ArcaniA: GothiC 4 DemO AvailablE NoW

By John Walker on September 24th, 2010 at 10:03 am.

Poor dinosaur thing.

The relaunch of the Gothic series, ArcaniA: Gothic 4, is out in about three weeks. Created by German team Spellbound, after former developers Piranha Bytes split acrimoniously from publishers JoWood in 2007, it’s an attempt to continue the hardcore fantasy series in a way more optionally accessible to newcomers. (E.g. you can still play it like a loony, or you can switch on the comforts of a compass, etc). A demo has been released to give you a taste of all this.

The demo is an enormous 1.7GB – the sort of size I always think answers the question: “Why do magazines still have coverdiscs?” However, the erstwhile GamersHell has recently started beta testing torrenting their demos, and you can take a crack at that here. Currently it has 252 seeds, so it’s not enormously fast. But this post alone may fix that.

GamersHell also warns that the installer may throw up an error regarding the PhysX installer, but apparently it will carry on installing successfully regardless.

Meanwhile, it should be noted that the original Gothic developers are making a sequel to Risen, announced last month at GamesCom. Which is especially good news for Alec, who spent a lot of time with Risen, as chronicled in his excellent pieces here.

We’ll offer you some impressions of the demo once it’s finished downloading, some time in 2019.

__________________

« | »

, , .

98 Comments »

  1. supdude says:

    this is good, because this is a fun game. good.

  2. AndrewC says:

    It’s not bad! It’s also not that good! It’s Optimus’ thumb in a Schrodingerian state of uncertainty since you lost his hand down the sofa last month! And it’s definitely not Gothic! But it’s not bad!

    That’s my opinion.

    I like Gothic.

  3. Giant, fussy whingebag says:

    The torrent is downloading slightly faster than the http version was, for me at least… (Update: now gone to twice the speed)

    I’ll be interested to see how this compares to Risen, which I thought a reasonably good frolic. I haven’t played any of the other Gothics, so I’m not married to the franchise. We shall see.

  4. Ravenger says:

    The full game has limited activations, so it’s off my list. :(

    • Heliocentric says:

      For me limited activations means gamersgate only game.

      So, drm aside does anyone have an opinion on it? The topic on the forum is pretty damning.

    • iax says:

      According to a german press release, the activation limit is only restricting the number of computers where you have it installed at a given time. Arcania will use Securom for DRM. You will be able to activate it as often as you like but you can only have it installed on three computers at a time. It has a one-time online activation and won’t need the disc to play afterwards. It will also automatically download updates.

      I suppose you will have to uninstall it to get another activation, as it has been with other games before but this was not detailed in the press release. While I am not a fan of any kind of DRM, this seams to be one of the least painless implementations of Securom so far.

    • iax says:

      I’m sorry, of course I meant “least painful”…

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      there is no practical difference between install limits and activation limits, it’s damaging to suggest there is!

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      I think this is pretty similar to most DRM schemes. The main plus point seems to be that after online activation it doesn’t require online verification every time you play. But needing to do an uninstall to get a “credit” that will let you reinstall the game is always problematic. It doesn’t account for failed HDDs (or upgraded ones),and people with technical difficulties who install and reinstall may end up running out of credits sooner than they expect.

    • iax says:

      @The Sombrero Kid

      You are wrong, Sir, there is a very important difference. There have been games, where you had to contact customer support after you had used all you activations and this is clearly not the case with Arcania (e.g. I had to contact Gamersgate customer support, to receive a new key for King’s Bounty). I do not see how it can be dangerous to point this difference out to someone interested in the game.

    • Hallgrim says:

      @Iax:

      You’re forgetting that unless you uninstall the game in the proper way to get your “installation credit” returned to you, you still have to make that phone call.

    • iax says:

      @Hallgrim.

      No, I did not forget this detail. In fact, if you read my first post, you will discover that I did mention this issue. I just didn’t want to repeat myself in every post. The sole purpose of my first post was to give non-judgemental information about the DRM system that is used for Arcania in hope that everyone could make up his own mind, wether it was acceptable or not. I think I provided sufficient information and pointed out that proper uninstallation will likely be required to gain another activation.

  5. Wulf says:

    How’s the animal AI? I really miss the living world approach of Gothic III, where there was a bit of an ecology going on; a wolf wasn’t stupid enough to attack a bloke in full plate armour, instead they hunted deer and the like in packs. It was quite the wonder to watch, really. I mean, versus that, whenever I see a wolf charge at me (in plate armour) suicidally it just puts me off, it makes me think that I’ve gone back about 20 years in technology, and that’s why I can’t play Oblivion without mods that give the critters all more realistic behaviour, too.

    But yeah, this is the biggest immersion breaker for me. I mean, if wolves exist in a world like that, the only reason they still exist is because they’re smart enough to know when to run from the real monsters. But if I have wolves charging at me all the time, it leaves me wondering where the hell they keep coming from, sort of like with the Cliff Racers in Morrowind, which I absolutely had to fix as well.

    • AndrewC says:

      Don’t play this, Wulf.

    • mrmud says:

      I dont really think wolves have the mental capacity to understand the implications of plate armor (until it tries to bite it).
      Completely separate from that is the fact that wolves rarely attacks humans but are depicted as always attacking people in pretty much all games.

