Titan Quest: Immortal Throne Designer Diary #3 - The Underworld

Learn more about the underworld, the vast new region that's at the core of this upcoming expansion for Titan Quest.


When it ships next month, Titan Quest: Immortal Throne will add a whole new world to explore to last year's Titan Quest, an action role-playing game set in the mythological ancient world. This expansion is set in the underworld, the ancient Greeks' idea of the afterlife. Your job will be to journey through the underworld, killing everything hostile in your way. To help you battle the high-level monsters that you'll encounter, Immortal Throne will introduce a new dream mastery that features powerful new spells and abilities, as well as new weapons, armor, and equipment to outfit your character. To learn more about the underworld, Brian Sullivan, the lead designer and president of developer Iron Lore Entertainment, contributes the latest designer diary.

You'll See Dead People

By Brian Sullivan
President and Lead Designer, Iron Lore Entertainment

When we set out to create the expansion to Titan Quest, Hades was an obvious choice. It was the one realm of Greek mythology that we hadn't yet touched. The possibility for some great new settings, monsters, and a new epic tale set in the afterlife was just too much of a temptation. For Immortal Throne, we decided to create a story about the repercussions that follow the conclusion of Titan Quest. You have saved the world, literally, but not before your enemies have done some pretty serious damage. Not only is the globe still filled with monsters, but the gods have decided they're leaving mortal problems to the mortals, while they keep a safer distance from everything. So we asked ourselves, who and what was staying in line just because the gods were there, laying down the law? This is where the main idea for Immortal Throne began.

Since it's basically hell, the underworld goes down pretty deep into the earth.
Since it's basically hell, the underworld goes down pretty deep into the earth.

The expansion begins in front of a temple to Apollo above the city of Rhodes, where Zeus has chosen to return you to the earth. You don't take more than a few steps when a ghostlike figure appears to you out of thin air. It is the shade of Tiresias, greatest of all seers. He tells you that terrible things are going on below, in the realm of Hades, the land of the dead. So you set off on a journey to find an entrance to the underworld. And when you finally get there, you discover there are a lot of things that aren't right, not to mention a massive army poised to invade the surface world!

Visually, we tried to develop a gradual descent into the land of the dead. Rhodes begins looking something like the bright, crisp ancient Greece you've seen in Titan Quest. But the farther you go, the darker, grayer, and more foreboding it gets. We have some incredible mist-covered swamps, rocky coastlines, and ancient ruins, to name just a few of the things in store for you--and that's before you even get to the mouth of Hades.

When it came to Hades, our art department was able to really go all-out. We stole some great visuals from mythical and historical remnants of ancient Greece, such as these amazing carved-cliff cities and salt flats, and more than a few mythological types of "daemons." We mixed these together, along with some really great-looking inspirations that were all of our own design, to create a Hades that feels like the place of ancient myth. It's dark and eerie and strange. Creepy black stone pathways and platforms seem to be laid out according to some arcane logic. Huddled in cities you see the dull, transparent dead mill about aimlessly. That is, of course, until you get to Elysium, where the great heroes dwell. There, it's brilliant sunlight over fields of wheat and marble buildings. This is where the truly great get to go after they die, and it looks the part.

On the quest side, we've worked hard to improve on what we did in Titan Quest. The main quest, of course, tells the story, taking you from place to place and introducing you to the famous people and places, some from history, some from mythology. On the list are good old Tiresias, the sorceress Medea, and Odysseus, Agamemnon, and a bunch of their old Trojan War buddies.

Expect to see spirits and far worse as you descend into Hades.
Expect to see spirits and far worse as you descend into Hades.

For the side quests, not only have we increased how many there are per level, but we've tried to really get some extra variation in there. Not only do you protect the innocent and slay fearsome foes, but you help in the rebuilding of Rhodes, work to unlock ancient treasures, and even get a little guerilla recon and sabotage in. For Immortal Throne's side quests, we've got you escorting, protecting, foraging, rescuing, and even summoning spirits. One of my favorites is a set of quests that follows a young man from the surface world into Hades, as he learns to become something of a real hero. There was a lot of great mythological potential to be tapped when it came to coming up with side quests for Hades. We've got the shades standing on the banks of the Styx, waiting for passage into the afterlife. We play on the story of Orpheus, the famed musician who tried to bring his lover back from the dead. Doing our research, we also discovered an ancient oracular temple in Greece that people believed would let them hear from their dead ancestors, and worked that in as well.

Altogether, I think we've created a really fantastic, epic journey for Immortal Throne. We've got the darker, edgier look, the strange new worlds to explore, and a greater number of different types of quests and scenes, not to mention new gameplay systems and a whole new mastery. Altogether, I think you'll find Immortal Throne is more than just a worthy addition to the world of Titan Quest.

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