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Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir - All News

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Box Art

Monday - February 22, 2010

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Signed Copy Comp @ GameBanshee

by Woges, 02:06

GameBanshee have a signed copy of Storm of Zehir up for grabs.

What's better than a free copy of Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir? How about a copy of Storm of Zehir signed by over thirty members of the expansion pack's development team? And if that isn't enough, perhaps you'd be interested in setting your cold drink of choice down on an Obsidian Entertainment drink coaster signed by the one and only Chris Avellone?

If you'd like to get your hands on one of these three prizes, all you have to do is post a comment underneath this newsbit. That's it. A week from today (Thursday, February 25th), I'll randomly select three members as the winners. If you win, you'll receive an email from me (please make sure the email address assigned to your account is valid) requesting your address so I can get the item shipped to your front door.

Monday - October 12, 2009

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Walkthrough & Database @ GameBanshee

by Dhruin, 22:05

GameBanshee sends word they have completed their walkthrough of NWN2: Storm of Zehir and updated their equipment and item database for NWN2 across the board.

Thursday - June 25, 2009

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Power Builds @ Thieves-Guild

by Dhruin, 13:33

Thieves-Guild.net writes in about some character "power builds" designed specifically for the Storm of Zehir campaign:

Thieves Guild Power Builds are different than the builds you will find elsewhere. Each build is directed specifically at the campaign in question. It’s not a generic build; it’s not aimed at PvP; it’s not a hangover from the OC. SoZ TGPBs are made for SoZ, OC builds for the OC, etc.

Another thing that will differentiate TGPBs from others is that reasons will be given for the key elements of all the builds, which will be bolded in the build description.

Right now we present you two exclusive Thieves-Guild.Net Power Builds for Storm of Zehir. More will follow soon!

http://www.thieves-guild.net

Sunday - March 01, 2009

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Walkthrough @ Thieves-Guild.net

by Dhruin, 21:30

Cal1s from NWN2 fansite Thieves-Guild.net sends word they have completed a comprehensive walkthrough for Storm of Zehir.

Tuesday - February 24, 2009

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Review @ GameBanshee

by Dhruin, 10:22

GameBanshee has kicked up their review of Storm of Zehir, which reads even lower than the 6/10 score awarded:

From reading the forums here, I know that there are some people out there who hate Obsidian Entertainment with a passion, and who for some reason think that Knights of the Republic 2 and Neverwinter Nights 2 are an affront to western civilization. I’m not one of those people. I’d much rather champion a developer who tries new and interesting things but sometimes fails, rather than simply going along with a developer who clones ideas and succeeds. But something just seems to be wrong with Obsidian. They usually come up with good ideas, but can they actually develop games? Can they finish a project on time and without a plethora of bugs? Recent evidence suggests that the answer to these questions is “no,” and Storm of Zehir, their latest expansion pack for Neverwinter Nights 2, is at best a black eye for them.

Wednesday - January 14, 2009

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Review @ Games32

by Magerette, 18:57

The latest review for Obsidian's expansion to NWN2, Storm of Zehir, shows up at Games32, which gives it an overall score of 76/100:

Maybe the best asset of Storm of Zehir is the freedom provided by the overland map, which allows you to decide if you want to stick to the main quests or venture into the thick forests that are scattered all around, searching for extra challenges. For the more inquisitive players this option can really save a rather tedious story line and make the entire gaming experience a very exciting one, because you'll never know what you'll encounter when you embark in your own quest.

On the downside, travelling from one major city to a remote town or dungeon can prove to be a bit too challenging for those who choose not to waste a lot of time exploring the world map, but rather complete the quest given to them. Even if you go to great lengths to avoid combat, this occurs pretty frequently and since you can't rest anywhere but at the inn it's most likely the ambushers will catch you off guard...

Conclusion:

The main problem of having a full party is not just the extra difficulty in handling them, but the fact that you constantly get the feeling that the game misses a compelling central character. The dull narration is another weak spot of Storm of Zehir, but otherwise Obisdian can be quite proud for this expansion which seems capable of inheriting the Neverwinter Nights legacy.

Source: Blues News

Tuesday - January 13, 2009

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Design Interview @ Iron Tower

by Dhruin, 12:21

Vince D. Weller sends word of a Storm of Zehir design interview they have on the Iron Tower forums with Kevin Saunders and Tony Evans:

7. The game has a LOT of skill checks in dialogues, much more than one would expect from an exploration/combat/trading game. The trade off is that many are flavor-only. It seems that if you want to talk tough, you invest into Intimidate. If you want to sound like a reasonable guy, you invest into Diplomacy. In other words, you invest into developing a personality. Is it a new thing Obsidian is playing with? Any thoughts on SoZ skill checks?  

Tony Evans: In the past, we’ve had to keep player responses as generic and homogenized as possible to avoid alienating players by giving them choices that they don’t want to choose. In Storm of Zehir, we opted to concentrate on providing a lot more responses based on skill, class, race, gender, deity, and ability scores so that players felt rewarded for customizing their party members. That approach allowed us to add more personality to certain special responses.  For instance, if you are a Half-Orc Barbarian with an Intelligence of 8, we can assume that you will sometimes have something stupid to say.

Kevin Saunders: All I have to say is that I ordered Tony and the designers to not have deity checks (I felt there are too many deities and it would create too much work) and they brazenly ignored me. George ignored my same demand for Mask of the Betrayer. Bastards.

Saturday - January 10, 2009

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Review @ G4tv

by Dhruin, 10:14

NWN2: Storm of Zehir has been reviewed at G4tv, with a score of 4/5 even though  the author doesn't sound that excited.  Let's go straight to the conclusion:

If you're a fan of Neverwinter Nights 2 then this is a no-brainer purchase. The over land map section of the game is hardly revolutionary but does add a much more open feeling to the game - and finding random magic weapons and toys hiding in the trees on the way to town is always a nice bonus. Obviously if the original game and its first expansion bored you to tears this will as well, but we don't figure you'd have read this far if that were the case.

Source: GameBanshee

Monday - December 29, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Review @ rpg codex

by Magerette, 17:14

The Codex does a lengthy,scoreless review of Obsidian's Neverwinter Nights 2 expansion, Storm of Zehir. Here's a snip about the overland map:

Storm of Zehir adds a lot to the original formula of Neverwinter Nights 2 and I shall start with the overland map. The map allows the player to interactively travel through the gameworld, as opposed to the original campaign, where you just clicked the destination you wanted to travel to when you left a location. The map is filled with various locations such as towns, dungeons, caves, crypts etc, that you can uncover during your travels (although some locations are ‘unlocked’ only through quests). It also holds a lot of hidden goodies that will be discovered only by characters with enough ranks in certain skills (for example: if the character you’re controlling on the overland map has enough ranks in ‘craft armor’, you may find a tree with a unique breastplate, enough ‘heal’ will let you find discarded baskets of clothes from which you can scavenge some bandages etc). However, it mustn’t be ignored that the Forgotten Realms are not a safe place,and there are numerous bands of various monsters roaming the roads and wilderness, which makes certain abilities absolutely vital to avoid the random encounters. Encounter related skills are: 'hide' and 'move silently' (to avoid detection on the overland map), 'spot' (to detect monsters from afar) and 'survival' (which increases your party’s speed. Useful for a quick getaway but its main function is just making the trips faster). Each random encounter has an encounter level (EL) assigned to it, which indicates how tough will it be for your party to make it through.

