Ni No Kuni 2 Lets You Build Your Own Kingdom, And It's Lovely

If you have spent the past decade wishing there was more Suikoden in your life, then oh boy do I have some news for you: Ni no Kuni 2 is as close as we've gotten since 2006, thanks to an elegant kingdom-building system that's a lot of fun to use.

Screenshot: My kingdom in Ni no Kuni II (Jason Schreier)

I finished the second Ni no Kuni this past weekend, and I'll reserve most of my thoughts for the Kotaku review, which should be up next week. (If you have no patience, the short version is: It's great.) Today, though, I want to tell you about what it's like to build your own kingdom.

In Ni no Kuni 2, you play as a boy-king named Evan who is ousted from his kingdom, Ding Dong Dell, in a violent coup. Eventually, Evan decides to start a brand new kingdom, with the ambitious goal of bringing peace to the world by uniting all of its nations.

To build and improve this kingdom, which you'll get a few hours into the game, you'll access a whole town management system that's very reminiscent of Suikoden. You'll go around the world, doing side quests for strangers and helping them out with their mundane problems. When you do help these strangers find their lost brooms or identify specific types of mushrooms, you'll be able to recruit them to come and join your kingdom.

When you're back home, you'll be able to manage your kingdom's citizens, buildings and research. Each of your citizens has a different specialty, ranging from wizardry to mining, and to put them to work, you'll have to construct different types of buildings. The farm will let you harvest eggs and meat, the armourer will let you research and develop new gear, the explorers' guild will let you improve various exploration skills, and so on. You can decide who to assign to each of these buildings. The better someone is at that particular skill, the better they will perform. An improvement that normally takes 60 minutes of real time to finish might take 45 minutes if you have an all-star in charge.

The lifeblood of this system is kingsguilder, a special currency that you can only use in your kingdom. Constructing new buildings costs kingsguilder, as does researching new spells, skills and gear. Your citizens will automatically generate kingsguilder for you over time, but it's all very limited. You won't be able to expand every building or research every skill. You'll have to make tough choices. Do you want to focus on making sure your party has the best weapons? Do you want to prioritise ship travel? Are you only concerned with Higgledies, the Pikmin-like little sprites who can enhance your prowess in battle?

You may be worrying that this sounds a lot like a mobile game, the type of system that would charge you for extra money to make everything take less time. I asked Bandai Namco about this concern, and the publisher's response was clear: "There will be no microtransactions in the game."

Here's what the kindom-building system looks like in action:

Although it doesn't have the depth of, say, SimCity (mostly because there are no hindrances or obstacles in your way), this system is far more fun and interesting than I expected it to be. What would otherwise be menial side quests feel far more rewarding when you know they're going to lead to you improving your kingdom. And the loop of going out on recruiting sprees, then coming back to manage your buildings and research new improvements for your party, remained fun for me throughout the 30 hours I spent with Ni no Kuni 2. It isn't quite Suikoden, but it's close enough to count.


Comments

    No microtransactions means I will be likely to support this with a purchase.

    Also reminds me, I should play Ni no Kuni - and soon!

      I got stuck in the last dungeon and havent gone back myself, should really finish it.

      A very good game! I thoroughly enjoyed it. I got right to the end and for a long time I couldn’t bring myself to finish it... I would just go exploring the map leveling up my familiars. I didn’t want it to end. Eventually I was so over levelled I finished the final part really quickly. It had a very good, profound story too, much more serious than the tone suggests... I wish I could experience it again

      Thoroughly brilliant game with a great story, presentation and art direction that will stand the test of time and a soundtrack that hits all the right notes (though I personally do have issues with the battle theme). It is also one of those games that gets to what you think is the last act against a big bad but then surprises you with an entire other story arc.

      I doesn't have micro transactions but it does have day 1 dlc and a season pass.

    is this on xbox one? goddamnit microsoft get your act together with these kinds of things

      No it’s not, but I have my PS4 plugged into my X, for me it kinda is!

    huh i did not know that this game is coming to PC

    do you need to have played the first to understand the second ?

      I'm curious about this as well.

      I played the first for a couple dozen hours which was seemingly only long enough to get past a few tutorials and unlock a deep-as-fuck rabbit hole of pokemon monster-collecting, fusion, and grinding up ingredients for min-maxing your affection levels and shit.

      Once all that crap opened up, I was irretrievably lost, and never touched proper questing ever again.

    Flippin heck, mun! I've been waiting for a preview from you for ages. What took so long?

    Super excited about this game as I've pre-ordered the Prince's Edition a few weeks ago and am eagerly waiting for the release date. How does this hold up with the number of recruitable characters? Anywhere near the 108 stars+? Roland gives me that Shu vibe, so I'm hoping that's a good sign.

    Do I have too have played the first too get this? As it's very out of my comfort zone of gaming but I absolutely loved playing suikoden 1 and 2 on ps1 back in the day. Any advice would be great from people who play these types of games in this day and age

      No you don't need to play the first. Completely different combat system, and as far as I am aware I do not think the stories are related.

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