In this King Arthur: Knight’s Tale Early Access preview and impressions article we’ll be taking a look at the new turn-based RPG by Neocore Games that goes into Steam Early Access on January 26th. Neocore is the studio behind Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor Martyr, as well as the The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing series. They have also made several other King Arthur themed games over the years, so this installment should come as no surprise to their fan base.
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale Preview and Gameplay Impressions
Note that this preview is based on the Early Access version of the game, and that many things are likely to change in this period of development as they receive player feedback and do bug fixes. We’ll obviously do an update a bit further into the development cycle, and let you know what’s changed and how things are coming along, but for now let’s focus on what we’ve seen so far.
- Name: King Arthur: Knight’s Tale
- Platforms: PC
- Developer: Neocore Games
- Publisher: Neocore Games
- Release Date: TBA/Early Access January 26th 2021
- Genre: Tactical Turn-Based RPG
Story and Setting
The game takes place on the legendary fictional island of Avalon, where you take on the role of Sir Mordred, sworn enemy of King Arthur. After a major battle, where you and Arthur are both killed, you are resurrected by the Lady of the Lake to save Camelot and Avalon. Or are you? Why the Lady of the Lake has chosen you and not Arthur is one of the mysteries of King Arthur: Knight’s Tale, and it is up to you to discover just what is happening.
One really intriguing aspect of the game is that your path is not set in stone, you can choose which Missions to undertake, and most of these Missions will come with choices to be made both during, and upon completion. These decisions will impact your story, and will result in different events happening, different Knights joining your cause, as well as different doctrines your realm will embrace. Will you seek redemption, or continue down the same path that lead you to this point?
Having played about 15 hours or so of the Early Access already, I can honestly say the game starts off very strongly, from a story perspective. The Early Access is about 10-15 hours long, the opening cinematic really sets the tone, and the first couple of Missions will suck you into the world of Avalon fairly quickly. However, it’s all side Missions from that point forward, and there really isn’t any other story to speak of in Early Access. It makes me really curious to see what will be in the full game!
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is a turn-based RPG where the player selects Missions on the overworld map of Avalon. More Missions become available as you progress the game, and you will deploy a squad of up to 4 Heroes to go on each Mission. Sometimes you will find other characters in these Missions, so your party can grow larger than 4, but this is only temporarily for that Mission.
The core gameplay loop is rebuilding Camelot while undertaking Missions that provide your Heroes with experience, loot, and materials and gold with which you can improve Camelot or outfit your Knights with better gear. This will remind players of games like Heroes of Might and Magic or Disciples a bit, and frankly the gaming industry sorely needs more of these types of games since they are fantastic.
One of the most fun and rewarding parts of the game is the Heroes you acquire through out your time playing King Arthur: Knight’s Tale. So far in Early Access I have only gained little more than a handful of them, but there is likely to be around 30 or so at launch, and you will spend a good amount of time outfitting them with new gear, as well as deciding where to spend their Skill Points as they level up.
Each Hero has a Class that determines his or her Skills and what types of equipment they can use, but many Heroes also have their own unique Skills as well. So far there seems to be 6 Classes: Defender, Champion, Marksman, Arcanist, Sage, and Vanguard. Defenders are your tanky Sword and Board Knights that can take a beating. Champions use two-handed weapons to deal lots of damage, particularly in an AoE. Marksman use a Bow to pick off enemies from afar. Arcanists cast spells and deal damage at range. I have not acquired a Sage or Vanguard yet, so I’m unsure exactly what they do.
As Heroes earn experience they will gain levels that provide them with Skill Points that they can spend on certain Skills, as well as things that effect those Skills. For instance, Strike is the primary attack for Defenders and Champions, but you can take passives that increase its damage, make it set bleeding when it hits, or even make it reduce the cooldown of other Skills when you kill an enemy with it. How you spend these Skill Points is up to you, and as your character gains more and more levels, it will gain access to higher tiers of Skills.
There are other aspects of your Heroes as well, such as Armor and Action Points, which determine how many attacks they can protect against and how much they can move and use Skills in combat. Additionally, each Hero has Loyalty and Morality, as well as Traits it can acquire over time, though I’ve yet to find any or determine exactly how these work.
Each Hero can be slotted with a Weapon Rune, Armor Rune, 2 Trinkets and 2 Potions. Weapon and Armor Runes are essentially Weapons and Armor, and it’s a clever way to get around animating different models of Weapons and Armor. I’d wager this was done to save time and money, and while some might complain, it doesn’t really bother me at all. It ensures you will always recognize your Knights on the battlefield by their unique appearance, which seems important in a game about Knights of the Round Table.
Not all Heroes can use the same Armor, Weapons and Trinkets, and they are more or less Class specific. A big part of Knight’s Tale is looting corpses and chests during Missions in order to gain more powerful loot that can then be used by your Heroes. These items use a rarity system not unlike Divinity Original Sin 2, with White being common, Green being uncommon, Blue being rare, and yellow being epic. Higher rarity means better and more bonuses.
