It Goeth Before Fall – Risen 3: Titan Lords Rising In August

By Nathan Grayson on May 8th, 2014 at 9:00 am.

I have absolutely perfect 20/20 vision! Except when birds are around

The Risen games have never been anything even marginally resembling perfect, but they’ve got more heart than Borlikkulax, the heart collector that comes in the night. We (by which I mean Alec) have written countless words about them, so I can’t help but anticipate Risen 3: Titan Lords with a trepidacious sort of glee. Will it finally realize the series’ lofty open-world role-playing ambitions, or will this wannabe genre titan fall into a crater of glitch-ridden obscurity? We’ll find out in August.

Well that sure could’ve been a CG trailer for any fantasy game ever. Unlike Risen 2, which was about pirates (Assassin’s Creed apparently didn’t invent them; I know!) and other such scalawaggery, Risen 3 returns to a more traditional fantasy setting. This one’s full of fallen gods, mages, and soulless warriors.

This part, however, is the one I’m most interested in:

“The key element of the cult Gothic series as well as Risen is the vivid world and the freedom to explore it. The world of Risen 3: Titan Lords will be diverse, authentic and full of life, providing the player with an authentic, classic RPG experience.”

“Like a carpenter with a hand-crafted piece of furniture, we put together the story, the characters and the landscape until it all fits and the player has the possibility to discover things all around the place. You can try out and find things that others might not. Exploration is the key to our game.”

I found that same carpenter analogy on the back of a bottle of cider last week. I’m not joking. It was some absolutely delicious cider too, so I take that to mean that Risen 3 will be the best fantasy RPG since Skyrim with a delightfully fizzy raspberry finish.

Risen 3: Titan Lords will be out on August 12th. My headline would’ve been a lot better if it were coming out in the fall, and not right before it.

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Top comments

  1. Shieldmaiden says:

    I liked what I played of both games, but they suffer badly from Generic Bloke Protagonist Syndrome. If you're making a RPG, either give me a genuinely interesting character to play, or let me make my own.
  1. Lobotomist says:

    I loved first Risen.
    It managed to capture and improve most of what was good in Ghotic.
    But it was also felt unfinished towards the end.

    Second i didnt play , mostly because of its weird Pirate setting ( was it good ? )

    So I hope this one will turn out to be the best.

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      RedViv says:

      The pirate and voodoo fantasy setting was great. If this game would have brought that and better, more open world design, and tighter combat, back again, that would have been nice. But alas, back to ye olden standard fantasy atmosphere.

      • Keyrock says:

        Agreed. I loved the pirate setting, I just think it wasn’t implemented as well as it could have been. I, too, would have rather they stuck to that rather than going back to generic fantasy. We get a bajillion generic fantasy games every year, we don’t need more generic fantasy games. There are so many other cool settings to explore out there, why do developers keep churning out the generic pseudo medieval Europe fantasy settings again and again and again and again and…

  2. Aydrian says:

    I didn’t like Risen 1 or 2. I felt like they were long winded, uninteresting, with combat that keeps getting dumbed down more and more. The UI is always atrocious, the games have you do a lot of pointless crap, the quests are mostly uninteresting, the animation quality also keeps getting worse with each game, it takes FOREVER to get to anything truly interesting in the games, and everything you can do doesn’t actually seem to matter.

    Now I know in this very strange world, people define “hardcore” as anything that’s overly annoying and sucks up a lot of your time with barely anything gained, but the Risen games have so far bored me to tears. I don’t need constant action in an RPG. I don’t need a lot of flashy graphics. I need to feel like I’m connected to the world, and invested in the events and people that inhabit it. In my personal opinion, Risen has failed that every single time.

    Kind of like The Witcher games, but in a different way. Those games fail to keep me interested because absolutely everyone in the entire world is a selfish scumbag that the world would probably be a better place without. And for some reason you’re supposed to feel motivated to help them.

  3. Shieldmaiden says:

    I liked what I played of both games, but they suffer badly from Generic Bloke Protagonist Syndrome. If you’re making a RPG, either give me a genuinely interesting character to play, or let me make my own.

