Two Worlds 2 – Pirates of the Flying Fortress DLC Reviewby Adam Dileva
I've been looking for a reason to travel back to the world of Antaloor. Now with Two Worlds II's first expansion, Pirates of the Flying Fortress, I've found that reason. Two Worlds II was my guilty pleasure, and my review on it was mostly positive contrary to many others, as I saw its potential and wasn't directly comparing to those 'other' games of similar nature. It retains its positives and negative critiques, but it does improve on some of the smaller aspects as well while giving us a new journey to play.
Know up front that Pirates of the Flying Fortress (PotFF) is a fully fledged expansion and not just a simple and quick DLC add-on. I didn't know this at first and I thought I'd play through this and write it up quickly; boy was I wrong. As far as the new content goes, if you enjoyed the core game of Two Worlds II, you'll enjoy this outing also. It doesn't really add much drastically new or reinvent its mechanics, but it does bring a fun side story with the familiar gameplay that I enjoyed when I first went through the game.
Pirates of the Fortress is a self-contained expansion that you access from the main menu to start a new game. PotFF is roughly 25% the size of the full Two Worlds II game and you'll be staying within this cluster of islands rather than adding it to the full game world. Since I lasted played the game there's been a patch to help improve performance and issues which has also seemed to improve the game slightly. Who doesn't love a good pirate story? Let's delve into what PotFF has to offer.
As you begin this new side journey, you get knocked out and kidnapped when you hear someone pleading for help along the beach. You spy on a crew member pleading for his life from his captain only to be stabbed and killed without any remorse or conviction. You wake upon a ship in an unknown area of clustered islands that seems to have its own mysteries. Captain Ed Teal needs an errand done in exchange for your 'freedom' even though you know he'll kill you in a moment's notice given the reason. Your task is to find a distinct treasure hidden someone in the archipelago and to also bring back a certain woman for him name Maren. You know Teal can't be trusted (and it's rumored he has no soul) and you're going to find out what he wants the treasure and woman for.
When you begin your journey and are given access to your own little ship to sail around in, the world is yours to explore. The story actually begins to become quite interesting about half way through, but it does take some time to get to that point with all the side quests you're forced to complete to progress forwards. I felt the pacing of story to be a little off as you're always doing a quest or two for people to get to the next step. To get what you want from person-A, you need to do objective b, c, and d. Once you do, he'll tell you that you need to talk to person-B rather than what you originally asked for. Person-B will send you on his own errands and quests before you move forward in the plot. There are a lot of extra side quests you'll need to complete to find out what's actually going on and why you're unable to leave the island with your soul intact.
Unlike the core game, I actually found this story to be quite interesting once you get a few hours in and I actually started to care about a few of the characters as some have unique personalities that are memorable. What stood out for me was that this story isn't about saving the world from a big bad guy but rather a smaller self-contained story about individuals.
My big complaint though comes from the whole pirate aspect that surrounds the game (and title). As soon as you leave the ship at the beginning of the game, there's really not much else 'pirate-y' stuff you end up doing aside from looking for treasure and whatnot. You won't be taking over other pirate ships or sailing open seas for long lost treasure. I assumed with "Pirate" in the title, that it would have more to do with these aspects, but alas, you'll actually be doing more teleporting than anything else once you unlock the portals all over the islands. Take comfort that PotFF's campaign is at least ten or so hours long, but easily more than double that if you choose to do all of the entertaining side quests.
PotFF uses the same engine that Two Worlds II did, but it's clearly been improved and optimized, as the lighting and textures look drastically improved (at times). The water effects now look amazing and when I was sailing from island to island, a storm rolled in and the weather effects looked fantastic with the waves rolling. On a side note, it's a shame your boat basically becomes useless after a short amount of time once you can teleport everywhere. Also improved are the cinematics with new animations and a whole new set of voice actors (so you won't have to deal with the same terrible ones from the core game).
As you begin for the first time, you're given the option to start a completely new character or import your original one from the core game. Take note, this expansion is meant for characters level 42 and over (though I'm not sure really why) and if you're imported character is under that level like mine was, it'll tell you that he is too weak (even if you choose Easy difficulty). Luckily though it'll ask if you want to upgrade your character (directly to level 42) which will give you extra skill points to spend (and you get to keep all your acquired loot).
The unique crafting and magic system return, as does the alchemy system, completely unchanged. Keep this in mind because if you eventually figure out how to use these systems to your advantage, you'll have no problem, but if you struggled with them or are a new player, it's a daunting system to wrap your head around. Sadly the glitchy combat system has also stayed intact, but again, you know how to deal with it if you played Two Worlds II previously. With a ton of new weapons, armor, and loot, you might be able to look over these issues just like you did previously. It seemed like the loot was more pirate orientated which was an interesting change, as it didn't take long for me to find some massive upgrades to my old and outdated loot from before.
Also included in PotFF are four new multiplayer maps to play with your friends. Sadly, I really wanted to try these new maps out with people, but I was unable to find a single game online being hosted to join (and when I built my multiplayer character, I did it 'wrong', so it's impossible for me to play solo properly). I tried on multiple occasions leaving my hosted game open for others to join but no one did even one time, so keep this in mind, that you'll have to probably play with your friends since there's few people playing this today on Xbox Live (especially now that all the AAA games are releasing).
While the main story takes a while to become interesting with all the seemingly unneeded hurdles, I really enjoyed some of the side quests just as much as the campaign. With old issues still apparent like massive frame rate drops and a cumbersome menu system, this isn't going to win over new fans to the series, but it'll certainly please the existing ones like myself. I actually enjoyed PotFF more so than the core game itself as it had a more entertaining story than the "save the world" plot line.
The pirates don't seem too over the top (and thankfully don't yell "ARRR" every line) and the setting seems fitting for the overlaying plot PotFF is trying to tell. Humor is still apparent and entertaining and if you enjoyed Two Worlds II, you're going to enjoy this side journey in Antaloor. If you never gave the second game a chance because of the first game, at least give this game a look when you're able. I admit, the price for the expansion is quite steep, but keep in mind this isn't your typical DLC and is a whole new adventure that you can sink a dozen or two hours into in a familiar world. If you've shelved Two Worlds II and have been looking for another reason to play it again, look for further.