2004's Sacred offered up a solid example of Diablo-style action role-playing. You controlled a fantasy character and then hacked and slashed your way through the story, becoming even more of a death dealer along the way. Even the game's 2D visuals seem inspired by Blizzard's seminal classic. With Sacred 2: Fallen Angel, German-developer Ascaron hopes to update the series with a new engine and other enhancements while keeping the hack-and-slash nature of the gameplay.
Sacred 2 is being set 2,000 years before the events of the first game, so it's going to be a prequel of sorts. You'll once again be able to choose from up to six different characters, representing different genders and races. Four of these characters will have good and evil paths, so you can play them either way, while the remaining two will either have a dedicated good or evil path. Since each campaign is about 30 hours, that amounts to about 300 total hours of gameplay if you play each campaign.
You will once again roam around a large virtual world, slaying all manner of monsters left and right and pursuing up to 650 side quests, only in this case the world is going to be much larger. It's also in 3D for the first time, and one of the interesting things about Sacred 2 is how the game is being optimized for the Xbox 360 and PC. For instance, the Xbox 360 version will take advantage of the system's three CPU cores to offer up better visuals. One core will handle the game itself, another will take care of the special effects, while the third will be responsible for streaming the game's content so that there are no level loads. So the Xbox 360 version will feature advanced features such as fluid dynamics. Think of your character kicking up leaves into the air and then those leaves swirling about realistically in the wind. The PC version won't feature that because Ascaron says that you'll need a quad-core CPU, and those aren't widely available.
There's are a lot of promising features in the game. Randomly generated NPC behavior is one example, so if you play the game multiple times, you won't get the exact same reactions from the characters twice. Also, each class has its own exotic animal mount, ranging from a tiger to a flying dragon. There will be multiplayer support with cooperative play throughout the campaign, as well as player-versus-player gameplay. Then there's a dynamic weather system, along with time-of-day effects, and more.
Ascaron plans to launch both versions of the game simultaneously, but that's something that's not going to happen for a while, as Sacred 2 is currently scheduled for release sometime in the first quarter of 2008, so it's still a year away.