E3 2006: The RPGs

Dungeon Siege II: Broken World

Dungeon Siege II: Broken World picks up a year after the defeat of Valdis, the heavily armored villain that terrorized Aranna in the second installment. The events that took place at the end of the sequel have opened a rift in Aranna, tearing the world into two pieces. The cataclysmic land is now cracked and twisted, shaken by periodic earthquakes and general chaos all around. Since all of the destruction taking place is your fault, you'll need to pick up your weapon once more and fix what you've broken.

The cruel landscape has lead to the return of the Dwarven race and the availability of the Blood Assassin and Fist of Stone character classes. The Blood Assassin takes on a much darker role of the Elf we played in Dungeon Siege II, and is created by leveling up both Ranged and Combat Magic lines. The Blood Assassin's skills include being able to battle multiple creatures at once and the ability to enhance their combat prowess at the expense of health. The Fist of Stone, on the other hand, is a Dwarven class created by leveling up both Melee and Nature Magic lines. Each class has access to a variety of new skills, spells, and powers, two of which I was able to see in action - Eruption and Chant of Stone. Eruption is an area of effect power that inflicts massive damage to a group of creatures, while Chant of Stone is a defensive buff that allows a character to take more abuse. Both of these had their own unique graphical effects and fit into the expansion's overall look very well.

Gas Powered Games lead designer Daniel Achterman tells me that the disastrous world contains a lot more gore and adult subject matter, too. Some of the monsters I was shown, for instance, were wearing leather facemasks designed to hide the grotesque deformities caused by experimentation. The floor of the dungeon we were exploring was strewn with body parts and stained with blood, providing a much more grim and dark atmosphere than we ever witnessed while adventuring through the original storyline. Daniel also tells me that the expansion's overall difficulty has been greatly increased, mainly due to popular request from fans. The five new (boss) monsters each have some sort of dynamic tied to them that will keep players from simply launching a brute force attack on them. Additionally, the team has made an effort to implement what they call (conditional monsters) into the expansion, which means that they produce some sort of effect after they die. This may include an explosion that damages any character nearby, or some other detrimental effect altogether.

The entire expansion takes place as Act IV and is designed to provide 10-20 hours of gameplay, depending on how many of the new side quests you take advantage of. The expansion is geared for level 39+, though any character that has finished the main game can be brought into the add-on. If you don't have such a character available, the expansion will have six pre-made characters that you can choose from instead. For those of you who do have a character that meets the requirements, but would like to try something different this time around, you'll be happy to hear that the expansion's first town will feature an NPC that will allow you to completely respec your character. for a price. You'll also be able to pick up a couple of different pets for your party, including the Packram and Kohl Beast. The Packram is fairly self-explanatory, while the Kohl Beast is a vicious bird that even comes equipped with plate armor to protect it.

The add-on will also be featuring plenty of new equipment. The team has created around 100 new unique and set items, as well as 50 new (recipe) items. Daniel explains that recipe items are essentially unique items that are created by adding a reagent to an existing item, though the recipes themselves have been scattered around for players to find. For a little added variety, the expansion will also feature new class-specific armor sets, each of which has a unique graphical look to it.

Overall, Dungeon Siege II: Broken World really looks to be shaping up well. The team's current plans are to release the expansion sometime in August, so it shouldn't be long before we're all enjoying these additions firsthand.


And there you have it! Ten RPG demonstrations attended, ten RPG previews written. What's amazing is that I could have easily written another ten if I would have had the time to make it to more meetings. Everywhere I looked, another role-playing game was being showcased. Granted, most of them are massively multiplayer titles, but it's good to see that the genre as a whole isn't in a decline.

For next year, I'm really hoping that I'll get a chance to see Fallout 3 and Dragon Age firsthand, assuming neither one ends up being released before May. Who knows, maybe there will even be a Star Wars: KotOR III or Diablo III in development by then. One can only hope, anyway.