Two Worlds II heads for the high seas

After flashing an official proof of death certificate and getting accepted into a bar for the undead, I might wonder what exactly went wrong with my life. And yet, such a side quest about the happening nightlife of guys and ghouls marks what seemed so right during my developer-guided demo session for Two Worlds II 's latest expansion, Pirates of the Flying Fortress . Nothing says “lively, fantasy franchise,” after all, quite like the image of decaying zombies downing pints after a hard day's massacre.

It's clear that the developer Reality Pump took this expansion as a chance to run wild with monster parties and a morbid sense of humor. Another quest featured the main character fully channeling his inner Psychonaut by entering the mind of a disturbed cartographer. Fractured portions of his memories construct disjointed, looming sepia-toned pieces of environment. The variety of locales and thematic styles alone ostensibly exceeds that of the base game and gives you a sense of awe at the open world's density and fullness beyond its mere size.

PotFF takes the base game's best features and adds a hearty pirate tale while improving on graphics and gameplay. Series veterans will feel comfortable, as features like the “classless” advancement system and the highly customizable items and magic make a welcome return. You'll even be able to take an already established Two Worlds II character into the expansion if you choose.

Shipwrecked on the expansion's new archipelago setting, you'll join a band of salty sea dogs on their search for a mysterious treasure. Though the developer demo only showed bits and pieces of the adventure, the whole experience promises 12-15 hours of play—quite sizable for a downloadable expansion—over a twist-filled, nonlinear narrative.

Reality Pump has improved upon certain mechanics and elements while specifically addressing criticisms of the original title. Secondary aspects like the Oculus, a small, flying creature that serves as a sort of scouting camera, now have essential roles, such as the Oculus's newfound attack capability, which was used in the demo to blind a deadly Basilisk. Bosses in general are no longer just giant walking health bars. In the demo, a stone giant boss required players to flip specific environmental switches to expose his weakness.

If the focus of the main game was creating lush, gorgeous environments, PotFF enhances character model detail to match. TopWare also assured me that the expansion remedies the base game's inconsistent voice acting. The demo ran superbly on TopWare's gaming PC, and since it runs on the same engine, the expansion's visual enhancements won't require a boost in system requirements.

The release of the downloadable Pirates of the Flying Fortress is right around the corner. So be sure to set off on your cutthroat pirate voyage. Now you'll have to excuse me--the girls might be a bit pale, but a certain zombie burlesque caught my eye back at that bar.