Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Two Worlds (addendum)

I felt the overwhelming need to do a second post regarding this game because it's actually a bit discouraging how overlooked Two Worlds apparently has become in relation to how much I've enjoyed playing it thus far.

First, I need to redact a statement that I made in my previous post, where I commented that I think what this game really needs is a Construction Set. As it turns out, there actually is a SDK for Two Worlds, which one can download (along with some other modding tools) from the Inside Two Worlds Forums once one has secured a free membership.

This discovery should have encouraged me. Being restricted to a single male character always lessens any role-playing experience for me, so I immediately looked for a mod that would allow me to play the single-player game as my own gender (that's right, there's a multi-player aspect to the game). I found just such a mod, but in the end decided not to use it because none of the male-voiced dialog was replaced so it ended up just being a bit unnerving.
But here's where I began to get truly discouraged: a quick look there at the downloads page for Two Worlds mods (for this first game, not its sequel) reveals only 77 entries, which is a staggeringly low number when compared to the quantity of community-produced mods available for other games. I find this a bit of a paradox since there are plenty of remarks to be found on the web opining what's wrong with the game and should have been done differently by the devs. If you don't like it and you have a SDK, why don't you fix it?

But the community isn't entirely to blame here. The latest version of Two Worlds to be released is v1.7 (a.k.a. the Epic Edition), yet the SDK has only ever been updated to work with v1.6. Thus the community was forced to make a choice: play the most recent version of the game or play a moddable version of the game. Somebody somewhere really "dropped the ball" on this one.

Despite the fact that Two Worlds apparently is a "dead" game now, I just wanted to do another post to attempt to counteract all the negative criticism surrounding it. The game really isn't bad at all, it was just never able to escape from the shadow of Bethesda's Oblivion  -- the game that it's constantly compared to and thus could never be as good as in the eyes of most gamers.
The most frequent complaint I've read about Two Worlds is that it's poorly balanced. This is in a way true; I initially played it for about four hours on the default "medium" difficulty and found that I leveled up relatively quickly and soon was able to cut my way through most enemies virtually unscathed. Now I'm about ten hours into my current game on the "hard" difficulty setting and am finding the game more challenging and perhaps even too challenging in some areas. But I also think that the majority of the complaints about balance result from the fact that the game is being compared to Oblivion. In the popular Bethesda game the entire world around the player (for the most part) is constantly adjusting to the level of the player, whereas many of the encounters in Two Worlds appear to be static and should not be attempted until the player has reached a certain level. The Cyclops and the Ogre I stumbled across are good examples: each was able to smash me with a single blow while I was able to do virtually no damage to them.
Oh yeah, and then there's the graveyard full of undead that hit me with fatal levels of poison:
But Oblivion and Two Worlds obviously have two very different leveling and balancing systems, so in the end I have to say that comparing the two is really just illogical and unjust. Sure, in Two Worlds you'll feel really outmatched by some of the enemy mobs, but the game also provides the player with ways to deal with such mobs without taking any damage at all. Prime example: my fiery assault on this Dwarf-invaded mine; the little buggers never really had a chance...
It's also possible to get different factions (monsters versus humans, for example) to lose interest in you and start attacking each other. I came across this mob of bandits that were really giving me a hard way to go...
...until I realized that I could lure the aforementioned Ogre to their camp to wipe them out for me... but only after they had done enough damage to the big guy that I was then able to finish him off myself.
So the game is not without its own tactical nuances and challenges and can be enjoyable if one can stop comparing it to other games and simply accept it for what it is. In my opinion (and trust me, I'm not easily impressed), Two Worlds has everything a good single-player RPG should have: a huge world to explore, lots of quests to complete, a somewhat unique magic system, plenty of stuff to kill when it tries to hurt you and a main story-line that (though perhaps a bit of it was lost in translation) is interesting and entertaining. I feel that it's well worth the $10 USD that is asking for it and, while I won't be so boldly delusional as to declare it the best game ever created, I do recommend that any fans of sandbox-style RPGs at least give it an impartial chance. It might never be your favorite RPG, but I don't think you'll regret having played it.

