Kingdom Come: Deliverance 2 is twice as big, introduces firearms and is coming this year

Warhorse Studios has finally unveiled what it admits is probably "the most public secret in the gaming industry", Kingdom Come: Deliverance 2. The medieval RPG is a direct continuation of the 2018 game, once again following peasant-turned-knight Henry, accompanied by his posh mate, Hans, as they navigate a civil war in 15th century Bohemia. 

The first game was a welcome respite from ostentatious, magic-filled fantasy RPGs. Its tale of knights and intrigue was grounded in medieval history, bolstered by a charismatic protagonist, long jaunts through the Bohemian countryside and tricky first-person duels. Between its adherence to realistic physics and the importance of positioning and the direction of your attacks, it proved to be challenging to master, but incredibly reactive and, most importantly, satisfying when you nailed a strike and took down an enemy knight. 

This first-person combat system is, unsurprisingly, returning, and from the looks of things seems to be as pleasingly brutal and complex as ever. "We want you to feel the sword in your hand," says Viktor Bocan, design and combat director. "We want you to feel threatened by the enemies on the battlefield. We want you to fight for your life." 

Thanks to some new additions, ranged combat is also getting a bit more love. One of Kingdom Come: Deliverance's anachronisms was the absence of crossbows and early firearms, but this has been rectified for the sequel. Now you're going to be able to pummel your enemies with lead and bolts. Judging by the firearm clip in the reveal trailer, they're going to be pretty devastating. But given Warhorse's sensibilities when it comes to realism and the depth of KCD's simulation, they're probably going to be incredibly slow and more than a bit fiddly. You're still going to have to get up close with your swords and blunt melee weapons.

When Warhorse started work on the first game, it was an 11-person studio, making it an impressive—if buggy—feat. "Now it's 250 people working very hard for years," says Vávra. "What we are making now is what it was supposed to be in the beginning, but we were not able to do it because we didn't have enough resources and experience and all that stuff. We've proven that the concept works and now we can take it to another level."

The game world is around twice as large as the original's, split across two areas, including the city of Kuttenberg—which looks significantly more elaborate than any of the first game's settlements. The scope of the story has been bumped up, too, with five hours of cutscenes fleshing out a tale of kings and civil war. Henry's going to be butting heads with Sigismund the Red Fox, the King of Hungary, so he's becoming a bit of a major player.    

I do hope, though, that the more epic scope doesn't undermine what made the first game such a delight. Dealing with small, local issues as a slightly bumbling hero is what made the original stand out compared to a lot of the more overt power fantasy RPGs. We get a quick look at a scene where Henry and Hans are about to go for a swim, winding each other up and cracking jokes, evocative of the first game's playful moments, so I'm hopeful all that good stuff will still be plentiful even amid all the larger stakes. 

Like The Witcher's Geralt, Henry is not a blank slate, but there's still room to make your own version. "Henry is a young guy, so he's not really so deeply entrenched in his already set character traits," says lead designer Prokop Jirsa. "So you can build your Henry in different ways." This flexibility includes customising his appearance—to a degree—and picking your skills and equipment, as well as how he reacts to events, allowing you to flesh out his morality.

"That all means that it's actually on you, who you want to be," adds Bocan. "You can save the world, or you can help punish it for its sins." Despite the impetus for Henry's journey being a grim one—the slaughter of his village—he's such a nice lad that I would feel awful taking him down a dark path.

It's also going to be interesting how the sequel handles quests. There wasn't much hand-holding last time, where you were largely just pointed in a general direction and left to find your own way to your objectives, and while it could occasionally be frustrating, the manageable size of the map meant it worked quite well. With a much bigger space to play around in, I do hope I'm not going to spend hours and hours completely lost. That said, there are worse places to get lost in—Kingdom Come: Deliverance 2's sun-dappled forests do look perfect for some aimless rambling.

We've not got a specific release date yet, but Warhorse says it will be out before the end of the year, which is a lot sooner than I expected. Hopefully it will be able to stick to that timeline, because I'm very keen to catch up with Henry and Hans.

Fraser Brown
Online Editor

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.