It's been ten years since Kingdom Under Fire 2 was first announced, the Korean MMO/ RTS hybrid from Blueside. In that time, the game has gone through a lot, including several regional soft launches that saw the game running in an early access-type system drowned in microtransactions. With the help of publisher Gameforge, Kingdom Under Fire 2 has been localized and redesigned for a western market. It now has a flat, buy-to-play model, completely devoid of all predatory in-app purchases. We were certainly hopeful that we'd finally get to experience the kind of large scale battles and MMO progression the game offered, and while there are moments of really impressive battles here, the game suffers from so many bugs, poor optimization, and lazy localization that actually getting to the good stuff is often impossible.
MMO Meets RTS
On paper, Kingdom Under Fire 2 has a remarkably winning formula. You've got traditional KMMO style and mechanics including open world questing, flashy combat, unique classes, and cool combos to master. The core of the game outside of questing is a series of missions that give you control over troops that can be commanded from a top-down RTS perspective.
The missions, at least to the point I was able to progress to (about 15 hours in), play out on linear maps that have you moving your character and troops ever forward, clearing mobs in your path until you reach a boss. You can matchmake with up to three other players, meaning even in the early game, there's potential for masses of units duking it out on the battlefield. It's incredibly simple and none of them so far really lend themselves to tactical RTS strategy, but I only managed to unlock three of the eight potential troop slots and didn't get to experience the end game raids with big groups of players. While I can imagine those battles are probably pretty epic and require a lot of smart positioning and timing of troop abilities, that path to that end game is many dozens of hours away and, at least for me, totally unreachable due to game-breaking bugs that won't go away on even on reset.
A Hell Of A Grind
Though the microtransactions have been stripped out, the systems they commanded are still very much left in place. You'll earn the (formerly premium) currency called Cubics through normal play and you'll need to spend them on just about anything you want to do. Even talking in global chat costs a small pittance of Cubics.
If you've played any Korean games, you'll recognize many of the progression systems. You'll earn fractions of materials from missions that you'll spend on individual upgrades for your troops. Each type of troop requires a different type of material, and you'll need to upgrade each of that troop's abilities individually as well as it's tier, which in turn unlocks new abilities to upgrade.
Your character also has basic abilities that will unlock throughout the first 20 or so levels and skills you can spend points on to upgrade further. There's gear that will also drop from questing and mission that can be equipped, slotted, and embued so, overall, there are plenty of avenues for progression and building your army.
It is, without a doubt, and insane grind, though. More than a dozen hours in, I'm basically still completing tutorial missions, learning about different troop strategies and systems, and unlocking my basic skills. Unsurprisingly, the game requires a major investment. I think that's what KMMO players expect, and coming with a flat buy-to-play system, it certainly seems like plenty of content for the price. That is, if you can access the content.
For a game that's been in development for a decade, it's still got some major issues to sort out. I was legitimately enjoying taking my Bersia Soldiers and Shadow Archers out onto the battlefield and laying waste to hordes of enemies Musuo-style, until I just couldn't progress any further. As of right now, I can't turn in my quests or start any missions, and I've had this problem since last night. Unfortunately, the review can't wait any longer, and while I'm happy to check back in a few months (maybe when it launches on Steam) and write an update, I can't play the game right now, so I have to move on.
On top of that, there's still quite a bit of Korean in many of the NPCs dialogue, the tool tips, even on the loading screens. Obviously, localizing an MMO is a massive undertaking, but it certainly didn't make me feel like the most care and consideration had been put into this re-release.
A lot of the tutorials and tooltips are very poorly translated, causing quite a bit of confusion throughout the game (based on the constant stream of questions in the global chat). It's a new game, a big game, and people are still figuring it out, but it doesn't help when the tutorials don't make any sense.
You've Waited Long Enough, Though
If you're hell-bent on playing this game, I wish you luck. Matchmaking works, albeit often with long wait times, and that's assuming the button to start mission actually works for you. I think it's nice-looking. I like the classes, the flashy combat, and the big battles. What really dates the game is the overtly sexualized female player character designs and the fact that you can only make your character different shades of white.
Kingdom Under Fire 2 has some really cool ideas, but it would seem there's just too much baggage built up over the years. I want to see this hybrid genre succeed. I would love to play a more refined version of this game, but as it stands, Kingdom Under Fire 2 is too broken to enjoyably play.
A PC review copy of Kingdom Under Fire 2 was provided to TheGamer for this review. Kingdom Under Fire 2 is available now on PC in the Gameforge launcher.