Source: Blues News

Sunday - December 28, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Review @ NWVault

by Magerette, 18:43

IGN's Neverwinter Vault posts their review of Obsidian's second expansion to NeverwinterNights 2, Storm of Zehir, giving it an overall score of 8/10. The author notes that the review contains some slight spoilers for those who haven't yet played the game.

Here's a relatively unrevealing snip from the role playing category:

Storm features a new dialogue system for your party and this ends up being a surprisingly clever and effective way of adding character to your party and companions. As you may have read, the new dialogue system allows all the members of your party to chip in with their own conversation options during a dialogue. Now, the main party is created by the player at the beginning of the game so you might imagine they remain just a collection of statistics and dice rolls. Not so, since the intelligent sorcerer often comes up with a clever observation and the smooth-talking swashbuckler tries to talk his way of out a fight whereas the chaotic rogue is content to drop in a sarcastic comment here and there. Providing you have a sensible mix of class types, races, alignments and skills in your party your party members will build their own characters throughout the course of the game

Source: Blues News

Wednesday - December 17, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Video Diary @ GameBanshee

by Dhruin, 23:50

GameBanshee dropped us a note about this NWN2: Storm of Zehir video diary.  Here's their blurb:

Atari sent us over an exclusive developer diary video for Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir featuring commentary from Obsidian Entertainment's Tony Evans, Jeff Husges, and Nathaniel Chapman about party collaboration and the expansion's new classes and races.

Friday - December 12, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Review @ GameZone

by Dhruin, 21:32

NWN2: Storm of Zehir has been reviewed at GameZone.  The score is a solid 8.2/10 and here's a snip:

But in spite of that, SoZ is a solid and entertaining game that harkens back to a time when the story drove the adventure and it was well worth the trip. After you are done on the shipwrecked island, and head back to the Sword Coast, things heat up and another new element of the game is introduced – the trade element. You can start up a small merchant company (this is optional content) and try to run trade routes to make a lot of coin. It’s a very nice diversion.

Thursday - December 11, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Review @ GameSpy

by Dhruin, 13:34

GameSpy has reviewed NWN2: Storm of Zehir, resulting in a disappointing 2.5/5.  Here's a snip that outlines the criticisms:

The upside of this is that it lets the player really utilize all of a party's skills. It forces the player to really pay attention to the kinds of characters they bring into the mission and work to get a good breadth of abilities. In many ways it's a throwback to classic D&D "dungeon-crawl" adventuring where the player was tasked with merely exploring an area, killing lots of monsters and looting as much treasure as possible. The downside is that the included adventure completely fails to build any kind of compelling experience. Storm of Zehir is the worst sort of "Keep on the Borderlands" throwback filled with generic, poorly designed dungeons, haphazard monster layouts that feel more like treasure obstacles than any kind of working ecology, and the sad underutilization of the Yuan-ti -- easily one of D&D's most interesting and fun races.

Monday - December 08, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Reviews @ Blend, GamingHeaven

by Dhruin, 21:31

The Storm of Zehir reviews are slowly trickling in, with two more for today.  This first from Blend Games is from a week or so back, with a score of 3.5/5:

Storm of Zehir is perhaps the final expansion to Neverwinter Nights 2 but there's nothing valedictory about it. It's more of an introduction than a conclusion really, with broad new gameplay features and a story that serves as a prelude to a much larger tale in Dungeon & Dragon's Forgotten Realms setting. While it's heartening to know that Obsidian has future plans for the series and that they're willing to make bold changes to the series' formula, SoZ's innovation has a price and many of the NWN2's previous strengths are less evident here.

GamingHeaven scores 84/100 but here's a snip about the pitfalls of the free-roaming experience:

However playing Devil's Advocate there is also a sense of unimportance about the whole experience. The games main strength is therefore also its weakness. With the lack of a focused main quest to drive players on there is sometimes very little incentive to keep playing. Levelling up characters and forging a trade empire is fun, but without objectives it will be very much up to the individual to find reward from the title. Sometimes specific objectives require characters of a specific level, so a certain part of the game will require grinding to progress.

Graphically the game is not that impressive, it runs quite poorly for a 2 year old engine and obviously some more time was clearly required for optimisations. The overhead map adds nothing really to the overall interface.

Thursday - December 04, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Review @ IGN AU

by Dhruin, 23:19

NWN2: Storm of Zehir has been reviewed at IGN AU, with a score of 8.2/10:

Make no mistake, this is a marked departure from Mask of the Betrayer, the previous instalment in the series. Where that game was narrow yet deep, Storm of Zehir offers width and expanse. Instead of narrative richness, Storm of Zehir opts for a kind of exploratory freedom that only really works when untethered from the hook of a linear, main quest. If you're expecting a heroic tale where the fate of the world hinges upon your personal sacrifice or redemption, then you'll be very disappointed. If you enjoy testing yourself against wandering encounters, delving into random caverns and dungeons, and just generally finding more cool stuff for your party and levelling up, then Storm of Zehir will hold far greater appeal.

Tuesday - December 02, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Reviews @ GameSpot, IGN

by Dhruin, 09:49

More Storm of Zehir reviews from the majors have been a long time coming.  Finally, both GameSpot and IGN have kicked up their opinions, although they differ quite a bit.  GameSpot finds the change of direction doesn't suit the NWN2 engine and interface, for a score of 6/10:

Additions to the main aspects of Neverwinter Nights 2's gameplay are sort of adventurous, if not entirely successful. The best and worst new feature is an overland map used for traveling between quest locales, like towns and dungeons. This is a simple, old-fashioned interface where you pick a party leader and he or she then leads your adventurers into the wilderness. The good news is that this map allows for open-ended exploration that adds a sense of venturing into the unknown that hasn't been incorporated into a D&D RPG for years. You can discover loads of hidden goodies just by wandering around, from secret lairs to magical artifacts to bundles of clothing you can use to make an impromptu health kit. The bad news is that this map is loaded with a crazy number of random encounters. Unless you have a party leader like a ranger who has serious points dedicated to skills like hide, move silently, and survival, you can't help but stumble into one pack of monsters after another every time that you hit the overland map to head to a new quest. One moment you're set upon by skeletons, then it's a gang of gnolls, then zombies, then earth elementals, then spiders, and so on. Monsters can hit so hard and so often that you can never rest, which turns map travels into tedious slogs that wear you down over time. Still, the overland map could be a great feature with some serious tweaking. It will be interesting to see what modders do with it.

But IGN sees the formula as a successful homage to old-school D&D campaigns and the score is 8.3/10:

Fans of D&D and single-player role-playing games should definitely check out Storm of Zehir. Yes, there's a shortage of single-player D&D games in this age of MMOs that we live in, but Obsidian has still crafted an involving and engaging adventure. It's also nice to see the company take risks, presenting new forms of gameplay and evolving its series even further. With its emphasis on party, this feels like an homage to the old school D&D games of the past.