      As such I completely applaud a game where wildlife exists for its own right instead of only to act as enemies of the player.

    • Wulf says:

      Blah. Okay. I kind of figured that that would be the case. It just surprises me sometimes that developers don’t put more effort into creating a believable world. I will keep an eye open for mods, though, since it seems like modders care about this stuff even if developers don’t, which is why the aforementioned mods existed for Oblivion.

      But yeah, that was a deal breaker for me about Risen. I mean… I’m a big, buff, spellsword in armour, and I’m being charged by a very suicidal wolf. It’s such an immersion killer for me, I know most probably won’t understand that, though. It just seems… lazy? I mean, if Piranha Bytes could do it with Gothic III, and Oblivion modders could do it with Oblivion, then it can’t be that hard.

    • AndrewC says:

      You have very specific tastes, Wulf, that are fortunately shared by some modders.

    • Wulf says:

      “I dont really think wolves have the mental capacity to understand the implications of plate armor (until it tries to bite it).”

      You’d be incorrect about that, all it would take is a generation of critters trying it to know not to. Wolves run from the sound of helicopters these days. Why? They’ve been hunted from them, so they know to try to find a place to hide whenever they hear one. They’re not always successful, but they don’t stand their ground against the aforementioned helicopter.

      “Completely separate from that is the fact that wolves rarely attacks humans but are depicted as always attacking people in pretty much all games.”

      Yes, but why? The answer is ‘lazy AI coding’. The modders of Oblivion knew this, because the AI of faction-handling in Oblivion was incredibly lazy, modders would point this out frequently, and that’s why there are overhaul mods for it. Modders knew they could do it better and did do it better. It’s just laziness more than anything, it’s easy to toss in animals as a foe than it is to just have a working ecology as a purely decorative thing (a la Gothic III and Oblivion with certain mods).

      I speak out about this because really… I mean, it’s 2010 now, and this hasn’t changed since the earliest RPGs, the AI code for these things hasn’t evolved much in 10-15 years… the only reason that wolves are ‘baddies’ in RPGs is because wolves were in some of the earliest PC RPGs. There’s no progressive thinking there, it’s a very regressive attitude, should we really be supporting regressive attitudes?

      I suppose I’ll get an argument saying that we should, but I’m just saying that I disagree with that, I don’t want a massive argument over it, I’m just trying to explain my thinking.

      “As such I completely applaud a game where wildlife exists for its own right instead of only to act as enemies of the player.”

      I don’t. I mean, it’s like games where you can wander around cities with your weapon unsheathed and no one bats an eye, or games where you can rob someone’s house as they watch whilst they notice, we wouldn’t stand for these things so much these days because they’re immersion breaking, so why put up with shitty AI and worlds where the eco-system is a complete joke?

    • supdude says:

      this isn’t a RTWS (real time wolf simulator), it’s a game about killing stuff and leveling up. If 12 y/o MW2 twilight fan (pro vampires) kiddies can’t kill wolves because they’re too buff, then who’d play the game?

    • Wulf says:

      @AndrewC

      I just prefer to see a well put together, living, breathing world, that’s all. I like seeing the intelligence of the world. If I’m being charged by woodland animals that have no chance in hell of putting a dent in me, then I can see that the developers didn’t even bother trying to make their world look believable. That’s just my opinion and take on this, though.

    • Wulf says:

      “this isn’t a RTWS (real time wolf simulator), it’s a game about killing stuff and leveling up. If 12 y/o MW2 twilight fan (pro vampires) kiddies can’t kill wolves because they’re too buff, then who’d play the game?”

      Please see my replies to mrmud. It’s because at this point we should have games with living ecologies, our computers can handle this, so why not? You’d frown at being able to wander into a town with your sword out and no one objecting, you’d frown at people not objecting to you stealing their stuff, basically, you’d frown at bad human AI, so why can’t good AI extend to animals as well?

    • Wulf says:

      I’m not going to convince RPS readers of the things I see or understand in regards to this, anyway, but really I just feel that it’s an incredibly lazy approach to life in the world and AI… that’s all. I think here though I’d get more opposition than I would people agreeing with me, because decent AI should only extend to humans, and all critters and mobs shouldn’t be alive, they should just charge at you and be killed. We shouldn’t have goblin tribes who sometimes trade and team up against you, we should have them all killing each other and just generally being stupid sword-fodder for the player. It’s just the regressive attitudes of the players as well at fault, I suppose. I’ve said my piece though and found out what I wanted to, all I’ll do is perhaps hope that the next RPG is less lazy.

      Though why I’m the only person asking for more believable worlds is baffling to me, I’ll say that…

    • Harlander says:

      I’m not going to convince RPS readers of the things I see or understand in regards to this, anyway,

      ….because decent AI should only extend to humans, and all critters and mobs shouldn’t be alive, they should just charge at you and be killed.

      …. It’s just the regressive attitudes of the players as well at fault, I suppose.

      You know something; I totally agree with you about the immersion-battering nature of having normal wild animals rush up and attack the player. It’s as lazy and stupid as you’ve said.

      But must you swathe a perfectly reasonable opinion in hasty generalisations (one person said he was totally unperterbed by unrealistic wild animal behaviour, Wulf, one)? Obviously more people than just you find ‘stupid wolves’ a concern, or no-one would have modded more realistic behaviour into games.

      It makes being in agreement with you feel… kinda… greasy.

