It's good to set your sights high in life. No one has trekked to the base of Mount Everest only to decide that the 29,035 foot peak looks "a bit too tricky" and opted to give the neighbouring Nuptse or Lhotse a bash instead. And so, Polish coders Reality Pump have decided that for their assault on the RPG market they won't just scale the lesser slopes of Fable, they'll head instead for a direct attempt on the north face of the mighty Oblivion itself.
But their aim isn't just to match the mountainous Elder Scrolls sequel but to top it. So in place of Oblivion's limitations and regulations, Reality Pump's world is open and dynamic; any part of the story can be changed by your actions, any skill can be learnt by any character, any trade can be trained for and then dropped. And anyone, on Xbox 360 or PC, will be able to play together online. You heard right.
The team's first step has been to create a world that isn't trod via the same well-worn paths. So instead of the map petering out at the periphery, hidden items will reward the curious and provide additional plot twists for the inquisitive. Forget about engaging those tame Beijing 'gold farmers', the need to collect will drive your quest, not the need for cash.
The plot is also designed to be flexible, and not just through which guilds you join. Instead, the ability to leave or betray quests and gangs almost at random will change the development of that group or place. You'll even be able to change the main story through your actions, or inactions, such as allowing the stringing up of a friendly NPC. It's a feature we are yet to see in action but, after Fable's failed promises, we'd love to see it work.
The combat system has also taken a decent stride forward, relying more on a character's individual skills and less on your precisely-timed clicks. So while the blows are all landed in real-time, you can cue up your lunges and blocks well ahead, relying on targeting and not timing to turn rampaging minotaurs into a healthy alternative to mincemeat. But the peak of Two Worlds already looks be to be the shared 360 and PC online option. Designed as a co-operative and easily accessible option, but still allowing you to poleaxe any member of your party, your team will be able to go on quests and develop your own hero without getting bogged down in the complexities of the plot. It's designed to allow one game to rope in everyone; the PC and Xbox players, the hardcore and the noobs... and that really is an ambitious mission statement.
For a game of this enormity a brief look can only hint at its potential and promise, but Two Worlds certainly has both of those in abundance. With an open-ended class system and the mixture of tactical and dramatic combat, you can feel that this is a game created by fans, even connoisseurs, of hardcore RPGs. Our concern though is that the U.S. release date of 'Winter' and recent lack of obvious activity hints at a rush that may compromise some of the team's stratospheric dreams.