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Codex Review RPG Codex Review: King Arthur: Knight's Tale

Infinitron

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Tags: King Arthur: Knight's Tale; NeocoreGames

NeocoreGames' tactical RPG King Arthur: Knight's Tale took a respectable third place in last year's RPG Codex GOTY awards. Some might argue that it should have ranked even higher. To be honest, this sort of mission-based tactical combat game, with a "dark Arthurian"-themed setting that has somehow become overused in recent years, isn't typically what our community is most interested in. Knight's Tale achieved its ranking through the sheer excellence of its combat design, a particularly impressive feat for a studio's first turn-based title. Some of you may have noticed that I've been itching for an official Codex review of the game for some time, and I'm happy that in the end it was Darth Roxor himself who contributed it. Here's an excerpt from his review:

With these basics out of the way, I would like to state one thing very clearly. Knight’s Tale is a paragon of system design. I don’t remember the last time I played something that had mechanics this well thought-through – you can tell that Neocore was focused first and foremost on making the combat work. Usually in such games you can easily identify features that could be removed with no harm to the mechanics, or others that are cheap bandaids put on glaring issues, but here everything just clicks together organically. Likewise, it’s great that Knight’s Tale avoids the pitfalls of most deterministic systems, where the fights feel like chess puzzles to arrange and essentially ‘pre-win’ on turn 1. There are enough variables involved in combat to make sure that the fights actually play out on a moment-to-moment basis where plans can go wrong, forcing you to adapt to the consequences of failure and unforeseen circumstances on the fly.

Most importantly, all of this is accomplished without universal death timers or constantly spawning reinforcements, which are something I’ve learnt to very strongly loathe in modern ‘tactics’ games, which need to retreat to (and abuse) cheap tricks like that to offer any semblance of difficulty or variety in encounter design. Meanwhile Knight’s Tale hardly ever gets old despite almost never using anything of the sort. In fact, I don’t think I can remember a single instance of needing to win a fight within X turns. There are also no ‘puzzles’ to be had anywhere, in or outside combat, which is almost as surprising as it is refreshing, because these also tend to be forced in modern tacticals. Simply everything in Knight’s Tale is just about battle.

At the same time, although the missions are all about wiping out the enemy, they’re still diverse enough thanks to other factors, that ‘kill them all’ as the universal objective is never really a problem. For starters, the levels and encounters are all hand-crafted, and typically with a lot of care. It would be too much to call them ‘open-ended’, but being able to choose in which order you’d like to pick your fights still gives you a good enough sense of agency – this is made all the more obvious in the few missions that are actually railroaded. Furthermore, the maps have single-use campsites and shrines strewn about, with the former giving you a pitstop for fixing armour or HP and the latter working a bit like in Diablo, in that they have various effects that can be both positive and negative, adding another important element when it comes to planning your course of action in a mission. Finally, the locales are varied enough to give each level a different flavour, even if some of the maps are recycled to a certain degree. You’ll be busting your way through enchanted groves, wastelands, ancient crypts, battlefields, downtrodden villages and many more.

[...] In the end, Knight’s Tale gives us a game that is first and foremost about combat. It’s obvious to me that the primary objective behind its development was to make sure that everything about the combat worked right, with no exceptions or handwaves, and that everything else was ten priority levels under that. Neocore knew precisely what they set out to accomplish and they did it with great success. This game simply knows what it’s about and it sticks to its guns exactly where it matters. Playing something with a focus and vision this clear and well-realised is always a true joy. As far as the genre of ‘Turn-Based RPG Encounters: The Game’ is concerned, Knight’s Tale is definitely one of its highlights. Its secondary or tertiary features may be lacking in some aspects, but that really doesn’t matter when the core gameplay is so well done. The atmosphere and style are also the icing on top that elevate it above many other entries in this genre, which tend to offer just the combat and nothing else really worth noting.

It took me a whopping 100 hours to finish, and frankly speaking, I was somewhat happy when it was over. Primarily because at some point I realised it was taking way too much of my free time, but also because by the end you’re mostly progressing on autopilot with your overpowered heroes, and the fatigue that eventually settles in just makes you look forward to the finish line. That’s why I strongly recommend playing on the hardest difficulty, and maybe even trying the roguelite mode if you’re feeling adventurous. But make no mistake – this is not a game that is best ‘dropped midway’. By quitting early, you’ll be depriving yourself of a significant part of the experience. Technically, there’s also post-endgame content that I think is supposed to be super-challenging, but I never even tried it. I couldn’t really be bothered.

