Released by Bungie Studios roughly one year after Myth: The Fallen Lords, Myth II: Soulblighter follows very closely in the footsteps of the original game, offering strategic gameplay that emphasizes the importance of formations, terrain advantage, and proper unit management rather than resource gathering and base production. Utilizing the same engine as its predecessor, which incorporates two-dimensional sprites on three-dimensional backgrounds, Myth II integrates several cosmetic upgrades such as Direct3D support, more detailed environments, and an increased amount of interactive elements like destructible bridges and walls. Though no dramatic changes to the gameplay were made, Myth II includes several subtle alterations such as improved unit pathfinding and more predictable ranged unit behavior.
Shipping alongside the game itself, Fear and Loathing provided Myth players with a game editor that could modify everything from the properties of units to the three-dimensional terrain meshes they populate. While Myth: The Fallen Lords saw a number of popular fan-created works, the new tools released with Myth II allowed it to greatly surpass its forebear in terms of the sheer breadth of user-generated content available.
Set sixty years after the events of Myth: The Fallen Lords, which came to be known as the Great War, Myth II opens in a time of relative peace. King Alric has led the people into a period of unprecedented growth and restoration, and the horrors of the Fallen Lords and their leader Balor have been all but forgotten.
Unbeknownst to the general populace, Soulblighter, who was presumed dead at the end of the Great War, is in fact alive and well, and has spent the last sixty years plotting to finish what his former master Balor had started, namely the utter destruction of the entire civilized world. To this end he resurrects the Myrkridia, an evil race of flesh-eaters so dangerous that they had been magically imprisoned within the Tain more than a thousand years prior. With the world suddenly on the brink of annihilation once more, desperate alliances will be formed as the human nations and their allies scramble to defend against Soulblighter's unexpected assault.
Much like Myth before it, the narrative of Myth II is mainly conveyed through voiced journal entries prior to each mission, which are told from the perspective of a soldier who experiences the events of the story firsthand. These voice overs serve as both exposition of pre-mission happenings as well as an outline of the goals for the coming scenario. In addition to these narrations, the game also features intermittent use of brief animated cutscenes and cinematic in-game events.
Spanning twenty-five individual scenarios (plus one narratively superfluous secret level), Myth II's campaign follows a single extended conflict between the Light and Dark armies, with players commanding the forces of Light. A given level always starts with a set number of units, and while new ones can sometimes be acquired over the course of a mission, the total number available is always finite, meaning that any units lost will have a permanent impact on the remainder of the scenario. Among other tactics, players are expected to mitigate losses by taking advantage of terrain features, mastering the effective manipulation of unit formations, and exploiting weaknesses of specific units. Since the death of a particular unit can dramatically affect how a mission plays out, Myth II informs the player by means of a somewhat dispassionate announcer whenever a unit or group of units is killed.
While most levels boil down to a confrontation between varying forces of Light and Dark, Myth II features a number of different mission objects, from defensive scenarios to ambush situations, some of which can even be completed with minimal enemy engagement. Additional variety is offered by way of unit composition, as the type and quantity of forces available, as well as those faced, often force different tactics from one level to the next. The common tactical thread between most scenarios is that friendly units are heavily outnumbered, so dictating the terms of engagement is crucial to success in any mission. It is almost always preferable to retreat rather than face an enemy unprepared.
Myth II utilizes the same five-tiered difficulty scheme seen in Myth: TFL, with Timid, Simple, Normal, Heroic, and Legendary difficulty settings. Higher difficulty levels make enemy units tougher and more numerous, while allied units are made weaker and more scarce.
Mutliplayer in Myth II adheres fairly closely to the basic framework laid down in Myth: TFL. At the beginning of most matches, players are given a planning phase in order to exchange their starting units for others if they so desire. All units have a predetermined point value, so proper unit selection usually means striking a balance between cheaper, weaker units and stronger, more expensive ones. In the case of team-based or cooperative matches, the planning phase may also be used to distribute units amongst fellow teammates, though this can only be done by the team's designated caption. Once the planning phase has ended, all unit decisions are final, and, much like the single-player game, it is up to each individual player to use their units as effectively as possible in order to survive and accomplish their goals.
