If you haven't yet heard of King Arthur's Gold, I'll forgive you; I only heard of it this weekend through a friend.
However, having taken a bit of time to look over what the game's all about, let's just say that I am now very much of the opinion that this is a title a lot of you may well want to keep a close eye on -- particularly now it's entered the beta stage of development and is getting closer to being finished. Or as "finished" as this sort of ongoing project gets these days, anyway.
For the uninitiated, King Arthur's Gold describes itself as a "2D cooperative war game played with up to 32 players." You can take on the role of one of three different character classes -- a Knight, an Archer or a Builder -- and explore a large pixel-art world in order to create your own fortresses and destroy those belonging to your enemies. The game purports to "blend the creative aspects of Minecraft, the medieval strategy of Age of Empires 2 [and the] fast class-based team-driven gameplay of Team Fortress 2."
King Arthur's Gold is the work of Transhuman Design, an independent Polish developer led by Michał Marcinkowski, creator of shareware multiplayer shooter Soldat -- a game that has been around since 2002 and which is still going strong today thanks to the ongoing effort of its community.
The new game was originally intended to be "Soldat with swords and castles," with deliberately retro pixel art and console-style gameplay. King Arthur's Gold's mission is to create a satisfying multiplayer cooperative experience without reliance on scripted sequences, instead focusing on the emergent narratives that come about any time a group of real people are brought together into this sort of sandbox.
Though King Arthur's Gold may look retro in static screenshots, seeing it in motion reveals that this is most certainly a modern game, with a full physics engine, destructible buildings and scenery and all manner of other goodness. It looks quite similar to Terraria in many respects, but the environment appears to be significantly more destructible than in Re-Logic's well-regarded 2D adventure, and the action is a lot faster.
The game's newly-launched beta expands significantly on the previous alpha version with the addition of vehicles, animals and vegetation, as well as a great deal more customization options for the tiny player characters. There's a short "story mode" called "Save the Princess" that will be fleshed out in greater detail, plus two dedicated multiplayer modes known as Take the Halls and Team Deathmatch, with Capture the Flag and zombie modes coming soon. The real-time strategy element comes in through the in-game technology research tree, in which all team members must vote to democratically help choose the overall team strategy.
The game is designed to be highly moddable, too. The entire game's logic source is available for people to explore and experiment with right now, with the support for full mods coming in the near future.
In short, King Arthur's Gold is looking like a really fun multiplayer experience that deserves your time and attention. Right now, $9.99 gets you access to the beta -- which works on Windows, OSX and Linux -- and, like other games that have followed this "early access" model, you'll be provided with all future updates for free, plus Steam and Desura keys when the game eventually hits those services, too. The $9.99 price is temporary, however; it'll go up in about two weeks' time, and as an incentive to "pre-order" early you'll currently also receive a 189-page digital art book containing sketches and scribbles from the game's development process.
Find out more about the game on the official website.