Majesty 2: Battles of Ardania Review
Majesty 2 is a game I’ve praised as being an innovative take on the real-time strategy genre by never being directly in control of units, but rather influencing them by setting quests, or waypoints, and enticing them to carry out your bidding. Majesty 2: Battles of Ardania continues the comical story and keeps the gameplay intact, but hardly expands the game enough to warrant yet another skirmish in the lands of Ardania.
Majesty 2 has a tongue-in-cheek storyline that is always self-aware and presents itself in a comical style that never takes itself seriously. After the former wars end, the King finds himself bored and wishes to start another war, causing him run into a powerful Werewolf-Mage who terrorizes the lands of Ardania and summons hordes of monsters to make things even more complicated.
The indirect control of units which separates Majesty 2 from other RTS games makes a comeback, but by now, it all feels like familiar territory. While the Kingmaker expanded on the original storyline by adding a few new features, Battles of Ardania is just more of the same, without adding any new content besides new multiplayer maps. Constructing guilds will let you employ the likes of archers, warriors, wizards, rogues and clerics, while economic buildings such as marketplaces and blacksmiths will keep a constant income flowing in, allowing you to purchase new spells, upgraded buildings and entice your units to carry out your given missions. Defensive structures provide protection from direct attacks on your town, which in Battles of Ardania happen way more than you can handle.
The difficulty is by far the biggest boon of this expansion. Difficult games should challenge the players but never to the point to where they want to rip all their hair out. Monsters will constantly swarm your town right from the first mission, making sure you don’t survive unless you already know what’s coming. This trial and error gameplay is prevalent through the entire eight mission campaign that will actually last longer than you think, only due to its crazy difficulty spikes.
Adding to the difficulty and to the frustration is the stagnant AI. While I was forgiving of the AI in the original Majesty 2, the fact that they still wander around randomly for the simplest goals, like opening a chest, is inexcusable. You will find your units wander off aimlessly to explore the map, swarmed by enemies, which results in your town being left defenseless. Since even the defensive buildings won’t help you much against a horde of werewolves and black bears bent on complete destruction, your carefully constructed buildings will soon turn to rubble, forcing you to start all over again. By now, the novelty of indirectly controlling units has worn off and has become more of a nuisance.
To call Battles of Ardania an expansion is a large overstatement. From map layouts, units and even music, everything seems to be recycled from the original game and Kingmaker. Only those with nerves of steel should answer the call, because even at a paltry eight missions, this is a grueling gauntlet of tough-as-nails situations. Majesty 2: Battles of Ardania is too much of the same while being way to difficult for players to even enjoy.