On King's Bounty: The Legend

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reynaert
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On King's Bounty: The Legend

Postby reynaert » Nov 29 2008, 23:52

(I'm going to add a few pictures "later")

Intro
As most might know (and if you don't, look at the front page, or here), Russian developer Katauri once started a game which ended up being King's Bounty: The Legend. In april, you could have bought it with rubles, in september, it hit the euro- and dollarzones. But before you run to the stores, it is time to give some sort of overview on what the game is.

The game is something resembling tactical role-playing game. For the heroes-fanatics: its like one giant map of a Heroes game, without town management and with just one hero. And about a 100 quests, too. I'll go over the inevitable heroes-versus-kb comparison later.

About the story I'll be brief. Go look for it yerself, dammit. Anyway, you're a fresh graduate from the School of Knights, tutored by Iron Richard himself. More, you're given a commission as Royal Treasure Seeker, so basically you're the king's errand boy. Your king's name is Mark the Wise, he's the ruler of the human kingdom of Darion. There are other places to visit, however: the far-away province of the Isles of Freedom, the land of the Elves, the mines and mountains of the Dwarves and more exotic destinations. All these lands and continents are situated on the world Endoria.

Maps
Gamewise, there is a strategic (realtime) map and a tactical (turnbased) map. You're running around with your single self-named hero in different parts of endoria. Since it's realtime, there's day and night, and since it's Endoria, there are many enemies who don't stand still either. One moment, you might see a single enemie running towards your hero with three red exclamation marks around his head. Next moment, there's a loading screen and a battle.

Battles are fought on a tactical map, called an arena. For your enjoyment, each arena consists of many hexagonal pad, and each troop takes up one of those hexes. This might sound familiar to some people on this forum. Each troop moves when it's their turn, the troop with the most initiative goes first, the rest wait for their turn. No real-time here.


Character
So, you're moving some guy on a horse around on your strategic map. He's your guy, he's your hero, and infact, he's the commander of quite some troops. Better still: you are him, so don't go looking for some second hero to chain those troops from your capital. A tip: if you see some other hero, he's an enemy.

Heroes have many primary skills. They have attack and defence, which make troops attack better or defend better. They also have mana and rage, the first powers spells, the latter the Spirits of Rage (read more later). And there's intellect, spell power, so to speak (for you heroes fanatics out there. For others: it's the thing that turns your armageddon spell into a nuclear holocaust. Or a mild hot breeze, if you don't have much spell power).

There's a last skill. Heroes command troops (about whom you'll read more later). But troops demand respect, they demand leadership skills. A young hero might have little leadership skills, and might be limited to a small army. A veteran warrior might hold dozens of dragons in his ranks. Each unit 'costs' leadership, and each stack may only hold so many troops as the hero might hold. Any more, and the stack might rebel.

Your hero isn't like any other hero. A young knight's school grad might be the same as another junior hero (apart from profession: there are knights, paladins and mages), but the more quests a hero fulfills or the more beasts he slays, the more experience he gets. Experienced heroes will level, they'll get more basic stats and more skill runes.

There are three types of skill runes: Might, Mind and Magic. With those, you can buy skills. Some of them might increase leadership or lower leadership requirements for troops. Others give more mana or rage. Others give more experience, resurrects troops after battle, makes them faster, makes them have more initiative... There are also skills that help spellcasting, something warranting their own paragraph. There are three skill trees: a might skill tree, a mind and a magic one.

Then, there are those professions. Your hero is a knight, a paladin or a mage. Mages specialize in spellcasting, and they have a special skill that eventually allows them to cast 2 spells in one battle turn. When leveling up, they're more apt to receive magic runes. Warriors specialize in rage. Their rage increases faster during combat, and they'll get more attack and defence skills offered during level-up. They seem to have a leadership advantage, too. Paladins are the glorious middle road. Not specializing in either rage or mana, they are better at fighting undead and demons. More importantly: they get more mindrunes, the most useful kind of rune (because it's common in the other skill trees, too).

Spells
Any hero keen on surviving knows a few things. One of them: spells. A long time ago, wise people learned to control the flow of magic, channeling it in complex formulas. The known spells are battlefield-use only.

There are many spells, so heroes can't learn them all by heart. So, mages bound the magic in spell scrolls. These are one-use things, on which a basic spell is noted, and you can use it in combat.

Paying some magic crystals (see: commodities), you can learn a spell by heart. When you cast the spell, you won't forget it, but you'll channel your personal magic power, called mana. But the fun doesn't stop there: with the right skills, you can upgrade a spell, so it'll gain special proportions: it might be stronger, hit more targets, do more damage...

Rage
Battlefields are dreadful places, where your troops might die. Your macho hero enjoys the feel of slaughtering troops, and feels sorrow when his troops die. These emotions are called rage, and one of your first quests involve getting a rage box.

