As you may well have heard by now, King Arthur is heading back to the big screen in what sounds like an absolutely massive effort. Director Guy Ritchie is planning a six-film franchise exploring the Arthurian legends, beginning with 2017’s Knights Of The Round Table: King Arthur. The film will star Charlie Hunnam as a young Arthur, and he’ll be joined by the likes of Jude Law, Eric Bana, and Djimon Hounsou, among others (including, weirdly enough, David Beckham).
The hype cycle hasn’t really started up for the film just yet, and we know very little in the way of details. But a Guy Ritchie-helmed King Arthur project aiming for six releases is going to be big news once we start focusing on 2017. And if the first film is a success, we’ll all have a larger-than-life franchise to look forward to.
In the meantime, the news of the upcoming release got me thinking about the King Arthur void we’ve been in for the past 10 years. Despite being one of the biggest names in history and mythology at the same time—and an incredibly popular source of inspiration for fictional entertainment—Arthur has been pretty absent since 2004’s King Arthur, in which Clive Owen presented a very different take on the character. It would be nice if we had a more recent film, show, or even novel adaptation to compare the Ritchie project to. But what we do have is a collection of Arthurian video games that can at least keep you busy for the next year if you, like me, are an unabashed Arthur fanatic who can’t wait for the new release.
Just for fun, then, here’s a look at some enjoyable and accessible King Arthur-based video games that have made the rounds in recent years.
OK, this 2004 hack-and-slash console game isn’t particularly recent, but since I’ve already mentioned the film upon which it’s based, it’s worth including. Designed by Konami, the game followed the story of the film and, frankly, excels from a storytelling standpoint. The gameplay is a little bit crude, but the graphics aren’t bad for a 2004 creation. If you happened to like the film—or you just wish there were more medieval swordplay games around—you’ll enjoy it.
King Arthur II: The Role-Playing Wargame
Developed in 2012 by NeocoreGames and available on Steam, this real-time RPG is a satisfying Arthurian experience, despite taking an approach that’s far from traditional. In the game, you control William Pendragon, the son of a wounded Arthur who takes on the task of reuniting the British kingdom and tracking down certain heroes of Arthurian lore. The enemies throughout are Roman generals seeking to control the area south of Hadrian’s Wall in Brittania.
The Rise Of King Arthur: Camelot Dungeon Escape
This app by KC Lim is a pretty simple experience, but a fun one for Arthur fanatics. Making use of Arthur, Sir Percival, Sir Galahad, and Sir Bors, it’s actually one of the best games out there as far as including iconic characters. In execution, it’s basically a side-scrolling/endless-runner combination with a dungeon-escape theme, as you control Arthur looking to break free of his own dungeon in Camelot.
Xcalibur is an unorthodox experience compared to some of the other games on this list, as it’s actually one of many history- and fantasy-based titles included among Gala Bingo’s games. Crafted as an online slot machine, the game invokes all kinds of Arthurian themes, with dragons, castles, and wizards all involved. Merlin can even appear to grant you free spins, which really puts it over the top as a fun game for those who like slots.
Tomb Raider: Legend
It’s not actually an Arthurian game, really, but this 2006 addition to the Tomb Raider series actually does involve a sort of modern quest for Excalibur, which makes it an interesting one to include if you’re just looking for Arthur-based intrigue.
The Order: 1886
Finally, there’s this relatively new title created by Sony as one of the early demonstrations of the Playstation 4’s capabilities. Often compared to the Assassin’s Creed series, The Order: 1886 offers a twisted take on history, complete with all kinds of action, secret societies, and such. While it’s set in the 19th century, it actually has pretty close ties to Arthurian legend—so much so that “The Order” is considered a modern incarnation of the Knights of the Round Table.
As you can see, it’s a fun list but there’s not really a definitive King Arthur-based adventure game out there, perhaps because there’s not a definitive film franchise. Hopefully Guy Ritchie can change that, and by the time you play your way through these titles, we’ll see the birth of that franchise.