NeoCore Games have been around for a fair amount of time. Their most prominent games are most likely The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing 1 and 2. A Diablo style dungeon crawler set in the popular Van Helsing mythos. But their taste for old school European folk tales doesn’t end there. They also just released their brand new turn based tactics game to early access: King Arthur: Knight’s Tale.
After buying the game on a whim I immediately fell in love with its dark setting and punishing gameplay. Lucky for you I thought to myself “Wouldn’t it be neat to talk to these guys? Wait a second! I’m a journalist! (sort of.)” So I reached out to them and managed to secure an email interview with them just for you lucky little so-and-sos. Enjoy!
This isn’t your first game set in Arthurian legend. You’ve also released two games in the wargame genre. What was the decision to move on to a tactics style RPG?
The idea of a tactical turn-based RPG came up first, since we wanted to do one for a while now, the setting for it was decided later. We were thinking about whether to return to Van Helsing, do something entirely new, but at the end we chose the Arthurian myth, since we haven’t been in Avalon for ages, and it felt like a really good choice for this story and genre.
Is this concept a relatively new one or have you wanted to make this specific game for a long time?
We knew we wanted to return to the King Arthur setting at one point, so it was up in the air all the time, but the idea of this specific game came up a few years ago. The genre and the King Arthur myth just seemed like a cool, matching idea.
How does Knight’s Tale connect to the Wargame? Is it a direct sequel? A spin-off? Or something else entirely?
It’s a fresh, entirely new thing. A completely new story in a completely different genre. The only connection is the dark fantasy setting and some mechanics – like the Morality chart – will be familiar for those who played the Wargame series. But if you haven’t played those, there’s no need to worry, you’ll understand everything.
What was the deciding factor when it came to partly funding this game via Kickstarter?
Connecting with the community and involving players in the development was always an important factor for us. We had a funding campaign and an Early Access period for our previous game W40K: Inquisitor as well, this time we simply decided to try Kickstarter as a different method for community building. This, and Steam Early Access turned out to be a great way to connect with folks early on, see how they like certain features, what are their suggestions or their feedback.
Being in the tactics genre there’s inevitably going to be comparisons to other games in the genre. Besides the fantasy setting, what do you think makes your game different from say X-COM or Fire Emblem?
We try to make sure to do a different game with a bunch of features and additions. First, RPG elements will play a much more crucial role in this game, than in other turn-based games. Your level, your gear and your skills will decide how effective you’ll be on the battlefield. I think our experience with action-RPGs comes really handy for this. Second, we’re adding rogue-lite elements here and there to the game, whether it’s a permadeath mode, or the Camelot management system, where players can cure, heal or train heroes in-between battles.
Having played the game a large amount, the best way to describe the difficulty is relentless and unforgiving (Which I love.) Are there plans to make lower forms of difficulty to make the game more accessible?
Glad you like it! Right now you there are two modes in the game, “classic mode” where you can save on the Adventure Map and as you said, an unforgiving “permadeath mode” for hardcore players. For the final version this could change, it is possible that we’ll add more save points or more game modes. We’ll see, but this is one of the reasons we went to Early Access first, to see how players like these game modes and which one fits their playstyles the best.
Death is final in Avalon, so taking care of your knights is key; but with Avalon being the afterlife are there any plans for us to bring our knights back from the dead? Either as weaker versions or even as twisted parodies of their original selves?
There might be ways to bring back dead heroes, sure, except for Sir Mordred. When he dies it’s truly game over, but of course he’s a bit stronger than the other heroes, so it won’t be that easy to lose him. In the final version though, we’ll plan to add more than thirty heroes, so there’ll be room for losing one or two heroes.
The visual design of the game is stunning, what were your influences in creating the dark world and characters of Avalon?
Besides dark fantasy tropes, pagan Celtic and old Saxon symbols were a big influence, as well as the early Medieval European world, its art, architecture, weapons and armors. But some of the armor designs have some late Medieval / early Renaissance elements too. Plus we made sure to feel like you’re in another world – Avalon – and not necessarily in Medieval Europe, by adding a lot of darker, other wordly elements.
Your steam page says that you plan to be in Early Access for 3-7 months. How has the pandemic affected that timeframe?
We’re more or less working from home for a year now, which sounds crazy to even think about it. It of course affected us all, luckily we were prepared to switch to home office mode last March, and it only slowed down the development a bit. The 3-7 months time frame was announced a few months ago, so we’ve already calculated the lockdowns into it. That’s why it’s such a broad time frame, and not, say, 5-6 months, or one particular month.
Your morality system is very unique. Balancing a 4-axis system of Christianity – The Old Faith and Tyrant – Noble. How much will this effect story and gameplay?
It’ll affect the story a lot. You’ll meet different heroes, unlock different global buffs and face different challenges throughout the game, based on these decisions. The endings will be different as well, but the effects of these choices mostly will be felt during your playthrough.
You mention in your Kickstarter that the end is only the beginning and there will be post credit content, so to speak. How long do you expect players to continue on with their current save before starting a new one to experience the other story elements?
We’re still discussing which ideas to implement as endgame content, but we’d like to add tougher missions, unique boss fights and cool loot, and a lot more, once the story is completed. It’ll definitely add many extra hours to the game. We’re looking at this part as something about which you ask how many playthroughs it took you to beat, since by the time you reach the endgame, you might have already lost some of your heroes, making it super challenging even for veterans.
With that in mind, are there any plans for expansions that add to the story after the climax of the campaign or will expansions add more quests to do during Mordred’s quest to find Arthur?
It’s a bit too early to talk about it, we’re fully committed to complete the game right now, before starting the work on DLCs. That said, there are plans for it, and we’d like to support the game after its release with useful additional content, whether it’s new missions, enemy factions, heroes or new items.
King Arthur: Knight’s Tale is available on Steam right now for £27.79 and already has a plethora of features for you to tinker with.