Interplay opened the doors to its press-only web site to unveil more information about Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn. Among the topics discussed on the web site are the game's higher resolution, new classes and kits, and new monsters.
On the graphics front, the site states that the game will play at 800x600 resolution (we also reported this in our earlier preview). In addition, the graphical user interface (GUI) scales so the overall look is crisper and larger. Baldur's Gate II won't officially support higher resolutions, but the game will be able to scale to support the highest resolution possible for your video card. However, Interplay says the GUI will be sacrificed, so the overall look might not be as good as the official 800x600 view.
As for 3D support, the designers say they are supporting OpenGL now because they already have experience with it, since MDK2 and Neverwinter Nights use it. However, BioWare says that if the schedule permits, Baldur's Gate II may also support DirectX.
Regarding classes and kits, Baldur's Gate II will not use the upcoming 3rd Edition rules, even though the computer game will come out after the launch of the new 3rd Edition materials in August. However, BioWare is eager to spice up the traditional 2nd Edition gameplay by introducing the half-orc as a playable character race and offering more than 20 new kits. Kits are specialized subclasses of the main classes of fighter, magic-user, cleric, druid, bard, ranger, paladin, and thief. These kits all have special abilities and special disadvantages. The kensai fighter kit, for example, has increased proficiency in one weapon of choice, but loses the ability to wear armor. Read our earlier preview for a complete description of the kits at press time.
As for monsters, BioWare is pulling out all the stops in this department, including many of the very best AD&D monsters. There will be mind flayers, beholders, sahuagin, drow, vampires, rakshasa, and mephits. Because the party in Baldur's Gate II will grow incredibly powerful, pushing into the high teens in terms of level advancement, the monsters you'll fight will be among the toughest the AD&D game has to offer. However, some of the AD&D monsters, like the beholder, are so awesome that the design team is scaling them back. In fact, with regards to that particular monster, the design team says, "The beholder is a tough creature. We all knew that, but when my party actually faced one in the game and was annihilated in two seconds, it was time to tweak things. We made it so he used his stone to flesh eyestalks less and slowed how often he used his other eyestalks. He is still amazingly tough, but it is possible to defeat him if you play smart and prepare."
The game currently has a late-fall 2000 ship date. As more information becomes available, we'll bring you more news and an updated preview. In the meantime, read our 12-page preview of Baldur's Gate II. It includes detailed monster, kit, class, spell, and gameplay descriptions.