Today, King Arthur: Knight’s Tale lands in Early Access.
Though when we say Early Access, we mean really early access. Currently, King Arthur: Knight’s Tale features just two story missions and eight side quests, equalling around four hours of content. It’s more of a demo than a fully-fledged Early Access release. But if this tactical RPG takes your fancy, there’s enough here to whet your appetite. We’ve been hands on with the Early Access build and, while it’s barebones and rough around the edges, it has very much made us interested in the full release.
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale casts you as Sir Mordred, a knight who died in battle against King Arthur. His story didn’t end there, though; brought back to life by magic, he’s been given a second chance to finish what he started. He’s got to kill King Arthur once more.
Mordred won’t be acting alone; as he makes his way through his adventure, he’ll meet more knights and fighters who’ll aid him in his journey. By the end of the short Early Access build, you’ll have a team of four, though the character screen suggests you could have up to a dozen men and women in your command later in the game.
Gameplay plays out in isometric top-down environments. Like a traditional RPG, you’ll have the opportunity to explore, perhaps find some loot or other useful points of interest. Loot comes in the form of coins and equipment; each character can be equipped with a weapon, armour, accessories and potions. You’ll also find shrines and resting areas as you explore, giving you the opportunity to restore lost HP/armour or gain a useful buff mid-mission.
But combat is the real meat of King Arthur: Knight’s Tale. Battles play out via good old-fashioned, grid-based turn-based combat, where you and your opposition take turns making moves. Each character has their own bank of AP, allowing them to make a number of moves. If you’re close enough to an enemy, you might be able to get two attacks in on one turn. But if you have to travel to them, moving will take up some of your AP. If you don’t want to attack, you can enable overwatch – where you’ll automatically attack an enemy if they enter your overwatch zone during their turn – or reserve your AP to use on your next turn.
Battle areas are laid on top of King Arthur: Knight’s Tale‘s varied environments, which means each battlefield is different. Often, you’ll have environmental obstacles to contend with; perhaps you’re fighting within castle ruins, which means you need to more carefully plan your route in order to reach an enemy. You can use the environment to your advantage, though; strategically placing your characters behind walls or otherwise sheltered might protect them against enemy arrows, for example.
Each member of your party has a different weapon and, eventually, different skills at their disposal. Between each mission you’re able to access character screens, where you can spend skill points you’ve earned to unlock new skills or enhance the ones you already have. It’s also here where you equip new weapons and equipment. As you spend more skill points, you’ll unlock new tiers with new abilities and upgrades to unlock. The current Early Access build doesn’t allow for much of this to be explored; the current level cap is just 5, though in the full game this will be 30.
Each mission in King Arthur: Knight’s Tale takes place in a particular area, and typically comprises of several combat encounters. Side missions are a good way to practice your skills and gain extra experience, but it’s story missions that progress the game forward. Here, you’ll see the story unfold, engage in conversation and make choices. At this early stage it’s unclear how the dialogue choices you make will impact the story, but it’s clear that there are two variables in play: morality and religion. How you land between Christianity or Old Faith and rightful or tyrant will also determine which of a bucketload of additional characters and skills you unlock, it would seem.
However, it’s a shame that dialogue and voice acting seems rather under par at the moment. The writing itself leaves something to be desired, but the delivery of lines is stilted at best and cringeworthy at worst. It’s hard to get immersed into the story as a result – and a story about undead Knights of the Round Table should certainly be immersive.
Whether that will be improved for the game’s full release remains to be seen, but it’s the only real complaint we can levy at King Arthur: Knight’s Tale so far. Dodgy dialogue aside, it’s shaping up to be an old-fashioned but fun turn-based adventure. The game’s environments are nice enough and provide plenty of variety, and combat is engaging without ever being dull or overwhelming.
If you are thinking of jumping into the Early Access release of King Arthur: Knight’s Tale, just be aware of the current lack of content. Two story missions and eight side missions don’t last long, but more content will come over time. Developer NeocoreGames reckons the Early Access period will last between three to seven months. At launch, there’ll be 20 story missions, plenty of side missions, multiple endings and endgame content. And while we only met a handful of characters in our playthrough, the full game will have over 30, each from one of six different classes.
Needless to say, if you’re a fan of classic turn-based RPGs, King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is worth keeping your eye on.