Most of the modes from TFL make their return, though several new modes are included as well, such as the unorthodox Stampede mode, where players must protect and herd a small number of animal units while preventing their opponents from doing the same. While a few of Myth's more popular maps make a return, for the most the part the maps included with Myth II are brand new, and in addition to the included content, fan-made plugins and game modes could be more easily installed and used on Battle.net, leading to a much greater prevalence in their use than in TFL.
Multiplayer Unit Costs
- Cave Spider: 1 Point
- Thrall: 1 Point
- Brigand: 2 Points
- Ghôl: 2 Points
- Warrior: 2 Points
- Berserk: 3 Points
- Bowman: 3 Points
- Heron Guard: 3 Points
- Soulless: 3 Points
- Stygian Knight: 3 Points
- Wight: 3 Points
- bre'Unor: 4 Points
- Maul: 4 Points
- Myrkridia: 4 Points
- Dwarf: 6 Points
- Fetch: 6 Points
- Journeyman: 6 Points
- Dwarven Hero: 8 Points
- Dwarven Mortar: 8 Points
- Heron Guard Hero: 8 Points
- Warlock of Fire: 8 Points
- Trow: 24 Points
- Myrkridian Giant: 32 Points
The main means of playing Myth multiplayer at time of release was Bungie.net, a free multiplayer service provided by Bungie itself which hosted matches for both Myth and Myth II. Bungie.net included both ranked matches complete with ladders and leaderboards, as well as more casual, unranked playlists. While Bungie continued to support the multiplayer community for both Myth games several years after their release, the acquisition of the franchise by Take-Two forced the company to shutter Bungie.net's servers for good. Not discouraged by the closure, however, several dedicated Myth fans took up the task of creating a new multiplayer nexus for the Myth games, with the most well-known examples of their efforts being PlayMyth.net (discontinued), Mariusnet.com, and GateofStorms.net.
In the years after the Great War both the fir'Bolg and the Forest Giants of Myth: TFL returned to their respective woodland homes in the Ermine and Forest Heart. For this reason neither race makes an appearance in Myth II, but a new type of dwarf and the revitalized Heron Guard help to fill the void left by their departure. Unexpected allies also appear in Myth II's campaign to further bolster the human ranks.
Sturdy soldiers equipped with both sword and shield, Warriors represent the bulk of the armies of men. They are neither the strongest nor the fastest of the Legion, but they can hold their own against most of the forces of the Dark if need be, and can sometimes parry incoming attacks. As in Myth, Warrior Captains sometimes appear during the campaign. They are more durable and deadly than a regular Warrior, though they otherwise fulfill the same role. While they might appear at first glance to be statistically identical, Warriors are slightly faster than Brigands.
- Unit Type: Light Long-Range Support
With the fir'Bolg having retreated back to the Ermine after the Great War, the human nations trained their own archers to take their place. While their role is identical to that of the fir'Bolg archers of Myth: TFL, Bowmen each come equipped with a single fire arrow that can be used to set the ground ablaze, causing damage to any units caught in the flames. Bowman also carry knives which can be used when enemies are in melee range, though due to their low health it is generally a better option to flee until help can arrive.
- Unit Type: Heavy Short-Range Support
After having successfully retaken their homeland from the Ghôls, the Dwarves continue to support their human allies. The standard Dwarf comes equipped with volatile explosive cocktails that can be lit and thrown, causing massive destruction. In addition, all Dwarves carry a set of four satchel charges that can be placed and detonated with any explosion to cause even greater devastation. Dwarves are an essential support unit, but are also one of the primary source of friendly fire casualties both in single-player and multiplayer, and as such they should be carefully managed.
- Unit Type: Heavy Long-Range Support
A relatively new innovation amongst the Dwarves of Myrgard, Dwarven Mortars can launch their explosive artillery over great distances, inflicting damage in a wide radius around the point of impact. This attack is even more lethal than a standard Dwarven molotov, though this increased power and range comes with a price, as Mortar Dwarves must be fairly far away from their opponents to target them, and the larger splash damage of their attacks makes friendly fire an even greater danger. They also must reload before each shot, requiring a long pause between volleys.