    • mrmud says:

      @ Wulf
      “I don’t. I mean, it’s like games where you can wander around cities with your weapon unsheathed and no one bats an eye, or games where you can rob someone’s house as they watch whilst they notice, we wouldn’t stand for these things so much these days because they’re immersion breaking, so why put up with shitty AI and worlds where the eco-system is a complete joke?”

      I was trying to say that its great that there are games (although apparently not this one) where wildlife does not automatically attack the player.

    • the wiseass says:

      I think Wulf is right. I mean, if gameworlds do not evolve in the way how they feel, breathe and interact with the player then all what’s left are graphical improvements and simple setting changes. I don’t really care if the reflected light of my shiny sword is refracted in every nook and cranny of a medieval chandelier if the world just feels like any role-playing world I’ve played for the past 10 years.

      It’s the little details that matter. I’d for once would love to play a hunter character losing himself in the woods, stalking prey, carefully observing the wildlife before making my move. What’s the point in playing an elf or druid or whatever if there is no intriguing nature to interact with?

      Also for once, I’d love to play a game where I’m not the “chosen one” or the Uber-Hero but a simple warrior or soldier trying to come by on a daily basis. I’d have to pay rent for my hut, go hunting, defend myself versus bandits and other cutthroats, eat, work, fish, cook. If you’d implement this into a believable, living, breathing world, I’m sure these menial tasks would really add to the experience. I’ve had my share of playing the same hero-type RPG character over and over again.

    • Taillefer says:

      Strange. I remember (perhaps incorrectly) wolves attacking the player regardless of how well-armed they were. But they would prioritise something smaller and weaker if it was available. So if they were already chasing something you’d be ignored, but otherwise they warn you off a few times, then attack if you didn’t go away. Which was still excellent.

      The whole wildlife ecology is certainly one of the great things about Gothic.

    • DrGonzo says:

      The wolves in Risen weren’t suicidal though… They would stop attacking you once you reached higher levels and could kill them easily.

    • Okami says:

      @Wulf: I’m not too sure how the wildlife system worked in Gothic 3, because I consider that game an abomination against the true Gothic games (1&2) and haven’t played it too long. But I’m pretty sure that Wolves would attack you in the early Gothic games, but would attack sheep or those strange birds first.

      And I have vivid memories of beeing insta killed by frenzied homing-boars-o-death attacking from nowhere in Gothic 3, so that game’s ecology wasn’t that great either.

      While I agree with most of what you say about how nice it would be too have believable ecologies in games, I’m pretty sure that nostalgia is clouding your memories about the true extent of the early Gothic games’ wildlife systems.

      If ArcaniA’s wolves attack you and sheep, than this game will have the same ecology like any other game in the series. So I wouldn’t write it off completely just yet!

    • Quirk says:

      @wiseass:

      Don’t know if your taste extends to Roguelikes with graphical tiles, but you might be interested in taking a look at Unreal World.
      http://www.jmp.fi/~smaarane/urw.html

      I’ve been playing it fairly heavily since someone linked it in the comments on a “survival” game a little while back.

      You’re a guy in a rough facsimile of Iron Age Finland. You fish and forage and hunt with traps and ranged weapons, tracking your prey through forest and across bog. You make clothes from hides, make fires to cook your food and keep yourself warm, make shelters against inclement weather, even build your own house if you have the patience and the axe and enough trees nearby. There are no great quests, no world-altering events. You’re just trying to survive day to day and improve your lot. It’s at its strongest when you have least and feeding yourself tomorrow is not guaranteed.

      Most animals, even wolves and lynx and bear, would rather leave you alone than attack you, but provoking predators can be dangerous. The occasional wandering Njerpez raider will try and harm you, but in the current version they’re relatively easy to prevail against; more worrying is stumbling into a raider village by mistake when moving through thick forest, as in numbers they’re lethal.

      It’s a very different play experience to most RPGs or indeed rogue-likes. The interface feels awkward at first but is not at all cumbersome after half an hour or so of learning your way around. I like it rather a lot.

    • jsdn says:

      I completely agree with Wulf, and I’m not even into wolf porn like he is. In immersive RPGs, having unrealistic AI is incredibly deconstructing to the experience, and wildlife AI is commonly abysmal. It’s also the most easy to fix.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      I looked up helicopter wolf hunting because I couldn’t believe that was a real thing.
      It is, and is apparently supported by Sarah Palin.

    • Oliver says:

      Wow, this is a lot of discussion without anyone answering the question very specifically. I played a little over an hour of the demo on my 360 this morning. From the little I’ve seen so far, the wolves attack in packs. The goblins gang up on you a bit. This is a pretty decently built world. It’s not to the level of detail of something like Oblivion, but thus far, it’s felt much more “alive” to me, but I never really liked Oblivion because it felt so cookie-cuttery.

      So far, it feels like I could explore and be rewarded for it with different types of rewards. I like it so far.

  6. Kits says:

    Nice to know this is so close already. I do love the Gothic games.
    I’ll pass on the demo though. I’m not so impatient I can’t wait a few weeks, and I already know I’ll be playing the full thing regardless.

  7. supdude says:

    @Wulf “It’s because at this point we should have games with living ecologies, our computers can handle this, so why not?”

    This feels like the 2000 era thinking of game design – where you had a counter strike or a starcraft and people would play it for 10 years.