This rage box is an ancient Demon weapon, it's an elaborate trap, containing four spirits. These spirits can perform, one once a turn, a special move. Most of these moves are attacks. Each of these attacks cost rage, while attacking or getting beaten up produces rage. Rage diminshes when roaming over the adventure map.

These spirits won't fight for you when you find the box, you must perform a special task for them. When you finish the task, the one you finished it for will allow you his first move. The more you use a spirit, the more experience he has, and you'll uncover more moves, more damaging attacks, or more special abilities of a move.

Adventuring
When running around with your hero, there are lots of things to do. There is battle. You will pit your troops against the enemy troops, in various arenas (or with a castle background). You will visit castles and shopkeepers, selling all kinds of stuff, giving you all kinds of quests...

Doing quests. There are many characters to meet (some call them NPCs. Others call them 'my friends'). They give quests, involving running around from one side of the map to the other, talking to other characters, fighting, retrieving objects, solving puzzles...

You'll get rewards too: gold, used to buy things. Magic crystals, used to upgrade spells, spell scrolls, seeds or experience. These can also be found laying around the adventure map. There are even chests you can find, both on the adventure map as on the battle map. Seeds are unborn troops: you can 'use' a seed, and it'll give you a new troop. Using griffin eggs will get you griffins, for exemple (establishing for once and for all griffins are birds, not mammals). Protip: you can 'use' some quest items, too.

Artifacts also exist. These serve various purposes: they boost skills, lower leadership requirements, are necessary for questing and so on. Your hero has a certain number of artifact slots, where he can put these artifacts so they can help the hero.

Some artifacts are living: they have a morale indicator. When it reaches zero (because you don't fullfill its wishes), it'll rebel, and you'll need to fight the keepers to keep the artifact working (if that happens, you'll fight certain troops and annoying gremlins in a special arena). Other artifacts have other properties if you use them often or upgrade them by fighting their keepers.

Troops
Your hero won't go fighting alone with his spells and skills. Infact, you can't even see him on the battlefield. He delegates the fighting to his loyal troops.

Each stack of troops is represented on the battlefield by a single figure, and each army is represented on the strategic map by a hero or one of its stacks. This affects gameplay: a dragon stack moves much faster on the strategic map than a cannoneer stack.

All troops have various attributes, just like homm. They have a certain amount of hitpoints, a certain amount of ranged or melee attack skill. A defence skill. A certain type of damage: physical, magical or fire. A damage range, how much each unit in a stack does. Also a leadership requirement to have them. Some troops can fly, others shoot projectiles...

Also, troops have special abilities. For example, an archer can fire an extra damaging Fire Arrow; a Knight can do a swinging attack, damaging all enemies around him. Clerics can cast defensive spells; demonesses can swap a friendly stack for a hostile one...

There are no factions, and there is no faction-specific troop line-up (by consequence). You're more bound, however, to find humans in Darion, dwarves in the Dwarven Mines, pirates on the islands of freedom or orcs in the orc embassy, and there is a line-up featured in the manual: Humans, Dwarves, Elves, Demons, Orcs, Undeads and Neutrals (covering quite a variety of wildlife). Dwarves generally dislike Elves, Giants like Emerald Dragons. On the other hand, Emerald dragons have a great dislike for Giants. Something with dietary requirements. But it's not as strics as in HOMM. Units have levels, too: some spells can prevent lower-level units to fight against higher-level ones.

Humans are the regular, medieval guys. Peasants (still as worthless as ever), archers for the ranged component, footmen and their upgraded counterpart, the guardmen for the basic foot component, Knights as tanks, Horsemen as cavalry and Griffins as the air force. These guys are good starting troops, but they pale in comparison to other regional troops. Griffins remain good, however.

Dwarves are tough, slow, and have high initiative, generally. Their basic critter is the miner (but by then, you'll have better troops). Their normal foot unit is the dwarf itself, while their tank is the giant. Their cannoneers are my favorite and provide high damage with insanely high initiative. Another unit: the alchemist. Armed with three flasks filled with napalm, holy water or poison, and a sprayer full of acid, they deal quite some damage, too. From a design standpoint, dwarves are a steampunk dream. They have built dirigebles, trains and submarines. They don't use magic, but prefer technological contraptions and similar stuff. They're pretty eye-candy, once you get in that area.

Orcs are like dwarves, tough, but much faster and with less initiative. Goblins are plentiful, with range, and they don't die as fast as the other critters. Furious goblins lose the ranged component, but they hit hard. Orcs and veteran orcs are the regular ground forces: strong and hardhitting. Catapults provide the ranged aspect, ogres the tank. Their most interesting unit is the shaman. Like other orcs, they are tough and strong, but they have three specials. My second favorite unit, by far. Orcs are shown mostly as simplistic and warlike.

You can, of course, recruit undead. Skeletons, vampires, ghosts and zombies with counterparts; spell-casting necromancers and heavy-hitting bone dragons. Undead are tough: skeletons are resilient against ranged attacks, ghosts against physical attacks, necromances and zombies have high hitpoints. They're quite fast too, but don't deal too much damage. Strength in numbers, mostly.

