The world of Gothic II is set to feature as many as 400 non-player characters when the game hits Europe this quarter. As we've already heard, players will be tooled up with a selection of the game's 150 weapons, which should help persuade the legions of NPCs to be accommodating.
But unlike rank and file RPGs in the same vein, Gothic II's hundreds of NPCs will be more than simply a means for distributing bits of poignant information. Each will be decked out with enough intelligence to find his or her own way, ply a trade and engage in social activities. If you want to speak to the Blacksmith for example, you'd best hit his shop between 9am and 6pm, because he isn't going to enjoy being bothered at the local tavern, let alone at home in bed.
NPCs will also harbour various opinions about the different character classes players can choose from. Your choice of mercenary, magician or paladin will be reflected in the reactions you get - a rampant paladin, for example, is unlikely to be well received by the townsfolk whose livestock he uses to sharpen his sword.
It's this infusion of personality which stands to make the NPCs in Gothic II more interesting than their brethren in other titles. And given developer Piranha Bytes' ability to continuously surprise us with their approach to the mundane aspects of PC RPGs, the game is certainly starting to tickle our fancy.
As ever, publisher JoWooD was kind enough to send over a few exclusive screens to go along with the above revelation. You can view those here, in a gallery which also includes some non-exclusives we dug up elsewhere. Enjoy.