Sunday - November 30, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Hotfix and 1.23 Patch

by Myrthos, 21:59

Rob McGinnis of Obsidian had the following to say on their forums:

We are going to go ahead with releasing a small patch in December to take care of some of the small things that cropped up with 1.21/SoZ.

1.23 is still planned for January, though we may do an extended beta with it, since it will contain:

Content autodownloader
Haks loading before character creation
Version checking of PWC files
Adjustments to WASD
and more!

Thanks Lucky Day!

Wednesday - November 26, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Review @ 1Up

by Dhruin, 21:54

NWN2: Storm of Zehir reviews certainly aren't coming in fast - this relatively short one at 1Up is the first major site we've seen with an opinion.  The rating is "B+" with praise for the freedom, crafting and trading but some comments on bugs and lacklustre story:

The story, while certainly not deep (unlike the epic Mask of the Betrayer, Storm of Zehir focuses on one mercantile group's efforts to establish itself in the chaos that follows the defeat of the King of Shadows in the original campaign), provides just enough support to allow the player to explore the world. Some of this hearkens back to the Icewind Dale series; some of this goes back much further. Freedom's the hook -- the freedom to build the party you want and explore the world on your terms.

The overland map's certainly a homage to the old school. Storm of Zehir allows you to explore the map -- explore the world -- as you travel from city to dungeon and back. Wonder what's in that forest? Well, go take a look -- you may find an ancient treasure, a ruined temple, or an angry monster. Curious about those mountains? Walk on over and you may find precious mithril, or a black market run by unsavory sorts. I enjoyed this so much that I honestly had trouble sticking to the story (not that it gave me any reason to do so) -- I was more interested in seeing as much of the world as possible, and when it was clear that I'd reached the endgame, I set the story aside and continued my exploration. You don't have to race through the story, which gives you the freedom to deal with it on your terms, when you're damn good and ready.

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Hotfix Available

by Corwin, 03:17

Avantenor sends word of an important hotfix for the game. Here's the text:

Obsidian released a Hotfix for an installation bug of SoZ.
SoZ deleted an important sound archive containing the whole MotB voice
overs. The new hotfix corrects this problem by downloading the missing
file via the autoupdater. It's about 340 MB, depending on one's game
language.

Thanks for the heads up.

Saturday - November 22, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Review @ Gamestar.de

by Dhruin, 23:42

Thanks to Avantenor for pointing out our first Storm of Zehir review, albeit a German only one at Gamestar.de.  The score is 81% and according to my Google-fu of the summary, the addon is imaginative and atmospheric for fans of the series.  Unfortunately, I failed my navigating-Gamestar-roll as usual and can't find the full text - hopefully our German readers can flesh things out in the comments.

Wednesday - November 19, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - IGN Blog Update

by Dhruin, 22:11

Programmer Anthony Davis writes for the NWN2 IGN blog about getting the key Storm of Zehir features ready:

We were even able to add some extra bonus fun to the new Party Creation System, like modifying your Party at any point in the game. Is that slacker of a rogue just not pulling his weight? Get to the nearest inn and lose that Zero and get yourself a Hero - or a Heroine. We even had time to add flavor to the Party Creation System by adding text fields where the Player can add a Party Name, a Party Motto, and even a Party Biography, all of which is accessible through script for the community to use.

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Shipping in NA

by Dhruin, 22:02

The announcement finally came through:

NEW YORK, NY – November 18, 2008 – Atari and Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. (NYSE:HAS), bring new action and adventure into retailers today with the release of Neverwinter Nights™ 2: Storm of Zehir. Developed by world-renowned studio Obsidian Entertainment, the second expansion pack for the acclaimed Neverwinter Nights 2 delivers thrilling original D&D® adventures made even more exciting by a host of new gameplay features. Rated “T” for Teens, Neverwinter Nights™ 2: Storm of Zehir is now available for the suggested price of $29.99.

Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir builds on the strong tradition of Dungeons & Dragons computer games by marrying old-school concepts like full party customization and dungeon crawling with new innovations, such as a fully 3D Overland Map feature which allows for free exploration of the non-linear game world. The gripping storyline foreshadows the events that devastate the land of the Forgotten Realms in the Fourth Edition of the Dungeons & Dragons Role-Playing Game released in June 2008.

The Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir Overland Map feature lets players explore the Chultan Peninsula and Sword Coast in a way never before possible in any Neverwinter Nights game. Players will explore well-known locations, like Neverwinter and Crossroad Keep, alongside lesser travelled areas, such as the xenophobic jungle nation of Samarach. Vicious monsters and groups of bandits populate the Overland Map, and the farther from civilization the player roams, the more difficult the encounters become.

The 20 to 30-hour campaign in Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir introduces new classes, including the fearsome Hellfire Warlock and the daring Swashbuckler, as well as brand-new spells, creatures, and playable races. Fans of the compelling multiplayer features of Neverwinter Nights 2 will be able to play through Storm of Zehir's campaign in the online cooperative mode, while modders can use the included editor to create their own campaigns and Overland Maps to share online.


Game Features:
• Travel the Sword Coast and Samarach with the open-ended exploration of the new Overland Map. Use skills like Spot, Survival, and Hide to avoid ambushes and even find hidden locales and lost artifacts.
• Create your own full party of adventurers. Devastate your foes with a squad of fireball-flinging Sorcerers, form a solid wall of steel with a party of Fighters, or strike the perfect balance in your party by spreading out the classes you choose for your characters.
• Improved party gameplay with a sophisticated party conversation system, full party creation, and Teamwork Benefits.

Atari is committed to the continued success of the Neverwinter Nights series. The work that Obsidian has done in creating Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir is a result of listening to the fan community, working to deliver on their requests and constantly improving the experience.

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Now Available on Direct2Drive

by Dhruin, 00:21

We haven't seen a shipping announcement for retail yet but NA players can grab Storm of Zehir from Direct2Drive right now.

Monday - November 17, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - First Impressions @ Thieves Guild

by Dhruin, 11:44

Although billed as a review, this Storm of Zehir look at Thieves Guild is best seen as a first impressions article, because the author hasn't finished playing through.  They do like what they've seen, apart from missing the inter-party interactions.  Here's a snip:

Pay close attention to the character skills your party has.  During our run-through, almost all of the skills have had some value - whether it be thru additional dialogue options, crafting or on the overland map.  The craft alchemy skill will come in handy during the opening combat segment as well as on the overland map so don't disregard it.  With that in mind, I stuck to the basic DnD party: a paladin, rogue, wizard and cleric and kept them single classed throughout the game.  Not the most glamorous party for sure, but I was able to cover almost all of the skills.

