Blackguards 2 Preview | MOUSE n JOYPAD

Blackguards 2 Preview



Let me begin this preview by saying that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the way Blackguards 2 handles the lore its predecessor set up. The protagonist, Cassia, gets trapped in a dungeon (with her kitten killed brutally) and we, the players, then take control over her in her quest to rule the kingdom, if only for a day. The randomness of this thought is presented in a lovely way, and the notion behind it will become clear if you think about the storyline while playing. Taking a gander at some other previews, I’ve noticed the authors doing their best to spoil the bugger so I’ll show some restraint instead. What I can attest to, however, is that you’ll surely be pleasantly surprised by its inventiveness. Now, onto the stuff I actually can speak about!


It’s nice to see units taking cover in a fantasy RPG. You know, to switch things up a tad bit.

Set into the most popular European tabletop universe – that of the Dark Eye fame, Blackguards 2 serves its players a fistful of tactical hexagrid-based combat and dark, gritty storytelling. Naturally, this is a turn-based strategy/RPG hybrid that works in a fairly interesting, if a tad predictable manner. Whereas most similar games would have you exploring the world in sort of a real-time walk-around-the-world-freely manner, Blackguards 2 is all about the hexes. Assuming command over Cassia and her unrelenting forces consisting of a bunch of brand new mercs and all of the ‘old’ Blackguards, you’ll be moving them around arenas in a very classical manner. That is to say, if you’ve played any hex-based RPG in the last decade or so, you’re good. There are several twists to the winning formulae, however. In comparison to the first Blackguards, this game offers you the option to set up formations and for your units to take cover. While the combat did remain virtually the same, certain spells got revamped and the whole thing acts somewhat nicer. Primarily due to normal attacks only rarely missing their target now, and with the spells’ casting being unable to fail. While this might sound like it would make the game overly easy, that isn’t the case. The attacks themselves are powerful while not being overpowered, and while you certainly will die here and there, the difficulty curve seems just about right, even at this relatively early stage of the game’s development. This newfound balance is existent partially thanks to the newly implemented ‘endurance’ system that prevents the ability-spam that the original game quickly turned into.


When spells are cast, expect lots of shininess.

Setting the fighting aside, however, the game does have numerous interestingly interactive sequences where Cassia talks with people in a classic point ‘n’ click fashion to extract information out of them. While there are several types of these ‘conversations’, I found the interrogations to be the most fascinating due to the amount of necessary player interaction needed to succeed. You’ll have to use all the information you’ve got at your disposal to gain leverage, but it would be a shame to ruin such a nicey built system for you guys, so I’ll leave the matter open for the time being, same as I did with the storyline. On Cassia’s quest for the throne you’ll have to conquer a bunch of areas to progress the main quest and gain access to a bunch of secondary ones along the way. In a well-thought out twist, the areas you’ve “liberated” can be contested by the current ruler’s forces and you’ll have to defend these maps accordingly. In this mode, you’ll be able to set traps, hinder the enemy’ movements and perform all kinds of subterfuge too. It’s a nice change of pace for your usual pillaging, so it’s all fine and dandy.

While not an overly beautiful game, Blackguards 2 does look nice. With its greenish undertones and lots of dark places, it’s a haunting universe filled with all kinds of dangers for you to unravel. Most levels have a unique thing or two about them, so expect to be looking at a bunch of intricately designed and nicely rendered backgrounds while moving on all kinds of different hex layouts. The animations are improved over the series’ last iteration too, and there is a fair amount of eye-candy to be found here. The current preview build does have a few issues with performance though, as my FPS dipped to low twenties in some levels. Still, these bugs are sure to be ironed out before the release, which is currently slated to be on the 20th of January next year.

I can safely summarize that Blackguards 2 is an improvement of what already was a good game. With a bigger focus on storyline and characters, we’re looking to get a dark, down-to-earth fantasy story where the main character is a morally ambiguous person at the best of times. Not to mention her strangely impulsive wish to rule the country (think about that when you get to play the game). Perfectly in vein with the rest of the Dark Eye digital offerings, expect lots of grim choices to be made and lots of blood to be spilled in the classical turn-based RPG fashion with the gears of tabletop gaming doing the math below the surface.