First Look – Two Worlds II

While at PAX East I had an opportunity to sit down with a couple of representatives from TopWare Interactive, the team behind Two Worlds II. Ensconced in a tidy cubicle off the main hall of the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, I was treated to a first look at Two Worlds II in Alpha stage, and I really liked what I saw.

The demo began in a dungeon. Rescued by an Orc female, our human hero walked through the halls of the dungeon beneath a grand castle. Lightning flashed in the sky above and it’s light came through the greaves above the hero’s head. It lit up the wall behind him and illuminated the stones that made up the wall, each and every one unique, created individually by the team at TopWare to make a visually pleasing world. The stones looked fantastic as they were lit by the lightning and by torches that flickered on the wall.

Our guide showed off the effect that the burning torch had on the atmosphere and I looked on, impressed, as the warmth from the flame caused a distortion in the air above the torch. It was a nice touch and highlights the amount of detail the team at TopWare is putting into the little things in this RPG title. The entire game is being created with a new, proprietary engine developed in studio. There will be 3 different versions for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC in order to take advantage of each system’s stengths. TopWare also has dedicated teams working on the different systems in order to ensure that no version of the game suffers after Two Worlds experienced a difficult port from the PC to the Xbox 360.

Further showing off the game engine, our guide showed a conversation in action. While the NPC’s spoke to our character, the player was able to move the camera around to create his own cinematic vision of the scene. While doing so he was able to show off the depth-of-field effects that exist during the cutscenes so that, even while the camera moved, the characters speaking remained the only objects that were prominent in the scene.

One of the most unique features of Two Worlds II is that you don’t choose a character class at the outset of the game as in most traditional RPGs. Rather, you can mix-and-match elements of different classes or build your character into a Mage or a Warrior on your own through leveling up and assigning talents. Our demo highlighted the versatility of the main character by showing off his ability to switch from utilizing magic to wielding powerful weapons. The character summoned minions to fight alongside him, used invisibility to sneak by unsuspecting enemies, and mowed down baddies with a battle axe.

Along the same lines, our guide informed us that weapons and armor can be improved upon rather than simply existing with defined stats. He used an example of a really awesome looking suit of armor that our character was wearing. The shoulders curved upwards and the chestplate was ornately decorated. He told us that if you are early in the game and you find a cool-looking suit of armor like the one shown that isn’t very powerful you can upgrade it by breaking down other suits of armor that you find along the course of your journey. So, you no longer have to swap an impressive-looking but weak suit of armor for an uglier but more powerful piece. The same concept works for weapons, allowing players to retain the weapons they come across that fit their stylings while simultaneously continuing to improve upon the weapon’s strengths as they explore more of the world.

Another feature I really liked in Two Worlds II is the “Oculus.” This is an ability that allows players to essentially scout ahead and experience the world from different angles. With the push of a button, our guide initiated the Oculus, which is, as the name suggests, an invisible, eye-like bubble that can explore ahead. This ability allows players to identify enemies, plan ahead and possibly even avoid confrontation by seeking out an alternate route. The Oculus allowed our guide to witness a group of skeletons standing around from down at foot level to high up in the trees. It was a unique way to explore the world and offers intriguing possibilities to help aid your character through tough situations and help him plan ahead.

The land in which Two Worlds II takes place is a large world. There are 4 distinct islands to explore, each huge and featuring unique environments, multiple dungeons, and hordes of sidequests that comprise 15-to-20 hours of gameplay. In addition, the game will feature a 20-to-25 hour long main storyline and a unique co-op story that lasts between 5 and 8 hours. Overall, the game has enough in it to occupy gamers for upwards of 50 hours.

The co-op campaign, I was informed, won’t be local, so your buddy can’t sit next to you and play on the couch, which is a bit of a bummer, but the length of the co-op campaign should help ease any worries about how the co-op is played. Most intriguing to me, however, is an element of the multiplayer, in which each player has his own village (kind of like the villa in Assassin’s Creed II) that can grow and improve as the player makes advancements in the multiplayer game and that will reflect his or her prowess at the game.

What I saw of Two Worlds II was exciting. The development team seems to have taken the problems with the first game to heart. They appear poised to rectify the first game’s problems and they are a dedicated, passionate team committed to bringing a fun, huge RPG world to as many people as possible. Given the advice they’ve taken from fans and critics, and from what I’ve seen and heard so far, Two Worlds II is a game that I am eagerly looking forward to playing when it arrives in Q3 2010 on the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

[nggallery id=29]