Two Worlds II is an epic, open world action-RPG. It’s not the style of game that would normally cause me to think of something with deep multiplayer in multiple shapes and sizes. To be fair, the first Two Worlds also had a multiplayer mode, but few gamers were able to stomach even the single-player quest much less venture online. Along with the many improvements being made to Two Worlds II, developer Reality Pump has put a surprising amount of effort toward crafting interesting multiplayer modes that work within the Two Worlds formula. This week, I had my first chance to try them out.

You start by creating a character. You can’t bring your single-player character online, so any grinding you’ve done and awesome loot you’ve found from the offline game won’t carry over. The upside of that is that you have significantly more customization options for the online game. The single-player storyline requires that your character is human, but for online modes you can pick between several races, including various types of elves and half-orcs.

You also choose a starting class, such as a sword-wielding warrior, a ranger, an earth mage, or a necromancer, but as in the single-player game, you can change your focus at will as you level up by shifting skill points around and equipping new weapons and magic spells. Though your single-player character is stuck in the campaign, you can build multiple characters for online play and take them into any of the various multiplayer modes.

The first and most obvious multiplayer mode is simple cooperative questing. You can from a group of any size between two to eight players to play through a seven-chapter co-op quest that, once again, is completely separate from the single-player game – new quests, characters, and lands form this healthy addition to the overall Two Worlds II content.

I joined a group of Southpeak and Topware representatives to form a group of six for a quick foray through the first chapter of co-op. My fresh character began at level one, as did a few of my partners, but several level five and six characters joined us as well. As it turned out, this was more than enough manpower to fly through this level, crushing packs of wolves, the occasional stray bear, and some undead monstrosities along the way. The speed with which we destroyed all enemies meant I flew up several levels in the span of minutes.

Again, although your single-player progress is kept separate, your multiplayer characters maintain their increased abilities and new equipment across all modes. The compelling, endless grind of loot improvement carries over to online, but it leads to some slightly awkward moments. At numerous points during our session, we had to pause for players to assign new skill points, upgrade equipment, and purchase from vendors. We spaced these breaks out in such a way that they weren’t too annoying, but I can see it breaking the flow of the game if you’re ready to keep moving but your friends are still working through a bunch of menus.

We had crushed the first chapter of co-op within about half an hour, but I was told that we were also a bit overpowered for this part of the co-op experience. Each of the seven chapters gets progressively harder, encouraging players to level up further and invite more friends in before they take them on. By the end, you’ll probably want to fill out a full eight-person party to avoid struggling.