Blackguards 2 (PC) Second Opinion Review

By Eric Ace 24.01.2015

Review for Blackguards 2 on PC

Blackguards 2 is a new release in the Strategy RPG genre from Daedalic Entertainment that explores the question of near-evil main characters as they attempt to take over the land. The game allows the player to customise their character very deeply, and characterisation is okay, with the major negative of the game being the horrendous pacing. Following Cubed3's initial review, it is time for a second opinion in this C3-2-1: Cubed3, 2 reviewers, 1 game…

Blackguards 2 feels like an old-school RPG through and through. It derives many of its system from old Western RPGs and feels like a mix of Ultima, Dungeons and Dragons and maybe even a little of Fallout. The characters are near complete blank slates in combat and can be trained up as seen fit. The game takes place by slowly introducing a major character at a time through the pattern of story>combat>story and repeat.

Combat occurs on a hex field with fairly standard Strategy RPG rules: on each turn, the fastest characters go first, followed by the slower ones. On a single character's turn, they can either move and attack, or move further. Generally, the options for attack are simply 'attack' or use a spell of some sort. The mission objectives are often kill everything, but can be varied, like escaping from a pursuing party.

Screenshot for Blackguards 2 on PC

The story follows a woman named Cassia who starts the game in a dungeon and slowly becomes somewhat insane. This is an interesting way to start a game, as it throws gamers into the middle of a narrative and the sense of discovery is both forward and rear facing. Playing as someone that is quite mad, and is in it just for herself, is a novel beginning, yet the problem is, much like the combat system, the story goes nowhere fast.

Now, here is why it is interesting. All the ingredients are there for an intriguing story: a borderline insane main character, the first characters recruited being slaves, lecherous, greedy, and so on, but despite this, nothing ever really comes to life much. Their fights are dictated solely by those in control, so they generally fade into a cookie-cutter styling as only certain builds are viable, and despite their different personalities it never really comes through as memorable at all.

The story is also secondary, as the majority of the in-game time is spent in battle. Beforehand, experience can be spent as desired, and the options in this regard are very many - almost overwhelming. There are a few 'areas' to focus on here: first, experience can be spent on weapon proficiency, which slowly raises hit and dodge bonuses; there is a passive perk area that gives things like the ability to see enemy stats; a huge spell section; a smaller physical attack selection; and last are statistical boosts. Together, this is a huge choice, with there being probably over 100+ items to spend points on.

Screenshot for Blackguards 2 on PC

Despite the choice, though, it becomes problematic in that there are only a few good choices. Furthermore, there is no room for error, as once committed to a path, it is simply too costly to try and cross train, and without staying on a single path, the characters will be far worse off. For example, there are nine weapon types, and each single proficiency point takes 15 experience points. On average, a mission will give 100-500 points and the character has to get to Level 50 proficiency before any real bonus can be obtained, at which point each then costs 30 experience points. Needless to say, this scales in cost very quickly, and it's best to just stay with axes or whatever the first choice was as there is no real going back.

The problems manifest themselves on the battlefield. Between battle difficulty swinging wildly, there are skirmishes that despite perfect planning are still barely won, and then the next battle will be a complete stomp and be over so fast as to leave the player wondering if they missed something. There are often 20 or more units on a battlefield and they move unbearably slowly. The camera will pan to a character, they will move a bit, then pan to the next, and so on. The battle system is actually okay, but the pace is a killer. It takes far, far too long for what is simply a few characters taking one attack each. There is no speed adjusting feature or skip option either. It is really hard to stress just how bad the combat pacing is; any tension or fun is completely removed simply because it takes a minute or more watching units plod across the map.

Screenshot for Blackguards 2 on PC

Spells and mages in general are completely over-powered beyond the point of imbalance. In a typical game, mages may perhaps be slower, or have less hit points, or take longer to charge. Not here, though. Movement is slow across the battlefield, so a mage can often get one or two hits before a melee can close, and in that time they are often dead. Even when they close, mages do not have meaningfully less hit points, and strangely can do almost as much melee damage.

The sad thing is, despite there being a few melee moves, they don't amount to much. There are a lot of things that attempt to be status effects, like a reduced damage hit that lowers enemy accuracy, yet rarely does this matter as the general strategy is to simply mob characters. Magic is similarly useless in most regards. There are a lot of spells and most of them do not matter, and various status effects. To give an example, a choice might be something that lowers movement or a straight damage-related spell that does huge AOE hits. Everything costs the same, and magic does so much that numerous single-target or AOE spells will instantly kill multiple enemies that melee characters will have to hit five times or more to kill. The non-engaging story, the horrendously slow combat, and the broken power of spells are mar what would otherwise have been a good game.

Screenshot for Blackguards 2 on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 5 out of 10


Blackguards 2 is a Strategy RPG that has some good potential. It starts with some dark anti-heroes, and there are a lot of options to customise characters…but most never matter. As the game wears on, it simply becomes more of a grind-fest than actual fun, the story and characters never take off, and the battle system is exploitable and unbalanced. The part that really breaks it, though, is how slow the battles are; everything just occurs far, far too slowly to be enjoyable, as a majority of the time is spent watching enemies waddle across the board.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


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