Initially designed as an expansion for King's Bounty: The Legend, King's Bounty: Armored Princess was ultimately released as a stand-alone game, thanks to the multitude of improvements and new features compared to its predecessor. But despite the addictiveness created by the three classes, the difficulty levels, unit abilities and all the elements that could influence the outcome of a battle, the replay value wasn’t really quite up to par due to the lack of a map editor and no multiplayer.
Coming in as an add-on for Armored Princess, Crossworlds wants to rectify at least one of these problems by featuring a powerful map editor, from which I can only expect much more fun and difficult single-player campaigns than what the producers have offered thus far.
Regarding the changes brought to the original game, Crossworlds comes with some modifications meant to increase the diversity within the Armored Princess campaign. We have new spells, items and quests, as well as a new tower (The Tower of Eventus), where you have to fight all the way to the top, similarly to what you did in The Legend. There are also new skills, while partially changing some of the existing ones (the Alchemist unit has a new ability instead of Holy Flask if there are no demons or undead in the opposing army).
Besides these we have new units as well (Rune Mage, Faun, Pirate Ghost), but most of these are Orc specific (Blood Shaman, Orc Trackers), hence the “Orcs on the March” title for the new campaign. With these changes, the game gets a nice boost in diversity, because now you have more choices regarding the opportunities of picking a fight and the tolerance threshold for losing troops is lower. On the other hand, the difficulty has been increased in some areas, as the new unit abilities can be quite annoying, and the Tower of Eventus is no cakewalk either, not even for veterans.
Barring Orcs on the March, Crossworlds features two independent mini-campaigns which are practically a series of not-so-easy battles. Things get even more challenging in the second half of the campaigns, when the hero goes up several levels and has some artifacts and abilities under the belt. The first mini-campaign, Champion of the Arena, will see you face off against boss monsters (Turtle, Spider, Frog, K'Tahu, Octopus, The Driller, etc) as the mercenary Arthur.
In Defender of the Crown however, princess Amelie, after her victory against Baal, returns home and finds that she needs to complete her training through battles against ordinary units. The innovative element here that substantially increases the difficulty are the particularities of each arena. Some feature small obstacles or even ramparts which protect the opponents. In others, the enemies are stationed near a building that grants them an increased Defense, as well as creating new units. And then there are some middle sections which damage any units passing over them.
Crossworlds is available in three editions: packaged with Armored Princess, as a simple upgrade for AP or accompanied by both previous titles of the series. Some of those who’ve already gone through everything Armored Princess had to offer might argue that the novelties of Orcs on the March are insufficient for a replay. And this is why I recommend a healthy dose of patience, because I’m sure that in the near future we will see fan-made campaigns that will satisfy even the most pretentious fans. As for the multiplayer, that’s where King’s Bounty Online will probably come in.