12th Jan2015

‘Blackguards 2′ (P)review

by Paul Metcalf

blackguards-2-screen

When it comes to role-playing games I tend to have somewhat of a particular taste.  I remember the days of Baldur’s Gate and its sequel, I bought them both and dabbled with them but never really made progress, but I’ve played games like Skyrim for more hours than I can count.  The fact is I need a game to catch my attention and make me want to spend the time on it.  With this in mind it when I agreed to preview Blackguards 2 I did it with an eye to playing a role-playing game that will get me lost in its world and hopefully get me hooked.

Blackguards 2 is an interesting game because its characters aren’t your typical good-natured fighters looking for a noble resolution to some quest they have found themselves on.  You start the game as Cassia a noble woman imprisoned in a dungeon who has fought constantly to try to escape.  These attempts though have driven her mad and disfigured through bites from the creatures she has had to do battle with.  Once out of the dungeon your aim is to forge alliances with like-minded individuals (some from the original Blackguards making a return) to overthrow Marwan and reclaim the land you have decided is yours.  Cassia is insane at this point so if she has a real claim to the land isn’t really touched on too much.

From the outset I have to admit that I like the somewhat twisted aspect of the game, the fact that you aren’t controlling the good guys and this isn’t a game about being diplomatic or nice.  You are there to do battle and to win by any means necessary so politics are thrown right out of the window.  Greed and a taste for violence are a good asset to have if you are going to make it anywhere in this game as well as a taste for strategy.

Although (as I understand it) Blackguards 2 has simplified the system used for the first game, there are still plenty of stats for the more hardcore RPG fans and plenty of attributes to build up through experience points build up during battle.  Exploration and combat is done in a turn based fashion where the region you are able to move in is revealed using a hexified field.  Using the turn based approach means that you can see the strategy that the enemy is using and make relevant changes to your team to either move in for defence or move to attack.  What I did find annoying through (in the build I was playing) is that there is no way to skip the animation for the enemy movements, and when there can be around 15 characters taking turns to make movements it can get quite annoying.

A nice touch to attack is the weaponry that is available and the understanding that you can build up about the environment.  Magic is particularly effective when fighting the enemy as are long ranged attack weapons.  I liked the fact that characters who are equipped by spears can also attack over two spaces on the battleground rather than just one.  The fact that some low objects and even dwarves can also be low enough to allow the spear attack to move over them is a nice touch too.  Little touches like this make combat fun, though not too easy.

From what I’ve played for this preview there is potential with Blackguards 2 to be a good strategy role-playing game that will hold my attention, as it will hopefully with other gamers.  With a focus on actually giving the game a storyline to keep a feeling of progress during gameplay and the potential for lengthy battles (something I know some RPG fans love) there is plenty of fun to be found in the game.  Whether the simplified system will annoy fans of the first game though is another matter, and not having played the first game I find myself unable to really answer that question.

With the game being released January 20th and constant updates being made to the version I’ve been playing I think I can assume that the version I’ve been playing is the fairly stable release build now, and while it isn’t perfect is a good game.  As with all sequels though the most important question is going to be answered by the fans of the first game, will they accept the changes that have been made? That is something we will have to wait to find out.

Blackguards 2 is released on PC and Mac on January 20th.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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