Development hell is a place that Kingdom Under Fire 2 knows all too well. The latest game in the series spent quite some time in uncertainty, and many years and several millions later, it is finally available in the west. German publisher Gameforge snagged the rights for the PC version and it’s a good thing that it did, because this unusual MMORPG and RTS hybrid deserves your attention.

Unlike other territories’ releases, Kingdom Under Fire 2 isn’t free-to-play in North America and Europe. This choice follows on other Asian games such as Black Desert Online and Bless Online, two MMOs with radically opposite receptions. It’s too early to speculate on where Kingdom Under Fire 2 is going to fit, but it is likely going to sit somewhere in the middle of those two titles. It’s a good game with original mechanics and fast-paced action combat, but some of the cracks are starting to show due to the long development time. It could also use some additional polish to avoid the pitfalls of mediocre voice acting and rough translation.

Kingdom Under Fire 2 Review Accolade City Ranger

The Magnificent Five | Kingdom Under Fire 2 Review

You’d be forgiven to think that this is a generic fantasy MMORPG, based on a quick glance at the character selection screen. The measly five classes in Kingdom Under Fire 2 cover most of your MMO needs, although the gender lock isn’t going to please the masses.

The elf Ranger excels in mobility and swiftly alternates between her bow and deadly daggers, while the Gunslinger is a versatile class that uses both a sword and a pistol. The Elementalist is the wizard class and her ideal role is support. The Berserker is the tank, the hulking behemoth that you should go for in case you want to crush the opposing hordes and leave nothing but a trail of dead behind you. The Spellsword is the most balanced class of the group, dealing ranged damage with her wand while using her sword for melee combat.

The character creation system is verging on greatness, but for some reason there is no way to customize the body. Nonetheless, face customization is extremely deep, with sliders for everything that you can think of. As for the body, you have to make do with what you are given and rely on the admittedly cool outfits to change your overall appearance. Being a premium game, you won’t be stuck with the same clothes for a long period; through events and quests, you earn new attires for your class and others, in case you want to play with some alts as well, and the shop has several other garments that you can purchase with in-game currency. After a few dozen hours, your wardrobe will include enough outfits for you not to get bored of the same old look.

Kingdom Under Fire 2 Review Ranger Attack

While Kingdom Under Fire 2 tries to start on your typical high note, with a tutorial set amidst a huge battle where realm-changing events unfold, early game is somewhat tame. The story takes a while to get going, and you just go with the flow until things finally start to pick up. This isn’t your traditional MMO where you climb to level 20 in 30 minutes with minimal interaction; it will take you several hours to achieve that goal. The fun begins when you reach the remarkable city of Accolade, a sprawling medieval fortress with a neighboring community comprised of more dwellers, creatures, and quests than you can shake a stick at.

Kingdom Under Fire 2’s core MMORPG mechanics don’t bring anything new to the table, but the core gameplay loop is effective. You may find some of the fetch quests to be boring, but these will push you to gradually explore the world, discover new locations, and unlock the crucial battle and climax missions that drive the story forward.

The big selling point of Kingdom Under Fire 2 is the mix of Dynasty Warriors and Total War gameplay. As action MMORPG and RTS collide, the outcome is a unique clash of genres that has very few competitors to speak of. Apart from the PvP-centric Conqueror’s Blade, I can’t recall any other MMO that places you in the shoes of an army captain, slicing and dicing through hundreds of enemies as you order your troops around in the nick of time. It’s a complex melting pot that takes some getting used to, and truly shines when you participate in large-scale battles, although there are some niggling issues prevent it from achieving excellence.

Kingdom Under Fire 2 Review Battle Chaos

You’re in the Army Now | Kingdom Under Fire 2 Review

As a hack and slash game, Kingdom Under Fire 2 doesn’t stray too far from the tried-and-tested templates of the genre. With a rich legacy to draw inspiration from, it pits you, a creature of extraordinary powers against initially mundane foes, but soon you’ll meet other rivals of great resilience. The way that you slice through the opposing forces is rewarding, with immensely enjoyable and sharp blade sounds to give consistency to the slashes. You may feel some detachment from the action after a few hours of combat, as repetitiveness starts to sink in, but by this time you should participate in a group mission to keep things fresh and exciting.

In these missions, you can go solo or venture with up to three other players. Each captain brings their own armies, whose number steadily rises as you climb levels and unlock additional army slots. A balance between melee soldiers (such as crusaders) with long-range units (let’s say bowmen) is crucial to keep most foes under a tight leash, especially those pesky gigantic scorpions. A great tactical display is required to keep your troops steadily marching forward, as your character cuts through the most menacing opposing forces to clear the road ahead.

You have a significant diversity of armies to stand by your side, making the choice a difficult one. The more battles they fight, the more proficient they become at it, thus having a couple of favorites is a strategy that you shouldn’t ignore. Armies can level up and rank up, with quest and battle rewards increasing their abilities.