Wednesday - November 12, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - IGN Blog Update

by Dhruin, 22:08

NWN2: Storm of Zehir Audio Director Alexander Brandon writes a blog update at IGN on the game's music:

While the sounds and voices of Storm of Zehir play an important role, perhaps the most instantly recognizable audio in the game comes from the soundtrack. The music is varied, sweeping, and epic. But so are a lot of soundtracks. What sets Zehir apart is its extensive use of themes and a "return to roots" mentality. A great many people had a hand in its creation, but before the composers were involved there was a design discussion between myself and Tony Evans, the lead designer.

Tuesday - November 11, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Interview @ NW Vault

by Dhruin, 21:13

A short interview with Nathaniel Chapman, Matthew Rorie and Scott Everts is up at NW Vault.  Around a third of the discussion centres on the toolset possibilities for the Overland Map but here's a general snip:

World Map adoration aside, what are two other things that you think are noteworthy, that you are proud of, in the game? Maybe something that has not gotten a lot of publicity but will impress as people get their teeth into the game?

Nathaniel Chapman: The crafting system is a massive improvement over what already existed in the games previously, both for players and for the community. It's dramatically easier to extend both with new recipes and new functionality, AND it's a lot easier to use as a player. I think people will get a kick out of it and I hope and expect they'll do cool stuff with it that we didn't even consider. Additionally, full party creation really makes the D&D experience complete, in my experience. For me, crafting a full party throughout the game just makes me feel more invested in everything, from combat to role-playing.

Monday - November 10, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Release Date Discussion

by Dhruin, 22:31

Atari's recent Gold announcement for Storm of Zehir didn't include any exact release dates (saying only "November"), so I thought some of you might be interested to know it hits some territories as early as the 18th (21st for NA and and early December for Australia), with Obsidian set to patch on the 17th.  From Rob McGinnis:

Initial release will include English, French, Italian, German and Spanish next week (starting the 18th).

As to what countries, I am not sure. That is more of an Atari question.

We are planning for the patch release on the 17th.

Friday - November 07, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Art @ GameBanshee

by Dhruin, 22:59

GameBanshee dropped us a line about two high-res illustrations from Storm of Zehir they have on offer.  Two wallpaper versions are also available.

Thursday - November 06, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Manuals Online

by Dhruin, 20:53

An anonymous reader points out the NWN2: Storm of Zehir manual can be downloaded from digital delivery site Metaboli.  We don't know if the links will stay live (though it isn't unusual for Steam to make manuals available, for example) but they work as I write this.

Wednesday - November 05, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Interview @ Thieves-Guild

by Dhruin, 22:56

Thieves-Guild.net had an interview late last week with Obsidian's Rob McGinnis on NWN2: Storm of Zehir.  It covers mostly familiar territory but is worth a read:

Which feature in SoZ was the most difficult to implement and why?

RM: We had quite a few features that caused some difficulty.  The problematic things are always those things that require global changes or touch the faction system.  The overland map, the party conversation system and various AI improvements probably top the list of troublesome features.

The overland map requires many new systems and changes to old systems.  It changes the gameplay of Neverwinter Nights quite a bit.  Nathaniel Chapman put a lot of thought into the overland map to make sure it would be easily accessible to the modding and persistent world community, and I think everyone will like the results.  You no longer see the world through a microscope, moving from one little area to the next.  Now, entire regions and countries can come into play.  The world itself becomes an actor in your story.

The party conversation system was difficult because it pushes the engine in a direction it wasn't originally meant to go.  I think the end result was well worth the difficulty, though.  The party conversation system really helps to make the game more party focused.  You aren't skulking through dungeons and interacting with the various denizens of Samarach alone; you have friends along to help get you out of any trouble - or maybe it was to help get you into trouble.  I always get those two mixed up.

In other news, PC Games.de has a large collection of new screens, presumably taken from a press build (thanks, GameBanshee).

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - IGN Blog Update

by Dhruin, 22:46

Technical Artist Scott Evertts writes for the Storm of Zehir IGN blog in a piece titled Something Old, Something New:

The map was purposely stylized with different scales of objects. We wanted to make sure players knew they were in a different mode when travelling. To help portray this, Jay Bakke created a wonderful screen border and programming added a custom camera mode. We used saturated colors and distorted objects to increase the feeling of depth and scale. Travelling across each map now seems like an epic journey and with the spawned random monsters a dangerous one! Roger Chang was given the task of making all the cities, buildings, & other interactive props used on the map. All Overland art is completely new to fit the unique style. The tools and art elements are available for the mod community so they can also create exciting overland maps for their adventures.

Friday - October 31, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Gold!

by Dhruin, 21:17

Atari sends word that NWN2: Storm of Zehir has gone Gold, with "November" provided as the release date worldwide:

New Adventures Draw Near as 'Neverwinter NightsTM 2: Storm of Zehir' Goes Gold

Development Complete on Second Expansion Pack for Celebrated Role-playing Title, on Target for Worldwide Launch November 2008

NEW YORK, Oct. 31: Atari and Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. (NYSE: HAS), today announced that development is complete on Neverwinter NightsTM 2: Storm of Zehir. Developed by world-renowned studio Obsidian Entertainment, the second expansion pack for the acclaimed Neverwinter Nights 2 delivers thrilling original D&D® adventures made even more exciting by a host of new gameplay features.

Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir builds on the strong tradition of Dungeons & Dragons computer games by marrying old-school concepts like full party customization and dungeon crawling with new innovations, such as a fully 3D Overland Map feature which allows for free exploration of the non-linear game world. The gripping storyline foreshadows the events that devastate the land of the Forgotten Realms in the Fourth Edition of the Dungeons & Dragons Role-Playing Game, released in June 2008.

The Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir Overland Map feature lets players explore the Chultan Peninsula and Sword Coast in a way never before possible in any Neverwinter Nights game. Players will explore well-known locations, like Neverwinter and Crossroad Keep, alongside lesser travelled areas, such as the xenophobic jungle nation of Samarach. Vicious monsters and groups of bandits populate the Overland Map, and the farther from civilization the player roams, the more difficult the encounters become.

The 20 to 30-hour campaign in Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir introduces new classes, including the fearsome Hellfire Warlock and the daring Swashbuckler, as well as brand-new spells, creatures, and playable races. Fans of the compelling multiplayer features of Neverwinter Nights 2 will be able to play through Storm of Zehir's campaign in the online cooperative mode, while modders can use the included editor to create their own campaigns and Overland Maps to share online.

Game Features:

  • Travel the Sword Coast and Samarach with the open-ended exploration of the new Overland Map. Use skills like Spot, Survival, and Hide to avoid ambushes and even find hidden locales and lost artifacts.
  • Create your own full party of adventurers. Devastate your foes with a squad of fireball-flinging Sorcerers, form a solid wall of steel with a party of Fighters, or strike the perfect balance in your party by spreading out the classes you choose for your characters.
  • Improved party gameplay with a sophisticated party conversation system, full party creation, and Teamwork Benefits.

Atari is committed to the continued success of the Neverwinter Nights series. The work that Obsidian has done in creating Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir is a result of listening to the fan community, working to deliver on their requests and constantly improving the experience.

