BioWare's PC title Neverwinter Nights was an RPG classic, so developer Obsidian Entertainment's certainly got its work cut out trumping the original with sequel Neverwinter Nights 2. Improving on the first game's customisation options and aging graphics are two key areas Obsidian's been concentrating heavily on, and in addition hardcore role-players will no doubt be pleased to learn that the number-crunching single-player campaign is looking absolutely immense.
However, what really raised our role-playing eyebrows when we recently got a look at Neverwinter Nights 2 was the ridiculously-detailed editing tools present in the sequel, which now sport a list of technically-savvy improvements like a visual effects editor and tiling window interface.
Despite inheriting another BioWare franchise (Obsidian was behind KOTOR2), Obsidian is quick to note that Neverwinter Nights 2 is solely its baby. Obsidian has followed fan feedback closely and called upon its roster of veteran RPG developers to create a sequel worthy of expectation. Not least, Neverwinter Nights 2 looks set to keep the original's community of editing wizards while attracting a whole new generation of would-be modders.
Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart recently sat down to chat with us about his new stat-heavy baby, and told us about the trials he faces standing up to the likes of Oblivion and World of Warcraft. Urquhart also entertained us with tales of a Fallout MMO and the company's mysterious upcoming PS3 project, which it's currently developing with Sega. What did he have to say? Read on to find out...
It's been a while since we last got a glimpse of Neverwinter Nights 2. How is the game progressing?
Feargus Urquhart: It's going pretty well. I think that in some ways the game was even bigger than we thought it would be to make, so it's been a bigger challenge. Where we are right now - we've finished the implementation on everything, we're basically just polishing, getting everything to work and feel right.
What's new in NWN2? How have you improved upon the first game?
Feargus Urquhart: The newest feature is companions - we've expanded upon what Neverwinter 1 did with henchman. With henchman you pretty much just hired someone and they did things for you that you didn't really have any control over. In Neverwinter 2 you have companions, you have complete control over them and on top of that they're very integral to the story - they'll go with you, some could fall in love with you and some could betray you.
We're a bit spoilt for RPGs right now. How will NWN2 grab people's attention away from the other big-hitters?
Feargus Urquhart: You mean Oblivion?
Feargus Urquhart: (Laughs) Because it's different - it focuses on different things. Oblivion is adventuring in a world - there's a story but the story is purely there to give you a reason to adventure in this world. Neverwinter 2 has two aspects that are very different; while you're still allowed to adventure in the world of Neverwinter Nights you're really following an epic tale and going through and writing this epic tale and making decisions to deal with it. Like how you're going to react to people, who you're going to help and who you're going to betray. You have more impact on people than I think you do in Oblivion - just looking at Morrowind and comparing to other games that we've done in the past. Also Neverwinter just has such a focus on the modding community. They're inherent to it - adding this wealth to the game that I think differentiates it.