Wearing nine gold tiles in penance for the fall of Muirthemne, the former guard of the Cath Bruig are incredibly resilient but ill-equipped for combat with their simple shovels. They are still a valuable resource however, earning their place on the battlefield by healing the injured with mandrake roots that each Journeyman carries on his person. These roots also have offensive purposes, as any undead unit will be gravely injured when "healed." Their heavy clothing also makes Journeymen incredibly resistant to concussive damage and completely immune to paralysis, as a result making them good candidates for diffusing a Wight when ranged units are unavailable.
- Unit Type: Medium Melee / Healer
Guardians of the Cath Bruig Empire, the Heron Guard are a superior fighting force, having a dangerous two-sword fighting style and none of the encumbrances of their Journeyman counterparts. In addition, they retain the healing abilities and paralysis immunity of the Journeymen, though the focus on combat means they carry only one mandrake root per unit. They also receive much greater benefit from mandrake healing than other units, being restored to almost full health after a heal.
Ferocious warriors hailing from northern lands, Berserks rush toward battle with a zeal that strikes fear into their opponents. While incredibly strong, their blood lust can sometimes be a liability, as they will in some cases leap into combat before other units are able to properly engage. A Berserker's attack is actually only marginally more damaging than a Warrior's, but their attacks are so rapid that they can cut through an enemy formation at a much quicker rate. When at low health, their speed and damage receive a significant boost.
While the Myrmidon and Trow of Myth: TFL do not return to aid the armies of the Dark, Soulblighter does gain the allegiance of several powerful new allies. Most notable among them is the Myrkridia, a race long thought dead which returns to terrorize the world after a thousand year absence. Other new additions include the Maul of the Blind Steppes and the soulless Stygian Knights.
Ghasts are freshly converted undead that can paralyze with a simple touch, which makes them a particular threat to lone units that have been caught unaware, since these units will have no means of retaliation and little chance of survival. They have considerable problems once enemies have spotted them though, as ranged units can easily pick them off and their low hit points make them a at best a meager threat to melee units. For these reasons, it is unsurprising that they are not seen much after the initial levels of the campaign.
The undead Children of Bahl'al are among the slowest units in the game, both in attack and movement speed. To compensate for these deficiencies, they almost always appear en masse in order to overwhelm through sheer force of numbers. Requiring no breath, they can remain hidden underwater indefinitely, attacking only when it is most opportune to do so. They are also quite resistant to paralysis and mind control effects since they have no will of their own.
- Unit Type: Light Long-Range Support
Sometimes called Hollow Men, Soulless are the functional equivalent to human Bowmen in terms of both range and damage, though they have one important difference. Soulless are spectral, and as such they are able to float suspended above the earth, giving them more mobility than most units. They can hover over deep water or climb steep inclines that other units cannot traverse. Since height advantage is an important factor in Myth II, especially in regard to ranged units, this can give Soulless a clear edge in many encounters.
- Unit Type: Light Melee / Light Short-Range Support
Having been defeated by the Dwarves during the Great War, the Ghôls have become obsessed with the thought of exacting their revenge. Operating mostly as scouts and harassment units, Ghôls will usually avoid a straight fight, but love to take advantage of frail units that have been left unprotected. Ghôls can pick up and throw anything from harmless battlefield debris to dangerous explosive Wight tumors, the latter of which makes them very threatening to ranged units, as any Ghôl could potentially be carrying a deadly payload.
Human warriors who have been swayed to the Dark by Soulblighter, Brigands are analogous to Warriors in both durability and general attack strength, even having the same ability to occasionally block enemy attacks. They are overall less disciplined than their noble counterparts, which is reflected in their somewhat slower walking speed. Given the choice, Warriors are a better option, albeit only incrementally so.