Players cannot change their equipment mid Mission and must do so from the overworld map in between them. Players can also visit the Inn inside Camelot to buy and sell Weapons, Armor, Trinkets and Potions. The items in stock are random, as is the loot you will find during Missions, again not unlike Divinity Original Sin 2.
Combat is fought using a grid system, and plays out much the way battles in Phoenix Point or X-COM would. Teams alternate between turns, usually with the player beginning first (unless they are ambushed) and the enemy group going second. Each Hero has a certain amount of Action Points they can use, and moving and using Skills will consume various amounts of Action Points. Unused Action Points can be “Reserved” for the next round, or if you have enough you can use Overwatch to attack on the enemy’s turn if they move into the area you are defending.
Tactics on the battlefield, just like Phoenix Point or X-COM, is the key to victory. Positioning Heroes to take advantage of their strengths makes all the difference, and there is even a modest cover system that can be used to protect units from ranged attacks. It doesn’t take long to get the hang of, and while the system isn’t ground breaking by any means, it’s good enough to keep you coming back for more.
Each Mission has multiple encounters and managing the Health and Armor of your Heroes is paramount, because you will get weaker and weaker as you progress through each encounter of a Mission. This is because Health and Armor does not regenerate automatically, and while there are some ways to regain Health and Armor on each map, they are rare and should be used sparingly.
This is perhaps the hardest part of King Arthur: Knight’s Tale because you only need to accomplish the main objective of each Mission in order to complete it, but currently there is no other way to leave a Mission once its begun. This means that you should try to skip encounters and rush to the main objective if you know where it is, but if not, you will likely fight through several other encounters on your way there, leaving you in a weakened state when you arrive. This can be frustrating at times, but also challenging as well, so it’s a bit of double edged sword.
One thing that makes the game even harder, is that whenever a Hero takes Vitality Damage it does not come back after each Mission. This means they must be swapped out to heal and rest up, or you risk them being killed on the next Mission, so you don’t always have every Hero you want available. Every Hero that dies is permanently dead. That means even if you somehow make it out of the Mission, any Hero that died is gone from your game for good unless you start the entire playthrough over again.
Audio, Visual & Performance
Visually, King Arthur: Knight’s Tale looks relatively nice for the genre and I didn’t have too many complaints. It does look a bit washed out here and there, and I did find myself wishing the style of the game was a bit more vibrant, but I’m assuming the devs are trying for a darker theme.
Audio wise, the voice acting of the game is as good or better than you’d expect for a game that is not Triple A, and it really helped to immerse me into the story. I can’t wait to hear more from the game’s many characters, as this will surely be a treat.
The music is fitting of the game for sure, but it could also be a lot better. It feels good at first, but wears on you after an extended gaming session. I sort of get the feeling that not much effort was placed on this aspect, at least as of yet, since there are just so many other things that still need work before the game leaves Early Access. I hope this will get a revamp before then, but if not, do what I do and just turn it off and listen to whatever music you like while playing.
When it comes to performance the game runs fairly smoothly on my Corsair One Pro, and I’m getting about 150 FPS at 1440p resolution. The game also has wicked fast loading times, taking no more than just a few seconds usually. However, there are a lot of bugs still in the game, and while this is expected for Early Access, some of them are game breaking and I’ve had to restart my playthrough several times because of them. I know Neocore is working on these issues as we speak, but I’m not sure how quickly they will be able to fix them all, or what bugs I’ll find in subsequent playthroughs.
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is a game that I’ve really been looking forward to since I first heard about it last year, and even though the game has a ton of issues at the moment it still has the potential to be one of my favorite games this year (assuming it comes out of Early Access by December). It has all the things I love about RPG games: a great story, interesting characters, choices that effect your playthrough, good customization and builds, and fun challenging combat.
Originally I couldn’t recommend buying the Early Access version of the game in its current state because I didn’t think you’d be able to make it far before your game bugged out and you had to start over. However, Neocore has taken feedback and patched the game in just a short amount of time, and the Build I played just today on stream with the devs had almost no issues. I’m not completely sure how stable the current Build is, but I’d wager Neocore will have it patched up fairly quickly, so I don’t think there’s much of a risk. Either way, we will be giving away 25 copies of the game (thanks to Neocore), however, so make sure you sign up for the giveaway! The game is also 5 dollars cheaper if you purchase it during Early Access, at 35 USD, in case you were wondering.
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is a game we will keep an eye on and continue to update you about through out Early Access, because we really believe in this game, and do think it is something our community will really enjoy. You can check out the Official Wiki for more information about the game mechanics themselves, or you can drop by Twitch and ask questions if you’d like as we’ll be streaming it for the next few days.