    Truth is people play RPGs for the story, exploration, and then leave it alone. STALKER was proof that this old game design direction is bad; it was an FPS shooter with inventory management and was under development for almost 8 years – because of stupid ideas like the A-Life system that contributed nothing to the game.

    An ordinary gamer would play the game for 5~ hours. A player who loved that game would play for around 10-15 hours, finish it completely, and then come back for 10-15 more hours a few months down the road.

    What I’m saying is; focus the development resources on what’s important. If your game isn’t a MMORPG that’s gonna last a few good years don’t bother with this crap.

    • Duoae says:

      Superdude… you are wrong. Plus, you are wrong for wanting all games to adhere to one specific way of doing things… and you are wrong in thinking that the life-simulation thing is purely a game design mechanic of the past and is essentially obsolete.

      I guess Dwarf Fortress, Minecraft, Freelancer (and all its mods), EvE and other games don’t do very well then – according to your argument.

    • Harlander says:

      Only 5 hours of play out of STALKER?

      What’s that, a speedrun?

    • the wiseass says:

      — “STALKER was proof that this old game design direction is bad; it was an FPS shooter with inventory management and was under development for almost 8 years – because of stupid ideas like the A-Life system that contributed nothing to the game.”

      Are you serious? STALKER was such a success because the world felt alive and because you could lose yourself in it. It’s possibly one of the most immersive games I’ve played yet and that’s precisely the reason why it stuck with me contrary to all the other, flat, run & gun FPS rehashes out there.

    • Taillefer says:

      “…because of stupid ideas like the A-Life system that contributed nothing to the game.”

      Yeah, as the wiseass said.
      It added more immersion and atmosphere to the World, and allowed for more emergent gameplay (ugh, I sound like marketing, but still). That’s part of the reason people love it in the first place.

    • Okami says:

      @supdude: You are wrong in more ways than you can possibly imagine.

    • Okami says:

      I’d even go so far as to say that your post is one of the wrongest ever written on RPS.

    • Tei says:

      I am old, and I want more from games. Pew Pew Pew is not enough. Hell.. I hate games like Red Faction: Guerrilla, because IS stupid to fight a battle against infinite mobs, because are infinite!. Is stupid to play Red Faction Guerrilla, and I can be a lot of things (I can be dumb) but I am not stupid. I want my games to feel meaningfull.

      Artificial Life you say? I use to program artificial life back in the university. If ALife can make the world more like a world, and less like a theme park. I want it now!.

      I don’t claim to be a game designer, I claim to be a gamer that want meaningfull games. If some game designer feel need alife to do that, go for it!.

      postdata:
      Artificial life is too “volatile” to be useable in a game, I don’t see how, but maybe in a sandbox like game?, It could be really fun, since alife IS FUN, and I like fun things on my games.

    • Mischa says:

      There are a lot of STALKER fans out here, so supdude’s remarks are dangerous.
      But he may be right. Was STALKER a commercial success? It was one of its kind, and thus loved by fans, and rightly so, for it is a unique game. But where there ENOUGH fans, ‘ordinary gamers’?

      I think none of the posters here is an ordinary gamer: we are all more than average interested in (some finer aspects of) gaming.

      And five hours is not a speedrun, five hours is a game you didn’t play until the end. I know I didn’t.

    • Mudface says:

      STALKER sold over 2 million copies, so yeah, I’d say it was a success.

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      If STALKER hadn’t had so much attention paid to its A-life and environment, we wouldn’t even be talking about it now. It would be just another FPS/RPG crossover game. The fact is that STALKER was different, and even though it wasn’t very strong as an FPS, it resonated very strongly with a lot of players – precisely because of its realistic and engrossing environment – and years from now it will probably still be discussed and remembered fondly. So please, don’t dismiss it as a failure.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I don’t know why you picked Red Faction Guerilla. I thought that enough in it to differentiate itself from the generic shooters we’re getting. In other words, the destructible open world was enough to justify it’s existence.

      Now I have just been trying Halo Reach, borrowed it from my flatmate. I must say it’s possibly the most mediocre game I’ve played in years. Absolutely nothing new or interesting in it, some pretty dodgy level design. It just makes you wonder why no one seems to have learned anything from Far Cry, Crysis or the Half Life series.

    • supdude says:

      I wasn’t trying to say STALKER sucked or that the A-Life was a bad feature – I was saying that a walkthrough FPS with a few side missions, with 15 hours of gameplay to 100% took the devs 8 years because they spent so much time on features that weren’t really felt in-game.

      The A-Life wasn’t some lively world where god knows what can happen, it was merely a few dogs wandering around instead of scripted sequences. Nothing to fuss about.

    • Dlarit says:

      I’d argue that i want more from A-life not less, i’d love a world where the creatures go about daily life if i’m there or not and i’d love the stalkers to also go about thier own business, its almost there but i do hope they add more in stalker 2…
      Imagine if all NPCs do quests, go hunting for supplies, level up equipment, hire bodyguards, build homes/bases?

      That is my dream and one day it will be so…

  8. terry says:

    Can anyone give a guess as to how the performance in this is on a mid-spec system? I seem to remember the Gothic games being somewhat drastic on the system requirements – is this any different?

