Majesty 2 Preview

Years have passed since Majesty graced PC’s with a twist on RTS games that placed the player in control of a kingdom, charged with keeping it’s citizens happy and safe and hiring heroes through guilds to conquer the land.  Majesty took gameplay elements from similar franchises like Dungeon Keeper and Dungeon Maker(recently remade twice over for the PSP) and put the player in the role of the good king instead of the dungeon overlord.  Now, the torch has been passed to Paradox Interactive and 1C and they are reviving the classic gameplay, in 3D fashion,  to hit your PC’s this coming September 11th.

majesty 1Majesty 2 puts you in the role of the last descendant of the great king, a bloodline that has ruled the land of Ardenia for centuries.  Five hundred years after the end of Majesty, monsters have invaded the land once again and the Demonlord has been awakened and it’s up to you to gain control of the land, restore peace and order and insure the continuation of your bloodline by surviving.  Away put your weapon, dirty your hands need not get!  As mighty ruler you are tasked with overseeing the kingdom and hiring heroes to do your bidding instead of stepping into battle yourself.  That may sound boring, no?  I assure you, it’s far from it!  As ruler you must keep your towns safe from invading creatures by building defensive structures, fail and your population will die off or flee and your kingdom will vanish.  Citizens require little maintenance, and will attack or repair structures at will.  Your population will also grow and build dwellings on it’s own, leaving you free to focus your attention elsewhere.  Your main source of protection comes from various types of heroes hired through the guilds that you build.  These heroes come in the vanilla flavors of  Warrior, Mage, Ranger, Rogue and Cleric.  Cleric, being the new addition to the group, these heroes can be dressed up with upgrades, new items, abilities and spells turning those vanilla flavors into the canvas of a child at a restaurant sundae bar.  As I mentioned, the Cleric is a new addition to Ardenia and functions not only as a healer for your peasants and heroes, but as a character with an attack bonus on undead enemies.   As with any good RPG/Sim, be on the lookout for legendary items, obtained only through the accomplishment of certain quests and missions, or the slaying of particular special creatures.  If you are familiar with the first iteration of Majesty, you will know that you have no direct control over you heroes, but rather you pull their strings by placing exploration and attack flags around the map.  As the King, you also have the ability to control the bounty on these flags, so if a task is not being accomplished in a timely fashion, hike up the bounty and watch your heroes flock to accomplish that task.  In addition to these two flags, new flags–protection and fear—can now be placed.  Afraid that the bear’s den will make quick work of your low level heroes before they have a chance to gain more experience?  Drop that Fear flag over the bear’s den and your heroes will avoid it like the plaque.  Does that peasant house or guild near the sewer keep getting attacked by rats?  Drop a flag of Protection on that structure and your heroes will now attempt to protect that structure whenever it comes under attack.   A kingdom cannot thrive without economy, however, so as leader you will also be responsible for making sure you have thriving blacksmiths, markets and trading posts so that your heroes can spend their plunder on your wares and infuse life into your kingdom’s economy.  Be creative enough, and the gold you lay out as a bounty on a creature or goal will fall back into your pockets at your markets and traders.  In addition, you will be able to construct taverns for your heroes to spend their money in, and congregate to form parties.  Yes, my statements on EDG Podcast Episode 28 were ill-informed, and I apologize whole-heartedly for that misinformation.  When a tavern is constructed, you will be able to post a notice inside for the hiring of a party.  Parties will be limited to four characters, YOU will be able to make your choice of any four applicants who respond to your party formation notice, and the newly formed party will now act as one unit—possibly one that gains synergistic abilities that would normally not be available to single units.  For example, faster unit types will boost the speed of slower moving party members, so the party will not be punished for having one or two slow moving members.  Gone is the frustration of not being able to mingle certain characters and races amongst each other, forcing the player to make black and white choices about the heores they choose to favor.  New to the game will be a guaranteed system allowing all races and factions to intermingle, giving you much more endless possibilities in the creation of your parties of heroes.  Heroes will also be upgradeable, either via specific bonuses you may research at their specific guilds or as items available from your markets and blacksmiths—-but all those items come at a price, so pay attention to that economy.  Luckily, that is not the limit of what your heroes may strive for.  At the completion of each mission, you are awarded the choice to choose any hero from that mission to promote to the title of Lord.  This hero will then be available for hire when you are able to build a Hall of Lords within your kingdom, giving you the ability to hire those higher-level Lords of your choosing as opposed to recruiting rookies from your guilds.  Depending on the type of your heroes, they will also have the option to progress in their class as you further your guilds in the game- i.e. a Warrior upgraded to a Paladin or a Cleric to a Priestess.

majesty 3The preview build we were able to sink our teeth into had a fair amount of missions with varying goals from establishing trade routes and protecting areas to vanquishing dragons plaguing the towns.  Early missions walked the player through the various gameplay features, in tutorial fashion, so as not to overwhelm the player from the onset.  Gameplay is fairly simple, carried out by left-clicking to accomplish tasks, assign research, build structures and place flags.  Obvious attention to detail has been paid as you play through the campaign missions—choose a location for a building too close to a tree and it topples as your peasants initiate construction.  Zooming in with the camera via scroll wheel gives the player a close-up look at the action to show off Majesty 2’s new 3D look and feel.  It’s also amazing how much character your heroes take on as your watch them progress and purchase upgrades, eliciting sorrow when any of them falls in battle.  If you are quick enough, a fallen hero can be resurrected, if you have the right spell.  If not, your rougues can loot their grave and snatch the last of their gold (but not weapons or armor, those are saved in case your hero gets resurrected, so they can return with all previous status items and bonuses).  The final build will offer expanded races to choose from, more features, upgrades and buildings to have at your disposal, as well as a promised rich, overarching story to tie together four chapters of progressing missions and boss battles against higher level special monsters.

Don’t let the simple sounding gameplay fool you into thinking this in an easy game, all of these elements provide a rich level of depth to the strategy that Majesty 2 has to offer.  Combine all of this with four player multiplayer via lan or internet, tons of tweaks to the game engine and elements, a gorgeous looking new 3D engine and a vibrant soundtrack and Majesty 2 is shaping up to be one of the best looking strategy titles to hit the PC in 2009.  Raise that mug of mead high and salute Majesty 2, arriving  September 11th, 2009!

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