No More Gothic 4 For You

By Alec Meer on March 23rd, 2011 at 3:42 pm.

look upon my works, ye mighty

‘Bittersweet’ covers this news, I suppose. Arcania: Gothic 4 was a picturesque but depressingly stupid RPG, and one I couldn’t bear to finish despite a lingering hope that at some point it would suddenly open up and improve. None of this was the fault of series creators Piranha Bytes, who lost the rights in a spat with publisher JoWood, but fortunately went off to make the far more interesting Risen instead.

Nonetheless, Arcania was deemed successful enough to warrant a standalone expansion, Fall of Setarrif, which promised 10 more hours of monster-bothering and a bit more variety. It sounded quite literally “okay.” We shall never know for sure – Setariff has indeed fallen. And in a really weird way.

The game’s on indefinite delay, amidst ongoing money problems at JoWood. First, here’s what you’re missing out on.

Sexy harpies. Ish.

JoWood are being pretty cryptic about the reason for the axe falling, merely revealing that some sort of legal tussle has led to an indefinite delay. “The legal background of the official add-on to “ArcaniA – Gothic 4” is unclear and diverse legal positions with the BVT fund that financed the main game are present.”

BVT is an investment company with a division that specialises in gaming projects. According to Wikipedia, they even put money into Neverwinter Nights 2. Clearly, something has gone terribly awry either with the funding itself or in the spending on said funding. Or it may relate the current poor fortunes of JoWood themselves – according to this, they’ve already declared insolvency and are now facing the end times unless new investors can found sharpish. New investors prepared to shove $5m the publisher’s way. Uh-oh.

The game was due for release on Friday. No more. It’s possible we will still see it at some point, but it’s not sounding good.

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53 Comments »

  1. StingingVelvet says:

    Arcania was pretty bad… fun hack n’ slash at times, but terrible everything else, especially compared to its legacy.

    So no big loss.

  2. Giant, fussy whingebag says:

    I feel bad for the people who work there… but really this is a company that is failing for a reason. They dumped what made their earlier games special, including the developer of said games, in the hopes that watering it down would somehow make it more palatable to the masses. It didn’t.

    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      Jowood isn’t developing this is any case. It’s either the original development team from the full Arcania game, Spellbound, or one of the TERRIBLE shovelware studios Jowood like to employ.

      I was really only interested in this to see if Spellbound could do a better job of it, because Spellbound is a really great studio, and I’m still completely confused about how Arcania could have turned out so shitty. I’ll still blame Jowood for it. Spellbound’s time is regardless much better spent on other projects.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      It’s really nice to see dumbing down in games like Arcania, Fable 3 and Dragon Age 2 called out in reviews and such. There was a time it was celebrated, and it still sometimes is, but at least in the RPG genre there seems to be a point where even mainstream reviewers will say “too far.”

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      To quote from Yahtzee’s Deus Ex song

      We’re not the same Ion Storm that made Daikatana
      our games are good
      and they stay on schedule
      we made a seeequel than no one
      liked
      cause we dumbed it down too much
      cause we’re thiiiiiick

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      What happened to Spellbound, anyway? First they’re making decent Commandos-style games, next thing you know they release a 3D hack & slash and a DS remake of an old platformer (a cute one, but still).

  3. Pemptus says:

    The english voiceover for the witch from the demo haunts me to this day. I’ll stick to the non-terrible Gothics, thank you very much.

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      JB says:

      @Pemptus – Likewise. I’m scarred for life.

    • Grot_Punter says:

      I found everything fine up until that point. Once I hit the witch, I literally just kept playing in order to see how bad the game got.

    • Ragnar says:

      Agreed, the demo convinced me I didn’t want the game. I’m not usually picky, but even I found the dialog to be poor, the quests boring and nonsensical, the combat repetitive and boring, and the voice work terrible. The voice of that witch was an aural assault on my ears. I don’t know how that got through QA, was the guy testing that part deaf?

  4. Navagon says:

    Thank you for not titling this “No More Gothic 4 You”.

    I wonder how many people were really looking forward to this one?

    • Temple to Tei says:

      The pun? Not really. I tend to approach an article with a clear mind, a little hope I suppose, but mostly just an expectation based on previous work of the writers.

    • westyfield says:

      I initially read it as “No more Gothic 4 You” and was strapping myself in to my wartrain before my aide-de-camp pointed out my mistake.
      Naturally I had him shot.

