The popularity of King’s Bounty: The Legend, especially among the ranks of the Heroes of Might and Magic fans, has shown that turn-based battles are still appreciated when they’re backed up by a decent story and a universe filled with diverse creatures, each with unique spells that in turn lead to plenty of tactics to keep us busy in front of the monitor for hours on end. King’s Bounty: Armored Princess closely follows the lines drawn by its predecessor, with some consistent improvements, but at the same time also retain its two biggest drawbacks.
Just like in The Legend, Armored Princess has two game modes. The adventure one, unlike its counterpart from HoMM, is real-time – exploring islands, battling creatures and solving quests can be done in whatever order you fancy please, the only limitation being the heroes’ level (or heroine, since we’re talking about Princess Amelie now) as well as the acquisition of certain maps which show the way to the various islands in Teana. That’s because Armored Princess doesn’t recycle the areas from Endoria, the world you walked in The Legend, but instead offers a world with new islands, creatures and quests.
To obtain said maps you’ll have to go through some tough battles, but the good news is that the majority can be found in pairs. So if you find the map for Elon and come across a second one, it will automatically transform into a Wanderer’s Scroll, an adventure-mode specific spell which grants important bonuses, like double-xp for the next five victories.
The downtimes have been reduced significantly, because now you have the Fast Travel option, which allows instantaneous travel between the islands (and in what order you want) and which is no longer tied to the main quest, like in the first game. Moreover, Amelie’s horse will get a pair of wings after a certain quest, which will allow it to fly over the mountain ranges (provided the “landing” area is flat) and reach objects that will otherwise be inaccessible to a hero with a “common” horse. The increased flexibility of the exploration side is further strengthened by the fact that opponents that are severely weaker than you will run away, so battling them will be optional.
Therefore, Armored Princess can be played either at an increase pace or slowly, depending on the player’s preference. To further reduce the downtime, I highly recommend you to use the option to write notes on the map. For instance, I wrote down beside the buildings what types of creatures I could recruit, so at any given point I knew where to get specific reinforcements for my army. Also, I was forced to scribble the names for certain NPCs, as the descriptions for some of the quests don’t specify to whom you have to go / get back to for your reward. Another annoyance is the fact that some enemy heroes are linked to the so-called “contract quests”, but you don’t know this until after getting said quest. If you kill these heroes before you get the contract, say bye-bye to the extra experience and money. The good news is that there is a mod available which marks the names of these special heroes.
Regarding the main character, we still have three classes to choose from – the Warrior is based almost exclusively on Rage, the Mage uses Mana for spells, while the Paladin is a mix of the two. Each class evolves differently, both in terms of attributes (Attack, Defense, Intellect) and abilities, with the later being split into three categories as well – Might, Mind and Magic – each one corresponding to one of the classes. That’s not to say that the Warrior can’t have certain Mage abilities.
Most of the skills have been changed, which was brought upon new tactics and gameplay styles. Unlike The Legends, where each level up for the hero granted him points for improving the Attributes, in Armored Princess you will receive a certain amount of Leadership and a few runes, with their type (Might, Mind and Magic) being determined by the class you play. With these runes you can develop skills, although the progression isn’t fully freeform. For instance, in order to get Order of Magic you’ll first have to invest runes in Wisdom and Linguistics.
Besides all these aspects that define a hero, there are two more elements which influence the outcome of a battle. The first is the medal system, a series of Achievements that can offer more Rage or Leadership, increased resistance to damage, better chances for critical hits and so on. Even if at first obtaining them isn’t easy – Grand Strategy, for instance – you really shouldn’t neglect them, especially when playing on a higher difficulty level.
The second element is the presence of a baby dragon as a pet, whose spells can offer extra tactical options during a battle. Moreover, each baby dragon has a specific ability – the yellow one offers +5 to Mana, while the red one will give you +5 Rage. Those who’ve played The Legend will immediately notice that this dragon replaces the Spirits of Rage, but the truly important difference is that in Armored Princess, the chests on the battlefield are now buried, and you’ll need Drago’s help to uncover them.