Demons are fast with high damage. They're numerous, too. I have the feeling they aren't too strong. Many of their units have special abilities. There are imps and scoffer imps, strong fodder; demonesses with a few special abilities (a whip, a swap stack spell, and the nasty tendency to avoid attacks), main foot-unit (demons) and teleporting high-hitter archidemons.

I don't know how to characterize the elves. They benefit the most from being with their kind. In general, they are fast but tend to die quickly too. Elves themselves are the archetypical superior bowmen. Druids the archetypical 'I like nature' type of mages. Fairies die quickly but know how to hit hard. Ents and ancient Ents hit hard and don't seem to die. They don't seem to cross the battlefield in time, either. Unicorns of both variety function as a fast cavalry. Werewolves are basically stronger wolves. In general, they're the stereotypical nature-lovers.

There's much nature to love, too. Especially among the neutrals: wolves, bears, hyenas, snakes, spiders, cyclopses, evil eyes, dragons, robbers, pirates and thieves. Basically, the rest.

I have forgotten about boss fights. There are 3 larger creatures on Endoria you'll get to fight. They don't take one hex, they take many: there is a turtle, a kraken and a spider. They are pretty challenging and fun to fight though, but you can't recruit them in your army, unfortunatly.


KB versus HOMM
Now, this is the interesing part. King's Bounty: the legend has many similarities with King's Bounty. HOMM has many similarities with King's bounty. Therefor: there might be similarities between the two. Logic aside, those similarities are there, but there are many differences, too.

The genre is one, big (profound) difference. KB is (t)RPG, HOMM TBS. KB doesn't bother with hero or castle management, while castle management and succesfully running multiple heroes is key for succes in HOMM. Not that you'll notice, there is no multiplayer in KB. Basically: HOMM focus is strategy and management, KB focus is character building. One hero versus many heroes and cities, so to speak.

Next, the games have a different feel. It is impossible to 'fail' KB. You might take gameyears to finish it, but you are the only hero with a quest, you don't need to contend with enemy heroes competing over the same resource. It gives KB a much more relaxed atmosphere, where you're trying to beat the game, not competing against the AI to beat the game.

Furthermore, the leadership mechanic (as seen in the original KB) replaces the complex city resource management of HOMM. I found money to be plentiful in KB:TL. I found troops to be plentiful too. The only limit is on the number I could carry. In HOMM, both money and availability is the limiting factor, not some artificially imposed limit.

Many small differences are there too. There are no faction-specific castles, so each castle or vendor can sell different creatures without a set line-up. In HOMM, you'd be running around with a fortress-only army, eg. Here, you can and eventually will safely mix for example dwarves and snakes, or orcs and elves. There are no creature shortages. Another thing that took time to get used to was multiple actions in combat. In HOMM, each unit may take one action per turn. In KB, each unit may take one special action per turn: some abilities are activated, but are not a special action. Special moves and fighting ends turns, moving does not (unless you move too far). And, as mentioned, real-time overworld versus turn based. (because there is no need for turns when there are no real enemies, I presume...). There is no penalty for close combat when being an archer. Archers have different ranges. There are close-range-only ranged units. And many other differences...

Basically, KB may feel like a single, huge, heavily scripted map in HOMM terms, where you're limited to roaming around with one single hero. There is way more emphasis on plot: a cliched HOMM map may still be fun (or challanging) to beat, this game could have been broken had the plot be moronic. (it isn't, it's quite amusing. Even the spelling and translation errors). There are many similarities, but profound differences too. Still, it might be a very welcome addition next to your HOMM collection.



(I've been playing heroes of might and magic a long time, I loved 3, adored 4, grew up on 2, and hated 5. Recently, I walked in a store, saw this title, bought it, started playing, and missed a deadline. It's a very good game, in my opinion, and I'm anticipating the expansion already. What I did notice, is a lack of fansites or even sites where there is much information about the game)

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ThunderTitan
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Postby ThunderTitan » Dec 3 2008, 8:30

(I've been playing heroes of might and magic a long time, I loved 3, adored 4, grew up on 2, and hated 5.


In like you already...
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reynaert
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Postby reynaert » Dec 3 2008, 12:13

have I missed something?

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darknessfood
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Postby darknessfood » Dec 3 2008, 12:30

Meh, you weren't fond of HoMM V. Npw you are TT's friend! Oh lucky you :devious: ...
You can either agree with me, or be wrong...

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Koni
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Postby Koni » Dec 3 2008, 12:50

ThunderTitan wrote: In like you already...


Only one letter too much:

I(n) like you already... :D

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Postby ThunderTitan » Dec 4 2008, 13:26

propur speling iz 4 pwncers...
Disclaimer: May contain sarcasm!

I have never faked a sarcasm in my entire life. - ???
"With ABC deleting dynamite gags from cartoons, do you find that your children are using explosives less frequently?" — Mark LoPresti

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