Empty suits of armor animated through Soulblighter's sorcery, Stygian Knights are impervious to arrows and highly resistant to melee attacks. While this might seem to make them unnaturally strong, explosive damage is their Achilles' heel, as any concussive blast will cause considerable damage to their hollow frames. More so than other melee enemies, it is important to soften up Stygian Knights before engaging them with one's own close combat units.
The hulking Mauls are brutish pig-men from the Blind Steppes who wear thick armor and wield spiked clubs fashioned from massive tree trunks. With a high damage attack, considerable hit points, and decent foot speed, Mauls are sturdy bruisers with no glaring weaknesses. They have the highest hit points of any unit outside of the colossal Trow and Myrkridian Giants, and are somewhat resistant to explosives as well. A tough unit to kill by any standard.
- Unit Type: Heavy Short-Range Support
Stitched-up corpses magically infested with all manner of diseases, Wights shamble toward their targets in order to release their virulent payload through violent self-detonation. Any units not killed by the blast will be paralyzed by the putrescent pus left in its wake. While devastating when used properly, they are slow-moving, giving observant players plenty of time to mitigate or nullify their threat entirely. Outside of their normal useas an explosive shock troop, Wights are also harvested for their diseased polyps, which are normally thrown by Ghôls.
- Unit Type: Heavy Medium-Range Support
Stranded after Balor's defeat, the Fetch ally once again with the Dark in hopes that they will be returned to their home realm. While it is unclear whether Soulblighter is capable of doing this, they have little choice in the matter, as they cannot return of their own volition. Casting lightning bolts directly from their fingertips, their power is matched only by their grotesqueness, as Fetch have taken to wearing the skins of their victims as trophies to their victories.
- Unit Type: Medium Melee / Heavy Medium-Range Support
Once powerful sorcerers who fought for the Light, Shades have willingly given themselves over to do the unholy bidding of their masters. While they are formidable in melee combat, their most terrifying ability is the Dispersal Dream, a spell which can rip apart whole formations of units in mere seconds. Breaking one's army into small detachments is the only way to defend against this spell, as Shades tend not to use it against smaller groups.
Building grotesque skull piles out of the severed heads of their enemies, the Myrkridia are a race so horrible that their names have become synonymous with evil. They are extremely quick and attack with fast, powerful strikes. A few Myrkridia can tear through a formation of ranged units in a matter of seconds, and even when outnumbered by enemy melee units, Myrkridia attack so rapidly that they will likely cause significant damage before perishing.
- Unit Type: Heavy Melee / Heavy Meduim-Range Support
Standing several lengths taller than the standard Myrkridia, Myrkridian Giants might seem at first glance to be similar to the equally massive Trow, but they differ in a number of ways. Giants attack at a faster rate than the Trow, but their claw swipes are less damaging individually. They can also periodically toss a blanket of explosive skulls at their opponents which causes significant area of effect damage. This attack is apparently magical in nature, as it is powered by the same mana bar used by Warlocks.
Though the members of the following groups are all openly hostile toward the Legion, none swear allegiance to Soulblighter or his cause. In some cases, given proper motivation, they might even be persuaded to aid the human nations against the former Fallen Lord, though this assistance is likely to come at heavy cost.
- Unit Type: Light Melee / Light Medium-Range Support
Natives of the Ermine and the natural enemies of the fir'Bolg, the secretive bre'Unor believe that their dark god is strengthened by the dying breath of their enemies. They make frequent sacrifices to appease this vile deity, and they use the bones of their victims as short range projectiles in combat. As might be expected of a unit that is both melee and ranged, they are a little underwhelming in both categories, alternating between either an average close combatant with poor hit points and a mediocre ranged unit with good mobility.
Inhabiting the bowels of the earth, Cave Spiders are truly neutral creatures, and hold no affinity for any of the other races of the world, attacking any being foolish enough to intrude upon the sanctity of their lair. Though on the frail side, they are capable of climbing extremely steep inclines, making them one of the few units that can chase down Soulless regardless of terrain, and also allowing them to ambush armies from an unexpected direction.