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      Bradamantium says:

      I played the first one all the way through and quite enjoyed it…but I couldn’t tell you the first thing about the player character. I think he was bald? And…had a gravelly voice?

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      Rhygadon says:

      Funny, I quite liked the protagonist. He has a light, comic snarkiness that’s rarely pulled off so well in games: neither nihilistic nor madcap, just a bit cheeky and full of himself. In a game with a more serious story, his refusal to play it straight might break immersion. But since the joys of Risen are more about romping through forests and destabilizing hidebound little social circles, I find he’s just about perfect for the role.

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      Jackablade says:

      I never got around to trying Risen, but I always rather enjoyed the fact that Gothic’s protagonist acted like a complete jerk to everyone he met, even those people he was supposed to be friends with.

  4. Horg says:

    Cautiously optimistic.

  5. Alexander says:

    If they boast about exploration 4 months before release they should show some exploration, not some CGI that no one cares about. Not much more faith left in Piranha.

  6. The Epitaph says:

    I’ve been a fan of Piranha Bytes work since the original Gothic. I absolutly loved the first two Gothics and played them a multiton of times, worked my way through the third one (sending bugreports the the good fellas who made the community-patch <3) and played both of the Risens. So you might say that I know what I'm talking about, when it comes to Piranha Bytes work.

    And that is, why I doubt that Risen will be the new Skyrim. I even doubt that they aspire to that. Gothic and Risen have allways been about the story. You, the nameless hero (who's stereotype is frequently laughed upon in all of their games) come into a established society as the radical factor. You are what drives the story forward and shapes it. There are no boundrys except your level and skills. You could go and fight some endtier-monsters as a lvl1 greenhorn (at least in the first two Gothics). The game excelled at createing a liveing world and believeable story, with very human and likeable characters.

    The world around you felt dirty and violent. Every NPC who felt stronger than you and didn't know you either wanted to screw you over or use you. There was no such thing as random-people suddenly giveing you a quest to save the whole kingdom.
    Language was allways rough but believeable in terms of setting, while the characters in the world weren't the one dimensional NPCs who categorize in goody-two-shoes and evil-psychopaths. Each and (allmost) everyone had their specific kinks. It made them human to the most extent possible in that time.

    The story, however, was allways a very strict one. There were since Gothic 1, different paths to the final goal, but the goal was nevertheless, the same. The way you got to that story, however, was very much shaped by the path or guild you choose. Each quest or swing brought you further in the main-storyline. Each Level and additional skill, gave you acces to harder areas.Each NPC was unique. Almost everyone with a unique name was a unique character, while even those who were named in a generic way, like "peasent" or "miner", have their own unique dialoge, which is only used by that subset.

    I would strongly suggest to play the Piranha Bytes game in the sequence they are released though, because you will miss a lot of the story and personality, if you, say, start to play the gothic series from gothic 2 instead of 1. It's like a book-trilogy in that sence. You can do that ofc. but you will lose out on about half the game as you will not have a clue of what is going on.

    I did play all of the Piranha Bytes games in the german-original version though, so I can't tell what the experience with the localised english one would've been ;)

    Skyrim or better yet, the whole TES-Series, never aspiered to tell a story. It's just a sandbox with a bare-bones shadow of a story. It's more of a simulator in that regard, than a RPG.

    I like both type of games, the TES-Series and the more classical RPG-approach of Gothic. But neither on is competeing with the other, at least not in my book. They are different games all together. The one tells a story, while the other only gives you the sandbox to create your own.

    That said, I did like Risen 1 and 2, with the second haveing a more interesting plot and idea behind it, albait a little clumsy in execuition. I would've liked some ship to ship fightingaction and a somewhat more satisfying ending than the one we got in Risen 2 :D. It was a very enjoyable game though, with a very interesting spin on the magic-idea, which wasn't used that frequently in RPG-games.

  7. PsychoWedge says:

    Well, I love Gothic 1 and 2 (and the G2 addon) but I never really got into the catastrophy that is Gothic 3. And lets not even start with the G3 addon… xD G1 and G2 are legendary here in Germany.

