Because the king is the most important hidden gem to me. I don’t know how I first came across it, and I don’t know anyone else who has played it, but it’s one of the best co-op RPGs of all time. Currently in closed beta, For The King 2 is everything the original For the King was, with a little more. Even though it’s mostly the same game as the original, I’m excited that this brilliant game might have a chance to find a new audience.
In terms of genres, For the King 2 is a co-op, roguelike, tabletop, turn-based RPG, but of course that doesn’t tell you much about what it’s like to play. I like to think of it as a quasi-party RPG, a hardcore sword-and-sorcery adventure that’s laser-focused on technical combat and time management, with just enough RPG elements to color the world and give your character some identity.
For King 2, she is mobile both in and out of combat. The world map is a huge hexagonal grid that you’ll traverse turn by turn as you complete quests, hunt for treasure, and face exponentially increasing threats. My favorite thing about For the King 2 is its fast pace. I’m not a big fan of turn-based role-playing games because I’m very impatient, but the roguelike structure of For King keeps games moving quickly, even in co-op, and with a persistent sense of dread. Runs often end abruptly with a battle your team wasn’t prepared for, but I’m always ready to jump back in and start over.
You can play single player, but what makes For the King so special is the co-op. Each player controls their own adventurer in the party, giving every classic turn-based encounter a cooperative feel. I get much of the same satisfaction from winning battles in For the King as I did in Baldur’s Gate 3 and Divinity: Original Sin 2, but without nearly as much commitment. For the King is a session-based RPG that you and your friends can jump into for a few hours and feel completely satisfied.
The sequel has some new mechanics worth noting. Combat now takes place on a 4 x 2 grid and each character is allowed to take an additional movement action on their turn. This change adds a layer of tactical strategy that wasn’t there in the original, as enemies will have attacks with different patterns and heroes have abilities that can knock down tiles on your side of the board. It’s a unique blend of classic turn-based combat and tactical-style combat unique to For the King. Combat is like a slower version of Mega Man Battle Network and I can’t get enough of it.
There are new classes and some added complexity to crafting that were interesting to explore. When you start a new run, everyone can choose items from a shared starting gear list. You can choose armor and jewelry that enhance the role your class is designed for, or try to offset their weaknesses. I enjoy experimenting with different starter builds and unlocking new ones with each failed run.
For the King 2 is a roguelike that is just as punishing as the original. Every few turns the difficulty will increase and all the monsters on the board will level up. You need to be as efficient as possible, only take on fights that will make you stronger, and choose wisely which goals to pursue. Making the right decisions can be a challenge, especially in a co-op environment, but that’s where For the King 2 has fun. You have to understand the success of a long process marked by frequent failures and try to play a little smarter with each new run.
My complaints about For the King 2 at this point mirror my complaints about the original. In the first For King game, keeping your party together on the world map can be tedious, forcing you to waste turns as laggards catch up. This doesn’t seem to have changed much in the sequel, although there are hints of a vehicle called a landship that is accessible later in the game and could solve this problem. There are also a lot of unexpected difficulty spikes that are hard to predict until you have enough experience with the game. The UI is kind of ugly and hard to use, which I wouldn’t normally fault a game during closed beta, but the original also has an obscure UI. It looks and plays almost exactly like the original, which would normally put me off, but in this case I’m happy for more For the King.
You can request access to the closed beta test, which runs from today until May 16, on Steam.
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