At a recent Atari press event, we had the opportunity to take an updated look at the US version of Gothic II. While the game has been available at retail in Europe for some time, publisher Atari is working with Piranha Byte to polish up the sprawling, free-roaming game, which looks considerably better than its predecessor.
In the game, you'll play as the same nameless hero that starred in the original game, and you'll pursue one of three basic career paths that will eventually lead you to one of three classes: the paladin, the dragonhunter, and the firemage. Each of these three classes will eventually attain mastery over melee combat, ranged combat with bows and crossbows, and powerful sorcery, respectively, though depending on which class you choose, you may also find yourself with different quest and dialogue options. For instance, as a paladin, you may find yourself refusing to accept rewards and constantly volunteering to fight evil, while as the dragonhunter, you'll take a more mercenary approach to dealing with other characters, and may actively seek rewards more often.
As we saw, Gothic II will feature an even more fast-paced hack-and-slash fighting system than the original game, and it will actually have a targeting feature that will help you lock on to enemies as you attack them. Your character will actually change his posture over time--as a novice militiaman, you may hold your sword awkwardly, while as an experienced paladin, you'll use more-advanced weapon strokes to bring down your enemies.
Your progress will be much more marked in other professions as well. Firemages will be able to use about 20-30 different spells, including damaging fire spells, shape-shifting spells, and summoning spells that can conjure up demons and other monsters to fight on your behalf. You'll also attain mastery of your skills with help from trainer characters, who may be hidden in the rolling hills and valleys of the game's huge world. According to the developers, the world of Gothic II is packed with hidden characters, quests, and monsters (about 50 in all). Gothic II is scheduled for release later this year.