of power when going from commanding your own troops to be another soldier on the field, and witness the work of your entire battalion.
The overall presentation is pleasant, each quest sets up a nice scenario at different areas to play. Cities are well designed and NPC renders are simply amazing, some of the best I’ve seen in an MMO. It’s a shame they are repetitive across the whole game. The NPC’s design is decent, but their animations are jarring as the lip-sync is off in a comical way. They are completely clumsy and weird, but since they aren’t a major piece of the cake, I easily overlooked them.
Discussing the visuals without the optimization is impossible, as one impacts the other significantly. Visually Kingdom Under Fire 2 looks perfectly fine, the only issue, though, is that the game’s graphics do not justify the heavy hit on current hardware. However, its engine (Unreal Engine 4) might. Though I’ve seen MMO’s suffer frame drops in the past when large amounts of players are together, or concentrated in the same area. Interestingly, this does not happen here, instead, the framerate drops significantly in events that are scripted for each player individually. There are some optimization issues that have been improved throughout the last month, and something tells me the developers are going to keep updating it.
Post-Processing and Shadows seem to take a major performance hit. Anti-Aliasing is not required, but without having it at least on Medium, it’s visually unbearable. Other effects such as HDR, SSAO, Light and Shader effects are available, and if you’re thinking about lowering the textures to get some extra performance, forget it. This game doesn’t seem to add that much of a difference between Low and High textures, in specific moments of the game, the framerate drops easily to 15 and 20.
EasyAntiCheat could also be responsible for some of the performance, but my bet is that Blueside prioritized specific parts of the game for launch, since they might be under a short amount of time. When controlling troops in a Real-Time Strategic point of view, the game performances perfectly fine, with stable 60fps while dozens upon dozens of NPC’s fighting till death. Definitely an optimization issue, but hopefully it will get fixed gradually.
Kingdom Under Fire 2 is a decent entry in the series that Blueside is trying to make less grindy and relatively more accessible, but in the end, we all ask ourselves if this is the game we’ve all been waiting for nearly a decade? Hard to say. I personally think the developers tried their best and the final result is an interesting experience that fans of the series might want to spend some time with. The visuals are great, but the game begs to optimized, which I’m hoping we’ll see as more patches roll out.
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