NeoCore Games have, slowly and steadily, built up a solid reputation as developers of some great action RPGs, but with their next game, King Arthur: Knight’s Tale, they’re going in a different direction, with turn-based tactical battles, and a ton of other ambitious ideas to boot. Based on the reception to its early access launch, the game is clearly doing something right, and with its focus on morality, atmosphere, choice-driven storytelling, and classic RPG mechanics, it’s hard not to be excited about the game. We recently got the chance to shoot across some of our questions about it to its developers, and learned quite a bit in the process. You can read our conversation with NeoCore Games PR manager Gergo Vas below.
"We plan to be in Early Access a few months, let’s say 3-7 months, but of course it can change a tiny bit. We’ll see. We don’t have an exact release date yet; it will all depend on how the development goes and what players would like to see in the game."
Congratulations on your recent early access launch! How has early reception to the game been from those who have been playing it?
Thanks! People seem to like the Early Access so far, and the reception is pretty good. We constantly check feedback and bug reports and we are tremendously grateful for players sending it our way. It’s also a really great way to connect with our playerbase and check which features they liked the most.
What are your big picture plans for King Arthur: Knight’s Tale’s early access period? How long are you expecting the game to be in early access before its full launch?
We plan to be in Early Access a few months, let’s say 3-7 months, but of course it can change a tiny bit. We’ll see. We don’t have an exact release date yet; it will all depend on how the development goes and what players would like to see in the game.
What can players expect from the game in terms of content updates and fixes and their frequency during its early access period?
We’ll release regular updates to the game during this period. These updates will come more or less on a monthly basis and will include new content as well as balance and gameplay changes.
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale’s blend of classic RPG mechanics and turn-based tactical combats is an interesting choice. Can you talk about how the game harmonizes those two elements, and why you went with this particular combat system for this game?
We wanted to do something different within this genre, and mixing turn-based tactics with RPGs and even with rouge-lite elements seemed like a good idea. Adding RPG elements was obvious from the start, since our previous games were action-RPGs, so why not use the things we learnt making those games. We think that adding random loot, classic character sheets with skills and levels will make pre-planning missions a lot more fun and complex. We decided to do a turn-based game simply because we love this genre and because after numerous action-RPGs we wanted to do something different – but of course, this doesn’t mean we won’t make action-RPGs in the future.
"We wanted to do something different within this genre, and mixing turn-based tactics with RPGs and even with rouge-lite elements seemed like a good idea."
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale has a lot of moving parts, but one that seems particularly interesting is how the heroes players gather along the journey are not just gameplay units, but also have their unique personalities and wavering loyalties that are decided by the player’s actions. How complex is this side of the game? Can you go into how different actions of different scale can affect which heroes are or aren’t loyal to players, and what kind of an impact that can have on how the story progresses?
Your decisions will have a pretty big impact on the story. These decisions decide who you can recruit and what passive bonuses you’ll receive through your decrees, as well as setting your own Morality, which will affect your relationship – and the overall story progression – with heroes of your Round table. The heroes may no longer be loyal to you – because let’s say you went with a Morality path that’s the complete opposite of theirs – could even turn against you.
Rebuilding Camelot seems to be an important part of the experience. How does that translate in terms of gameplay mechanics? Is it something that will be tied to direct player actions, or is it more story-related?
Camelot will of course play a crucial role in the story, but I’d say it’s more like a crucial gameplay element players need to explore. Which building upgrade to build first, which buffs to use, and so on. It’ll accompany players throughout the story campaign, with seven buildings and five upgrades related to each.
Morality is something that quite a few games have moved away from in recent years, owing to how binary it tends to be. How does King Arthur: Knight’s Tale approach morality mechanics in light of that?
We’re adding another layer to the binary – two axes will allow players to move into four different directions and their combinations. This will grant more replayability with unique characters and bonuses only available in specific directions. On the other hand, Morality and also the loyalty of each hero opens up a whole new dimension in Knight’s Tale. Certain heroes would leave you and turn against you if you make really extreme choices.
How meaty can players expect the engdame content to be?
We’re still debating in-house how challenging the endgame should be, but we definitely want to expand things after the story is completed. We plan to add random missions and boss fights for sure, so it’ll definitely add some extra hours to the game. But starting a new game and go on a different Morality path with a different hero setup will be an option too.
How radically can the story branch based on players actions and the morality mechanics?
Depends on your chosen heroes, but story missions will be fixed, not randomised. Some side activities will be selected from a pool each playthrough, so there’ll be some randomness to it. And the endings will be different, depending on your Morality choices – there are four main paths – and your hero setup.
"We’re still debating in-house how challenging the endgame should be, but we definitely want to expand things after the story is completed. We plan to add random missions and boss fights for sure, so it’ll definitely add some extra hours to the game."
Following its eventual 1.0 launch, how long will an average playthrough of King Arthur: Knight’s Tale be?
It’s a bit early to speculate on that I think and say X or Y hours, but to see the scope of things, while the launch version of the Early Access had two story missions and a few more side missions, the final build is planned to have at least twenty story missions, boss fights, and overall, around fifty points of interests. Plus, the endgame content.
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is confirmed to be coming to PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, but do you have any plans for Switch or last-gen versions as well?
Never say never, but we don’t have plans for other console versions right now. We’re focusing on the PC version at the moment, and the console versions after that. Neocore grew in size lately, but we’re still a relatively small / mid-sized indie studio, so making four or five different console versions at the same time would be a bit insane.
Since the reveal of the PS5 and Xbox Series X’s specs, a lot of comparisons have been made between the clock speeds of the two consoles’ GPUs, with the PS5 at 10.28 TFLOPS and the Xbox Series X at 12 TFLOPS- but how much of an impact on development do you think that difference will have?
Too early to tell honestly, since our focus is on the PC version right now. Our console versions are coming after the final PC version is out – similar how we went with our previous titles – so maybe let’s return to this question in a few months. But we definitely want to use both consoles’ full potential.
The PS5 features an incredibly fast SSD with 5.5GB/s raw read bandwidth. This is faster than anything that is available out there. How can developers take advantage of this? How does this compare to Series X’s 2.4GB/s raw read bandwidth?
Again, it’s too early to do comparisons, but we’ll be on it to make out most of it from both consoles. As developers I think our job is to do that, and it’s up to the players to do the comparisons. I’m sure though devs as well as players are happy overall with SSDs and faster load times.
The Xbox Series S features lesser hardware compared to Xbox Series and Microsoft is pushing it as a 1440p/60fps console. Do you think it will be hold up for the graphically intensive next-gen games?
We’ll make sure King Arthur: Knight’s Tale will be great on XSS and XSX too, and we’ll work on that players would have the same experience.
"Never say never, but we don’t have plans for other console versions right now."
What resolution and frame rate is the game targeting to run on PS5, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S? Furthermore, will the game have multiple graphical modes?
It’s too early to confirm any of these. If multiple graphical modes would make sense or players would request it, we’d add it for sure.