Still, I had a great time with Knight’s Tale. Neocore has already announced a new standalone campaign for it too, which is Roman-themed and about the ‘lost’ IX Legion crawling out of Tartarus to end up in Avalon. It’s unbelievable, but for once I actually have something to look forward to among upcoming RPGs.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: King Arthur: Knight's Tale
 

Strange Fellow

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Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
9c393f7b8c146fccb4a7d8d4bf9e1f89.jpg
 

PanickedTushkano

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Thanks for the review!
Superficial impressions were good and I will definitely ask the endless backlog comittee to speed up the arbitrary prioritization process.
 

Zed Duke of Banville

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"In the end, Knight’s Tale gives us a game that is first and foremost about combat. It’s obvious to me that the primary objective behind its development was to make sure that everything about the combat worked right, with no exceptions or handwaves, and that everything else was ten priority levels under that."

Almost as though King Arthur: Knight's Tale is a squad-based tactics game with RPG elements rather than an actual RPG. :M

I would have created a "Tactics Are Still the New RPG" image for it, if only there were a suitable picture from the game to use as the basis.
 

Strange Fellow

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Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
On a final note, the game comes with a multiplayer mode, but how it works I cannot say, since I never got to try it because I don't have friends.
Be that as it may, one would have thought Grunker might have helped you out anyway, in the interest of in-depth gaming journalism. +M

Has multiplayer ever worked out for any of these RPG devs, apart from Larian? And by that I mean has it ever been used by any two paying customers ever, because I doubt it. It just seems like a huge waste of time and resources.

In any case, quality review as always, informative and entertaining.
 

Darth Roxor

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Has multiplayer ever worked out for any of these RPG devs, apart from Larian? And by that I mean has it ever been used by any two paying customers ever, because I doubt it. It just seems like a huge waste of time and resources.

I don't even know what this multiplayer is about, but honestly speaking if this is tactical turn-based PVP, it's actually something I've been wanting to play for a very long time (I remember 'PVP X-COM' being something of a dream of mine ~20 years ago), but no one ever delivers.
 

Grunker

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Has multiplayer ever worked out for any of these RPG devs, apart from Larian? And by that I mean has it ever been used by any two paying customers ever, because I doubt it. It just seems like a huge waste of time and resources.

(I remember 'PVP X-COM' being something of a dream of mine ~20 years ago), but no one ever delivers.

nuXCOM has PVP :troll:
 

jackofshadows

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nuXCOM has PVP :troll:
No idea about the first one but knowing in sequel's multiplayer everyone was playing those spawn-a-copy-from-hit creatures, trying out-jerk each other and it was like that for a long time, I doubt it was different. A throw away feature, correct me anyone if knows better.
 

Grunker

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No clue, I've no interest in playing multiplayer in these games. We have Gloomhaven for that :obviously:
 

RoBoBOBR

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Main story's difficulty does fall off as you gear up and gain skills. End-game's toughness however increases as it goes along, though for now i just tried the 2nd one — Rising Eclipse, it was definitely harder then anything main game had thrown at me.
 

Melmoth

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and there are no knights of unlikely ethnic origins. You’d think this wouldn’t even need mentioning, yet here we are.
yes i dont believe sir palomedes appears
 

Arthandas

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There are no “female knights” per se, so noble ladies don’t take up heavy armour and poleaxes, the female characters are strongly in the minority, and there are no knights of unlikely ethnic origins.
Wishlisted, endorsed, liked and subscribed.
 

Galdred

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Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.
Has multiplayer ever worked out for any of these RPG devs, apart from Larian? And by that I mean has it ever been used by any two paying customers ever, because I doubt it. It just seems like a huge waste of time and resources.

