E3 2011: White Knight Chronicles II latest impressions

We’d be remiss if we didn’t begin this preview by saying the firstWhite Knight Chronicles (opens in new tab)wasn’t that hot. After years of hype and promise, WKC1 fell on its ass in the avatar creation and MMO aspects, leaving a generic mess of an RPG. We’ve discussed in great length about the changes being made for thesequel (opens in new tab), but we’ve just taken the game for a spin on the E3 show floor and have some quick updates.

We already mentioned how positioning has a much greater importance in battle. Melee and ranged attacks will affect your enemies and party differently depending on tactical placement. Level 5 aimed for a truer MMO experience last time, resulting in attacks landing no matter the placement in battle. It felt a little odd to throw out melee attacks thirty feet away and having them land, so the sequel has rectified that. One cool bit we saw was the ability to draw fire away from your party so enemies don’t gang up on one ally.

Another small tweak to combat that seems to make all the difference is that now you can enter a fight with your battle gauge already filled up. Before you entered a fight and had to wait for your gauge to fill, letting enemies have the first blows. Now, you can enter battles poised to strike and spend more time figuring out the positioning of your avatar for the attacks.

We entered a boss battle where we took hold of Leonard’s White Knight and battled the demented Duke Gigas, who transformed into a terrifying Chimera-like beast that could dual wield swords. It’s important to keep in mind that your avatar can control their own White Knight. We just weren’t able to see that today. Gigas was being buffed by these two crystals, which were sucking the life force from the planet.

We struck at these crystals, while the rest of the team whittled down Gigas’ health. Like before you can issue basic commands to your team. Joe Fletcher – producer on WKC2 – summarized that the command system wasn’t as complex as Final Fantasy XII’s, but did have depth to it. Once the crystals were done, we turned our attention to Gigas until he was felled.

We’re still skeptical towards White Knight Chronicles II. On the one hand, these changes could be enough to propel the game to greater heights. Hell, they’re even including the first game on the disc, complete with the sequel’s changes to alter gameplay for the better. On the other hand… the first game was a complete disappointment. Chronicles II hits later this summer and we’ll bring you the word on whether the final copy can live up to its promises.

Jun 14, 2011

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