  9. Cvnk says:

    Woah, I had no idea this was so close to release. I realize this is a new development team but I hope they understood that one of the key elements of the first 3 Gothic games was the masterful world design and put some effort into theirs. The maps in those games (especially Gothic 3) are unmatched in their ability to immerse you in the world and truly encourage you to explore.

    You must not enjoy that many games Wulf with requirements like that. I honestly don’t even remember animals being afraid of me as I got armored in Gothic 3. I seem to recall being attacked by just about everything in that game other than those few peaceful animals.

    • omicron says:

      The demo is good and bad…

      On the good side, it feels like Gothic 3. Which is a step up from, say, feeling like Elder Scrolls 4 in the context of this series. The gameplay feels the same as the classic games in the series, up to and including the ability to whale on foes until they fall over or you run out of stamina.

      On the bad side.. the world is less “here’s a thing that looks like it belongs here” and more “oh, look, a tucked-away health recovery potion in this corner! And over there are three healing plants in a little huddle!
      It feels like collectibles, not like part of a living world.

  10. Incognito says:

    I thought it was pretty awful. It´s supposed to be an immersive open world RPG, but how can one feel that immersion when the presentation is so bad. The graphical design is extremely generic, the UI very rough, the dialogues and voices were horribly bad, and the animations during dialogues were very weird.

  11. Brulleks says:

    ” “I dont really think wolves have the mental capacity to understand the implications of plate armor (until it tries to bite it).”

    You’d be incorrect about that, all it would take is a generation of critters trying it to know not to. Wolves run from the sound of helicopters these days. Why? They’ve been hunted from them, so they know to try to find a place to hide whenever they hear one. They’re not always successful, but they don’t stand their ground against the aforementioned helicopter.”

    Wrong, I’m afraid Wulf, although it’s a common misconception. This is an example of Lamarckian inheritance, i.e. the idea that learned behaviours can be carried from one generation to the next. I’m afraid that Darwin’s theory and the continued study of it – that there was in fact a unit of evolution (now called a unit of replication, in this case, the gene) – pretty much blew that idea out of the water a long time ago.

    Also, there are very few proven examples of animals other than humans being able to pass on cultural, or learned, behaviour. One of the few examples is a particular type of bird (can’t remember which one now) that can actually teach a song to its young, which the young then adapts.

    • Harlander says:

      [wolves learning to flee from helicopters] is an example of Lamarckian inheritance, i.e. the idea that learned behaviours can be carried from one generation to the next.

      I don’t think it is… I think it’s an assumption of the

      animals other than humans being able to pass on cultural, or learned, behaviour.

      I couldn’t find anything about cultural transmission in wolves, but here’s something about dolphins socially transmitting tool use.

    • Brulleks says:

      @ Harlander

      True, it could have been an assumption of cultural translation too, but that’s why I included the possibility in my reply as well.

      Whichever Wulf had in mind, both are assumptions of very unlikely possibilities. More likely is that any tendency for wolves to attack randomly is very quickly deselected from the gene pool, while genes that favour hiding when very loud noises start up prosper. I can’t see need for an argument in favour of cultural transmission here – these are very well observed genetic responses for most species.

    • Huggster says:

      Caledonian Crow?

    • Harlander says:

      @Brulleks

      You may well be right. I just took affront at being suspected of being a Lamarckist ;)

  12. Colthor says:

    @iax:
    I dunno, sounds basically the same as Bioshock, Spore et al to me.

    *Cancels demo download.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I really don’t see an issue with it. I doubt I will install the game more than once. I never noticed a limit on Bioshock, and I reached my limit on Spore without a problem, it took me about 2 minutes to phone them and get them to give me more, much like Windows.

    • Ravenger says:

      Microsoft have 24 hour support to reactivate windows, including a freephone automated phone line making it very easy to sort out. Game companies typically have 9-5 support, and may even charge premium rate for the call. If you live in a country where they don’t have an office you may even have to pay for an international call and ring at a weird hour due to time-zone differences.

      If they’re going to add these sorts of restrictive DRM they really need to have free 24/7 telephone support so that users aren’t inconvenienced too much when it goes wrong.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I definitely phoned up about Spore in the evening, if memory serves it may have been an automated line, so it could well also be 24 hours. Honestly, people are just miserable, cynical fucks. I know because I am too.

  13. DrGonzo says:

    Well I quite enjoyed it. It’s not amazing, but it’s fun. No where near difficult enough, though the hardest difficulty was greyed out. The combat is actually a lot more fun when using a controller imo, it becomes more like a beat em up. Unless the ‘Gothic’ is much harder though, I can’t see I will enjoy the game all that much.

    We didn’t get to see any real ‘talky’ quests and they were my favourite parts of Gothic and Risen.

    • Schmitzkater says:

      I always liked the long, complex quests with you talking endlessly to NPCs in the Gothic series, but here I just wanted the to STOP TALKING.
      The Voice-work is simply incredibly annoying (especially the witch) , although I played the others games in the series in German, so I may be somewhat spoiled in that regard.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Yeah the voice actress for the Witch was pretty crazy, but the voice acting was still far better than say Oblivion. Doesn’t match up to the voice acting in Risen, something about all the voices in that and Gothic sound depressed which suits the world. Everyone in Arcania seemed way too happy. Don’t get me wrong the demo wasn’t particularly good, but I think I will still play the game through and enjoy it.

