Later this year, Atari will release Mask of the Betrayer, Obsidian Entertainment's first expansion pack for its RPG sequel Neverwinter Nights 2.
Mask of the Betrayer's set in the harsh, spirit-rich Rashemen, with the storyline kicking off shortly after events in the original game. "Following the climactic battle against the King of Shadows, the player awakens alone and stranded deep beneath the earth. Surrounded by a horde of evil spirits, the player embarks on an epic adventure that reveals his true destiny", Atari has said of the plot.
NWN 2 fans will be served up plenty of new content, with the new campaign accompanied by dozens of new feats and spells, new races, new base and prestige classes, new companions, new weapons, armour and crafting options, new monsters and finally enhanced modding tools.
Sounds like Obsidian is really cramming it in, and to find out more we caught up with the developer's CEO Feargus Urquhart.
So what made Rashemen an ideal setting for the Neverwinter Nights 2 expansion?
Urquhart: It really became an ideal setting for a few different reasons. The first was that we wanted to place Mask of the Betrayer in a Forgotten Realms setting that hadn't yet been explored in a computer role-playing game. Second, Rashemen is rich in spirit energy, and has many interesting elements around which we could craft a compelling story.
And finally, it's close to Thay, which is an area that many people who play D&D in the Forgotten Realms are very aware of. We have often been asked to put an adventure there.
You're introducing several new features, but what's the pick of the crop in your opinion?
Urquhart: I really wish that I could pick just one, but I think in the case of Mask of the Betrayer, it really is the sum of everything that we are doing that will make it a great expansion to NWN2. Epic levels will really push characters to new heights of powers, the new races and classes will let players play the game in new ways, and the effort were putting into the look of areas is really going to make players feel like they are in the Forgotten Realms.
How did you go about selecting what new content to include in Mask of the Betrayer, and how many hours of gameplay is there in the new campaign in the expansion?
Urquhart: Coming up with what to put in an expansion for Neverwinter Nights 2 is both easy and hard at the same time. It's easy because there are so many options from which to choose when it comes to what you can find in the Dungeons & Dragons source books and from what the fans would like to see.
The hard part is prioritizing that list and realising that we don't have the ten years it would take to put everything we and the community would like to put in it.
So, we look at this huge list and figure out what would be great for players, what would be great for people building modules and what people playing multiplayer would like. It can get pretty heated with some of us wanting a certain group of features with other people at Obsidian wanting a different group.
We figure it all out before it gets violent though. And, the sum of all those features and the new story that we are crafting for the expansion is going to be about 15 to 20 hours of gameplay.
We're assuming that existing NWN 2 characters can be ported over to the expansion. In what new ways will players be able to develop their existing adventurers?
Urquhart: There are a couple key things that they'll be able to do and that is advance past level 20 into Epic levels for each base class. They will also be able to specialise their character by choosing one of the new Prestige classes to advance their character in.