I tripped across Kings and Heroes from Industy Games quite by accident. I’d been following Hellraid from Techland who had pretty much dumped the game to focus on Dying Light, and being a big fan of first-person fantasy role playing games I was bitterly disappointed. Somewhere along the line in a forum someone posted a link to Kings and Heroes and said “Hey, check this game out.” Well thank all the Elder Gods they did.
Industry Games has been keeping the game relatively quiet, likely so as to avoid huge media attention and crash the servers at launch. Better to approach things slowly and cautiously and get a bunch of those bugs sorted before the entire world looks at your game. This is probably why you haven’t heard of it up until now.
Upon launching the game, you are asked whether you’d prefer to play on North American or European servers before it takes you immediately to character creation. On subsequent launches you’ll be taken to the character selection screen instead. You can choose from five classes – Champion, Cleric, Wizard, Ranger and Rogue, which you can then mix up with six races – Human, Orc, Halfling, Goblin, Dwarf and Elf. On top of that, you can also choose your alignment from Lawful Good all the way down to Chaotic Evil. At this point, some of you might be picking up on a Dungeons & Dragon vibe, and you wouldn’t be wrong. A lot of what Industry Games have been aiming for is that ‘classic’ Dungeons & Dragons feel. You’re even required to roll dice for your character abilities – the classic: Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom, Intelligence, Constitution and Charisma.
Day One Pro Tip: The European Server (at this stage) appears to be far less laggy, especially for Australian players.
Play begins in the overworld map – a large play area similar to that of Oblivion or Skyrim from the Elder Scrolls franchise, with the ‘base town’, ‘Everdale’, in the centre. You don’t need to explore the wilderness to jump into the action. No, instead, it’s again a nod to the old Dungeons & Dragons – head to the local tavern and take a seat with a mysterious character in a shadowy corner, and from there you can jump straight into dungeon exploration.
Dungeons are randomly generated from a variety of jigsaw pieces and can vary in size, difficulty and tileset depending on your selections. In many regards (for this old time gamer at least) the ‘Crypt’ dungeons feel a lot like the classic Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall. They all look the same – just randomly jumbled up, and you could quickly estimate what to find in each piece of the puzzle. Dungeons are rogue-like in the sense that, once your party dies, you are ejected from it; although you retain all XP and loot acquired up to that point, which is generous. This way you can keep pounding your head against the wall and grinding up the levels even if you continue to fail at completing the dungeon. This is great for solo players who might not have much chance in a boss fight, but can still acquire XP and loot from simply grinding the rest of the dungeon.
Day One Pro Tip: To begin a Dungeon, sit at a table in the tavern – it doesn’t matter which – and click ‘Create’. You can then choose your Dungeon size, tileset and difficulty. I’d also recommend switching to ‘Private’ using the drop box rather than opening it to the public. I’d suggest a few small, easy tombs to begin with.
While combat is real-time, it still has a bit of a MMO clicky feel to it. Rather than dashing in to slice up my foes, I found that ‘pulling’ them one at a time was far more effective, especially as a solo player. This may, of course, change in a group, but all together it feels like a mashup of traditional MMO combat and first person slashers such as Skyrim or Warhammer: Vermintide. Ranged is definitely in your hands though, and a hit or miss is dependent on your skill and accuracy which is nice.
For those of us in Australia, latency feels to be around the 300-400 mark, at least on the European server. That is fairly high for an intense PvP game, but felt acceptable while doddling around dungeons on my own. There’s that slight delay when you swing at a monster or a breakable but the only time it really became an issue was when I was trying to time my movements at avoiding a fire trap. I did manage to navigate a couple of swinging pendulum traps though without any drama. I (and others) have asked the team about Oceanic servers and they’ve stated that it’s not outside the realm of possibility, but that it just depends on demand. If it does happen though, I wouldn’t imagine anything taking shape until after the game leaves Early Access.
Crafting is to play a big part in the game, and I started with armour smithing. It seemed to make sense, as I chose to play a Dwarven Champion. Weapon smithing is also available, and apparently so are Alchemy and Tailoring; although I was unable to find the masters for the latter two professions. Enchanting is also on the books but hasn’t been implemented yet.
Day One Pro Tip: To get started with crafting, head to the Trade District. Here you will find three people: the weaponsmith, the armoursmith and the blacksmith. Get real close to them and push ‘G’ to talk with them. You can only have one crafting profession at a time, and if you change profession you lose all your current crafting progress. Once you’ve chosen your craft, you can buy recipes and sell loot to this individual. When it comes to recipes, hover over them to see the crafting level requirements. There should be a few pieces that can be made at level one. To break loot down into basic components needed for crafting, or to craft new pieces, move close to the blacksmith and push ‘G’ to break items down or ‘O’ to open the crafting window. You’ll probably need some Coarse Thread or similar crafting material you don’t have. Head over to the Market District, just left of the Tavern. In a red tent is a Goblin merchant who will sell you all the bits and bobs you need for crafting.
Day one wasn’t without its hassles, but that’s to be expected – especially for an ‘Early Access’ title. What impressed me though was that the team at Industry Games didn’t simply release the game and leave on holiday for a week – they monitored the game, listened to feedback, and released not one but TWO patches in the first few hours to address problems that some players were facing. That seems like a pretty dedicated team to me. Kudos.
Kings and Heroes is currently $29.95 USD on Steam, which works out to be roughly $42 AUD. Is it worth it? Hard to say after only one day, but the game definitely shows a lot of promise. There is still a HUGE amount of stuff I haven’t done, from joining a party and questing together to exploring the large overworld. If you’ve got the cash, buying in early will net you some early backer items for your account – a cape, a ring and a crown that all give small stat boosts. Am I enjoying the game so far? Yes. Will I continue to play it? Yes. Do I believe it holds potential? Definitely. If nothing else, you should definitely pop the game on your ‘Wishlist’ and keep an eye on it.