More information about Neverwinter Nights 2 and access to the Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir site can be found at www.nwn2.com where visitors are encouraged to become part of the highly active Neverwinter Nights community and contribute their feedback.

Wednesday - October 29, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Preview @ 1Up

by Dhruin, 21:21

1Up has a preview of Storm of Zehir from earlier in the week:

There's a party goin' on: How many of you really like the NPCs that the previous NN games saddle you with? The misfits you paired up with in NN2 weren't all that interesting. A Dwarf who wanted to be a Monk? A snarky Wizard? (Granted, the NPC followers in Mask of the Betrayer were pretty dang good.) In Storm of Zehir, you get to make your own party, allowing you to customize your forces any way you see fit. I spent a couple of hours just exploring which setups I wanted. Don't like magic? Roll up a group of Fighters, Barbarians, and Rogues. The party system is at the core of many of the changes in Storm of Zehir, allowing you to explore more skills, feats, classes, and races instead of dedicating characters to specific roles. Party feats give you teamwork benefits: A Ranger with Missile Volley boosts the missile attacks of all your party members. A.I. in combat is also improved; the developers mentioned one example where they turned off the combat options in a Cleric, roleplaying him as an old man who contributed with spells, not steel, in combat. You also get "cohorts" -- special NPCs that you find as you progress through the game. You may add one cohort early in the game and another later when you acquire the Leadership feat, extending your party to six characters, and you may exchange characters that you've made for cohorts that you find along the way.

Friday - October 24, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Interview @ Big Download, GameBanshee

by Dhruin, 00:07

Tony Evans fronts up again for a Storm of Zehir interview, this time at Game Daily's Big Download blog.  We've covered the overland map ad nauseam, so here's a quick grab on trading:

What can you tell us about the new economic-trade features in the expansion?

The trading system can be used to gain your party quite a bit of cash. At the heart of the trading system lies the ability to create merchant caravans that travel between your trading posts, which you can establish in most cities that you visit. These merchants will automatically establish trading routes, but you'll have to protect them, as bandits and monsters on the overland map will attempt to rob them of their goods. If a merchant is waylaid, you'll have to repair them to send them back on their way, or your supply of gold may dry up.

Meanwhile, GameBanshee speaks with everyone but the cleaner: lead designer Tony Evans, programmer Justin Reynard, lead QA Brandon Adler, producer Rob McGinnis, marketing and PR producer Matthew Rorie, designer Nathaniel Chapman, artist Jay Bakke, asset manager Homer Parker, and lead programmer Rich Taylor.

It's a worthwhile piece and even includes info about Mysteries of Westgate and the future - here we go:

GB: Storm of Zehir, Mysteries of Westgate, and Patch 1.14...  what order do you anticipate these being released in?  Are there any additional tweaks that you'd like to make that aren't going to make it into v1.14?

Rich Taylor: The next Neverwinter Nights 2 product to be released is going to be Storm of Zehir.  The version of the game that will be on the DVD is going to be called 1.20. This release will include the authentication system that was determined to be a pre-requisite by Atari before Mysteries of Westgate could be released. Last I heard from Atari’s QA department, everything should be ready for MoW with the release of Storm of Zehir. There will be an update on the day this new expansion releases in order to update all of the clients with Neverwinter Nights 2 installed that don’t have the new expansion. This will bring all installations up to version 1.21.  The next update after 1.21 will be released sometime in the next few months and will be referred to as 1.22. There’s a number of exciting changes planned for the 1.22 update, but we’ll wait until its contents are a more definite thing before going into much detail on them.

Wednesday - October 22, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Hands-On @ Wired

by Dhruin, 23:39

Wired says after playing Storm of Zehir with the interactive overland map, you can never go back to vanilla NWN2.  Here's the opening of their hands-on preview:

If there was one flaw shared by all the Neverwinter Nights games, it's that neither ever managed to capture the sensation of leading an epic party like the Baldur's Gate titles that came before them.

Instead, both games felt as if you were a single person who maybe found one or two friends along the way, but was essentially alone against the endless hordes of the Dungeons & Dragons multiverse.

Storm of Zehir, the second expansion pack for Neverwinter Nights 2 looks to amend that flaw, and though the solution created by developer Obsidian Entertainment isn't always perfect, it goes a long way toward capturing that old magic.

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Dev Diary, IRC Chat

by Dhruin, 00:37

Nathaniel Chapman has kicked up a new IGN diary for Storm of Zehir, talking about the overland map:

We knew we wanted exploration to be a focus of the game, so in our first prototype of what would eventually become our Overland Map system, we had something that was a little bit more like that Indiana Jones experience. You could walk around the Overland Map and discover hidden locations. Random encounters would actually spawn on the map and chase you down. Different types of terrain slowed you down, too. It really felt like you were travelling these massive distances, exploring the space between all of the interesting locations you'd normally visit in an RPG.

...and BioWare has announced an upcoming IRC chat.  From Rob McGinnis:

This Thursday night (6:00 PM PST) we will be doing an IRC Dev Chat to answer your questions about the upcoming expansion, Storm of Zehir.

For information about how to connect to the IRC server, you can follow this link.

You can download an IRC client from here: http://www.mirc.com/get.html

I will be doing a dev chat to talk about the patches at a later date. Special focus will be Class and PrC improvements.

Friday - October 17, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Preview @ GameSpy

by Magerette, 17:53

GameSpy has a hands-on preview up for Obsidian's second expansion to Neverwinter Nights 2, Storm of Zehir.

On character creation and some of the new races and classes:

We began our adventures by going through the meticulously detailed character creation system looking for new races and classes to play with. The two new races in the game are interesting choices for players looking to walk on the dark side. The Yuan-ti Pureblood is a snake/human crossbreed who sports impressive natural armor, quick reflexes and bonuses in brains and personality. They're a natural Ranger for players looking for a combat class but we chose to go with Warlock in order to try out the new Hellfire Warlock prestige class (bigger demons! more fire!). The Gray Orcs, on the other hand, have a calmer, more contemplative disposition than their wilder cousins, and their physical skills make them great combat-oriented clerics. For this character, we chose to work toward becoming a Doomguide, a new prestige class focused on destroying the undead.

Source: Blues News

Thursday - October 09, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Interview @ GameSpot

by Dhruin, 23:10

NWN2: Storm of Zehir lead designer Tony Evans provides some lengthy answers to GameSpot about the upcoming addon:

GS: Now that we know the expansion will let players create an entire party, what kind of customization options will be available for party members?

TE: In addition to the same detailed character creation of Neverwinter Nights 2 that players have come to either greatly enjoy or skip past with the recommend button, we have a new party-creation interface, programmed by Anthony Davis, who is also responsible for our sexy party-conversation interface, which I'll talk more about later.

In the Party Creation window, you can create new party members and add up to four of them to your party. You can also write your own party name, motto, and description--though there is absolutely nothing wrong with the default party name, motto and description, which I painstakingly wrote myself. But if you think you can write something better, go right ahead. Don't worry about hurting my feelings or anything.