  14. Schmitzkater says:

    Wow the performance in this demo is really unbelievably bad for my PC.

    I can play it with everything on low and the view distance turned all the way back but as soon as I come into the mid-graphics range it starts to run horribly slow, while I could play Mafia2 with all the details cranked? (Although I don’t necessarily know if this is a good comparison)

    • Harlander says:

      Gothic ]I[‘s optimisation was terrible as well…

    • Schmitzkater says:

      And that’s what I thought was one of the reasons Jowood went with Spellbound for this iteration, to have a more polished game to present?

      But it seems to be a problem specific to my setup anyway, as no one else seems to have these slowdowns. (Or at least complain about it.)

    • DrGonzo says:

      Very strange. I have a Dual Core and a Radeon 4850, which I don’t consider to be high spec. When I turned the shadows down this game ran fine with everything else maxed. I wasn’t hitting 60fps but it was perfectly playable.

  15. Incognito says:

    Hm.

    Securom is a no go, always.

    Does the demo contain Securom also? If so, then it was a mistake to even install it.

  16. Urael says:

    I keep hearing good things about the Gothic series. I had 3 at one point but not the PC beef to run it properly so gave it away to a relative. How do these compare to, say, Oblivion, or The Witcher?

    • mlaskus says:

      Well, let’s start with the fact that Gothic 4 is a Gothic game only by name, you should avoid it like fire if you don’t wish to spoil the franchise for yourself.

      The first thing you will notice when playing one of the Gothic games, is that unlike in most RPGs, you are thrust into a dangerous world without weapons and armour and until you reach a city, pretty much anything will try to eat you.
      Combat, especially at first, is quite challenging and you will often prefer to avoid confrontation.
      You cannot trust the NPCs, they will gladly stab you in the back for some coin.

      Ugh, I would write more but I have to go now, I will be back later.

    • mrmud says:

      The other thing you will notice right away is that the interface is incredibly obtuse, bordering on unusable (at least in 1 and 2, I gave up after that).

    • adonf says:

      “you are thrust into a dangerous world without weapons and armour and until you reach a city, pretty much anything will try to eat you.”

      oh, so it’s like minecraft ?

    • Saiko Kila says:

      I loved the interface of Gothic 1 but also welcomed changes in G2. But I still remember problems with adjusting to G1, after mouse and keyboard games. Blame is on me, because I didn’t read any manuals, hehe, trying to figure everything on my own. But after that – it’s perfect and faster than most other interfaces. G3 was worse in that department.

    • DrGonzo says:

      If you want to get into the Gothic series you should get Risen. Where Gothic 1, 2 and 3 in my opinion were great potential but not very good games. Risen finally delivered a polished fun game. Though the final chapter does drag somewhat. Arcania just doesn’t seem anywhere near brutal enough to be honest.

    • Wulf says:

      My take: The stories in these games are typically horrible anyway, don’t go in expecting anything of Obsidian or even Bethesda quality, you’ll be sorely disapointed, they come off more as just a sandbox RPG, moreso even than Oblivion, and generally you just do quests in them and those have consequences. The one that had probably the strongest storyline was Gothic II, but it was still weak compared to better RPGs, and losing the non-linear approach to the world wasn’t worth it for me.

      Considering that they work best as kind of ‘living world’ games, with NPCs that run around and do stuff, presenting a believable little world in which you can slowly rise to power and gain riches, I think that Gothic III with the fan patch (Extended) actually does the best job of realising this potential than any Gothic game, and this includes Risen (the non-Gothic game by the Gothic devs). They haven’t really topped that, since. Gothic III though does do a brilliant job at the whole living world thing, as anyone who’s played it with the Extended patch will know.

      So that’s my opinion, but really, other than that? If you want a story, you’re better off with just about any other kind of RPG, the Gothic RPGs aren’t the best for that. And Risen is probably my least favourite because it’s a short game and at about the 50% mark the game degenerates into dungeon-delving, and the AI is as stupid as it was in the first Gothic, ignoring the evolution of NPC and monster AI that was seen in Gothic II and then Gothic III, it was a massive step back, I think.

    • toro says:

      @Wulf: You lost me.

      Gothic 1 has the best story in the entire franchise. It’s original, fresh, gritty and it makes sense. Gothic 2 is better in all respects, except the story.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      Tbh., I liked the story in g1-3. While it got rather funny how they tried to justify starting the same character fresh again for every sequel, the story was a nice backdrop to the world. When Gothic came out, it was an extremely fresh take on an open fantasy world.
      Risen has a much less interesting story, but it’s still an okay backdrop to the island you’re stuck on.

      Comparing Gothic to the Elder Scrolls series is a bit mismatched. Gothic was always very gritty, extremely hard, very German. The Elder Scrolls, especially Oblivion, has a lot more polish, but in my opinion also a lot less soul. Where Oblivion’s world feels rather generic, Gothic 3 is overflowing with charm even though they vastly oversized the world. Plus you can always notice that Oblivion was made with console in mind, while Gothic 3 is very, very PC. Your mileage may vary on which you like better; I liked both, but for very different reasons.

      By the way, Gothic implemented fast travel a lot better than Oblivion. You don’t just select where you want to go on a map, but instead you can find special portal runes that magically teleport you to your destination. It’s a much less immersion breaking solution imo.

