[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]’m not sure how it happened, but starting a few years ago the concept of survival games came back in vogue. At first, it excited me as someone who really dug games like Disaster Report. However, this breed of “survival” was turning out to be something else entirely. Many of the biggest names like DayZ were outrageous, after all, this one in particular was first based off the immensely complex ARMA engine. A lot also had to do with zombies, but eh, zombies aren’t that great. More recently we’ve seen a whole host of differently-themed survival games launch on PC thanks to Steam Early Access at a breakneck pace.
So, there’s a ton of competition. And yet, the fairly recent launch of Reign of Kings was immediately met with interest and a shockingly large community. I won’t pretend to be a longtime fan who has been following the developer for months or years. I only heard of it when keeping tabs on Early Access releases. Yet, there simply must have been a pre-Steam push to get this title on people’s radars. Why else would it receive so much attention and over 5,000 reviews in the blink of an eye when there’s zillions of other games on Steam right now?
On one hand, it seems to have to do with the style of gameplay presented. There are no zombies, cops, or even really modern tools and technology. Instead, it thrusts players naked and unaware into a medieval setting. It’s definitely fair to say that medieval settings in games aren’t often used to their fullest potential, when they’re even available at all. Life is Feudal currently provides the biggest competitor in the Early Access space, but both appear to provide experiences players have been asking for. Having not played Life is Feudal myself, though, it’s still a bit of a mystery.
Not as if Reign of Kings is something I understand even now. The community is massively vibrant, and in some ways this is fantastic and other times quite a challenge for newbies. The biggest plus of the game in my opinion is that roleplaying is an integral part of the world. The whole point is for someone to become king and then for others to eventually vie for kingship themselves, if and when they decide the one in charge is a joke. It’s very cool to place yourself in the shoes of “just another peasant” and potentially involve yourself in an uprising. Potential for actually ever becoming a king is cool as well, though seems like quite a challenge to even raise to that point for most.
Then there’s the aspect of Reign of Kings which does feel similar to other online games – looters/hackers/trolls. When you’ve got an open online environment you’re free to meet with anyone and sometimes those people won’t be kind. Without joining a band of existing friends you’re likely to find your measly first “home” or goods ransacked with little mercy. That’s just the way things are, and for those who expect otherwise their game experience will likely be very short. Yes, you can find carefully orchestrated roleplay servers, but so many folks enter into games without ever researching.
My best suggestion is to definitely look into the game more before diving right in. Watch some videos, read some community thread posts, and consider asking friends to play with you if they aren’t already. A 4-player pack is available on Steam to help facilitate in this process. You’ll definitely need allies in Reign of Kings because, much like the real medieval period, it’s a game fraught with hardship.
Reign of Kings is the selection for the May 2015 “Not Crowdfunded, But…” series. You can read more Reign of Kings articles here.