    But the weird thing is this: Piranha Bytes is basically making the same game over and over again, but since G3 they’re getting worse at it. Measurably worse at that. And I don’t know why that is and it drives me nuts. Risen 1 was mostly ok but it was nothing compared to Gothic 2 (which is generally considered the best of the series). Risen 2 on the other hand… Oh boy… I mean it wasn’t a bad game but all the good stuff was buried beneath piles of shitty, shitty, shitty execution. It saddens me but I really doubt PB can change its course in this.

    • Keyrock says:

      While Gothic 3 was an unmitigated disaster at launch, it’s actually a pretty damn good game now, with the unofficial patches and content mods. That doesn’t excuse the state the game was in at launch, I’m just saying the game is worth a look now. As for the G3 expansion, that was awful, but that wasn’t made by Piranha Bytes.

      • BrianOConnell says:

        While I would agree that Gothic 2 was their crowning achievement Gothic 3 with the Community Patch is probably my favourite game of all time now. I don’t know how to explain it but it consumes me when I do my annual replay. I think PB took a step back in scale with Risen probably because they over stepped with Gothic 3 but sometimes I just wish developers would keep those ambitious fires burning. So you made mistakes. Just get it right the next time. I finally got around to playing Risen 2 and it’s amazing how unfair the reviews for that game really were. It had it’s problems but it was nowhere near as bad as you would believe by reading the critics.

  8. SkittleDiddler says:

    Risen 1 was a big bowl of meh. And Risen 2? As far as I’m concerned, any pirate game that uses water as an “invisible wall” mechanic is a shit game.

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      Rhygadon says:

      Risen 2 just isn’t “a pirate game” in the sense that you seem to be assuming. The protagonist isn’t a pirate, and the game isn’t about piracy. He’s an outsider, masquerading (somewhat farcically) as a pirate, traveling between quest- and treasure-laden islands. I don’t see what being able to sail off randomly into the ocean would add to this.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        You can’t enter the water, any of it – hence the “invisible wall” descriptive. Pirate game or not, that’s a horrible design flaw in a title where travel and exploration are supposed to be selling points.

  9. baozi says:

    Risen 2 broke some of the things that I liked about Gothic and it’s the only Piranha Bytes game that I haven’t finished playing, so I’m hoping they will return to their roots with Risen 3.

    But: Piranha Bytes games! With their hand-built (as opposed to generated), open worlds, limited only by your character’s abilities and equipment, hostile but also beautiful, with scavengers grazing on patches of grass and wolves roaming around in the forests, with day and night cycles, the dense little camps and villages, with NPCs waking up, going about their business, and going to bed again, with blacksmiths, cooks, and preachers, without fake buildings you can’t enter, with the multitude of plants you can pick up, with the ability to fry meat, mine ore, brew potions, smoke a water pipe, or just sit down on a frigging stool. And so on.

    When it comes to atmosphere and believability, most other games don’t come even close.

    • ninnisinni says:

      Exactly how I feel about them! There’s just such a “coziness-factor” in these games that I frankly think is just about unmatched.

    • Keyrock says:

      Preach on, brother. Preach on.

  10. ninnisinni says:

    I have to say, I’m really excited about this game! I have actually loved every game I’ve played from Piranha bytes, glitches, bugs and all. I can’t really understand why others can’t appreciate the wonderful sense of exploration that is always present in their games as I do, because I really think they make wonderful but flawed games. Seems to me some series that are actually a lot worse get a lot more slack than these ones do, somehow…

    • Keyrock says:

      It’s true, Piranha Bytes’ games always get put through the ringer by reviewers for every shortcoming, and there are plenty in all their games, to be fair. Meanwhile, Bethesda gets away with bloody murder time and time again. Same abysmal combat every game? Bethesda gets a pass. Bloody awful story nobody gives a crap about every time? Bethesda gets a pass. Cardboard cutout characters with no development whatsoever? Bethesda gets a pass.

