KingsRoad beta preview

KingsRoad will not afford you the courtesy of using a space for proper naming conventions, but it will leave your pockets lined with whatever coin you currently have – unless it gets its way. That is to say it’s free to play but with a smattering of microtransactions. Before I go any further, let me explain what Kings Road is; an action RPG not unlike your Torchlights, Diablos and Titan Quests.

Currently in open beta it offers a full campaign of monster stomping, right-clicking, skill using and loot collecting gameplay. It is pretty much everything you’d expect from your typical action RPG. I’d be lying if I said it was an innovator – as it utilises standard content seen in the genre – but it portrays it in ways that makes it more digestible.

Firstly it’s a browser based game so you can take it pretty much anywhere, so long as you have a device that supports flash (alas my tablet did not). It also saves progress on the fly; so if you accidentally quit the tab, you will return to where you left off without loss of progress. It uses a mission structure, so you enter a unique area for each quest; effectively cutting the time you waste traipsing around empty maps between quests like in other games. This was something that appeals to me, as I just want to get on with the fighting most of the time.

Secondly, you have a single character to your account but you can change class after every mission without losing levels, items etc that you’ve previously earned. Admittedly you don’t get access to that straight away but you get it early on enough that you can risk playing a few levels with a class before deciding to choose another. There is only a male character model at the moment despite there being a fair few skin choices for him (though they need to be bought/earned with in-game bought currency), so hopefully a female choice will come in for those that want it.

As for how the game plays, it is a pretty reasonable ARPG; if you’re really into the genre, I’d be hard pressed not to recommend taking a look at least. It does have a few rough edges especially with moving and attacking enemies with ranged weapons, which become more frustrating with line of sights to the enemy that you’re aiming at being blocked by something that you can’t accurately judge the position of. Too frequently for my liking I’ve arched at enemies from positions my character has had to run to; rather than the safe distance I was at when I ordered for him to attack.

It’s also where the skills can fail to be utilised as effectively as necessary, as they are used on chosen enemies even when ground targeted attacks would work better. Granted, it’s more of an issue with cone attacks than area of effect skills but it makes it awkward to hit the right targets with certain skills, especially in close quarters or when a large group of enemies attacks you from varying angles.

Unfortunately since it’s free to play, it utilises microtransactions. So I have to talk about them; which in itself isn’t inherently bad. The scale for gems – the paid-for currency – to its real life cost seems to be reasonable, working out at about 500 for £3/$5. You can also earn gems through playing the game but it looks like you’ll have to sink considerable time into it, before you could realistically buy something significant with what you earn. Over the course of completing the game on normal mode I earned roughly 300 gems, give or take 50 or so. My guesstimate takes into account the fact I’ve spent some gems already or, more precisely, I gambled them away.

See, the game knows that it’s giving you free gems; so to make sure that you don’t hoard them for the big stuff like inventory and bank upgrades or even buying items, it gives you an alternative. Loot chests; normally something that’s welcomed in the genre, will instead tempt you into gambling a small amount of gems for the chance at some reasonable rewards. Rewards that are generally better than the stuff you can normally get but not too powerful that you’ll breeze along without upgrading your equipment within a few levels up.

It leaves a lot to chance and it’s pretty commonplace within the other systems the game uses, like bounty board rewards and forging items. Bounty boards need another currency, earned by way of bog standard missions – or being bought – which give random rewards of varying types but all pretty high quality. Forging require 6 items of the same rarity to be consumed to randomly create one of the next rarity but of course if you don’t have the required number of items you can always fill the remaining slots by way of gems.

Forgive me if the talk of in-game currency is droning on but it is built into the game’s foundations and it flaunts it a little too much at times. Every now and then in the town, it’ll offer you a deal that may or may not be something you’re particularly after. Aside from generally being hefty in price, if you really don’t want it you have to attempt to close it first, before it doubly makes sure you want to close it by asking you if you meant to decline the offer they graced you with. It verges on being a little too persistent with hounding you for money.

For all the missteps it makes with microtransactions, it is still something that offers a fairly decent standard of ARPG gameplay and it does a good job of letting you get through normal difficulty without so much as touching the paid stuff if you don’t want to. You’re expected to tackle the heroic difficulty and upwards with a party, so you won’t really be able to solo from then on without either a lot of patience and levelling or paying your way to better items.

As I mentioned before, it’s a pretty reasonable game and it’s so easy to dive in and out of because of being in a browser. It is also in beta and open beta at that, so if it sounds of interest give it a go here and hopefully they’ll iron out the creases and level out the way that you have to pay for certain comforts.

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Written by Sean P

I enjoy playing games and I enjoy writing things, so I decided to combine the two. I do bits here and there and have a twitter that mainly just announces things I've done as my life revolves around very little that is truly interesting.

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