Spotlight On - Two Worlds II

We take a look at this upcoming sequel to Topware's open-world role-playing game for PC and consoles.

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No Caption Provided You could say that the original Two Worlds attempted to build on the success of open-world, single-player role-playing games like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and the Gothic series. But the original PC game had some issues, and the console version, which Topware admits wasn't a perfect port, had more. The German studio originally planned to release an expansion pack for Two Worlds called Temptation, but it changed gears and instead decided to build a brand-new graphics engine and a brand-new sequel to improve on every aspect of the original game with the sequel.

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Two Worlds II takes place some years after the events in the original game and again places you in the role of the original game's hero, who has been captured by the evil Gandahar (the villain of the previous game) and imprisoned for years. You're sprung from prison by, of all things, a band of elite orc commandos (orcs were hostile enemies from the previous game). The surly orc warrior, the mystical orc wizard, and the sexy, sexy female orc assassin seek your help in stopping the villain because he has now begun a campaign to exterminate the entire orc population. The orcs sneak you through the villain's throne room, but they are discovered and attacked by Gandahar. They attempt to make their escape in a spectacular pitched battle that shows off the game's new motion-captured animations for melee combat.

We then skipped ahead to a few other venues, including a swamp full of zombies that came charging at us through the muck. We watched demonstrations of different character archetypes fend off the fiends. As a melee warrior, the character used various weapons (such as a dual-wielded sword and axe pair) to slice the monsters to bits and swapped to different weapons using the sequel's much-requested shortcut for different weapon and armor combinations. As an archer, the character fired arrows from a distance, grabbing the zombies' attention with a flaming arrow used as a warning shot to draw their attention. As a wizard, the character used different combinations of spell components (from different elemental schools of magic such as fire, water, and lightning) along with spell enhancers. These can increase the range of a spell, cause it to ricochet off walls, or split into smaller magical barrages and can be combined in special magical lockets. Just like in the original Two Worlds, whether your character uses swords, bows, or sorcery is entirely up to your choice of skills in the game's open-ended system (rather than any kind of rigid profession system).

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In addition to offering a huge and colorful fantasy world to explore, Two Worlds II will, interestingly enough, offer several multiplayer modes. These include a co-op mode that lets you and your buddies take on a series of about a dozen story-driven quests built for multiplayer, as well as an unusual, cooperative city-builder mode. This mode will let you build and manage a city that consumes resources to produce items, such as swords, shields, and other armaments. The idea is that players will be encouraged to help each other develop killer cities that create items of outstanding quality to outfit their characters. If you have a character who's a career archer, it'll be in your best interests to help your friend develop a town that crafts powerful longbows. This kind of economic strategy and management might seem a bit out of place for a heavy-duty RPG like Two Worlds II, but keep in mind that the studio developing the game is none other than the Polish studio Reality Pump. That studio, prior to developing Two Worlds, had made a name for itself with the Earth series (Earth 2150, Earth 2160, and so on)--a hardcore sci-fi real-time strategy series. Two Worlds II is scheduled to launch worldwide in all territories on September 14.

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