King’s Bounty II preview (PC)

A preview for King’s Bounty II? Didn’t we do one of those already? We sure did, but a lot has changed and we’re getting closer to the game’s August 24 launch date. Time for a second look.

What we know

King’s Bounty II will launch just before Gamescom kicks off this year, so if you were planning on spending hours on planes, in trains and/or in hotels, the digital edition of the trade show is saving you time that you can use to dive into 1C’s grand scale new turn-based RPG.

Set in the world of Nostria, the game promises an epic fantasy story full of strife, betrayal and dark magic. While that’s not uncommon for RPG games, this one also features a heavy dose of turn-based tactical combat.

With a large development team behind the game, 1C is also making a push for the AA/AAA domain with King’s Bounty II, which next to production values also means we’re getting a lengthy campaign that promises branching storylines and impactful decision-making.

king's bounty iib

What we saw

Our earlier preview was of the hands-off variety, but this time we were able to go hands on with a large new build of the game that featured over 10 hours worth of gameplay, which we played through on a PC.

There’s a hefty patch coming at launch though, which includes the following patch notes:

  • Game stability improved – additional bug fixes.
  • UI Graphical improvements.
  • Improved stability, including various crash fixes.
  • Improved overall graphic quality.
  • Improved gameplay mechanics and balance.
  • Additional cinematics polish.
  • Improved GPU performance and cloth rendering.
  • Fixed several issues where player characters or units got stuck in fall animation.
  • Improved audio mixing for entire game.
  • Reduced loading times.
  • Removal of unnecessary loading screens where appropriate.

In other words, King’s Bounty II will be receiving improvements across the board when it launches, which seems like an ambitious goal for a 5 to 6 week period – so we’ll go ahead and assume a lot of this work has already been done but just wasn’t available in the preview build yet.

king's bounty iia

What we thought

Finally being able to go hands-on with King’s Bounty II gave us a much better sense of what to expect than the earlier demos had done. Most importantly so in the interplay and division between the Role Playing Game and turn-based strategy elements – the latter of the two being entertaining and full of potential whereas the RPG part of King’s Bounty II feels rough around the edges.

Starting off with one of the game’s three character types, you get to explore the world in a typical 3D RPG fashion, and the game already looked better than it did back in November even though there’s more work planned for the day 1 patch. What’s especially nice is the diversity that you see as you move from remote areas into huts surrounded by nature and fortified cities, giving the sense of a large and interesting world to explore.

Questing still feels a bit undercooked though, as objectives can sometimes be overly simple and conversations, as well as the choices you make during and after them, don’t feel as impactful as they could and should be. Perhaps this’ll improve in the full game, where a larger scale might allow the game’s alignment system to better present itself. With different factions and ideals to align with, there’s plenty of potential.

king's bounty iic

The grid-based battles are excellent though, and tie into the RPG portion by letting you field units that you’ve acquired on your travels through quests or by hiring them. What’s interesting is that synergy also plays a part here, and some races don’t mesh well with others. Positioning is also important, and this starts prior to the fight when you pick a starting formation.

From there, it’s all about exploiting weaknesses and trading in your ability points for unit-specific special attacks and abilities. Combine that with the availability of magic spells for which you’ll need scrolls and crystals, and there’s an intricate and multi-layers combat system at work here that ties in well to the game’s fantasy setting. Because of it, King’s Bounty II is a game that might very well appeal to turn-based strategy fans even more than it will to RPG fans.

We’ll know more in a few weeks when we get access to the full experience as well as all the fixes and polish in the upcoming patch. The handful of King’s Bounty games that were released in the last decade were very entertaining, so our fingers are crossed.

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