Majesty 2: Battles of Ardania was released just over six months after Majesty 2: Kingmaker and only a year since of the original Majesty 2, long enough for me to have played loads of games … but soon enough that playing the new expansion Battles of Ardania feels like returning home to see an old friend.
When there is peace in the kingdom, and nothing has happened in a month, any good King would itch for war. And even if not a full scale war, then at least for a skirmish; and if there is no skirmish, then at least it’s time to go hunting.
And if the game is a werewolf, then well – that’s a sure cure for boredom! But what started as a hunt may grow into a skirmish; and a skirmish may yet develop into a full-scale war. Or maybe the Adviser is exaggerating as always and all you’ll have to face is a few minor problems…
But no, deep in the darkness there prowls a mysterious mage-werewolf, who unites hordes of monsters to pose a hairy, scary threat to Ardania. Could it be that some ancient enemy, or his heirs, has returned to reclaim his domain? To overcome this menace, the Great King must draw upon all his skills, all the wisdom of his advisor, as well as the powers of an unexpected ally…
And let me be clear that this is the context for this review: I loved the original game and first expansion, and my review is predicated on knowing and enjoying them. If you haven’t played at least the original Majesty 2 yet, definitely check out the digital download sites, as it has been deeply discounted more than a couple of times in recent months.
Battles of Ardania carries forth from Kingmaker in a fairly typical way for an expansion: the core engine is untouched, new single player campaign at a high level is added, as are some new enemies and multiplayer modes.
The new campaign is called ‘Heirs of the Night’, and after a brief introduction you are tasked with protecting your borders from a fierce mage-werewolf. The campaign consists of eight missions, each with loads of exciting challenges and stuff to do. As before, you are simultaneously building up your core capabilities while also designing ways to get your forces to wade into the heat of battle with the deadliest enemies yet! Because, as before, you cannot simply tell your troops to attack, you need to give them an incentive (i.e. rewards of gold) to get them to engage. Also as before, the game tends to pinch you foff rom your building activities mid-mission with a large wave of furious battles that will really press you just to survive, and frankly you will likely die at least a couple of times per mission as a result.
In terms of multiplayer, while Kingmaker added and tweaked and provided an editor, with Battles of Ardania we already have a huge and robust multiplayer base, so the game adds four new maps. There are a 1 vs 1,a free for all, and most importantly two co-op maps. In co-op mode you work with a friend to accomplish campaign style goals. Considering the game wasn’t originally build for co-op, I was concerned that adding a new mode this late would show weaknesses in the design. Instead it further convinced me of the robustness of the RPG/RTS hybrid engine.
Battles of Ardania also adds new enemies such as the aforementioned werewolves, and also some new weapon sets. Again we are getting a huge campaign, loads of new content, great multiplayer additions – and all for barely more than the cost of most DLC! Majesty 2 is a great game that gets better with each new addition … and I can’t wait for the final Monster Kingdom addition!
Review: Majesty 2: Battles of Ardania
Where to Buy: Amazon.com Digital Download
What I Like: Innovative genre-bending game style works well at high level; Maintains nice light-hearted feel; New high level campaign is very challenging; New multiplayer modes and maps are a great addition; Co-op multiplayer is a great new way to play
What Needs Improvement: New maps for existing modes would have been appreciated.
Source: Personal Copy