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King's Bounty 2 takes the tactical RPG in a new direction

1C Entertainment has announced that Kings Bounty 2 is in development and expected out next year. It's a departure from the previously isometric, cartoon fantasy series and is now a third-person, "highly cinematic experience" and, judging from the trailer, a bit on the serious side. Give it a watch above.  

The original King's Bounty predates Heroes of Might and Magic and let wandering adventurers explore a bunch of fantasy realms, recruit troops and creatures, and get into turn-based tactical battles. A decade later the series returned with King's Bounty: Legend, which introduced more RPG elements, a lot of silliness, and you could marry a zombie. 

While the tactical battles remain, King's Bounty 2 seems like another reinvention. Instead of clicking your way down paths on an isometric map, it's an open world that looks more like it belongs in a conventional RPG. You can wander around at your leisure, pick up quests, build relationships with NPCs and wrestle with moral conundrums.  

There are trolls, dragons and "unliving horrors", so expect some fantastical elements, but it's definitely not as whimsical as the rest of the series. 1C says it aims to blend realism and fantasy. No undead brides, I'm guessing. 

When fights kick off, the game becomes a hexy tactical brawl between opposing armies. The battlefields look a bit more complex this time around, with more terrain features, elevation and line of sight. As for your troops, you'll be able to recruit trolls, elves, humans and other creatures, and they'll develop bonds as they fight together. I've become obsessed with Fire Emblem lately, so I'm all about making buds on the battlefield. 

I'm into the switch in perspective and the tactical improvements sound like welcome additions, but I'm not digging this 'realistic' direction. There's loads of gritty fantasy—it's everywhere. And you can still have drama and high stakes and great characters in a less grounded setting. Look, I just want to collect a weird assortment of spouses.

King's Bounty 2 is due out in 2020. 

Fraser is the sole inhabitant of PC Gamer's mythical Scottish office, conveniently located in his flat. He spends most of his time wrangling the news, but sometimes he sneaks off to write lots of words about strategy games.