Storm of Zehir includes two new races, the Yuan-ti Pureblood and Gray Orc. Yuan-ti are like gnomes except that they descended from humans and snakes, and aren't like gnomes at all. They tend to be evil and deceptive, but your Yuan-ti characters could be good if you're lame like that. The Yuan-ti Pureblood has a great deal of bonuses, including several new racial spell-like abilities, such as animal trance and cause fear. The Gray Orc has long gait, granting increased movement speed, and scent, which enables the Gray Orc to detect hidden enemies nearby.

There are also three new classes, the swashbuckler, doomguide, and hellfire warlock. These are described in detail below.

After you have created your party, if it turns out that your Yuan-ti Doomguide and Gray Orc Swashbuckler aren't working out too well, you can use the guest book in any tavern to remove the weakest links from your party and replace them with new party members.

Wednesday - October 08, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Hands-On @ IGN

by Dhruin, 21:28

The first hands-on impressions of Obsidian's NWN2: Storm of Zehir are up at PC.IGN, with the piece saying they played through "a good chunk" of the game:

Now that we're five-strong, we head out to explore the world and investigate another of Storm of Zehir's innovations, overland travel. In brief, Storm of Zehir does away with the concept of jumping from area to area found in the previous games. Instead, each area of interest, be it a town, a wizard's keep, or a goblin cave, is rendered as a sort of a hotspot on a large overland map that the player traverses in real time. So when we leave the Openpalm Bazaar, we find ourselves standing outside the city on a large map of Samarach. The areas of interest, like the shipwreck or other towns, are located on the map, and to reach them we'll just have to walk there. Along the way, Spot and Listen checks are made to see if we happen upon any interesting locations, like bushes that can be harvested to make potions, or forgotten ruins that can be looted for treasure.

Thanks, Minotic.

Monday - October 06, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Q&A @ GameShark

by Dhruin, 22:15

Rob McGinnis from Obsidian chats to GameShark for a general catchup on Storm of Zehir:

I have read and was told at E3 that the expansion isn’t as linear – I even read references to the freedom of a game like Fallout. So your party has options – but in what way? Are you given multiple quests or can you travel to where you want when you want?

The player will have a lot of freedom in Storm of Zehir. They will be able to wander around and complete quests in the order they want and can travel to a wide range of locations as they play. Keep in mind, though, that we want to tell a story and that means there will be a start point and an end point and some key events throughout the game, but how you go from A to B is up to the player. 

Source: GameBanshee

Friday - October 03, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Trailer @ Gamer's Hell

by Dhruin, 12:11

A hopefully new NWN2: Storm of Zehir trailer is up at Gamer's Hell (127Mb).

Source: Blues News

Friday - August 29, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Screens & Trailer

by Dhruin, 00:23

Obsidian is pointing out some Storm of Zehir screens and a new trailer at Kotaku.  The trailer offers a little bit of exposition and 30 seconds or so of combat snips.

Wednesday - August 27, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Interview Pt. 2 @ RPG Vault

by Dhruin, 00:27

RPG Vault continues their discussion with various Obsidian devs about Storm of Zehir:

Jonric: How about additional abilities, spells, feats et al? What are some notable ones to watch for in Storm of Zehir?

Justin Reynard: We've added many new heritage-type feats. These are unique as they represent your character's lineage and are initially selected at level 1. Then, as you progress, you can choose more in the progression, with their strengths directly related to how many of these feats you have.
We've also added teamwork benefits, which are bonuses that the entire party gains for training and working together. They are acquired through various quests given to you by the new Adventurer's Guild in Crossroad Keep. For example, Team Rush allows your party to move at the rate of the fastest party member.

Monday - August 25, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Early Impressions @ Gamespot

by Magerette, 16:27

Gamespot does a quick feature rundown of Obsidian's upcoming NWN2 expansion, Storm of Zehir as shown by Atari at GC2008. There's nothing new or earth-shattering revealed but it's a thorough summary. Here's a snip:

The upcoming game takes place in a completely different area of the world, though, and tasks you with preventing Zehir, the god of poison, snakes, and darkness, from taking over the Forgotten Realm. The new content is designed for characters between the levels of 3 and 15; although it's possible for you to import an existing character, the idea is that you'll create not just a new one, but a whole group of them. The new party-creation system lets you create up to four characters from scratch and, as you progress through the game, you'll have room to add two of the scripted characters to your party for a total of six.

Thursday - August 21, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Screens @ VoodooExtreme

by Dhruin, 11:19

Fourteen shots from Storm of Zehir can be found at VoodooExtreme, including the first official shots of the overland map (if I recall correctly).

Monday - August 18, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - GenCon Preview @ Destructoid

by Dhruin, 22:41

Destructoid has a 3-paragraph mini-preview of NWN2: Storm of Zehir from GenCon, plus a video.  My internet is flaky today, so the video isn't loading but hopefully it's new.  A snip from the article:

While I was at Atari’s booth at Gen Con, I was able check out the upcoming Neverwinter Nights 2 expansion, Storm of Zehir. The first thing that caught my eye, and additionally one of the key new features of the expansion, is the new Overland map. Players will now be able to navigate a fully realized map to fight monsters and find hidden dungeons and items. When I say hidden, think about how some of the caves in the original Legend of Zelda were dispersed in the trees.

Saturday - August 16, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Interview Pt. 1 @ RPG Vault

by Dhruin, 03:05

The first part of an interview with Tony Evans and other team members on NWN2: Storm of Zehir is online at RPG Vault.  From writer Annie Carlson:

Jonric: Can we safely assume there will be pre-made characters be available for those who don't want to create an entire party? What will they be like, and what are a couple of interesting examples?

Annie Carlson:
There will indeed be various pre-made characters; in our 'hood, we call them cohorts. And they're all new, no leftovers from Neverwinter Nights 2 or Mask of the Betrayer, although that doesn't mean you won't meet some folks from before; they'll just serve different purposes. You can get these companions into your party in various way; some you hire, others you do a quest for (and thus they may feel they "owe you a solid", as I believe the kids say these days), and certain ones show up insisting they're on a mission from god - er, goddess. Okay, okay, that's just one of them, but you get the idea.

The way you get each fits in with its personality and motivations. Belueth, for example, is a rogue who couldn't care less what kind of super-important mission you're on... but Inshula loves the hunt, and welcomes the challenges that your party faces without much need for coin to motivate her.

Throughout the game, you'll have a chance to run into different cohorts - some along the critical path, others through side quests - but once they've agreed to join you, it's possible to tell them to help you out or buzz off throughout the rest of the campaign. You will never be forced to take one with you at any time... although I recommend you do, because they are special and wonderful.

Tuesday - August 12, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Screenshots @ GamersHell

by Magerette, 19:00

GamersHell has put up 5 new screens for the second NWN2 expansion, Storm of Zehir. You can take a look at them here.

Sunday - August 10, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Box Art @ Obsidian Forums

by Magerette, 17:04

Rob McGinnis posts a short update on his  Neverwinter Nights 2 Blog which gives a look at the box art for the forthcoming expansion, Storm of Zehir, featuring the skull and snake motif, and also gives some progress information:

Things are moving along pretty well on NX2. We just hit Alpha and we are pressing on to Beta, with a few internal milestones in between.  

