Another game being showed at GDC was Ascaron Entertainment's Sacred 2. RPGamers should remember the first Sacred as being heavily inspired by Diablo II. This time around, Sacred's developers are hoping to take the Action RPG genre up a notch and give you an evolved experience.
Ascaron started off by showing us the Seraphim class. She was decked out in 20 pieces of armor, and was hand animated. Ascaron has chosen not to do motion capture for its animations due to their preference of the look and feel of hand animation. They also claim difficulty in finding accurate models for hellhounds and dragons.
As the Seraphim began to journey out into the world, a few things became apparent. The first was the real physics being used to model objects in the world. The second was how enemies could completely hide in grass, making an ambush very possible if the camera was overhead. Finally, the camera was switchable between over-the-shoulder and overhead modes.
The world of Ancaria is gigantic. It takes five hours to cross the world simply by walking. And the world is populated by NPCs who, Ascaron promises, will appear to have their own life. There are over 200 parameters set for each NPC, leading to a rather large amount of combinations in order to avoid the generic NPC problem.
RPGamers need not worry about having to walk the entire world, however. Sacred 2 will have several mounts available to speed travel. These mounts include a horse, a tiger, a hellhound, and most excitingly, a dragon. The dragon was somewhat of a surprise, having been the result of three months of secret work by a developer, not shown to the presenters until just recently.
The mounts have very detailed animations. The tiger mount was easily the most finished at this point, and two of its high points were its independent ear twitching animations and wonderfully detailed fur effects. Also, mounts have abilities that can be upgraded as you progress, and the mount's characteristics will change depending on how your character levels up.
We got to try out combat, too. This consisted of the standard point and click until your enemy dies. Spells and special abilities weren't finished yet, beyond a couple necromancer effects. They looked pretty, but it's hard to say anything concrete about their quality or strategic usefulness yet. What was apparent was the unique animations that each enemy possessed, which again, were hand animated due to the lack of good goblin motion capture models.
Sacred 2 will, of course, have a very strong online multiplayer element. A 200 person lobby is planned, where parties of sizes ranging up to 16 or 32 (the exact limit is unclear) can jump into an instance. These large scale runs are not the only way to play with your friends, though. If you're playing single player, and get to a point where a quest is too much for you alone, you can ask your friend for help, and he can come on over into your game and help you, and then take off to get back to his own gaming when you're done. This will be done seamlessly, not requiring you to interrupt or launch a new game at all.
Sacred 2's has an impressive look to it. So naturally, some RPGamers may be concerned about the technical requirements their computers must meet in order to play it. Obviously, those who plan to play the XBOX 360 version are all set. That version is looking to optimize all three of the 360's cores, devoting one 3D rendering, one to special effects, and one to AI/logic processing. The PC version, which at this point looked further along in development and much higher in resolution, is planned to be able to run on any shader 2.0 supported video card and scale up to a Quad-core system with GeForce 8800s. At this point, we only saw the PC version on a Dell XPS M1710 with 2GB of RAM, so it's hard to say how well it will look on lower end systems.
Sacred 2 certainly deserves a lot of attention from any RPGamer interested in the Action RPG genre. We'll continue to watch it closely and keep you up to date on the latest details.