One of the highly touted features of Storm of Zehir is the party creation and management. Some have said it is a throwback to the Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale games. Were these games, and their popularity, the reason this new party management was chosen?
The concept of a party of adventurers is at the core of the Dungeons and Dragons experience. Though of course we considered how party management worked in Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale, we were also inspired by other party-based CRPGs including the Wizardry and Might and Magic series. One of our goals has been to incorporate old school, party-focused gameplay into a modern RPG.
Will there be other party members available that are not created by the player?
Storm of Zehir includes several cohorts, interesting characters that the party can meet and recruit in their travels throughout Samarach and the Sword Coast. Some of them must be hired or coerced into joining the party. Others will become available after completing a major quest. Cohorts are different from companions. For one thing, there are several more cohorts in Storm of Zehir than there were companions in previous games. Also, companions often have minds of their own and will frequently “hijack” conversations and other game events. One example of this is when Ganniyev confronts the Slumbering Coven in Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer. Without giving away any spoilers, it is a gripping scene, and great storytelling, but the only player interaction involved is to click “Continue” until Ganniyev and the Coven are finished talking.
In Storm of Zehir, we intend to take interaction to a new level. One way we are doing that is reducing the amount of lengthy un-interactive scenes and adding maximum reactivity to conversations. Cohorts help us to achieve this goal. Though they lack complex conversations of their own, and none of them will be love interests, they offer special responses in conversations that the player can choose, or not. The end result is that cohorts always give you more choices rather than sometimes “hijacking” and taking away choices. Because my meager explanation may not be clear enough, here is a specific example of this [more…]