He also mentions some of the differences in the expansion, including the Overland Map, party creation from scratch and party dialogue options:

 To go along with the party focus, Anthony Davis has been hard at work implementing the Party Conversation system. This new feature will expand the party-based feel of the game by allowing players to capitalize on the skills and backgrounds of the entire party, not just the party leader, as in previous NWN2 and NWN1 titles. Based on each character's skills and background, different conversation options will be available simply by selecting a different party member's portrait in the conversation.

Source: GameBanshee

Wednesday - July 30, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Interview @ NW Vault

by Dhruin, 00:04

NWN2: Storm of Zehir Lead Designer Tony Evans chats with NW Vault about the upcoming expansion.  Here's a bit on the party and cohorts:

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...]

Wednesday - July 23, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - E3 Roundup

by Dhruin, 02:16

Same deal for NWN2: Storm of Zehir - here's Obsidian's E3 coverage list:

  • Crispy Gamer - Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir at E3
  • Blast - E3 2008: Atari steps up to the plate, swings and scores big
  • GameSpy - GameSpy E3 '08 Coverage
  • Kotaku - Atari: Witchers, RPGs, Cooks, and ... Deer Hunters
  • GameZone - E3 2008 Preview
  • IGN - E3 2008: Neverwinter Nights: Storm of the Zehir
  • Gaming Nexus - E3 2008: Atari

Sunday - July 20, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Preview @ GameSpy

by Dhruin, 01:23

There's nothing particularly new in this NWN2: SoZ preview at GameSpy but the overland map and new classes still sound good:

The party's struggle for survival in the jungle gave the Atari demonstrator the opportunity to show off the game's new overland map. This new "living map" stands in stark contrast to the standard static map that merely offered a representation of the land available to explore and static "teleport" buttons that would jump a character between set pieces. Now the map shows off tiny moving representations of the party as well as any friendly or enemy NPC s in sensory range of the party moving about in real-time. By steering the party around the map, the adventurers can hit or avoid a number of randomly generated monster encounters. Depending on which character is in the lead, the map can also use seldom-utilized skills like survival to reveal treasure caches, hidden ruins or even little side-quests that the party can explore. While these won't be terribly extensive in the official campaign that accompanies Storm of Zehir, the developers expect this to be one of the big new features for adventure creators and modders in the Neverwinter Nights 2 community.

While players will be able to import older characters into the new adventure, they may find themselves a bit overpowered for the trip. According to Obsidian, the last expansion pack (Mask of the Betrayer) was a high-level adventurer that had players accessing epic powers and battling against some monstrously powerful evils. The power level's been scaled back a bit for Storm of Zehir, operating at the old Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 sweet spot of the early-to-mid teens. Players who fire up new player characters will also be able to roll up one of the game's two new classes. The first is a dexterity-based fighter called a Swashbuckler who relies on speed and finesse to defeat opponents, rather than brute force. The second is the Doomguide, a cleric specializing in the destruction of the undead.

Saturday - July 19, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Video Footage, Preview

by Dhruin, 00:36

Titled a developer walkthrough, Gametrailers has Obsidian's PR Producer Matthew Rory talking us through some Storm of Zehir footage in the background.  We get a reasonable view of the overland map in this, which looks fantastic and better than I expected.

Meanwhile, a site called Thunderbolt Games has a preview of SoZ:

Another first for the series is that all of the characters in your party can chime in during dialogue scenes. This will surely add more personality to the game, but it will also allow you to use each character’s dialogue abilities to the fullest. Some characters are more intimidating, some are better at diplomacy, but now you can access all of their skills to truly shape the game as you want to. Rorie showed off how the new dialogue system works by using a secondary character to intimidate a non-player character into giving up his sword. Suffice to say, I think it will really add a lot of depth to the game.

Thursday - July 17, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Screens @ VE3D

by Dhruin, 23:01

Also at VoodooExtreme is a standard Storm of Zehir press release but with five screenshots attached.  Alas, no look at the overland map.

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Preview @ IGN

by Dhruin, 14:42

A visit to the Atari booth has yielded a preview of NWN2: Storm of Zehir at IGN. Here's a bit on the overland map:

Overland travel has also been changed substantially. It now takes place in a full 3D environment that lets players roam in real time through a sort of miniaturized version of the world. Cities, forests, roaming monsters, merchant caravans and all the other expected elements will be present on the overland map, giving players the chance to explore a variety of options. The spot skill will also work on the overland map, so if an innkeeper tells you that a number of adventurers have gone missing in a nearby forest, you can roam around, hoping to spot some clues to their whereabouts. The team also tells us there's a new trading system with some interesting tie-ins with the story, but they weren't willing to share any specific details.

Saturday - June 28, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Forum Tidbit

by Dhruin, 11:39

Obsidian programmer Anthony Davis has posted an example of Storm of Zehir's party dialogue system at RPG Codex:

I am still implementing and tuning the Party Conversation System so all of this is subject to change depending on how the gameplay works or technical limitation we encounter.

Here is the example though.

Here is my party:

When I start the game, I select (or create) what the Aurora/Electron engine refers to as the Player Created Character. This operates exactly like NWN1, NWN2, and NX1.

Player Created Character is NOT functionally the same thing as the Party Leader, though they are frequently the same creature.

I select Grubs, my half-orc monk.

Once in NX2, we have access to the Party Creation Screen.

To complete my party, I select a cleric , a smarty pants mage, and a rogue to cover everything else.

So my party now looks like this:

Grubs the Monk (PCC and also currently the leader has a BLUFF of 5)
Oswyn the Cleric (has DIPLOMACY of 10)
Karak the Mage (has LORE of 10)
Reylene the Rogue (has BLUFF of 10)


I'm going to get a little bit more technical here, but it has to be done.

Every conversation node has a series or replies. Each reply has or can have conditional scripts that fire that determine if the reply node should appear. It worked this way for NWN1, NWN2, and NX1.

For example, if I put a conditional on a reply node that says APPRAISE > 5, that reply node will ONLY appear if the player character talking to the NPC has an APPRAISE skill greater than 5.

Conditionals can be ANY script out there as long as it returns a TRUE or a FALSE.

Got it?

Moving on...

Let's pretend we talk to some dude, and his conversation tree looks like this:

>Sup, what can I do for you guys?
1. Hey, nothing.
2. (If BLUFF less 10) Gimme your money. !Failure!
3. (If BLUFF greater than or equal 10) Gimme your money. !Success!
4. (If DIPLOMACY greater 5) We come in peace!
5. (If LORE greater I have heard of you!

(The words between the !'s represent comments that would not be shown in game)

Whatever, you get the idea. Talking to this guy will bring up the new Party Conversation System.

The new Party Conversation System looks similar to the Quickchat Screen from NWN2, except for a series of tabs that allow you to switch between current party members.

In our case, it is Grubs, Oswyn, Karak, and Reylene. Grubs is currently the active/highlighted tab because he is the party leader.

