Finding your path and who to speak to is very apparent. I was immediately getting a Diablo vibe as the game is a dungeon crawl with overland character interaction. Once you have talked to a character and received a mission you can click on the enemy or location to start a battle. This swiftly brought up the puzzle screen and I noticed the other changes. There are no longer any money or experience gems, meaning that the matches are purely combat oriented and you no longer need to grind away in puzzles to gain those bonuses.
This is a great adjustment to the Puzzle Quest dynamic. I recall many hours delaying completion of a match so I could match money and XP gems so my character could advance. With the new system you can focus on attack and resource generation, which streamlines and speeds up the puzzle battles greatly. Replacing the missing gems is a weapon gem and the purple gems are now an additional resource.
The weapon gem is tied directly to your weapons attack ability, gain enough weapon resources and you can launch a special damaging attack. Of course you also amass powers fed by the resources from the coloured gems as you play through the match. I really liked the addition of weapon powers; it added a further depth to the already deep game.
After a match you are awarded experience, money and sometimes items depending on how well your match played out. You can still grind to gain more XP and money, but now at least you are playing matches instead of just drawing them out as you match up the money and XP gems. Leveling in Puzzle Quest 2 is simple and effective with an automatic class and power increase as well as an upgrade to your attribute of choice occurring when you hit the next level.