Appearing only during the final few missions of the game, Mahir are stealthy melee units that creep along the ground as shadows, only taking corporeal form when they attack. A unit targeted by one will be paralyzed and slowly drained of health until it eventually dies. This only poses a real threat to isolated units, since as long as there are other units nearby, Mahir are quite easy to dispatch due to their rather slight health. They can be quite difficult to spot before they attack, however, and thus surprise is their greatest weapon. Mahir are immune to most weapons when they are not attacking, though Dwarven molotovs and Fetch blasts can still kill them in this state.
Following Balor's defeat, the fearsome Trow returned to their ruined cities in the north. They no longer show open hostility toward the humans with whom they waged war for so many years, but any who choose to enter their domain uninvited are dealt with in quick and brutal fashion. With the absence of Forest Giants, Trow are the undisputed kings of single-hit attack damage in Myth II, as one blow is enough to rip most units limb from limb. They are also quite tough, having more than twice the hit points of the Myrkridian Giants, which are their closest equivalents.
- Unit Type: Heavy Medium-Range Support
The Warlocks of the Scholomance are allies of The Deceiver and human accomplices to the Fallen Lords in times past. Their main offense consists of a powerful fireball spell that can move at a steady pace over uneven ground while tracking its target. In the campaign, Warlocks can confuse opponents with their secondary ability, while in multiplayer Warlocks of Fire can create a circular wall of flame around themselves that incinerates anyone near them. In a new mechanic introduced in Myth II, Warlocks' attacks are powered by mana which must be recharged between uses.
Rumored to be a gift of the dark god of the bre'Unor, Wolves are often seen in the company of the Ermine's aboriginal inhabitants. It is said that the bre'Unor have direct command over them, and when they attack in unison the melee strength of the Wolves directly compliments their masters' ranged propensity. Since they are not in possession of a generous amount of hit points, their most effective use is in quickly swarming ranged units rather than engaging in melee.
The critical response to Myth II was quite positive, with most critics coming to the conclusion that it was as good as, if not better than, its predecessor, Myth: The Fallen Lords, which was also well-received. While it was usually acknowledged by reviewers that no fundamental changes were made in gameplay between the first game and its sequel, the common consensus was that many of the underlying faults of Myth: TFL, such as unclear mission objectives, poor unit pathfinding, and extreme difficulty, had been either eliminated or significantly alleviated in Myth II. The improved graphics also received positive comments, and multiplayer was found to be just as enjoyable as in the preceding game, if not more so due to adjustments in Battle.net which made fan-created plugins easier to use. Many reviews were in fact quite glowing, as exemplified by Michael E Ryan's review for GameSpot, in which he asserted that Myth II was "about as good as a computer game can possibly be."
Objectively, Myth II was likely the most successful game in the franchise, both in terms of its longevity and its sales figures. It was rereleased on two occasions, first in 1999 as a part of the Myth Total Codex, and then again in 2001 as the centerpiece of Myth II: Worlds. Thanks in no small part to the release of Fear & Loathing, Bungie's free Myth II game editors, the creative output of the Myth fan community increased greatly from Myth: TFL to Myth II, with many of their works even being featured on the aforementioned Myth II rereleases. Myth II remains the most commonly played iteration of the series in multiplayer matches, and thanks to fan developers such as Project Magma, the game continues to receive updates to keep it compatible with current operating systems and hardware well over a decade after its original release.
Myth II: Chimera
Representing one of the most impressive achievements of the Myth II modding community, Myth II: Chimera is an eight level single-player campaign developed by the Badlands mapmaking group and released by Bungie as a free downloadable expansion for Myth II. In addition to the new maps, several new units as well as newly recorded voice-overs and music were included, making it one of the most lavishly produced add-ons ever created for Myth. While never released as a standalone product, it did feature prominently in Bungie's Myth: The Total Codex compilation.
Chimera's narrative is an original story set in the Myth universe, and it follows three heroes, Fenris, Four Bear Silent Oak, and ne'Ric as they attempt to track down a rogue sorceress threatening to stir dangerous forces for unknown purposes. In a similar fashion to Myth II, Chimera uses pre-mission narration and in-engine exposition to tell its story, though the style of storytelling on display differs significantly from the main game.