Avadon 2 is the direct sequel to Avadon: The Black Fortress. You take control of a new band of heroes as you wield your might on behalf of Avadon.
Battles are turn based and are governed by action points, which are expended through both movement and use of skills. As expected, health and stamina bars are also present alongside four core stats - strength, dexterity, intelligence and endurance. Additionally each character also has resistances to four damage types and four possible status effects. Character builds are developed using a skill tree, which requires you to pump more points into particular branches if you want to reap the full benefits of a particular branch. There is a retrainer NPC who allows you to redistribute all your points if you are ever unhappy with your character build, but you need to reach a particular point in the game before they become available. There are five possible classes to choose from for your character, with Avadon 2 adding in a new class, the tinkermage who specialises in creating turrets and machines that can aid you in battle. The entire cast of characters comprises one of each class type so you will always have the potential strengths of each class at your disposal throughout the game. Avadon 2 features a standard grid based inventory management system, a junk bag for storing useless items so they can be sold en masse, several slots for character equipment, scarabs slots (magical items which confer statistical bonuses and abilities), quick use skills and items for each character. Overall inventory management is fairly painless however during extended periods of adventuring, managing the many scolls and potions you find can be a chore but compared to Spiderweb's older titles it's like a gift from the gods.
Overall, the Avadon series is weaker than the Geneforge series and more linear than the Avernum games but it does possess its own strengths, particularly if you prefer adventuring with a party of character who speak with each other and have actual personalities. Like in the original Avadon, you're going to be revisiting 3 main areas of the world 3 times each, each time with a different reason. I'm happy to say that this time around the rationale is less infuriating than Avadon 1 (a particular questline in Avadon 1 basically boiled down to a dragon being upset on your first visit, the dragon's upset AGAIN on your second visit and on your third visit - guess who's upset again... and you end up sent on a convoluted quest for a fairly weak reason each and every time. After playing Spiderweb's other games, I expected better than this so I'm pleased to say I was never rolling my eyes when asked to revisit a location in Avadon 2). Still, compared with Spiderweb's other games revisiting the same locales may be somewhat off-putting. I should clarify that you're not revisiting the same maps over and over, but instead exploring new locations in each distinct region of the game.
One thing I'd have liked to have seen addressed in this sequel is the player character instantly being shipped off to the next location immediately upon their return from each major quest, sadly that is once again the case here. This squanders a great opportunity to experience some downtime in Avadon and to deepen friendships and bonds with other party members as well as make better use of Avadon as a central hub. As it stands, it makes things feel very "gamey" and Avadon merely serves as a crossroads between destinations.
Avadon 2 is a sizeable game, it is fairly linear throughout but there are plenty of optional sidequests that can be attempted throughout the game, character quests for each of your party are interspersed through the game and serve to break up the main questline with some interesting little detours. Portals in Avadon's central keep allow you to travel between major locales in the game at any time, so you're never in danger of locking yourself out of particular quests. The writing is pretty strong throughout, the descriptive text (always a high point in Spiderweb titles) is top notch once again, sadly there's only minimal interaction between party members, it would have been nice to see some conflicting voices raised a little more often as in Geneforge 3. The story ramps up nicely over the course of the game and kept me playing till the end, it does suffer a little from being the middle game in a trilogy but Avadon 2 handles itself fairly well on the whole. I did notice a lot more humour and light-heartedness sprinkled throughout this game compared to Avadon 1. Tonally, I also noticed quite a difference between this game and Spiderweb's previous titles and I'm not convinced it's a change for the better.
Although the trash mobs which plagued the original have been toned down somewhat in this outing, they did slowly start to creep back in towards the later parts of the game. There are some foes that have very large HP pools and are also buffed to take several turns for every one of your own, when fighting these enemies in large groups, it quickly becomes tiresome waiting for your turn to come back around while the enemy horde dominates the round. Boss battles, while few in number, form the most interesting encounters in the game by far, each of the mandatory bosses in the story line were fun and challenging to fight.
Some old faces from the previous game return but there is no mention of your previous party from the last game, which again was disappointing considering the Avadon series greater focus on party interaction, a callback to the old crew would have been much appreciated. There are plenty of choices in Avadon 2, the vast majority of them are for flavour and building the character you're playing as, which is fine, there's a small amount of branching at work at particular points late in the game but like with Avadon 1, I didn't feel as though I personally was having much of an impact on the game world.
Ultimately it's a decent game, it is very much the sequel to Avadon 1 and makes most of the same mistakes but it does also broach some new ground. The game's premise hints at something greater if the developer were to merge the open structure of Geneforge with the party based system seen here in Avadon but at least in this outing, we only get halfway there.