After the drought of single-player role-playing games in recent years, 2006 is shaping up to be quite a year for RPG fans. A great example of this is Titan Quest, the debut action role-playing game from Iron Lore Entertainment that will let you hack-and-slash your way across the ancient world. Iron Lore recently swung by San Francisco to show off the latest progress in Titan Quest, including some new regions and monsters, as well as the game's powerful editor.
For the first time, we got to see some actual gameplay that will appear in the finished game, as the beautiful demo that was shown off at E3 was basically a tech demo. The game and the visuals haven't lost a step, and Iron Lore was eager to show off the new landscapes set in Ancient Greece and Egypt. The Greek level showed off the new coastal terrain, which was a perfect example of the new water effects, such as reflections and spectacular distortions (all of which can be tweaked in the editor). The monsters looked pretty impressive, as well, as the hero battled huge, scaly tortoises and ichthyens, or fish people. They're just two of the 85 different monster types in the game. Keep in mind that there can be different variations for each monster type, and that the designers can vary things even more by giving monsters different weapons. So, if you run into a group of ichthyens, some of them may attack you with melee weapons, while the spellcasters attack you from a distance with magic, and other ichthyens cast healing spells to patch up the frontline warriors. If that sounds like tactics that human players use in RPGs, they are; the smarter monsters in Titan Quest will be capable of doing the same things that your hero can do.
Next up was the new Egyptian landscape. Previously, we saw just the interiors of an Egyptian temple, but now we had a chance to see the actual overland terrain, and it's as sandy as you'd expect. The hero battled a range of opponents, including giant beetles that fluttered in the air before landing and attacking. This was actually a great opportunity to show off the item and weapon systems. If you kill a monster clad in Egyptian-style armor, you can then recover and equip that armor yourself. Therefore, the hero looked like an Egyptian warrior and not a generic RPG hero. There will be more than 1,000 unique items in the game, as well as randomly generated loot. You can easily create your own unique-looking character, it just all depends on what arms and armor you choose to use.
We also got an update on the character-creation system. When you create a new character, you choose a gender and a name, and then select two distinctive skills that will determine your character's class. As there are eight skills to choose from, there are approximately 20 different classes in the game, which should provide lots of replayability. Apart from that, we didn't get many new details regarding the single-player campaign, but we did learn that you will be able to play the campaign in both single-player and cooperative multiplayer. And you can switch between the two, so you can start a campaign in single-player and then play portions of it in co-op with your friends. But if your friends aren't around you can go back to playing solo.
Finally, Iron Lore was happy to show off the editor that will ship with Titan Quest. The company has high hopes that the game's community of fans will create their own unique worlds and levels. The editor will be easy to use, and from what we saw, it works very much like any kind of painting program on the PC. Just select a "brush" and "paint" what you want on the screen. You can easily raise and lower terrain, paint on different textures, plop down objects and buildings (the editor will automatically "adjust" the terrain to make sure items such as bridges connect properly to the ground), and more.
Titan Quest looks just as good as when we first saw it months ago, and the 3D graphics are bright, colorful, and beautiful, in contrast to many of the "dark" role-playing games on the market. Iron Lore president Brian Sullivan says that the developers want a fast-paced, visceral look to the game, and it looks like they have delivered. We saw the hero battle up to a dozen monsters at once, and bodies went flying, thanks to the slightly exagerrated rag-doll physics system. At this point, Titan Quest looks like it has everything going for it, including excellent graphics and the fast-paced combat that action role-playing games look for. Things are looking great for the game, and Iron Lore still has plenty of time to finish and polish it. Titan Quest is scheduled to ship in the second quarter of 2006.