    • Navagon says:

      No the expansion. Perhaps I should have been clearer about that.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      much like nobody ever uses “Buy one, get one for free” because it spells “bog off” (instead they use “buy one, get one free” which is just “bog of”)

  5. CMaster says:

    Sounds a bit like the story of 10Tacle.
    Had a few sucessful games going on.
    Took out huge loans and lots of private investor mooney to make lots of big budget games.
    Declared insolvency before any of them could be completed. (Black Prophecy was the only game to get taken on and “finished” I believe). Elveon is incidentally the game that effectivley killed the company.

    I wonder if Piranha Bytes will offer the administrators a small sum in exchange for the Gothic name back.

  6. Hammurabi says:

    Just stopping by to point out that all of the Gothics are on sale for really small amounts of money via Steam atm. This is apparently to celebrate the release of the Enhanced Edition of Gothic 3:Forsaken Gods. Which is essentially a 1.5G patch that updates the gameplay, graphics and repairs bugs. By all accounts (that I could track down), it is a significant improvement.
    link–> http://store.steampowered.com/sub/7653/

    • arccos says:

      Thanks for the tip! I have 1 & 2 via GOG, but that’s too good a deal to pass up for the other two.

    • Wulf says:

      Definitely worth it for Gothic III, and I’ve heard no complaints from the people I’ve recommended it too. At least when you get into the game it does something a little bit more interesting than oh look it’s bloody Medievalour™ again. Plus it has some of the most convincing NPC handling I’ve seen since Ultima, and not just on people but on animals too, this combined with the pretty graphics makes for a fairly damned amazing world to explore.

      Though if you do get Gothic III, make sure you get the Enhanced fan patch thingy.

    • Hammurabi says:

      I posted that link quickly (class was about to start ). I didn’t realize that it only showed the complete pack. It is also possible to get each of the Gothics individually with discounts (except for Gothic 1, which is only possible to get in a bundle). The best deal seems to be to get the Gothic universe pack –> http://store.steampowered.com/sub/6375 (1, II and III) plus G3: Forsaken Gods Enhanced–> http://store.steampowered.com/app/65600 . Unless you really want to get Gothic 4, but I don’t think you do.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      Yes, Gothic 3 has been patched quite well over the years.

      Still, I already enjoyed it when it came out. There was a good game under the bugs, if a bit too overambitious (and, you know, with a shit story).

    • Premium User Badge

      Carra says:

      So Forsaken Gods is a better version of Gothic 3.

      Then why does it cost less than Gothic 3?

    • CTRL-ALT-DESTROY says:

      @Carra
      Forsaken Gods is an expansion supposedly bridging the gap between Gothic 3 and Gothic 4, and it’s laughable at best. It wasn’t developed by Piranha Bytes, yet it’s so buggy it makes Gothic 3 (on release) look polished. Beyond that the story is BS and it’s just not fun. I read earlier on here that it’s patched now, but even that couldn’t make it worth paying any amount of money for.

    • Hammurabi says:

      @Carra I was confused at this at first as well. Forsaken Gods is an expand-alone that takes place directly after the events in Gothic 3. It was released as a buggy unfun mess (according to multiple sources). The enhanced edition includes a patch that is similar to the Community Patch for Gothic 3, except this time the patch team was hired by the studio for their work.
      So, to clarify, Forsaken Gods is an expansion that does not require Gothic 3 to run, and does not include Gothic 3 content.

  7. Meatloaf says:

    I, for one, thought that the “witch” person you meet early on was comedy gold. Not on purpose, probably, but nonetheless it was hilarious.

    • godgoo says:

      I didn’t play much beyond that but I agree, terrible/funny. haha.

  8. runbmp says:

    I’ve never played them, but tend to give them a whirl. So everyone would agree that up to Gothic 3, it was a decent game to be enjoyed? Was Gothic 4 that bad…

    • arccos says:

      If you’re going to play some of them, the best is Gothic 2 with the add-on, as long as you can handle the goofy interface. Risen is a close second for me and has a much better interface.

      I remember there was a mostly undocumented way to play most of Gothic 2 in first person, which may be why I like that one more. Both G2 and Risen are great.

    • Urthman says:

      Undocumented? There’s a key you press that switches between first-person and third-person, just like in Oblivion. I forget what the default key is, but it’s right there in the options for customizing your controls.

    • tanith says:

      Gothic 1 is the best game of the series, story and atmosphere wise. Gothic 2 was pretty decent good too but it couldn’t hold up to Gothic 1. That changed a bit with the “The Night of the Raven” because it introduced an awesome side-story and other little gimmicks.
      Gothic 3 is by okay. It’s not as good as Gothic 1 or 2 but it’s still a decent and fun action-adventure hybrid with RPG elements, like the previous ones, just more mainstream.