Grubs has the following dialog options:
1. Hey, nothing.
2. (If BLUFF less 10) Gimme your money.!Failure!

If I click on Oswyn's tab, I am in effect allowing Oswyn to talk for the party. I will then see Oswyn's dialog options:

1. Hey, nothing.
4. (If DIPLOMACY greater 5) We come in peace!

Karak:
1. Hey, nothing.
5. (If LORE greater I have heard of you!

And finally, Reylene:
1. Hey, nothing.
3. (If BLUFF greater than or equal 10) Gimme your money. !Success!


Flipping through the tabs will allow you to see what options each character might have if you chose to allow them to speak for the party.

Remember, my example is weak sauce compared to what the real designers do, afterall, I'm a programmer.

Thursday - June 26, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Interview @ GameBanshee

by Dhruin, 14:04

GameBanshee let us know they have an interview with Obsidian on Storm of Zehir.  It covers the usual introductory stuff but a new Prestige Class does get revealed.  Here's a snip:

GB: Tell us a bit more about Storm of Zehir's storyline, as well as how the new overland map and trading system will function.


Matthew: We can't say much about the storyline at this point - suffice to say that Zehir himself is mentioned in some of the D&D 4th Edition manuals. While our game utilizes 3.5 Edition rules and takes place before the 4th Edition in the chronology of the Forgotten Realms, we still foreshadow some of the events of the new D&D edition.

The Overland Map is an exciting new feature for us, as it allows for more non-linear exploration of the game world, in a fashion somewhat akin to Fallout. We feel that this allows for more open-ended gameplay, and also allows us to set the player loose and explore the world in a way that selecting destinations on a map screen doesn't really emphasize. We're also excited about the new roles that some of the Skills will play on the Overland Map; things like Spot, Listen, and Survival will probably be much more important in Storm of Zehir than they have been in previous Neverwinter Nights games.

The trading system revolves around the classic capitalistic technique of "buy low, sell high". You'll also need to keep track of events that may influence the prices of various goods; some of these events might even be caused by your party of adventurers. There are also quests that tie into the trading systems, as well as merchant cartels that you can choose to ally with or oppose. In the end, we want the trading system to open up new role-playing opportunities, so you can expect your trading adventures to open up new quests and influence the story. Its implementation also encourages the player to explore the Overland Map.
 

Wednesday - June 25, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Interview @ CVG

by Dhruin, 13:46

Storm of Zehir lead Tony Evans speaks to CVG about the second NWN2 expansion.  Here's an interesting clip:

You've mentioned full party customisation, dungeon crawling, and free exploration. Can we therefore expect it to be light on role-playing?

Evans: To the contrary, Storm of Zehir will feature more role-playing than our previous games. One example is party customization itself.

Players can design a full four-person party, each with their own individual attributes. The party can be customized further with a party name, motto and bio. We'll also be including several premade characters and parties to select from.

As the player advances in Storm of Zehir, their party will gain fame and reputation as a group, which will attract the interest of cohorts. Cohorts are interesting characters that can be recruited to shore up any weaknesses the party may have. The party can also earn Teamwork Benefits, which are special feats that affect the entire party. 

Thursday - June 19, 2008

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Interview @ RPS

by Dhruin, 23:05

Kieron Gillen has been quick off the mark getting an interview for Rock, Paper, Shotgun with Kevin Saunders on Storm of Zehir.  Here's the opening question:

RPS: With its full party customisation approach, it seems to owe more to things like Icewind Dale and even older RPGs (Gold Box and earlier, to Bard’s Tale and similar). Most modern party based games go for the pregenerated NPC character model, making it a rarity in the modern marketplace. Why did you choose to re-explore this terrain? What strengths does this kind of approach offer which the pregenerated NPC model loses?

Kevin Saunders: With this approach, you completely own your character(s). This complete customization of who your alter ego is at the core of what pencil-and-paper role-playing is all about. For me personally - and I suspect this is true for many - my first memory of role-playing is creating my character. I was five and my older brother (9) had bought the Basic D&D book - the red set with the warrior slashing at a red dragon on the cover. I chose a halfling - probably because I was about that size - who I creatively named Nivek. I don’t even remember what adventures he went on, but I do remember him. With a pregenerated character, you lose that magical sense of ownership that’s at the core of role-playing.

There are major trade-offs in making a game that allows character customization. The amount of work required is staggering. Armor, weapons, attack animations, etc. must all be adapted to work with each race. The story must be flexible enough to embrace a wide variety of characters. And there are many other considerations: once you let the player create their own character, you set many expectations that are challenging to meet. It’s much easier to create a great game with a specific character/role the player fills - that’s part of why so many games go that route. The problems can compound when you’re talking about an entire party instead of a single character. But it’s not what D&D and the Neverwinter Nights 2 franchises are about.

Obsidian’s past games have given great customizability in terms of your character. With Storm of Zehir, we wanted to expand that to an entire party (as was done in the older CRPGs you mention).

NWN 2: Storm of Zehir - Interviews @ Action Trip & Strategy Informer

by Magerette, 17:18

Some additional information on the recently announced second expansion from Obsidian for the Neverwinter Nights 2 franchise, NWN2:Storm of Zehir is up today in the form of interviews. The first is over at Action Trip, where they talk to producer Kevin Saunders:

AT: Alrighty, the open-ended bit and theOverland Map [is] a fresh moment in the NWN series. How do you plan to implement this, without losing the thread of the story and throwing the gameplay off balance?

KS: The tone and flavor of Storm of Zehir is quite a bit different from that of Neverwinter Nights 2 and Mask of the Betrayer. First, the game will be more of a light-hearted adventure than a dark, forbidding tale. A more "fun"-oriented story is generally easier to make less linear. Storm of Zehir has a lot of minor plots and events, not all of which directly support the main storyline.

The story is still very important to Storm of Zehir, but the game is more about exploring an interesting and reactive world than it is about living out an epic storyline...

And Strategy Informer,  also speaking with Kevin Saunders, has this to say:

Strategy Informer: Will you be able to import your character from previous Neverwinter Nights 2 campaigns into Storm of Zehir?  If so, will it be a clean slate with the party?

Kevin Saunders: Storm of Zehir is intended to be played with a new party of low level characters. Neverwinter Nights 2 is a flexible game and from a technical perspective, you could bring your high level characters in SoZ...

Strategy Informer: Can we expect the level cap to raise? If so, what will be affected?

Kevin Saunders: Storm of Zehir has the same level cap as Mask of the Betrayer – 30. With its open-ended exploration gameplay, you can certainly reach epic levels in SoZ, but it’s also possible to “win” the game earlier than that. We felt that players would prefer our concentrating on improving other aspects of the NWN2 experience rather than extending the level cap beyond 30. Level 30 is already extreme for D&D (in fact, 4th Edition currently ends at 30).

Source: GameBanshee

Information about

Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir

Developer: Obsidian Entertainment

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: RPG
Combat: Pausable Real-time
Play-time: 20-40 hours
Voice-acting: Partially voiced

Regions & platforms
Unknown
· Homepage
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2008-11-18
· Publisher: Atari