At the beginning of the game, character stats are preset, with the player able to choose from three race/class combinations; a dwarven fighter (Kromlech), a human archer (Vahn) or an elven sorceress (Adrianna). The player can customize their character's stats through gaining experience points from defeating enemies. Every time the character increases in level, points are awarded corresponding to that level; i.e. if a character increases to level twelve, the player will gain twelve experience points to spend on the character's spells and feats.For every four levels which the character increases, the player is given one ability point to spend on one of the six core attributes (strength, intelligence, wisdom, dexterity, constitution, charisma).
Each of the three characters have their own unique fighting style and their own specific set of spells and feats. Gameplay strategy is thus different for each character. As Kromlech is a fighter, his spells and feats tend to focus on increasing his brute strength and ability to resist damage, as well as granting him powerful abilities to aid in melee combat, such as the ability to swing his weapon in a circle or slam it into the ground to damage groups of nearby enemies. As Vahn relies on ranged attacks, his spells and feats tend to focus on increasing the power of his bow and granting him the ability to fire special types of arrows, such as exploding arrows, ice arrows or multiple arrows. As Adrianna is a sorceress, her spells and feats tend to focus on increasing the power of her magic and granting her numerous new spells, such as the ability to shoot ice or fire from her fingers, shoot a ball of thunder or call down meteors on her enemies.
Gameplay is linear, and each main quest must be completed in sequence before the story can proceed, although there are some optional side-quests, which do not have to be completed immediately. However, all side-quests must be completed within the act in which they are assigned. There are relatively few NPCs in the game, with whom only those who are part of a quest or side-quest may be interacted. Weapons, armor and items are only available for purchase from one location at a time, and become increasingly expensive and more powerful as the game progresses. The HUD features the option to use either a transparent map that covers most of the screen, or a mini-map, with the player also given the option to turn the map off entirely.
The game also features cooperative gameplay with another player. Both players share the same screen, and are thus limited in how far they can move away from one another. In co-op mode, the player who makes the kill gets 60% of the experience, and the other player gets 40%. Whichever player collects any gold drops gets 100% of the value, with the other player getting nothing.
The game contains four difficulty levels; "Easy", "Normal", "Hard" and "Extreme". Extreme can only be unlocked after the player has beaten "The Gauntlet", a special mini-dungeon unlocked once the player completes the game on any difficulty level. The Gauntlet can only be played with Drizzt Do'Urden. Extreme mode takes the form of a New Game Plus, and can only be played by importing a saved character from another game. Once the player has completed Extreme mode, Drizzt Do'Urden becomes available to use in the main game.
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