Icewind Dale Sequel Announced
Black Isle Studios, a division of Interplay best known for its highly acclaimed PC RPGs, including the original Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment and the Fallout series, recently announced Icewind Dale II. Scheduled for release on May 28th, this sequel is set to bring back the tried and true dungeon crawl gameplay of the original, with a planned play length of approximately 40 hours of hack and slash action, bolstered by the added replayability of an enhanced Heart of Fury mode, which offers added challenge to those revisiting the game after their initial play through.
Loosely based on the AD&D novel series by R.A. Salvatore in the midst Forgotten Realms setting, Icewind Dale II brings players back to the Sword Coast a generation after the conclusion of the original game. A growing menace, including orc and goblin hordes rallying under the banner of the Chimera, has threatened the northern reaches of the Ten-Towns with vicious attacks and potential isolation from the surrounding lands. The town of Bremen having already been decimated, the monstrous hordes now turn their attention to Targos, who in fear of suffering the same fate as their neighbors send out a plea for help to adventurers across the land. Taking up the cause of helping to defend Targos, the player and his party not only find themselves beating back escalating attacks of orc and goblin hordes, among other monstrous invaders, but are soon thrust into the middle of all out war.
Making use of an extensively modified Infinite Engine, originally seen in Baldur's Gate, and since used to power many award-winning Bioware and Black Isle Studios role-playing games, Icewind Dale II will benefit not only from many of the advancements to the engine made for Baldur's Gate II, such as dual-wielding, new character classes, and 3D technology for an enhanced visual experience, but also from new additions made specifically for the game. These additions include new class kits like the Mercenary, the Giant Killer, and the Dreadmaster of Bane, as well as the Half-Orc as a playable race and new sub-races, such as the Drow and the Tiefling. Icewind Dale II will also support a wide range of resolutions, from 640x480 up to 2048x1536.
While Icewind Dale II's gameplay will be highly derivative of the combat heavy dungeon crawl action of the original, the sequel will also feature a number of expanded play elements, like all new weapons, armor, and magical items, as well as 100 special items only found in the more difficult Heart of Fury mode. This replay mode will also allow players to elevate their characters to enormously powerful heights, maxing out at level 30. Additionally, on top of all the spells from both the original Icewind Dale and its expansion pack, Icewind Dale II will give players access to 50 new spells, like Executioner's Eyes and Aegis.
Black Isle Studios is handling both development and publishing for the game internally, putting the core development team of the original Icewind Dale back at the helm, however, North American distribution is being handled by Vivendi Universal Games. Black Isle Studios recently launched the official website for the game here, which contains more extensive information on the game world and its inhabitants, as well as a FAQ.