EDIT: (a few hours later...)

Oh, and another thing I forgot to mention while we're comparing Two Worlds to Oblivion:

I've lost track of how many times I've read complaints from Oblivion players regarding frequent CTDs. Sure, some of those crashes can be attributed to improper mod usage, but many of them can be blamed on the buggy game itself and the engine that runs it. But I've now logged in over thirteen hours of gameplay with Two Worlds and its Earth Engine and I can honestly say that it has not crashed, frozen, flickered or faltered a single time. Nope, not even once. My kudos to the devs of Two Worlds for their craftsmanship on the technical side of the game.


  1. It does sound like it's been unfairly maligned.

    I suppose it did have the disadvantages of not having a ready made customer base and premade world the way Oblivion did so it was fighting an uphill battle right from the start.

    Though I have to admit it's ironic that Oblivion players complained about the world scaling given the popularity of overhauls like OOO which provide exactly that sort of experience :)

  2. @Kirtai:

    You make some very good points. It's true that Oblivion, like Skyrim after it, had hordes of fans already waiting to buy it sight-unseen. And believe it or not, I was actually thinking about OOO as I was typing this post, but I didn't want to mention any mods and keep the focus on the comparisons between the vanilla versions of the games.

    Two Worlds is not without its flaws, but I agree that some of the maligning has indeed been undeserved.

  3. Bought the game when it was brand new, DRM was really pissing me off. I had to call a number for the activation code (no internet at that time). Had to call another time because the first time it did not work. All in all i paid 64€ (usual price for a new game is 45 to 55€).

    But all the trouble was forgotten after i started the game. I created a Steve Buscemi look-alike character, it was hilarious.

    The game was fun (especially the dialogue close-ups of my character, pure comedy)... up to the point where i upgraded my simple axe to an highly-overpowered simple axe of fire damage. No enemy i encountered could stand a chance.
    I never found a better weapon after that. Merchants sold only useless weapons, didnt know what to do with all the gold. I never bothered looting corpses again.

    Yes, the balancing really sucked. Or i sucked at playing the game, maybe i missed something gameplay-wise?
    Anyway, the game got boring, couldn't motivate anymore, i never played it since. That was the first release version though, maybe the latest version is better on that behalf...

    After reading your reviews, i think i should try playing it again, also to make it worth the money i paid... too bad there are other games that need to be played (and modded) right now :p
    But good to hear there's an SDK, i might take a look at it if i ever install TW again.

    I never thought about comparing TW to Oblivion... Both games have their flaws, but all in all, Oblivion kept me interested for a longer time (without any mods installed btw). In total, i played Oblivion for about 160 hrs and TW for about 30 hrs. Maybe it's because i like the Elder Scrolls world more. TW's world is nice too, but i couldn't immerse in it as much...

    I agree on the technical aspects, TW never crashed, no game breaking glitches at all. But you can't really appreciate things like that unless you have played a game which is the opposite ;)

  4. @De Vloek:

    I'll agree that the setting of Two Worlds doesn't have the same immersive feeling as Oblivion; if I really had to pick a game that Two Worlds was most comparable to in terms of gameplay and atmosphere it would be the first Neverwinter Nights game. Dungeon crawl, kill stuff, sell loot, level up, repeat. I've played Two Worlds for about 30 hours; like you I have more gold than I know what to do with and I've upgraded weapons to the point that they smash all the "normal" enemies. But then I come to some uber-powerful enemy I haven't seen before and it wastes me with a single blow, and I decide that it's not a total waste of time to continue playing since there's still areas to be conquered.

    And yes, it should be noted that v1.7 (the "Epic Edition") does indeed improve upon enough things that it's worth owning it over the original version. Textures and weapon and armor variety are likely the most notable. And I also went through the call to Poland or wherever to activate the original game, and I'd be so bold as to say that the DRM-free version of the game from is worth the $10 USD perhaps for that reason alone. (I hate DRM.)