The Drunk & The Orderly: Risen 2’s Factions

Nobody expects the Risenquisition

Not everyone inhabiting Risen 2’s archipelago will be a pirate, although all players will start that way. But what is a pirate without an authoritarian regime to cock a snook at? The Inquisition, now in a world without magic, are “organised very strictly”, which is why they have short haircuts and “walk around in goosestep”. Crikey. They’re just asking for a carefree buccaneer to rob their precious things. Then there are “the natives”, with their shaman, warriors and hunters. Many of them have been enslaved and forced to work on plantations. As for the pirates? They’re “drunk most of the time”.

Compulsive, thieving gnomes seem like useful companions and I look forward to being a drunken, rambunctious liberator of men and doubloons. If you haven’t already, go see the previous video, which shows off the environments this lot will be pillaging and pummeling across.


  1. Tuco says:

    Can’t wait for this.

  2. Blackcompany says:

    Snook: to show that you do not respect something or someone by doing something that insults them. Courtesy, Free Dictionary. For my fellow American readers. You’re welcome.

  3. Blackcompany says:

    “…asking for a carefree buccaneer to rob their precious things…”
    Commandeer. Commandeer their precious things. Nautical term.

  4. Xaromir says:

    I find it a little sad that it’s supposed to be less open than Risen, but if the story telling makes up for this i will not complaint. I find it interesting how they changed after they parted with JoWood, Risen was so much better than Gothic 3, while Gothic 4 sucked once again. All hail the developers death to the publisher jadajadajada.

    • Tuco says:

      Actually it’s supposed to be MORE open than Risen.
      They just said that there will be a closer opening prologue, but that’s pretty much it.

    • Unaco says:

      Yeah, I thought it was to be more open than RISEN, or they would try and avoid the ‘closing off’ of RISEN that happened in the later game. Just, they’ll be opening the world up somewhat slower than they did with RISEN… Not as linear as RISEN’s intro section though.

    • Wulf says:

      I’m glad it’s more open than Risen, really. I mean, Risen was as bad as Skyrim when it came to completely linear missions with no choices and oodles of mindless violence. Gothic III was so, so far ahead of Risen in that regard that it wasn’t funny. (Though, to be fair, Gothic II and Gothic I were as well, no fibs here.)

      I tried to like Risen but ultimately I just fell out with it about half way through when it all degenerated into kill-kill-kill-them-all dungeon romps, and it lacked the hooks that kept me in Skyrim, such as the more storied dungeons, traps, and yes, even just the damned presence of beast races. Risen… really was an incredibly, stupefyingly boring affair after that half-way point, and I was already sick of its linear quests, and then it wanted me to go off and grind dungeons. No ta.

      I liked what Risen had on the table, and the storyline was really intriguing, so I was disappointed that I never got around to finishing it. Like with most things, I’ll tolerate a lot for a half decent story, but it was just that – half decent. And with such linear affairs, so lacking in choice and branches, I don’t know… it quickly overstayed its welcome. It was fun though, because it was clearly a PB game and I love the hell out of their style, even their gameplay… especially the gameplay. (I even took to what most people found to be incredibly strange controls in Gothic I and II.)

      So yeah, Risen really fell flat in that regard.

      I mean, if you’re making an RPG there should be a number of things to do right (unless you’re Wizardry):

      – A good story.
      – A branching plotline.
      – Consequential, storied choices.
      – Character development.
      – An interesting world.
      – Lots to explore and discover.
      – At least a modicum of interactivity regarding the above.
      – Decent gameplay (including combat and what have you).

      The whole point of role playing is to play a role. But too many RPGs of late have been more like action adventures than they have RPGs. In most of them I end up feeling like homicidal maniac Nathan Drake/Lara Croft/Et Cetera than a character I would play as.

      So… yeah. I hope they find their way again. They really lost the plot with Risen.

  5. katzen kratzen says:

    Sounds very refreshing. No sword and sorcery or orcs and elves, more like sea, gunpowerd and pirate romantics mixed in a fantasy world. I like the idea very much. Hopefully it will be executed appropriately.

    • InternetBatman says:

      The Gothic series had orcs, but they were somewhat different. You could work for them, learn their language, and see them going about their daily orc activities.

    • katzen kratzen says:

      I remember that from Gothic III. Gothic I and II had very limited interaction with Orcs. I remember first one had a friendly shaman that gave a quest to create a totem. Don’t remember friendly Orcs in second part though.

    • Wulf says:

      Lay off the orcs, ya ragin’ Space Marine wannabe. :P

      Really, Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magicks Obscura proves that it’s not the fantasy races which are often dull, but the fantasy setting. This is why I often prefer Science-Fantasy or simply strange and exotic fantasy settings over more typical ones.

      And if you didn’t like Arcanum then… well, I’m sorry. I think we have nothing more to discuss.

      The point of this though is that we need more exotic and interesting worlds, not less, and having different races with different cultures, even alien cultures, helps with that. I’d kill for seeing a race again which has a blue and orange morality scale. I haven’t seen one of those in a game forever…

      There’s nothing wrong with fantasy races. Fantasy races are awesome. It’s just that people with worthless globs of nothing where their imagination should be don’t exactly use them well.

