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The RPG Scrollbars: Predicting Planescape

The long awaited follow-up to Forgotten Realms: Baldur's Gate

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If you go down to planescape.com today, you’re sure of a big surprise. Unless you’re expecting a countdown, in which case, it’s that. What could it mean? Well, if you open the page source, you’ll see a secret message hidden in there – 0x50 0x53 0x54 0x45 0x45. Convert that from ASCII numbers to letters and you get PSTEE. The two most likely translations of that are either Planescape Torment: Enhanced Edition as Beamdog’s latest updated release, or someone is really looking forward to going down to Gregg’s for a pastie sometime on Tuesday. It’s not confirmed. It could be something else. Maybe there’s a ‘Planescape Kids’ TV series coming out. Nobody’s told me.

Though it would explain this changelog I found lying around the other week…

PLANESCAPE TORMENT: ENHANCED EDITION
BUILD NOTES 0.99B. DO NOT DISTRIBUTE ON PAIN OF TORTURE. ALSO SPOILERS, OBVIOUSLY, FOR A GAME FROM 1999.

* Update: Native support for high-resolution and widescreen displays, up to 3840×2160.

* Integrated add-ons: Easter Egg Morte, Leprechaun Annah, PS:T Unfinished Business (by agreement with fan creators)

* Update: New font-rescaling options for high-resolution screens.

* Update: Memory leak issues resolved.

* Streamlining: New faster path through Mortuary. Player can skip tutorial by hiding in refuse sack due to be thrown out by the Dustmen (on clicking pop-up). Deionnara now appears in dream sequence if initially missed, promising “I will wait for you in the alley next to the pizza shop by Death’s halls, my love.”

* Character Creation: The Nameless One is now nameable.

* Giant flashing neon arrow added above Pharod’s head.

* New Game Mode: Action. All major conversations carefully abridged to enable full focus on tactical combat. For example, “You are wrong. If there is anything I have learned in my travels across the Planes, it is that many things may change the nature of a man. Whether regret, or love, or revenge or fear – whatever you believe can change the nature of a man, can.” now shortened to “Cram it, Skullface.”

* New Companion: Giggles the Clown. Giggles now follows the party from the mortuary, making hilarious fourth-wall breaking japes and jokes about the action, including “You’ve lost your memory? That’s Adahn shame!” and “I hear the Brothel of Slaking Intellectual Lusts gives good head!” and “How many lives did it take you to get this grumpy, Mr. Grumpy?” It is not possible to kill or dismiss Giggles.

* New Romance: The Lady of Pain

* New Difficulty Level: “Take That, Iron Man”. No loads, no resurrections, no refunds!

* New Area: The Elongatorium Of Hollow Pursuits. Experience thirty hours of new gameplay in this new Maze; a long, empty, featureless grey corridor it takes thirty hours to walk down.

* Conversation: New standard response to all stories of pain and torment around the Planes: “[TRUTH] Haha!”

* Feature: Fell, Lothar and other Planescape source characters now killable because it’s not like Wizards of the Coast has given two shits about this setting since 1999. In fact, hell with it. In Chapter 2, The Nameless One meets Drizzt and Elminster sitting in a bar and drinking a toast to how much Eberron both sucks and can go suck it.

* Feature: Ignus now acts as a light source.

* Tweak: Everyone is now Ravel Puzzlewell. Everyone.

* Restored Content: Basically everything from that trailer that should never, ever have been released to the public, never mind as an unskippable (except via Alt-F4) trailer, which pretty much only existed in the final game in the form of a few diary and glossary pictures, but which did more to make one of the greatest RPGs ever released look unappetising than even releasing a dismal original pitch with a grotty picture of Annah in her finest stripperwear and a comment about The Nameless One being a corpse with incredible sexual charisma, and yes, that really happened.

* Restored Content: Stories from the novelisation now added, including Annah becoming a were-rat, and the reason for The Nameless One’s immortality being that he sold it to a tertiary devil character to help save his village. Disabled by default. Activate by choosing ‘Still Not Quite As Bad As The Baldur’s Gate 2 Novel Mode’ in Gameplay Options.

* User interface tweak: Portals now colour-coded blue and orange for your convenience.

* Multiplayer: Use the new character creator to build your own former team-mate of The Nameless One, then endure hours of soul-sucking, back-breaking labour in the Dustmen’s Mortuary in the hope that he ever comes over to say hi.

* Fast Travel Option: Ride Dabus.

* Updated AI routines: Generic thugs in the Hive no longer look at the scarred hulking demigod with his own and occasionally other folks’ weaponised intestines wrapped around his body and reckon “Yeah, I can take him.”

* New Dialogue: “Chief, just hypothetically, you know how belief here shapes reality? Well, just wondering, what if some kind of flying, skull like fellow of, y’know, some sort of prankish disposition had joked to one of your more, ah, credulous incarnations ‘I bet you must have done something really, really bad in your first life?’ We’d laugh, right? Uh. Chief? Why are we heading back to the Pillar of-“

* New Dialogue: “Morte, before we start exploring, any idea if there’s a portal to somewhere relevant to my quest nearby that might really save us a lot of pain and arsing about?”

* Update: Curst redesigned to feel like stepping into a new world instead of enduring yet more dusty beige and greys.

* Feature: Nordom can be turned into a battlesuit for Morte.

* Bonus Chapter: Planescape: Blood War. In which The Nameless One finally pauses, asks “Wait, if I’ve not been transformed into a Petitioner or something, can’t I just take this big axe, walk out of here and be back drinking at the Smouldering Corpse Bar by dinner time?” And does!

Plus, I hear the planned collector’s edition comes with a special rubber Chris Avellone so that you too can assign him stretch goals from the comfort of your own home! Ten inches? Twenty? Just don’t let him snap before he finishes the new System Shock!

Supplies may be limited. Or indeed, non-existent.

Either way, personally, I can’t wait.

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Richard Cobbett

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