      That’s coming from a person who has followed Piranha Bytes since Gothic 1, though, so I am biased in that respect. It really surprises me that people say that the second one is the best because to me the first one is definitely superior.

    • Wulf says:

      I’d say that Gothic III is the best of the series and horribly underrated, it mostly seems to be so because they actually dared to do something a bit different, rather than just a rehash of 1 in a bigger area. (Which is exactly what 2 was.) 3 actually did something new and interesting with the series and tried to present a world with continents that was worth exploring. It also had the best creature and person AI I’ve seen in an RPG. Both of those elements made it more of a joy for me to play than either 1 or 2.

    • Ultra Superior says:

      Gothic 4 wasn’t all that bad.

      Dumb, but not that much dumbed-down.

      It’s easy to just kick its corpse, but I was able to finish it despite its many flaws, poor story and a world’s most pathetic joke of a final boss.

      It still is built upon solid foundation of classic RPGs…. there are many enjoyable moments and quests as well.

      However – I liked Risen better but I liked Arcania more than Two Worlds Two (what a drag…with some crazy amazing spells) and more than Divinity 2 (Divinity has a great beginning but it horrendously dissolves later.) I also think it is much better than Gothic 3 (don’t want to compare it with older gothics)

      I played all these out of pure desperation for a classic RPG – Now that there is a Witcher 2 and Skyrim on the horizon, I felt good about passing on Dragon Age 2 – without shred of remorse.

      Serves them right, dumbing-down bioware traitors.

    • runbmp says:

      Thanks gents, looks like i’ll have to play them all based your comments.

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      oceanclub says:

      After (IMO rightly) slagging off G3 at release for being an unoptimized, buggy, POS, I eventually bought it, with the Community Patch, in a bundle on Steam and am currently really enjoying. Even now, 5 years after release, it still stutters horribly, but otherwise is playable.

      P.

  9. Tei says:

    I have forget how terrible is arcania.

    All I remenber that was not nice on my graphic card, and that I was busy on some somewhat lame quests.

    I am tempted to play again, to give it another oportunity. I think I was in a quest to liberate a wood peg, or something like that. A game so forgetable, I don’t remenbet why was soo forgetable.

  10. Ultra Superior says:

    I don’t think it was all that bad.

    I liked Risen more – but I still finished Arcania – of course it was a DUMB GAME, but at least it didn’t feel so DUMBED DOWN.

    Psychology is a strange thing – I played it in a desperation for any kind of classic rpg. It was occasionally very good and mostly terrible but I was able to make it through to the end (which is something I’m unable to pull off with Two Worlds Two).

    Now that there is a Witcher 2 and Skyrim on the horizon – I was able to pass Dragon Age 2 without shred of remorse.

    Serves them right dumbing-down Bioware traitors…

    BTW: Arcania must have the stupidest final bossfight of all times. It was worth playing just to experience that joke.

  11. hamster says:

    Okay screw Gothic 2 + night of the raven. Seriously the local wildlife was sooooo deadly. The tiniest, most mundane, most trivial pipsqueak could take wipe the floor with you no problem and i spent substantial hours levelling up my guy’s combat skills before he could take on wolves. I mean….christ. We had wolf sized skeletons ripping you to pieces in 3 hits; wolf sized wolves tearing you up in 4 open-close permutations of its jaw; insane shadow wolf type-wolves that looked almost exactly like the normal ones that tore you a new one in a single nip; VULTURES that pecked the shit out of you…and many more harmless looking fauna that would run away from you IRL but NOT in gothic 2, no sir, they would rip u up like they were their fully mechanized t-101 cyberdyne variants. Games like this just aren’t “hardcore” – they’re gone so far that they’ve become equally as stupid as the sort of games that populate the wilderness with lumbering jelly trolls you could kill in 5 swipes at level 1 (since they’re level scaled to your character, btw).
    Christ…i’m willing to bet gothic 4 and probably gothic 3 is way better than gothic 2 despite its “depth”.

    • tanith says:

      Gothic 2 and Gothic 1 were not easy (and Gothic 3 was bugged in that respect), I’ll give you that but you are totally exaggerating.
      The fauna is not harmless looking, either. Wolfes are supposed to be strong; scavengers on the other hand were pretty easy to kill when you took them on one by one.