      It’s the same with dragons, really.

      People get pissed at all the dragons in stuff, but it’s not the dragons that they’re annoyed at, and they don’t realise that. It’s the verisimilitude in the use of dragons. I mean, when Dragon Commander comes along you’re not going to have many people hating on it for having dragons, I can assure you, but that’s because I’m almost certain that they’ll get it right. I’m certain of this because of the uniqueness of the setting. And because dragon-with-rocketpack.

      Another great example? Terry Pratchett. Pratchett has a fantasy world – the Discworld. Does anyone hate the Discworld? Would you be adverse to a massive, tiered, Obsidian-like RPG set in the Discworld? (I WANT THIS. …sorry.) I doubt anyone would really object to that, and again, that’s because the setting itself is an unusual one. It isn’t cliched and troped fantasy.

      I think the reason people get bored of more typical fantasy games, like Oblivion and, indeed, Skyrim is because they’re so troped. I mean, really… you can’t even find more cliched settings than those that involve dragonslaying orcs and humans. There’s the problem.

      But if it were Pratchett, if Bethesda somehow got Pratchett writing for them, then there’d be so many unique takes and twists on those old concepts that it would make your head spin.

      So I say more fantasy races, and more unique and exotic settings. Fantasy races are only boring when the world they’re in is boring, and really… you have to be an exceptionally special kind of dull to take something as wonderful as some of the fantasy races out there and make them boring. But unfortunately, there are too many designers who subscribe to that special kind of dull.

      And more is the pity. More is the pity.

    • katzen kratzen says:

      Wow, Wulf, that’s a quite insightful and interesting post you have there. And I wholeheartedly agree with your statement. I have played Arcanum and I really like that game. What I meant by “Orcs and Elves” is not specifically Orcs and Elves but the fantasy genre clichés which are getting overused here and there. “Orcs” can be any evil race that has no real purpose other than destroying things in gaming world while “Elves” to be some sophisticated wise race which guides the less intelligent ones like Humans or whatever. Those are getting really tiresome. Games like Arcanum or Wizardry are really memorable because they are different.

      Pirates and pirate adventure settings have their own tropes, clichés and recurring themes. And it’s nice to see this setting to be used once in a while in an RPG. I don’t remember many good pirate themed games since Sea Dogs 2 and it would be nice to see how Risen 2 will be played.

      What I always wanted to see is an RPG in a large city setting where you don’t roam the outskirts much but live and act in a huge medieval fantasy city. Something like Robert Asprin’s Thieves World. I think that could be quite exciting and a good change from epic fantasy plots which are dominating the RPG world.

      And I fear Terry Pratchett sadly won’t be writing for anyone soon :( I guess his illness doesn’t let him do such an engaging thing like write plot for video game, but I agree it would be great to see one.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I wouldn’t want an RPG in discworld. Even though there are a lot of bad people doing bad things, and that’s before you get to the Shades, Discworld books don’t really glorify combat (except for the end of Thud which was both hilarious and badass), and it would be too easy to mess that up. As a counterpoint, I think that the attempt to shoo-in Orcs (or an Orc at least) into Discworld, was one of the worse books in the series and solid proof that not all races belong in all fantasy settings.

  6. says:

    The developers seem to be a bit of life imitating art here.

  7. Orija says:

    Did Risen sell so poorly that they had to shift the workplace to a jungle?

  8. CaspianRoach says:

    Why didn’t they voiceover all of the lines?

  9. WhataShame says:

    Finally, a fantasy game with guns.

    It always seemed so strange that pretty much all fantasy works are frozen in a medieval stasis. Five thousand years pass, and nothing changes. Hate when the creators do it.

    • Metriculated says:

      I know this sounds stupid but I’ll still say it, I think its the finality of guns and gunshot wounds (leaving Fiddy aside) that put traditional fantasy developers off guns and their ilk, hard to bet on the man with the bastard sword when he’s up against a dude with a RPG launcher . . . I’m looking at you FFVII and FFVIII.

    • Wulf says:

      Oh, I so disagree with that. Again, I’ll cite Arcanum. The only time I really dislike technology in fantasy is when it’s magic imitating technology, which just reeks of ‘well, we don’t have the first damn clue as to how things actually work, so we’re making up stuff and it’s going to be painful to those that do.’ Otherwise, I’m fine. Even magitech can be decent if it’s well written enough.

      Anyway, guns are perfectly okay because magic shields. I mean, if I have an amulet of warding that’s designed to repel about 90~% of fast moving projectiles, then good luck getting an arrow or a bullet through it. See, magic is the great equaliser in a fantasy setting, but having technology there makes it more interesting. Why? It takes years of practise to become a mage, but anyone can fire a gun. That makes the setting more interesting as a whole.

      it also means that in order to compensate, you end up with an industrial take on magicks, with amulets of protection being mass-produced like the the weapons are. Which is, quite frankly, a really entertaining thought. And this can totally be pulled off!

