I recently began playing Neverwinter Nights 2, a game that I knew virtually nothing about when I picked it up in a Steam Sale two years ago. I bought it because it was cheap and because I had heard it was similar to Knights of the Old Republic, but I never got around to actually playing. A few weeks back, I was considering either Guild Wars 2, KotOR II, or The Old Republic, but then chose not to decide and went with NWN 2 for no apparent reason other than curiosity.
I told this story to my D&D-loving friend (he’s a huge fan of Baldur’s Gate) after I realized that the game uses the 3.5e ruleset, and he asked who made the game. I decided to string him along a bit and told him it was a company that seems doomed to release buggy, much-maligned sequels to some of the best games ever made by BioWare and Bethesda.
“Ah,” said he, with a sagely nod and a narrowing of the eyes. “Obsidian.”
I actually like Obsidian a lot. Despite all the flack KotOR II gets for being a buggy, unfinished mess, the game was a huge improvement over its predecessor in terms of both writing and combat. Chris Avellone’s story was phenomenal, and Kreia has the distinction of being one of the few NPCs in any game that I think truly encourages the player character to follow the path of careful neutrality rather than being an overly generous saint or a bloodthirsty psychopath. The minute tweaks that Obsidian made to BioWare’s already great combat system were all for the better, too. I recently purchased Fallout: New Vegas after reading an interview where Avellone described the game’s moral choices as “grey and more grey,” so I’m pumped to start playing what the community largely regards as “a buggier, but better written Fallout 3.”
So far, NWN 2 hasn’t disappointed me much. It plays similarly enough to KotOR that I can understand when DEX is required over STR (never played D&D), and I love the fact that you get a fuckton of party members (party building is one of my favourite aspects of RPGs). However, somewhat uncharacteristically for Obsidian, the writing is kinda subpar (perhaps on a BioWare level…so, maybe slightly above average video game fare, but not by much). My party members are all irritating as hell, from the self-righteous do-gooders Elanee and Casavir, to the horribly voice-acted Neeshka and Grobnar, to the impossibly rude Qara and Bishop. And of course, there’s Zhjaeve, the typical religious zealot who speaks in hushed tones of your importance to her people. Gawd.
…And then there’s the bugs. I know most Obsidian games are buggy (had to soft-reset a few times in KotOR II where certain quests wouldn’t activate), but NWN 2 is truly something else. Before I bought the game, I had no idea that horribly broken upon its release in 2006 and took nearly 2 years of community-driven modding to render it playable. Here’s a list of some of the more entertaining glitches I’ve come across so far:
- In the first battle of the game, your childhood friend Amie is fated to bite the dust. However, the cutscene in which she dies never triggered for me, and I continued killing githyanki while assuming nothing was wrong. However, at the end of the battle, Daeghun informed me that now was not the time to mourn Amie (even though she was standing right behind him). Then she dropped dead and disappeared, although her icon indicated she was still in my party. So I went off to the swamp with Bevil to avenge Amie and got destroyed because I did not know there was a “Rest” key (didn’t figure that out until almost halfway through the game…needless to say, I wasted a lot of money in potions and a lot of time trekking back to the monastery). When I respawned, Amie was, uh, back from the dead, casting spells to help Bevil and I out while he whined about how she was dead. Needless to say, that made the swamp ruins incredibly easy, but when I got back to West Harbor, Amie was still in my party. I eventually got her to leave my party by entering and exiting a house, but she remained in West Harbor, where she’s still standing outside a barn to this day, just chillin’.
- At one point, my entire inventory turned into shortswords. All of it. Hundreds of shortswords.
- After looting a very nice dagger, I went into my inventory to give it to Neeshka only to discover that I actually had two of them. Assuming I had come across some kind of dupe glitch (it’s an Obsidian game, so I took it for granted), I gave one to Neeshka and kept the other for myself. I equipped it on her and returned to adventuring. A few battles later, I noticed she was running up to enemies and punching them while not wearing any clothes. Turns out the “dagger” was actually a piece of armor that had somehow transformed itself into a weapon, and when it turned back into armor (which isn’t unprecedented; my hundreds of shortswords eventually fixed themselves in a similar fashion), it found itself in an unequippable slot and decided to just go ahead and unequip the rest of her equipment, too. Man.