Blackguards 2 - Playstation 4
Blackguards 2 is a turn-based tactical role-playing game that takes place three years after the original. Cassia of Tenos was the consort of Marwan, the First Kyrios of Mengbilla, until one day she was snatched from her bed and thrown to rot in the catacombs beneath the capital's arena. Frightened and clueless as to why she is deprived of her freedom, she soon finds out that the underground is a dangerous place, inhabited by venomous spiders and who knows what other manner of creatures. Her only companion is "The Good Ruler", a book on governing, which after countless reads has triggered a spark inside Cassia--she decided that she wants to rule, to see everyone bow before her, even if it's just for one day.
The game is based on the pen-and-paper role-playing game The Dark Eye, and borrows a lot of mechanics and the setting from it. The player joins Cassia as she escapes from her prison and tries to conquer the Emirate of Mengbilla. The game is almost identical to the original Blackguards in terms of graphics and gameplay. Even more, all the main heroes besides Cassia are the player's companions in the first title. However, there are significant changes to the skill tree and level progression since the base values can't be upgraded, instead the focus turns to a wide array of special abilities, and a four-tier system for weapon talents, talents and spells. While weapon talents can be increased point by point from 0 to 100, the effects improve only when a certain threshold is reached (the next tier). On the other hand, simple talents and spells can be upgraded only four times, from tier 1 to tier 4. Travelling on the world map is now less about exploration and solving quests, and more about conquering different towns and points of interest. The world map plays as a sort of Risk-like board game, in which Cassia needs to take over these settlements one by one until the entire emirate is under her control. Conquering a specific location will give the player certain bonuses and possibly new types of mercenary units. After a few victories, the enemy will launch a counterattack which, if not defeated, will lead to losing the location and all of its attached bonuses. If the main heroes are not in the region, most of these side battles will be fought by bands of mercenaries which, depending on what parts of the world map were conquered, can include swordfighters, spearmen, archers, as well as an assassin, a mage and a black ogre. Their skill increases if specific locations with bonuses are under the player's control.
The battles that take place on hex maps remain the core of the game. They are usually triggered via the world map, however there are some tied directly to the story as well. In all hex battles the player can employ different tactics using the heroes' individual abilities, spells and the surroundings, including traps, difficult terrain and wildlife. When defending a territory there is an initial phase where different traps, obstacles and barrels of oil can be placed around in strategic places in order to slow down the enemy's advance. While Cassia and her three companions are the main heroes during the entirety of the game, the player has the option of using a couple of mercenaries to fight alongside them in most battles. As mentioned before, defensive battles are usually fought by mercenaries only. Every participant in combat receive an initiative that determines when their turn comes during a round. When it's their time to act they can perform either a long move, a short move plus an action, or just an action. Among possible actions are doing a melee attack, a ranged attack, drinking a potion, casting a spell, applying poison to a weapon or interacting with an object on the field. Winning a battle rewards the player with adventure points (AP) and loot. The former can be used later to improve the individual stats of Cassia and her three companions.
Between fights the party can travel to any of the towns under their control or set up camp in the wild. The towns are a good source of information and rare items. Basic equipment can be found in the camp as well, along with Garalor and Galderan, whose knowledge only allows the player to learn specific maneuvers or abilities. During these digressions, Cassia can talk to other characters to learn something about their past or improve the bond between them. To the back of the camp there's an area with cages where prisoners are held and can be interrogated using multiple dialogue options. The outcome of such interrogations as well as other decisions the player has to take may change how certain battles play out and how people will view Cassia as she takes over the emirate.
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