You do more than fight, of course: you loot and level, and Two Worlds II handles both of these aspects superbly. There's a lot of stuff to collect, and while you inevitably discover a lot of items and weapons you won't use, you find enough helpful treasures to make it worth opening every armoire and investigating every nook. It helps that the lock-picking minigame, which involves matching your rotating lock pick in a series of notches, is enjoyable and, when you're picking master-level locks, quite challenging. Your spoils might include skill books, which unlock new skill trees. (These might be new spell categories, such as necromancy, or new attacks, like ice arrows.) You also loot items used in Two Worlds II's fascinating and complex spellcrafting system, in which you create your own spells from raw materials; you can even name spells yourself. It's entertaining to mix and match various spell cards and modifiers to see what spell you will devise. Perhaps it will fire ice missiles, or improve your health regeneration for a time. In any case, you can bestow powers upon your mage as you see fit, from a number of different schools of magic--air, earth, and so on.
Let's hope the gods used Listerine.
There are other diversions as well--some integral to the experience, some optional. You create your own potions out of the foliage you gather and the entrails you scavenge from defeated foes. As with spells, experimenting with potion ingredients is enjoyable, in part because there are so many morsels to mess with. You can also break down accumulated equipment into its raw materials and use those materials to upgrade your favored armor and weapons. In both cases, you perform these activities directly in the inventory menus--you don't need to visit a blacksmith, or find a campfire or potion set. Considering the huge numbers of materials you collect, this is a great convenience when compared to other recent RPGs, such as Risen. Unfortunately, your inventory gets clogged with all sorts of miscellaneous doodads and can be a hassle to sift through. Perhaps you are looking for potions to improve your shock resistance, but because so many potions look exactly alike, you might have to hover the mouse over each identical item until you find what you need. Additional sorting options would have been infinitely helpful. Fortunately, Two Worlds II offers conveniences that streamline other parts of the experience in welcome ways. For instance, it's easy to traverse long distances using the numerous teleporters scattered about, and you even possess your own teleportation device. There are no restrictions placed on this kind of travel, so once you discover a teleporter, you can zip to it at almost any time.
Other activities are there if you fancy them, but aren't necessarily integral parts of the experience. You can purchase a home, for example, though it's too bad you can't gussy it up with furniture or knickknacks a la Fable III. If you enjoy a bit of gambling, you can participate in a couple of dice-rolling minigames. One good way to fill your coffers is to join locals in a bit of music-making. You can purchase and play a number of different instruments (violin, flute, harp, and more), and buy sheet music for several tunes. This isn't always as easy as it sounds; depending on your instrument of choice, you might have to pound on three or four keys at once in quick succession. These tavern tunes aren't so rip-roaring as to have you seeking out a musician when you discover a new village, but this melodious distraction helps Two Worlds II feel more like a virtual world, rather than a vast collection of quest-givers and shopkeepers.
Even after the dark final chapter comes to a close, you can still return to Antaloor to continue your questing.
Like its predecessor, Two Worlds II doesn't scream for a multiplayer component, yet there it is, buried inside an unintuitive and vast selection of lobbies. Nevertheless, if you form a group with up to seven others and tackle the cooperative missions, you're bound to have fun. This mode has a Phantasy Star Online vibe, getting you and other players together to simply go out and kill some monsters as you progress from one quest to the next. Your online character (or characters; you can create several) is different from your offline one, so this is another chance to level up, earn loot, and play with systems you may not have messed with too much in the campaign. It's also a chance to have fun with archery and spellcasting, which are far more viable when you are supporting teammates than when you play the lone hero. You might also battle other players in online competitive play, but it is unfortunately an unbalanced mess and lets players with leveled-up superwarriors compete against unsuspecting newcomers. The resulting sequence of horrible, frustrating deaths is absolutely not fun. Even if you compete against players around the same level as you, whether or not you have any fun depends almost entirely on the class you select. For example, you might find your spellcaster getting cut to shreds with a single hit before your homing missiles can even find their mark. With so many combat classes all but pointless, Two Worlds II's online competition is a curiosity, but nothing more.
It's unlikely that you look to an expansive role-playing game like this seeking the thrill of online rivalry, however, and Two Worlds II delivers where it counts most. The spellcrafting, potion-making, and equipment upgrade systems offer plenty of depth, yet aren't so convoluted as to make their workings a mystery. Great quests and hidden caches of treasure make this an inviting world to explore, and the ease of travel ensures that exploration is never a frustration. Great writing and characterizations could have taken Two Worlds II to the next level, but even without them, there is enough combat and mission variety to keep you busy and happy for dozens of hours. If you long for a bit of old-world flavor, you'd do best to overlook the ragged edges and let Antaloor work its magic on you.