Seamlessly switching between action and strategy modes is a great thing, although not everything is flawless in the strategy aspect. Due to a map design showcasing some narrow locations – or at least, narrower than they should be for hundreds of simultaneous units to happily brawl –, sometimes the top-down camera doesn’t give you the appropriate perspective of the battlefield. The scenery obscures your view despite your best efforts rotating and zooming, as you fiddle with the camera trying to find an angle that allows you to make sense of it all. Needless to say, a few seconds may be crucial to the outcome of the battle. In wider maps, this issue doesn’t arise and you’re free to employ your top military skills, immersing yourself in thrilling warfare that has little to no comparison in video games.

Kingdom Under Fire 2 Review Strategy

Gameplay: 8/10

There are very few gaming experiences as delightful as taking on hordes of enemies single-handedly, cutting them like a hot knife through butter. Kingdom Under Fire 2 knows that, and it performs well despite displaying hundreds of characters simultaneously on screen. Your character unlocks new skills as he levels up, and all the classes bring this dual-weapon system that grants you different approaches to combat.

The strategy side can be a bit confusing to begin with, as there is a fair number of shortcuts and tactics to learn, along with army skills to use. It doesn’t quite work in tighter maps, where some armies are pretty much useless, but that can be attributed to your strategy, or lack thereof. When it comes to the larger battles in open fields, it’s a chaotic ballet of death where you may sometimes feel like you’re getting nowhere, but slice after slice and arrow after arrow, victory is getting nearer.

Finally, the RPG elements are commonplace, correctly designed but not in an outstanding way. There is a lot of running and backtracking involved – thankfully you have teleportation crystals, but these aren’t a perfect solution as they bound you to a region – and some of the quests may get on your nerves. After all, what’s up with all these guys standing five feet apart asking you to act as the middleman? Use your mouth and you should be able to communicate just fine without outside intervention. Silly is as silly does.

The UI is also showing its age, feeling a bit dated and clunky. This is obviously down to the long development time, and while it isn’t a deal breaker, it is far from what players expect nowadays.

Kingdom Under Fire 2 Review Water Horse Mount

Innovation: 9/10

Kingdom Under Fire 2 remains as innovative in 2019 as it was in 2011, when it entered closed beta in South Korea. Its daring mix of genres isn’t easy to pull off and may be considered somewhat niche, so there’s quite a risk in developing such a game. As an MMO, the risk increases tenfold, and the developers should be praised for their bravado.

Multiplayer: 8/10

This is a true MMO, which means that you’ll find plenty of adventurers scouring the lands, roaming in eccentric mounts that will make you envious, and fighting mobs right next to you. You can create parties to tackle the main missions, with some epic battles ahead. There is a PvP Colosseum and large-scale battles, but it will take you dozens of hours to unlock these modes.

Graphics / Sound: 7.5/10

Kingdom Under Fire 2 is in development for a decade and despite some graphical enhancements along the way, its age shows. Some environments are a bit crude, with outdated vegetation and textures, and everyone but the playable classes and main story characters are just acceptable. There are some nice touches and the classes can be stunning to look at, as well as some of the mounts – the water horse is a majestic creation.

Locations range from average to impressive. Accolade City looks amazing and it’s regretful that you can’t explore every nook and cranny, climb every tower that you see from afar. There is an accomplished medieval fantasy style pervading the entire game that, albeit cliché, is somewhat pleasant. Massive scorpions and ogres can be impressive both to look at and to take down.

The soundtrack offers an unlikely mix of calm medieval tunes during exploration, a significant contrast with the hard-hitting rock music that plays during the battles. This combination works, aided by the hectic sounds of explosions, screams of agony, and the excited war cries coming from your armies. On the other hand, voice acting is mostly mediocre and unconvincing, bolstered by some translation errors or a few rare issues of Korean text still showing up.

Kingdom Under Fire 2 Review Co-op Mission

Value for Money: 7/10

To accurately evaluate the worth of Kingdom Under Fire 2, we must skip past the fact that it was originally a free-to-play game. There is no denying that you’ll get your money’s worth, despite some boring quests, but I didn’t notice any sort of predatory microtransactions or felt the need to browse the in-game store for a quick boost. Besides, you can get a reasonable number of cool costumes without spending any money, something that is pretty much off-limits in most free-to-play games.

Overall: 7.5/10

We had almost given up hope in Kingdom Under Fire 2, but we’re glad to see it reaching North America and Europe. The long years of wait have somewhat lessened its impact, but it remains an ambitious and unique undertaking. Fueled by solid combat and ingenious strategy elements, these two genres mesh to create a compelling monster that is slightly brought down by incessant fetch quests and a slightly dated UI. Nevertheless, there is no MMORPG quite like Kingdom Under Fire 2, and that is a great compliment.


  • Great combat system

  • Compelling action/RTS hybrid

  • Not pay-to-win

  • A challenging but tolerable grind

  • Chaotic sounds of fantasy warfare


  • Dated and clunky UI

  • Repetitive quests

  • Mediocre voice acting