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Q&A

The Kings’ Crusade is created by Neocore Games, the developers of King Arthur: The Role-PlayingWargame  and Crusaders: Thy Kingdom Come. The game invites players to rewrite history through controlling and upgrading leaders and their armies, guiding various historical factions through political events and unlocking new content in a feature-rich campaign set to take on the strategy genre by force.

Q1: What are the main differences between King Arthur and The Kings' Crusade?
A: King Arthur and The Kings' Crusade are totally different games, so it would be hard to explain all the distinctions. It’s easier to define what The Kings’ Crusade is to differentiate the two.  Basically, The Kings’ Crusade is a mission-to-mission RTS with RPG elements, like managing your heroes and units (for example, you can even give each unit different kinds of equipment).
Unlike the plot-driven, but mostly free saga of King Arthur, The Kings' Crusade features two playable campaigns, the Crusader or the Saracens. Players take the role of Richard Lionheart or Saladin, both present in the battles where they also gain experience and grow more powerful. The Kings’ Crusade includes new features such as episodic missions, an individual battle morale system, Factions in the Crusader campaign with related political events, new resources and much more.
In this game players manage their army from the beginning until the end of the campaign, so there’s more stress on unit commanding, unit- and army-level tactics, strategic planning before the battles and military engineering. Unlike King Arthur, The Kings’ Crusade is not a fantasy game. It was our aim to be a lot more realistic by creating an alternative reality and making the dreams of the past come true. There won’t be any magic or spells in this game; we put more stress on the pure tactical challenges this time.
 
Q2: There have been references made between your games and the Total War series, what do you think about that?
A: We are obviously very flattered by the comparison. The Total War games are innovative and true strategy games.  The series received well-earned critical and popular approval; to have some things in common with such games can’t be a disadvantage.
When we started to develop computer games we had an idea of an RPG-strategy mixture where battles are more similar to the ones already seen in the Total War series and differ from other traditional RTS games (e.g. StarCraft).  We wanted to create games where you controlled the soldiers individually – that and the 3D campaign map for the management part might be the reason for the comparisons with Total War. But those games wanted to retell history and our aim, quite on the contrary, was to build a memorable world of legends and mythology (as we did in King Arthur). And now, with The Kings’ Crusade we wanted to give the players the opportunity to rewrite the past. In this game, you will get the chance to capture the Holy City and the Middle East and continue a new crusade that has never been thought possible.
But the setting is not the only difference, of course. There are lots of unique elements in this game that set it apart from the Total War series, like the detailed army management, the episodic missions, the military engineering or the strategic planning before the battles just to name a few – I’ll explain these later.
 
Q3: You have been developing games now for 5 years, what have you learned from previous game production that you have been able to apply in The Kings' Crusade?
A: Our aim is to create games that are appealing to our gamers, so we made some changes after receiving considerable feedback about the overpowered archers in King Arthur. To tell the truth, the core of the problem was rather a design choice than a balance issue: we intentionally planned the archers to be quite strong in the first part of the game where most armies usually have to rely on lightly armoured units. But as soon as we realized that the gamers had other thoughts on the matter, we implemented the changes in The Kings' Crusade.
We also changed our attitude regarding difficulty settings. When on the Easy difficulty level you’ll be able to win the battles even if you don’t spare too much time for tactical actions. But playing on the Very Hard difficulty level demands you to really take advantage of your tactical skills. We also learned to balance the management portion: preventing players from getting into dead-ends in the campaign and providing them goals in which to spend their money on.
 
Q4: What made you choose this particular topic and theme (Richard Lionheart and the Crusades)?
A: We love to explore legendary times in history – the stories about knights and crusades.  We also love toying with the ideas of alternative realities where things could have happened quite differently – like Richard Lionheart taking the Holy City and the entire Middle East.  And of course fans of the Saracen side can also conquer those lands. We like changing history, performing heroic deeds in our games and this theme seemed to be a good choice with such great heroes of the era as Richard Lionheart or Saladin.
In addition, all our concept art, modelling, world building and gameplay ideas suit perfectly to the medieval setting.
 
Q5: What features are you most proud of?
A: First of all, The Kings’ Crusade has a very detailed army management system that is still quite easy to handle. Every unit and hero gains experience in battles. You decide what abilities and skills are improved after each level so you are able to form your units the way you want. Just take two swordsman units – you can make a defensive unit out of the first one, which will protect your archers from enemy attack, and you can turn the other unit into a “killing machine” by training it to deal more damage.  Then just send them forward and let them cut your foes into pieces. Sure they will lose many soldiers, so maybe it’s a good idea to hire a healer for them. This way you’ll get very different units even from the same unit types that require very different tactics in battle. Your heroes can carry relics, equip your units with different weapons and armours and hire healers, priests/imams or captains as well.
 
Another unique feature is what we call military engineering. Some battles are broken up into episodes – these are the episodic missions, where enemy forces regroup after a failed attack and deal with a new threat. You can regroup your forces during the episodes in the same battle mission and employ military engineering techniques. For example, when you capture a territory from a smaller army, but your task doesn’t end because you’ll have to maintain it as well. Nearby enemy forces will arrive to attack you and you’ll find yourself engaged in battle again before you could prepare for another wave. After defeating them you’ll have time for a deep breath and to do some preparations before the main enemy army arrives. If your reports say that the enemy army has many cavalry units, be tricky and wait for them behind stakes. If the enemy is fortified behind high walls, deploy catapults for a siege and break those walls into pieces. You can also deploy traps, like sliding rocks to bury the enemy or set up oil splashes to set on fire when the enemy army passes by. Not to mention, it’s great fun.
 
The active presence of the Crusader Factions provides another unique feature in The Kings’ Crusade – and it’s called strategic planning. During the whole campaign you will have to deal with the four different Factions: The Holy Roman Empire, The French King, The Templars and The Papal Court. Before each battle the various Factions will suggest different strategies for the upcoming fight. As an example: they might tell you to sneak into the enemy camp during the night, involve some fellow Saracen forces against them or simply face them by daylight with many knights on an open field – it’s all up to you to decide. You’ll have to create the best possible army assembly depending on which strategy plan you chose because the different strategies will require different battle tactics and thus very different unit types.
 
Q6: Why should strategy fans get excited about The Kings' Crusade?
A: It’s a great strategy game set in one of the most exciting historical periods. The Kings’ Crusade has huge battles, amazing battlefields, beautiful graphics and very detailed army management. You can upgrade your heroes and units, hire captains and retainers and use the terrain and weather conditions to be more successful in battle. You play through the Third Crusade, also known as the Kings’ Crusade and continue it by taking a somewhat challenging turn until you conquer the whole Middle East. In addition, you can also take back these territories in the Saracen campaign. You can make political and economical decisions, deal with different Factions, fight the most important battles of the age through episodic missions, arrange tactical objects in the pre-combat phases, bribe some enemy forces, pay for a sabotage, poison enemy supplies, spread rumors to lower the enemy morale and influence the outcome of the battles with strategic planning and much more.
Command your army as a talented tactical leader and no one will be able to stand in your way to glorious victory.