Even an earth-shattering cataclysm can't stop developer Gas Powered Games from visiting the world of Aranna yet again, this time in the form of an expansion to last year's Dungeon Siege II. Appropriately titled Broken World, the expansion picks up a year after the events in the previous game, where you defeated the evil wizard Valdis and basically destroyed the world in the process. Broken World could have been an interesting look at the aftermath of the epic struggle with Valdis, but ultimately it proves to be little more than a trivial experience. After the lengthy and far-reaching campaign of Dungeon Siege II, the short and narrowly focused 10-hour expansion feels like more of a throwaway side quest than a compelling new chapter in the history of the troubled world of Aranna.
The world of Aranna has seen better days, but all that misery means plenty of work for a hero.
A year after the second cataclysm, you find yourself in a dryad outpost where nobody likes you and everyone is miserably trying to piece their lives back together. You come to find out that the surrounding area is plagued by once-innocent people who have become twisted, deformed "bound" creatures. You also learn that there's a surviving dark mage that you failed to kill when you were on the hunt for Valdis in the previous game, and he's trying to summon the dark lord Zaramoth to bring peace to the world by destroying it. You, of course, recognize the flaw in that line of reasoning and set out to defeat the dark mage before his evil scheme is realized.
When you start Broken World, you can choose to import your party from Dungeon Siege II, or you can start a new game with one of six premade characters. All of the premade characters start out at level 39, so if you've spent the time leveling up your Dungeon Siege II characters, you'll be at a considerable advantage when you start on Broken World. However, if you do that, you'll also probably be disappointed by all the new loot you'll find, because most of it will be worse than what you already have. Another benefit of starting a new character is that it will give you the chance to play as the new race and try out the two new classes.
The new race in Broken World is the dwarves, which fits thematically with the rest of the races in the game, such as the half-giants, elves, and dryads. Playing a dwarf doesn't significantly change the experience of hacking your way through mobs of monsters in one dungeon after the other, though, so the addition is entirely superficial. Your dwarf character can be used in Dungeon Siege II as well, but it seems slightly odd to do so because there are no other dwarves in that game.
Unlike the new race, the two new classes in Broken World can make an impact on how you play the game. The blood assassin and the fist of stone are two hybrid classes that combine magic and combat skills to create unique new abilities. The blood assassin requires you to have a specific level of ranged and combat magic skills, and the abilities combine both of those skills. A blood assassin has plenty of interesting abilities that make it a class worth pursuing. In addition to the ranged-attack skills, the assassin can cast magic to set an enemy's blood on fire and inflict damage over time, for example, or place "marks" on enemies to increase the damage they take in combat. The fist of stone class is a mix of nature magic and melee, which makes characters in this class good at fighting and at healing, making them the most self-sufficient class in the game. The fist of stone abilities include magic that draws power from the earth to increase defense, as well as the ability to strike the ground to cause tremors that damage surrounding enemies. Both of the classes are available to play in Dungeon Siege II, as well as in the expansion, but although they're fun to play, they aren't so different that you should go back and play the previous game for the new classes alone.
The new race isn't anything to get excited about, but the two new classes give you plenty of interesting abilities to play with.