    • Wulf says:

      There’s a fan patch for Gothic III that does a fantastic job at sorting out the bugs and actually clears up every last major one there is. As for the fauna, one thing that made Gothic III really stand out is that the fauna wasn’t idiotically suicidal. It didn’t charge headfirst at a guy in plate armour, later on in the first two games, fauna just became no more sensible than the Suicide Squad from Life of Brian.

      In III they actually made the fauna behave like fauna should. This wasn’t a bug but actually intended. So there was a lot of wildlife that actually wouldn’t bother you unless you bothered them. Thus you wouldn’t have a wolf charge at you hidden from a bush, on a suicide mission. Instead, if you happened to upset a wolf, they’d growl at you as a warning. And if you backed off, they wouldn’t attack. This is the kind of AI that Bethesda games usually need a complicated mod to even begin to replicate, and then still don’t quite manage it. The humanoid NPC combat AI was mildly bugged, yes, but this is fixed in the fan patch, so everything finally falls into place.

    • Tei says:

      I don’t think most people will survive the attack of a wolf. If the wolf somehow is forced to attack the human. But I have a lot of dogs, and one thing I am sure,.. you can’t outrun a dog. So if one of these animals decide to have a battle with a human, it will only end wen the animal say it ends.
      …anyway wolfs attack in packs.

    • macil says:

      In Gothic 1 and 2, you know you’re not suppose to just mash the attack buttons, right? There were timings to the swings, blocking, side-stepping, waiting for openings, etc.

      I give you that the games were tough, but by no means impossible.

      Fighting skeletons in Gothic 1 and 2 was awesome (and difficult!)

    • hamster says:

      Guys, there is no way in hell a wolf can survive an attack from a human being clad in boiled leather armor wielding a frickin’ longsword. Instead of growling 3 times then leaping at you, i believe wolves IRL aren’t stupid enough to attack unless they’re in groups and also not unless their target is wounded or smaller in size.

      Also you can’t block attacks from wildlife for some reason but you can block attacks from bandit-pirates swinging massive sharp, 6 meter long steel… hmm.

      I also recall being done in by dog-sized rats. Rats! It doesn’t get any more insulting than that. If you want to make the game tough at least populate their world with some genuinely dangerous beasts ffs. Maybe boulder sized serpents or dragons or t-rexes (i also recall being 1 hit by deer sized raptors now that i think of it) or bears or anything else – but really, RATS? Wolves? Dangerous wolves that look almost exactly like wolves but do you in in 1 shot? Only thing that looked as dangerous as it should be was the Shadowbeast.

      And you know what really, really sucked? Every square inch of Khornis was packed with wolves, fetid beasts, raptors, badass bandits and all sorts of nasties. It’s almost like natural selection ran its course for the entire world over a few millenium EXCEPT for the hero who is somehow some living, breathing, human jelly. Sort of like a jellyfish without its tentacles. And noo i’m not exaggerating since i’ve spent a decent amount of time on the game and just felt ridiculously frustrated at getting owned by critters lingering at the bottom of the food chain. You just end up unable to go anywhere until you level 2000x.

    • Joof says:

      “In III they actually made the fauna behave like fauna should. This wasn’t a bug but actually intended. So there was a lot of wildlife that actually wouldn’t bother you unless you bothered them. Thus you wouldn’t have a wolf charge at you hidden from a bush, on a suicide mission. Instead, if you happened to upset a wolf, they’d growl at you as a warning. And if you backed off, they wouldn’t attack.”

      So in 3, the wildlife AI improved because it acted exactly like the wildlife in 1, 2, and Risen? Every animal in the other games had a range at which they would posture/screech/growl at you in warning, and if you didn’t back off or decided to come closer, they would attack.

    • theleif says:

      @Tei: “…anyway wolfs attack in packs.”
      Actually, wolfs are solitary creatures. The only time they are known to hunt in packs are during extreme winters, and they’re starving. Even then, they don’t attack humans. Irl, that is.

    • sneetch says:

      @theleif
      Are you sure about that? I’m pretty sure most wolves (especially grey wolves) are social animals that live and hunt in packs.

    • Starky says:

      Wolves do hunt in packs, but packs are not what most people think, they are not huge collections of wolves that all live together like some kind of tribe.

      A pack is literally a family.
      Alpha male and female – parents.
      And then generally offspring of maybe a couple of generations.

      Maybe 10 wolves, usually less.

      Elder siblings usually splinter from the pack and become lone wolves (most males do, females sometimes stay) though they often keep in contact with their parents and the pack – some form their own packs, or perhaps join another.
      Males may take over a pack in which the alpha has died, or is too weak to hold it. Females may join a pack as alpha female. For example, one of the younger wolves in a pack displacing their alpha male (dad) and then needing a new alpha female to mate with.