I don't even know what this multiplayer is about, but honestly speaking if this is tactical turn-based PVP, it's actually something I've been wanting to play for a very long time (I remember 'PVP X-COM' being something of a dream of mine ~20 years ago), but no one ever delivers.
It worked rather well in Mordheim, except for the stake being way too high. You could destroy your opponent's warband beyond recovery for good, so it is not for the faint of heart (I played with a friend, and our game ended up with both warbands being deleted. The game itself was cool, though). I have no idea about King Arthur: KT PvP either, but it was implemented because it was a Kickstarter goal.

https://neocoregames.com/en/community/hub/lets-joust-pvp-event-king-arthur-knights-tale
Knights!

The release date of King Arthur: Knight's Tale is closer than ever. After a successful Kickstarter campaign we've been working hard on implementing and improving features, the latest one being a major overhaul in UX, bringing many quality of life changes. We will talk a bit more about the game in the following weeks leading up to the release, so make sure to check back occasionally.

Today we will focus on a relatively recent additon, the PvP mode.



No castle would be complete without some knightly jousting, right? That's why - and thanks to the generous support of our Kickstarter backers - PvP is available in King Arthur: Knight's Tale, for those looking to hone their battle skills against fellow players. The optional game mode plays out on three different maps, each with their own unique look and layout, each favoring different strategies and compositions. Let's just check it all out, shall we?

Jumping into a PvP game is easy as 1-2-3: just click Multiplayer in the Knight's Tale menu to bring up the list of available lobbies and check out the open games. If there's none available, or you're looking to create your own, press the Create Match button, and set up the match the way you want it. You can choose from four Morality-based team presets, or select Draft, in which players take turns creating their dream team of Heroes. Don't forget to select the map of your choice either - it plays a huge role in which team will be able to come out victorious in the end. When all is set up, click "Ready" on the bottom left, prompt the other player to do so too, and start your epic battle.

All that's left is to win - but how do you do it? First off, as Knight's Tale's genre suggests, it's all about tactics. Scour your environment for potential openings, watch your flanks and protect those most vulnerable to damage. But beware, your opponent will try to do the same! In open battlefields, like the Forest map, charging in head on might be the best approach, but the Maze map, full of impenetrable walls (unless you're an adept magic user, of course) favor those good at quick repositioning and ranged attacks.



To help you in battle, each map spawns with various power-up orbs - red for extra damage, green for healing the wounded, and blue for 2 whole turns of total invulnerability, each of which can easily turn the tides of battle. Make sure to grab them, before your opponent can reach them, or set up some of your Heroes for Overwatch, and strike down anyone trying to snatch one of the power-ups! The player to move first has a slight advantage in this one, since they get to reach the orbs faster, so ranged units with major damage might come in handy when going second.

And now, the bread and butter of the fight, the Heroes themselves. You might have already met some of them if you've played through the first Act of the campaign, but even they have some extra spells that not even the most trained players have seen, unless they tried the PvP mode! Make sure to take some time to familiarize yourself with these spells and their countless combinations -one slip-up might be the end of your entire team.

In general, these spells can be grouped into two categories: offensive and utility. Utility spells offer ways to beef up your own team, set up defenses or breach through enemy lines, while offensive abilities are all about damage, of course. Which one to use, though? That's up to you! If the enemy is clumped upon top of each other, consider laying waste to them with flames from above, burning the ground beneath all of them in AoE. In other cases, stuns and pick-offs are your best bet. Doing things right AND doing the right things is what makes a good strategist after all!

If you're looking to discuss the intricacies of PvP further, or find a worthy opponent, we suggest heading over to the official Knight's Tale Discord server. The most seasoned blades of Avalon all gather there, sharing their wisdom with those looking to conquer the lands. You'll surely find good advice and a great community over there, so check it out!

In NUXCOM, it was on a point buy system, with rather limited choices on loadout iirc, and you could mix aliens and XCOM operatives so it felt very removed from the base game.
There were a few games dedicated to tactical RPG PVP, but most are Gatcha games, sadly (Langrisser mobile was the best one I tried, but even though it was not as bad as the most, it still tried too hard to take your time and money), or F2P (like Dogs of war online, but I think it is dead).
The main issue with everything PvP is that the communities tend to die quickly, especially for turn based ones.
The main provider of Tactical PvP games that don't try to dry your pockets through microtransactions seems to be Slitherine nowadays, but the scale is larger.
 
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