A Closer Look at King’s Bounty for Facebook, by Russia’s Nival

Russian developer Nival announced plans to introduce the long-running King’s Bounty turn-based strategy series to Facebook back in May. The game, King’s Bounty: Legions, goes into closed beta today.

The game features many of the core elements from previous titles in the franchise. Players control an army built from individual units with unique combat and defense statistics. As the player wins battles, they gain experience points and more unit types become available at higher levels. The player is also able to explore more of the map to encounter new enemies at a higher level. The key difference in the Facebook iteration is player versus player mode, a series first.

In a private demo shown to press representatives, Nival North America General Manger David D Christensen walked us through a player versus environment battle and through a player versus player match. At launch, King’s Bounty: Legions will offer players 32 units, five fighting classes, three playable factions, and three unit types (the standard Mortal, Immortal, and Legendary). Players construct their armies based on units’ abilities like ranged combat, healing, or melee attack. A weight stat on units impacts how many of which unit type a player can have in an army at one time. An additional combat element comes from spell scrolls, which the player can earn or purchase to use in both PvP and PvE battles.

Gameplay is restricted by a Stamina (read “energy”) gauge that only allows players to move through the world map a certain number of spaces or fight a certain number of battles per day. Each battle is intended to be fought in under 20 minutes; if a player remains inactive during their turn for a certain amount of time, the game declares them a forfeit. The PvP mode is purely opt-in, but players can earn extra Stamina by winning PvP matches. Interestingly, Nival practices matchmaking, where players are matched only against other players within a certain range of their levels, which is something not many other Facebook strategy and combat games have done.

The battles themselves are turn-based with players moving their units from one side of a grid laid out in hexagons to another. Certain units have an advantage over other units in a rock-paper-scissors sort of calculation, which the game communicates to players both with a “cheat sheet” icon showing who beats what and an attack icon that glows when moused over a unit vulnerable to the player’s attacking unit.

At launch, there are no stat bonuses for positioning units adjacent to one another on the grid, as is sometimes the case in similar strategy games, but it pays to keep units out of range of any neighboring enemy units to minimize the amount of attack time the enemy gets during their turn. Some units can both move an attack within a single turn based on their stats while others can only manage one or the other. Combat ends when all units on a side are defeated.

King’s Bounty: Legions is monetized through the sale of soft currency, gold, and through Facebook Credits, which functions as the game’s premium currency. Players can buy gameplay advantages such as shields, stamina boosts, and licenses — which reveal tactical information about an enemy outside of combat. The licenses will likely be a key monetizing factor as players must judge whether or not to engage an enemy that could contain unit types to which the player’s units are especially vulnerable.

During closed beta, Nival plans to stress test the PvP feature by adding new players to the system. Once stable, the developer will release it into open beta and begin to add new features based on user feedback. One planned update for the distant future is unlocking a fourth faction to players; the current set up has this fourth faction as a non-playable entity only encountered at higher levels. Additionally, the developer is considering releasing versions of the game to iOS and Android as King’s Bounty: Legions is built in the Unity 3D engine.