      The majority of wolves are probably loners (especially males), or distant in pack relations.

      Oh and one of the main reason for most wolves going lone, is that in a pack, the mated pair and new pups eat first – any shortage and the elder kids don’t eat.

      They do have pact tactics and hunt as a unit, but more often than not they just sort of hunt in the same direction (alpha pair do the main hunt together, and the rest fend for themselves if they can). They do cooperate sometimes, but no where near to the extent of say lions (when lions do hunt that is, they tend to scavenge or just steal other animals kills rather than hunt themselves).

    • Starky says:

      Oh as a note, any armed adult human (with a decent knife or better) could fairly easily kill a wolf that was attacking them (unless caught by surprise) – they may not escape uninjured, but teeth are no match for steel.

      Any smart human facing animal attack would simply sacrifice an arm, to stab the animal a few times.

  12. Creeping Death says:

    Shame. I know alot of people bashed Arcania but I rathered enjoyed it. It was a fun action RPG (definately leaning more on the action bit) that entertained me for a solid 10 hours. I was somewhat looking forward to the expansion, certainly not a day one release but I would have picked it up at some point.

    Didn’t know it was due this Friday though, I guess that’s why Steam has a big Gothic sale on?

    • hamster says:

      @ Tei:

      You think a reasonably fit human being clad with boiled leather armor and wielding a razor sharp longsword has problems cutting up some stupid wolf with a sweep of the arm? Also wolves only attack to bring down injured/weak prey typically smaller in size. Gothic wolves apparently have adamantium fangs and jaws powered by pneumatic pistons which somehow allow them to chomp an armored man to death in 3 open-close cycles. I would only be half as annoyed if wolves were replaced by some towering ferocious monster (like a 20 foot tall club swinging ogre, for instance) – being 2 hit by those guys would make some sense and at least do some justice to my pride.

      Even Morrowind didn’t have that level of insanity. Cliff racers were annoying, numerous and a fairly large threat to low level players but they at least looked/sounded more intimidating and when upon death, dropped the very useful Racer plumes containing the levitation effect. And daedric ruins had plenty of demonic badasses but at least you knew they were there. Not like Gothic where every corner in the wild was habitat to some crazed man killing beast.

  13. Dreamhacker says:

    Too bad. Jowood actually published a few really good games. But they were just that, “a few”.

  14. field_studies says:

    I just bought the Gothic 1-3 pack, having played them all numerous times, but never NotR (and Gothic 2 install disks don’t seem to cooperate with Windows 7).

    Truly, I think this is my favourite computer game franchise ever. That’s going to sound off to a lot of people (though so nice to see so many fans here), and I can’t fully explain it, but I similarly don’t understand much of the criticism that was levelled at the Gothics (save Arcania, which I never bothered to finish).

    I think that particularly goes for Gothic 3–the original optimization and bugs were annoying, but not game-breaking, I thought. And the story, while perhaps not quite as tight or dramatic as the first two, did have its charms. Certainly the factions and city-turning mechanic was interesting (for those that took it earnestly and didn’t break their games by turning cities too quickly–I could understand that frustration). More than that, the sheer size and variety of the terrain and the quantity of fairly-well-written NPC’s won me over. While the snowy north was beautiful, the desert south is actually the area that sticks with me, with its ruins and cities–particularly the large central one. That large open field north of Gotha, with the terrain appropriate fleet-footed wild animals travelling in packs (I can’t remember what they were), bordered on both sides by steep mountains… that was, at the time, one of the most evocative videogame environments I’d experienced.

    For many the hostile wilderness and buggy gameplay was enough to discredit the franchise. But I guess I’ve found the cumulative narrative and the open (and dangerous) worlds and decision making immersive, enough for me to more than forgive the shortcomings.

    As to why many don’t think Gothic 1 was best? Honestly, I haven’t played it since the second time through, probably in the same year it came out. I have very fond memories of the setting, and the great plot climax, but I think the suspicion that it will feel cramped and with archaic visuals and gameplay is enough to have kept me from going back. Which is probably wrong. Also, perhaps getting to play in the land, with it’s very cool castle-under-siege dynamic in G2, sated whatever urge I had to return to the old mining camp.

  15. geldonyetich says:

    Not sure if it’s the same for you Europeans, but Steam is currently showing me 75% off on the complete Gothic series until Thursday. Love or hate Gothic 4, I can tolerate mediocrity for $12.50. The complete series available for less than $20 US is nice, too.

  16. Ezhar says:

    It had to die.