  17. Huggster says:

    So far its okay but there are lots of niggles which will probably present in the full game.

    - grass popping
    - lighting flickering
    - easy combat
    - loot seems a little dry (no stealing consequences yet)
    - yes, strange UI which jars with rest of graphical presentation which is pretty good

    Still, I played through some poor RPG’s in my time and still enjoyed them so its worth a shot.
    It looks like they have tried at least! And to appease Gothic fans too (to some extent).

  18. Al3xand3r says:

    Finished the demo. The combat felt OK after I learned a few spells and got some nice equipment (but why can’t any Western developer do melee that is as fluid as Zelda, with stats and levels on top, it can’t be that hard, instead we get erratic auto targeting and dodgy blocking and dodging), but the dungeons were extremely linear and simplistic, and the plot so far was laughable, with no choices, and presented even worse, ruining the mood. If you can’t hire actors, go text only please. It probably gets better but if the dungeons are still lame and it has lots of parts that emphasise its shortocomings I’ll pass. It’s polished for an RPG from this region but still clunky. You can’t drop off ledges unless you jump, you can’t enter water bodies, I mentioned the combat flaws, the camera is weird and gets erratic during certain actions, and the visuals, while good in screens, are flawed. I think I would prefer first person play, it would hide some of the sloppy interactions. Risen is better despite being clunkier and having a HORRIBLE end game, unless this game improves greatly later.

    As for the AI debate, lol. Sure you can complain about it, but deciding to skip a game just because of that? That’s just dumb. A game can be great or shit despite the shit or great wolf AI folks, and a developer focusing on things other than wolves because they think they have more important things for the player to get enjoyment from isn’t necessarily lazy. Duh.

    • Wulf says:

      Considering that AI is usually the biggest complaint about computer RPGs, it’s actually quite fair to not want to play an RPG due to a lazily presented world, where everything is just dumb sword-fodder.

      Examples:

      - Neverwinter Nights – required a fan mod to fix the much complained about AI.
      - Neverwinter Nights II – required a fan mod to fix the much complained about AI.
      - Morrowind – required a fan mod to fix the much complained about AI.
      - Oblivion – required a fan mod to fix the much complained about AI.
      - Gothic III – required a fan mod to fix the much complained about AI.
      - Dragon Age: Origins – is probably still awaiting a fan mod to fix the much complained about AI.

      And even older than that, most Infinity Engine games (like Baldur’s Gate II) had shit AI that was fixed later on by mads, thank goodness for modders who aren’t lazy.

      Considering this, if a game can’t be modded or is unlikely to see AI-fixing mods/patches, then yes, I’m going to skip over it. If such a mod/patch appears down the line, then of course I’m going to pick the game up, but being sick of shit AI in games is as perfectly valid a reason as any other. I’m just fed up of developers being lazy about this.

      But perhaps my standards are just higher than yours? I don’t know.

    • Al3xand3r says:

      Except hostile wolves don’t indicate “bad AI” in a way that can break the game like some in your list were, so no, it has nothing to do with high standards (which given your earlier story comment you don’t seem to have, being so willing to lower story expectations for anyone outside Obsidian and Bioware, which further shows low standards in the first place considering the quality of their stories) and everything to do with a dumb generalisation that applies differently on each game despite you treating it the same regardless. If they want to make combat interesting and provide a ton of varied enemies to go along with that interest factor, including wolves that will attack you and require a different strategy to survive than other enemies in a given game, then no, the game does nothing “bad”. I’m not saying this is the case here either.

  19. Markoff Chaney says:

    I was more than a little disappointed with the time I spent with the demo this morning while preparing for work. I understand it is a demo, and I understand I’m starting at the beginning, basically running through a tutorial for game mechanics, but, thus far, I have had bugger all for choices in my game. I should have had at a minimum, 3 good choices.

    Spoilers for the demo follow.

    A girl wakes me up. I am only offered the chance to kiss her or leave, after our conversation. Why can’t I have no feelings whatsoever for her? I can’t even decide how I feel toward this world?

    I am tasked with running off a smuggler. I get to him and learn he had befriended me and taught me how to fight. I fully expect to be able to choose to fight him to the death, and get his gear to earn the respect of my paramour’s father or, perhaps, spare his life and work out some kind of chicanery to fool my prospective father in law.

    I am only allowed to go the route whereupon he lets me do some sparring training with him and then, if I kill some goblins down by his boat, he will give me a machete and a bow with some arrows. Upon killing the goblins, he gives me the machete to say I took from him and he takes off up the path, without even going down to his boat to get whatever he wanted down there anyway. I can’t even decide if I want to betray my friend and steal his loot?

    The most glaring deficiency in the realm of possible choices, in my opinion, was the part where I ask an demihuman for a particularly nice piece of amber he’s found so I may have a friend fashion it into a bauble to give to my betrothed. He says he wants to be a trader. He tells me that he will sell it to me. I think to myself, great. I have accumulated exactly 100 gold and have in my inventory 4 staves, 2 axes, 112 arrows, 2 knives, some potions, some plants, and other various and sundries I can sell to him.

    Surely I have, in my obsessive compulsive scouring of the area gathered more than enough items and coin to procure the amber for my wife to be, even if I don’t want to marry her. My Player Character then, without any prompting from me, says “I have no Gold”. It is plainly in my inventory. I have items worth gold in my inventory that the self proclaimed trader wannabe would buy. Lamentably, I am sent off to get some blue mcguffin toadstools instead.