      • Horg says:

        Possibly this is due to Bethesda games throwing fewer speed bumps in the path of the reviewer. Gothic and Risen have combat systems that force you to learn timings or die hard, whereas Elder Scrolls games just need you to click on something until it runs out of health bar. Skills in Elder scrolls games come easy and quick, in Risen and Gothic leveling is more difficult. Your character feels much more beastly in the Elder Scrolls than Risen / Gothic where you start out very fragile. Basically, Risen and Gothic are games that reward patience and time investment, two things a reviewer who can only spare a few days with the game might not have in abundance. I’ve always gone for fan reviews of Piranha Bytes games for this reason.

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          Rhygadon says:

          This sounds right to me. Also, to be fair, the Risen games are absolutely terrible at explaining their own mechanics, and it doesn’t help that it can take 10+ hours (and the right faction choice) for entire systems to make an appearance. (Like, say, “any magic at all”. Or little things like “parrying”, in a sword-duel game.)

          There’s also that strange, German-RPG quirk of making character abilty development hugely dependent on in-game plot choices. From the beginning you can see all these interesting things on your character sheet, and you might start planning out what you want to learn, but then it turns out that that your *access* to entire character-defining abilty sets depends on who you wind up making friends with. After my 4th or so German RPG I got used to it, but it’s still the one thing I’ll always look up spoilers for. If the voodoo system looks interesting, I don’t want to be accidentally locked out of it by a single conversation. And of course, a reviewer playing on (or before) release day wouldn’t have that failsafe.

  11. Keyrock says:

    I’m sad they’re dropping the pirate motif for a return to generic fantasy. While Risen 2 wasn’t the best game, I still enjoyed it, and they certainly didn’t utilize the pirate theme to its fullest, I would have liked them to stick with it and try to do it right. Oh well, I’ll still almost certainly get it. Piranha Bytes are vastly superior world builders than Bethesda, they just work with a much smaller budget. Their worlds actually feel organic and like living breathing entities, rather than the pretty, but dull, empty, and lifeless worlds Bethesda makes.

  12. rcguitarist says:

    I got both Risen and Risen 2 in a humble bundle but stopped playing the first one after about 2 hours in because I kept falling asleep while playing it. I found it to be very boring.

  13. alright says:

    I’m kind of relieved to see most of the comments are positive.
    Piranha Bytes does seem to get the short end of the stick when it comes to reviewers, and, as others have said already, this is especially aggravating compared to the treatment Bethesda games get (whose numerous glitches are presented as “endearing features”). I consider PB’s games vastly superior to anything Beth has made after Morrowing, as they create more believable and unique worlds and not theme parks.
    I have to admit though that Risen 2 was definately a step backwards, despite the more unique setting and I do question their ability to deliver someting as good as the first 2 Gothics at this point.

  14. Urthman says:

    This trailer is pretty hilariously generic. Unless scrambling on hands and knees to recover the tip of your broken weapon is going to be a core game mechanic.

  15. BrianOConnell says:

    I put these crap trailers down to Deep Silver personally. PB were blocked by them from even telling fans what they were working on until the Publishers decided it was time to let the world know. Poor old PB have a rocky record with publishers. Time to break free and kickstart a Gothic game if you ask me. While they remain one of my favourite developers for all the positive things said by many here (world building, tricky but rewarding combat and so on) I do worry that some of the core guys behind the original Gothic games have moved on. Kai Rosenkrantz, for example, wrote what I consider one of the best soundtracks ever written for a game (Gothic 3) but left after Risen 1 which saddens me greatly.

  16. unklesam666 says:

    the Gothics and Risens (both in spite of and because of their glitchiness) are some of my very favorite fantasy and open world rpgs. the trailer does in fact look generic as fook, but more of deep silver’s shameless personality is ONLY a good thing!

  17. pexpress says:

    An interesting game from a series that has reconnect with long hours of RPG. But remains to be seen what will the final version of the game (with perhaps the sessions of gameplay, it will be fine) to have a definitive opinion on the quality of the title.

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