Champions: Return to Arms Interview

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Sony Online Entertainment
Developer:Snowblind Studios
Release Date:2005-02-07
  • Action,Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
Sony and Snowblind Studios' Champions of Norrath reinvigorated the console action RPG with its unique item system, superb graphics, and addictive gameplay - all set in the successful EverQuest universe.  Ever since its release back in February, the game has received a lot of praise from websites and magazines alike, and it comes as no surprise that both companies have decided to follow it up with a sequel entitled Champions: Return to Arms.  To learn more about the sequel, we managed to track down Snowblind president Ryan Geithman for a brief interview about the refinements and additions the game will posses over its predecessor.  Indulge yourself:

GB: For those players unfamiliar with Return to Arms, can you provide us with a brief descriptoin of the sequel's storyline? What is the ultimate goal that players are striving to achieve?

Ryan: Return to Arms is a mission based game. You must complete a given mission to move onto the next one. Each completed mission will unlock a medal round where you can compete to win extra game maps or game play modes. The basic storyline of the game is that the bad guys are trying to resurrect Innoruuk, the final enemy you defeated in the first game. If you're playing a good character then your job is to prevent this from happening. If you're playing an evil character then you're goal is to make sure that Innoruuk does indeed return.

GB: Have you ran into any unforseen obstacles during the sequel's development? Are you still on track for a February 2005 release date?

Ryan: So far so good. The schedule is very aggressive but we think it's doable.

GB: Return to Arms will introduce two new characters to the game. Can you briefly detail the advantages and disadvantages of the Vah Shir Berserker?

Ryan: The Vah Shir berserker is another class that is strong in melee. Their specialty is throwing axes and they have a lot of skills that pertain to these weapons.

GB: Other than the Berserker, can you provide any hints as to what the second new character will be in the sequel? If not, when do you plan on announcing such information?

Ryan: It was just announced in the latest issue of OPM. The other character is an Iksar Shaman.

GB: Roughly how many unique items were available in Champions of Norrath, and will all of these be included in the loot tables of the sequel? In addition, how many totally new unique items do you plan on adding in Return to Arms?

Ryan: There were over 700 unique named items in Champions. This number does not include the virtually unlimited amount of random items that can be generated. It's unknown at this time how many unique named items we are going to added but we do certainly plan on adding new weapons and new artwork for them.

Note: You'll find a searchable database of such unique items here.

GB: How many Planes will players be journeying through during the sequel? Care to elaborate on some of the more spectactular environments we'll be adventuring in?

Ryan: There will be approximately 12 to 13 missions in the game. Each mission will take you through, on average, 5 different levels of varying terrain and environments; ranging from Underwater caverns to Mosquito infested Swamps to Firey Mountain sides. There will also be secret maps that players will not be able to adventure in until they have been unlocked.

GB: Other than Innoruuk, will we be seeing the return of any major characters from the first game? Perhaps Lord Vanarhost (who narrated the different Acts) will have a role in the sequel?

Ryan: Several characters from the first game will be making appearances in Champions: RtA.

GB: Have you made any refinements to the original Champions engine, maybe even some subtle changes that players won't even notice?

Ryan: We're really trying to focus on frame rate. Making the game run a more consistent 60 frames per second is a big push for us. There will also be some streaming audio improvements.

GB: What sort of enhancements are you making to multiplayer in RtA?

Ryan: We're totally reworking the matchmaking service. There will be lobby chat this time. We're also adding specific network game modes such as player vs. player deathmatch as well as arena combat modes. Also we hope to improve network stability and performance in general.

GB: What are your plans for the future with the Champions of Norrath series? Would you consider developing a third or fourth title in the series?

Ryan: It's really up to Sony Online Entertainment. I'm sure their decision will rest on how well Champions of Norrath and Champions: Return to Arms do in the marketplace.

At this point I think it's too early to tell.

We'd like to issue our thanks to everyone at Sony and Snowblind Studios, especially Ryan, for taking the time to answer our questions!