    I will probably keep playing, only because I loved Gothics 1 and 2 and Risen so much, but unless things open up after I leave the training area, this ain’t no Gothic.

    • adonf says:

      “the time I spent with the demo this morning while preparing for work”

      wow… and i can barely have a cup of coffe before i leave for work

    • Markoff Chaney says:

      :) It helps when your 10 month old keeps kicking you in the head at 5am. I had started the download last night. Sometimes I think my half hours I sneak in early in the morning are the only gaming I get in any more…

    • Huggster says:

      “Sometimes I think my half hours I sneak in early in the morning are the only …..”

      <<< insert joke about married life here.

      ;-)

  20. StingingVelvet says:

    LOL @ All the people on RPG Codex who are too smart for action games but too dumb to turn off the quest arrow and exclamation marks in the options menu.

  21. Reasoning says:

    The graphics are beautiful.
    The quests mediocre, and inconsistent.
    Roleplaying is nonexistent (ie no choices to do as you wish)
    Demo ended with too much combat.

    Here is the most important part about the wolf argument. They don’t care. This is a console game for 12 year old kids. And if you are 12 years old and are complaining about this, you are such a minority that your opinion is irrelevant to a game developer.

    As mentioned, the game is inconsistent, and shall be for the rest of the game. Clearly the developers aren’t too bright.

    The combat system seems decent with the exception that it doesn’t seem like you are in a battle. The AI simply does it’s own routine while you hack away.

    RPG Codex died a long time ago, due to the death of the crpg and computer games in general. All that’s left are bunch of teens and adult kids with ADD and no lives trying too hard to fit into the dead shell of the former online community

  22. craigdolphin says:

    I really enjoyed all the Gothic series (despite the wonky performance issues from G3) and was very interested in picking up the pc-version of Arcania. But I’ve learned my lessons about SecuROM since the earlier gothic games were released, and I will be skipping this title solely because of this issue. Pity. Maybe I’ll buy it second hand for the x-box or something someday. Though the thought of Gothic on a console makes me cringe.

  23. KillahMate says:

    So basically what you’re all saying is that this is a B-class game? Compared to, say, the Witcher. Low budget, hardcore?

  24. undead dolphin hacker says:

    I bought Risen and never touched it. Let us know how this one stacks up to that one.

  25. Theory says:

    From memory:

    Why do I have a fully-fledged stone hut out on in the middle of nowhere?

    Where is the water for that waterfall coming from on top of that tiny mesa?

    Why is the area between my sheep field and the village sealed off with eight feet of defensive palisade?

    Where do the people in this village get enough food from?

    Why are there lots of people walking about when I can only see six or seven buildings in the whole settlements?

    Why does a village this size have a blacksmith? Who uses that number of weapons? Who mines the ore?

    Why has that old man never set foot beyond this gate a few metres away from him, despite having the key?

    Why are there two goblins just standing around by the boat? Why haven’t they stolen it? Where do they live? Why did they stand and fight a guy twice their size with a sword? Why did they not loot this chest full of goodies right next to them?

    This kind of crap was acceptable when characters were 16×16 sprites, but now that we have these lush animated worlds I expect better. Evidently it’s an unrealistic expectation, which would explain why even the “best” RPGs seem awful to me. Dwarf Fortress is the future!

    (I finished the demo BTW, but you’ve got to stop typing at some point.)

  26. Saiko Kila says:

    This is consolish looking (and feeling) game. You have outlines to “better assist” in your quest. You have no need to sleep, because sleeping is passe. You have no need to swim because swimming is prohibited. You can’t fight NPCs because brawls are bad. It’s incredibly linear in the beginning, which demo covers (surely more than Gothic’s beginnings). All interactions are very limited. Maybe I’m dissapointed because I’m a Gothic fan, but seriously, how any people involved in Gothics could create such a casual game?

    • Saiko Kila says:

      I finished the demo again, on Hard this time, and at least fights are better. On Normal enemies are stupid and clunky. Some things are still sad, but disabling silhouettes and similar aids, rising difficulty does help.

  27. BeamSplashX says:

    I tried the 360 demo last night. Does the PC version keep the invisible walls, inability to attack friendlies, and climb ledges? I recently just reached the 2nd chapter of Gothic II and the differences are jarring. I do like the addition of rolling, the faster pickup speed, and the weight behind the attacks, but the trade-off isn’t enough for me, personally.

    Oh well. Risen II and Two Worlds II sound lovely IIday (shoots self).

    • BeamSplashX says:

      Inability to climb ledges, that is. The demo itself doesn’t climb ledges.

      Also, I refreshed the page to check for any complaints and there were none. Then I commented and there was a big wash of them. Oops.

    • Saiko Kila says:

      In Gothic 2 you can roll. You just have to learn it. I would like if they made a sandbox style game like Gothic 2. In G2 you can swim, dive, jump to the water (and avoid death in double way – escaping enemies and gravity crush ;)), climb, go to the places where there was nothing, or there were impossible enemies (for your level), just freedom. Here, there is less freedom.

    • BeamSplashX says:

      Oh right, Acrobatics. I’m trying to avoid looking into what is possible so I can avoid my unconscious desire to get everything possible.

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>