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The RPG Scrollbars: Exciting Upcoming Updates

Gather party, venture forth

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One of the most gratifying things about the recent-ish RPG revival is that they’ve almost all done well enough to warrant developer interest after release. (Oh, if only the adventure one had been as… no, no. Wrong column.) Call them Enhanced Editions, Director’s Cuts or whatever else, they give their creators a second chance to fix mistakes or expand their worlds – and that’s pretty cool for fans. But what are the main ones on the way? I put together this quick list of ones to look forward to.

Divinity: Original Sin – Enhanced Edition

As with a couple of these, a big part of this update to Divinity: Original Sin [official site] is getting it ready for a new audience over on console – controller support being one of its top additions. That’s only the start though. Courtesy of a free update for all players, the once text-only game is now getting a full voiceover, as well as new quests, new charcters, and most interestingly, a rewritten story with a new ending. Original Sin certainly didn’t have a bad plot or script, but it did sometimes have a tendency to be vague or expect you to figure out where you were meant to go and what you were meant to do by process of elimination – specifically, where you could dare venture without getting splattered by high level goons. That being streamlined and tweaked is no bad thing. Another cool feature is that while the original supported online co-op, this version allows for split-screen play. Other bits and pieces have also been teased, including new gameplay modes, and a general rebalancing so that shopkeepers are no longer so useless (though I suspect the economy will still give economists palpitations, much as simply walking around Azeroth is enough to kill geologists.)

Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut

Another one making its way to consoles. Formerly known as the Game Of The Year Edition, that specific year being 2102, it’s recently had a name-change and a new trailer. This new version of Wasteland 2 [official site] isn’t as big an update as Divinity’s assault on The Witcher’s past record, but it’s still quite a big one – upgraded graphics, controller support, much more voiceover, and additional control over character builds and combat. Body part targeting is in, as are Quirks and Perks to give characters more flexibility – Deadeye for instance reducing the cost of firing a sniper rifle if a character hasn’t moved, or Delayed Gratification docking a skill point every level until 15 before giving a bonus on every level-up after that. I can’t say the changes make me super excited to jump back in, but all sound like good additions on both PC or the Traitor Boxes under your TV.

Shadowrun: Hong Kong

I’m really excited about this one. I didn’t think much of the original Shadowrun [official site] campaign, but its follow-up Dragonfall was a wonderful surprise. I suspect that’s the one that really helped fire up the Kickstarter engines to the tune of $1,204,726 for what could be seen as more of an expansion pack than a full new game – though I don’t mean that in a pejorative way. Unlike Dragonfall, it’s launching as a standalone game. There’s not a whole heck of a lot of information about it yet, but Harebrained Schemes is promising 15+ hours in its new setting, a team of broken toys, some quality of life upgrades like a new inventory and Cyberware skill-tree, and a new approach to hacking the Matrix that hopefully won’t suck as much, though it will probably still suck at least a bit because cyberspace bits in games are always terrible. Not too long to wait to see though.

Roehm To Ruin/The Order Of The Thorne

Quest For Infamy [official site] was a staggeringly impressive take on the Quest For Glory formula, sadly undercut a bit by a couple of issues – some childish humour, not a whole lot of villainy. I’m glad to see its makers pushing on though, with two new games on the horizon. The first, Quest For Infamy: Roehm To Ruin is more of an adventure than QFI’s hybrid, and a prequel showing how antihero Roehm ended up fleeing to the first game on the back of a cart. Also part of the same Kickstarter was the start of a new series called The Order Of The Thorne, an anthology series with two games announced – The King’s Challenge and Fortress of Fire. The first one has a touch of Loom about it, starring a bard who has to use music to save the queen of the land from… uh… something. Fingers are crossed for all of them.

The Witcher 3

Had enough free DLC yet? Good. CD Projekt Red hasn’t closed the spigot on The Witcher III [official site] yet. It doesn’t look like there’s going to be the usual Enhanced Edition of this one, though Christ knows it doesn’t really need it. There are however two paid DLC expansions on the way, one this year, one next year. The first one is called Hearts of Stone, due in October, set in the town of Oxenfurt and involving a particularly complex contract set by someone called the Man of Glass. That’s estimated at about 10 hours of game. The biggie though is due for the first quarter of next year – Blood and Wine. Set to be 20 hours of game, it also adds a whole new region to the game, Toussaint, where ‘carefree indulgence and knightly ritual masks an ancient, bloody secret.’ Oooh. And after that, we might finally start hearing some real stuff about Cyberpunk 2077.

Baldur’s Gate “III”

It’s not actually Baldur’s Gate III, but Beamdog has decided it’s ready to move on from simply adding a few characters to the classic games to creating a full chapter. So far, we’ve only got this countdown to stare at, but assuming nothing’s changed, a few facts have slipped out over the months – that it’s an interquel between the first and second games, and still tied to the Bhaalspawn story. It’s also an original Infinity Engine game rather than simply a game trying to act like it, a la Pillars of Eternity. Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine until the info drops next week.

Pillars of Eternity

A couple of biggies for Obsidian’s most recent RPG. First up, Pillars of Eternity [official site] is getting a two-part DLC on the way called The White March. It adds the usual stuff – areas, characters, and levels with extra goodies like spells. Two new party members also join the fray, a scarred monk called Zahua, and a golem with the wonderful name “The Devil of Caroc” – a convicted murderess now encased in a bronze body. Along with all this, though available to all players whether they buy the expansion or not, is Update 2.0. This adds Party AI, with the option to set a playstyle for each of your party members and whether they’re allowed to use their Per Rest abilities. Characters can now go into stealth mode individually, and be caught without dragging everyone else out of the shadows. Spells have range indicators to take the guesswork out of getting magic users into the fray, while other weapons have accuracy indicators. All good stuff for new players especially.

Dead State Reanimated

This one’s already out, but I’m going to mention it anyway because the core game was pretty overlooked (interesting, albeit flawed) and… well, why not? Dead State Reanimated [official site] reworks the combat balance and promises better AI, as well as offering more hardcore features like the ability for your character to get infected with the zombie lurgy instead of it just being an NPC thing. Not played it myself, so I can’t say how well they work, but Alec took a good look at it last month. “I do like it, though. Quite a lot more so than this piece probably suggests, and that’s because it’s a game which is far more successful in theme and tone (harder to convey in text) than it is in features,” he concluded, and I agree with that. It’s a messy game, but an interesting one.

Of course, we’re not done with Kickstarter RPGs yet. There’s still several on the way, including Torment: Tides of Numenenenenenenenera, The Bard’s Tale IV, Shroud of the Avatar, and Camelot Unchained. Will they get the same level of developer love after release? Certainly wouldn’t bet against it… or indeed want to. Though in the case of all these improved versions, some kind of targeting amnesia wouldn’t be amiss, to properly experience them all for the first time again.

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