E3 2016: Sitting Down With the ‘Kingdom: New Lands’ Expansion

Along the edge of this E3’s IndieCade sat Mr. Thomas van den Berg and the latest expansion for his beautiful game – Kingdom: New Lands. Originally launched to Steam last October, Kingdom is an indie resource management and side-scrolling strategy hybrid. While it initially looks like a side-scrolling pixel art platformer, it only uses that beautiful art style to deliver an pleasant fantasy world. Much of the sprite work and mystical, foggy landscapes have ambiguous origins, so too is the story and plot nearly nonexistent. Needless to say, the essential story bits are implied: there are monsters that attack at night and players take the role of a would-be monarch who builds towns that can stand against and fend off the invaders. Essentially, the idea is to build your Kingdom using limited resources and surviving a hazardous day-night cycle. Players ride majestically as a randomly generated, mounted monarch across a randomly generated land. There is a single resource to spend on defenses: cold hard gold. By spending money on people, different interactable parts of the environment, a base camp, and much more discoverable objects, players can build up a town and tower-defense hybrid, which can then grow into towers and possibly a castle. When night falls on a blood moon, the attacking hordes will bring one or more boss monsters with them. The game is not meant to be easy and this is accommodated for in that the monsters don’t try to kill anyone, they just want the player’s crown. This means that avoiding death is possible if the attacking hordes breach the lines of defense, but only to an minor extent. Spending coin on upgrades and recruitment is an incremental, and preferably planned, process. Some units provide a source of income, while several units require coin to be hired and additional coin for their equipment. A neat thing about the coin pouch, which holds the player’s money, is that it has a limited capacity literally dictated by how many coins can fit in the pouch. If the pouch is full, any additionally collected coin will bounce off the top and fall to the ground.

Kingdom: New Lands Beautiful Environments

Kingdom: New Lands is the name of a free update to the base Kingdom game. Kingdom itself has received many updates and patches since launch bent on improving the game and polishing its presentation. Kingdom is a side-scrolling pixel art game built in Unity Engine. As such, the beautiful pixel art is aided by the power of Unity’s 3D capabilities, specifically lighting, reflections, and shadows. Much of the game achieves a multi-layered and immersive feel thanks to dynamic lighting and reflections provided by the engine. The New Lands expansion adds titular new lands to the game, which players can see by checking the in-game map. Accessing these new lands is part of the expanded length of the game. Now, traveling to new locations is a main and reoccurring objective. Once the player has survived the beginning area long enough to pour money into moving to another area, they can travel to new parts of the land – each randomly generated – to expand their kingdom. Another major addition comes in the form of seasons. These play a huge role in the passing of time. Just as the day-night cycle is fast and relentless, so too is the changing of seasons. For example, when Winter comes, hunter units will have nothing to hunt and will stop providing for the town players have built for the duration of Winter. This cuts off a main source of income. The different seasons have various, logical effects on the game world and the interactable elements within it. Players need to plan accordingly with the time of day, and now time of year.

Kingdom: New Lands Quiet Nights

The New Lands expansion does a great deal in truly expanding the base Kingdom game. In many ways, it more completes it than simply adds onto it. Players who already own Kingdom will be used to the consistent updates building onto the game. But with this latest expansion, there will be a ton of new content for fans to dig their heels into which play an interesting and completely natural role in making the base game better. Thomas van den Berg and his diligent team put a ton of work in an already-shipped game to make it greater in size and content. From an indie developer, this is a sign of greatness. This is how you expand.