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Kingdom Under Fire II impressions: Burning bright (Page 1)

Kingdom Under Fire II impressions: Burning bright

A decade in the making, Blueside's MMORTS sequel was worth the wait.

By: Derek Strickland from Nov 11, 2019 @ 16:36 CST
  • Developer: Blueside
  • Publisher: Gameforge
  • Genre: MMO, RTS
  • Release Date: November 14, 2019
  • MSRP: $29.99

In Bingen, Germany, Gameforge transformed an ancient castle into a real-life MMO. Journalists and influencers were turned into players, and the castle was filled with quests complete with NPCs. It was pretty wild.

There was an alchemist who brewed you a special potion, knights and barbarians in full metal armor smashing each other in a big battle royale, a gauntlet of skill-based mini-games (snake-ring tossing, archery, and even a surprisingly-tough "nut hitting" challenge where you smashed rolling nuts with a hammer), and the castle's scout even let you hold a falcon on your arm.

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When it was all over, and you gathered your trinkets, baubles, and certificates, the final quest saw you being judged by an actual blacksmith.

If the blacksmith thought you were worthy, you'd get to make your own coin by smashing a hammer onto a mold. Mostly everyone failed (myself included) and had to ask for the blacksmith's help.

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Burg Reichenstein rises above the Rheinland like a monolith from a long-ago time. The atmosphere is utterly enchanting: Burg Reichenstein oversees rolling hills of colorful vineyards and thousands of trees, making for a picturesque landscape right out of a postcard. The Rhine winds its way through, boats constantly skimming its waters.

Germany is rife with splendid castles straight out of medieval history, but this one is special: It housed a gameplay event for Kingdom Under Fire II, an MMORTS mashup that's been in development for more than a decade.

In Burg Reichenstein outside of Frankfurt, Gameforge and Blueside created one of the most engaging, memorable, and fun gaming events I've experienced.

But how was the game? The short answer: Pretty good.

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I have to admit I was skeptical that an MMO-RTS mashup could actually work. I'm terrible at RTS games, and pretty decent at MMOs thanks to their time-sinky nature. But Kingdom Under Fire II innovates on both fronts, creating something that's unique but also familiar enough to speak to traditional MMO fans.

Kingdom Under Fire II has the trappings of any good MMORPG. There's a huge detailed pane for stats and passive bonuses, a big inventory management screen with your usual equipable armor, weapons, and accessory slots, a customizable skill tree, and a bunch of other UI indicators, quest HUD markers, and a mini-map.

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Controls are tight and responsive--and rightly so, given the action-packed combat--and the camera swivels effortlessly. Everything feels and acts as it should, and any MMO player will transition into it with ease.

On the surface, it looks like most of Gameforge's titles. There's a third-person view with a skill bar and a medieval fantasy setting. But when you look closer, Kingdom Under Fire II's depth becomes apparent, and it becomes obvious why it took so long to make. Blueside has been very, very busy.

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The game has five main classes--the swashbuckling Gunslinger, the flashy Spellsowrd, a very tanky and brutal Berserker, the magic-blasting Elementalist with her pet polar bear, and the agile and quick Ranger.

Every class has some sort of melee attacks, even the magic users. It makes combat feel engaging and fun no matter what you're fighting.

I tried the Gunslinger, and he was a total blast. I played for about 20 minutes or so and solved a few basic quests, got a mount, and took on an absolutely massive RTS battle that only gave me a taste of the rather expansive scope of the game.

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