3 and 4 of this year, and more probably Q1 of next, should prove to be
difficult for anyone playing RPGs as theyll be shelling out good
sums of cash as well as spending untold hours peering into screens and
ignoring calls from their family. One of the games that has me
limbering up and getting ready to forward my calls is Arcanum. This
title is being put together by Troika: a group which contains most of
the guys responsible for Fallout 1 and 2. That in and of itself should
get peoples mouths watering.
Arcanum has gone gold, but has been delayed to coordinate a
multi-country release. The world of Arcanum is an interesting mix of
nineteenth century technology (a sort of steampunk environment),
magic, Victoria fashion (think formal dress and elaborate speech), and
dwarves, orcs and elves. Its a creative combination of various
genre elements and appears unique in the world of computer gaming.
first look, the visuals and gameplay look suspiciously like Fallout.
Youve got the 2D graphics and ¾ fixed isometric point of view.
After seeing some of the spectacular 3D work in games like Warcraft
III, Battle Realms, or Neverwinter Nights, I couldnt help but be a
bit disappointed. Other 2D games like Fallout: Tactics look better,
but after talking with some of the developers, I got the impression
that most of the work of Arcanum is in the storyline and level design.
Its got over a million words of text, 100 hours of main storyline,
and walking across the entire Arcanum continent takes 5 hours of real
appears that these guys have tried to radically expand the type of
play made popular in the Fallout series. The RPG system looks like a
modification of the SPECIAL system of those games with the feat/trait
possibilities of 3rd Edition Dungeons and Dragons thrown in
for spice. Characters can employ various types of specialties: being a
fighter, diplomat, thief, assassin, or various combinations thereof.
Therefore, every main turning point in the game can be solved in a
variety of ways. This was also true of Fallout 1 and 2, as well as
titles like Planescape: Torment and Baldurs Gate. However, in all
of those titles, not all of these options was always present. A
character couldnt kill everyone they met and complete the story.
The Troika guys assure me that in Arcanum, this is the case.
Additionally, the story itself forks depending on the players
choices. Were one could be good or evil in Baldurs Gate II, the
story pretty much turned out the same. In Arcanum, completely
different endings and plot twists exist. To create a real tree-like
story must have taken a great deal of time and to then make sure that
each plot point could be moved through via multiple methods makes it
worse. By this point in the conversation, I was beginning to forgive
Arcanum contains the complete editing suite including AI scripting
that was used to create the game itself. What this means is that,
given time and patience, a person could recreate the story of Arcanum
itself. Essentially, this is the same thing Neverwinter Nights will be
minus a massive and deep single player game. Granted, NWN is a 3D
engine, but Arcanum, if the developers deliver what they promise, will
allow exactly the same sort of game creation and it will be out
This is my favorite title from E3. The more I think
about it, the more excited I get. As Ive been sold on it, I imagine
that Ill be on the lookout for flaws once it comes out. This game
has got a good buzz and will therefore have to withstand tough
scrutiny. I cant wait to being the scrutinizing.