      What most writers don’t realise, and this is where their limited imaginations are a problem, is that magic can be an industry too.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I’ll agree with Wulf here. Protection from Arrows (which works on any missile), is a low-level / easy to permanently enchant D&D spell that makes most guns useless unless they too are enchanted, at which point it enters the traditional fantasy system. Another great way of integrating them is the NWN2 mod, Dark Waters (which anyone who owns NWN2 should play), where guns are common, bullets and powder are rare relics from a lost society.

      I think many fantasy writers don’t like putting them in because it requires more world-building and less Tolkien to put them in, or it requires that magic be common which raises a lot more questions. I’m also shocked that no fantasy writers make games with early arquebuses, which were the original guns and existed somewhat simultaneously with plate armor.

    • Xerian says:

      In this case there isnt any magic involved though. As the world is without magic after the banishment of the gods, and the death of that there titan git(s?)… But I whole-heartedly agree about much of this. Wulf, as always, you’re quite… Insightful. And yet another lovely post. A good read ;p

  10. InternetBatman says:

    I couldn’t watch this video because I didn’t want to ruin the pure exploration Piranha Bytes delivers.

  11. wodin says:

    I found Risen had an excellent combat mechanic, as you gained skill new moves opened up that weren’t to difficult to do, far better than say Skyrims…though in that footage it looked totally different to how I remember Risen.

    Am i remembering it wrong? Or did that combat footage look very arcade to you?

    • Wulf says:

      This happens when abilities are shot in a very cinematic way. Think of Guild Wars 2, the profession videos, and then the actual gameplay videos. It’s probably like that, and it’ll look a lot more normal in game, but they’ve amped it up for the trailer.

  12. Wulf says:

    Okay. Okay then.

    I like what I’m hearing.

    Yes, I find the gnomes appealing, but only because they’ve tried to do something different with them. Kleptomania as a culture, rather than as an after-affect of playing an RPG, is a peculiar concept to toy with. I’m left wanting to know more.

    They’ve also given me a mystery from the outset; Entirely on purpose, I’m sure. Magic has disappeared, so the Inquisition are relegated to using mundane combat weaponry. And yet magic has not disappeared, because the tribal peoples are using voodoo which is clearly a substrain of magic in that world. So what’s going on? I smell a far reaching conspiracy, and once again, I want to know more.

    They’ve said all the right things and they’ve made the right promises. Above, I wrote a bit of a list as to what you need to reach what I think is the gold standard of RPGs, and they’ve checked off a lot of those boxes. They didn’t in Risen. I’m also pleased to know that you can’t see all the content in one playthrough – that’s extremely important. A few of my favourite RPGs have had faction systems where working with certain factions will alienate others to you, so you can’t have all those cakes and eat them too. You have to make your decisions.

    I like the way they’re going with the art design, too. And I know exactly what sort of setting they’re trying to espouse with this, it seems roughly around the mid eighteenth to early nineteenth century – with the Inquisition emulating and representing us Europeans perhaps a little too well. Considering that, the slavery aspect may carry a few thorns but I personally appreciate it. Far too many punches are pulled with games, anyway.

    I can’t help but wonder if they’re doing this due to the popularity of certain piratey films or whether it’s just because this is something they’ve wanted to do. I find it hard to be cynical though as their passion comes through in this video, so I’m quietly hopeful.

    My reaction to the first Risen was a lukewarm “meh,” as I felt that they’d lost their way. Risen 2? Hrmn…

    • katzen kratzen says:

      Yes, the gnome idea is a pretty good one. They look not like your standard gnomes from other video games and their motives are interesting.

      I believe with Risen Pirahna Bytes tried to do something which they did best and see how it works out. First game without Jowood so I guess they went the safe route and remade Gothic 1 with different scenery. Some may have liked it but the general consensus is that Risen lacked the oomph which Gothic 1 had. A lot of criticism went towards Pirahnas is that they don’t know how to create games different from good old Gothic. So I guess with Risen 2 they decided to dismiss those accusations and make a really different game than what they were making before.

      First of all they changed the setting and changed it radically. It’s no more your generic epic fantasy setting, it’s a Pirate theme with Voodoo and Gunpowder. This makes my inner pirate Yarr with joy. And I think they really wanted to make a Pirate-themed game. Take a look at Gothic 2: Night of Raven, the pirate camp is really awesome and atmospheric there. A very memorable place. Then those pyramids which remind of Mesoamerican cultures like Maya or Aztecs. So they clearly have inspiration for this sort of thing
      Secondly they decided to introduce the companions which wasn’t something native to Pirahna Bytes games before. Looking at information developers provide it seems companions will play a very important role in the game. They will be invulnerable (they can only be knocked out but not killed completely). That personally reminds me of Bioware titles. I am not sure what I think about this but I think they have some ideas up their sleeves.
      Thirdly they decided to change the standard plot advancement mechanism which was used in previous games. In Gothic series you started literally as a nobody. Nobody knows you, nobody likes you and nobody trusts you. So first you have to gain trust with any faction within the game which will basically define what class type you will be, what armour you’ll wear and what spells you’ll be able to cast. Oh and side quests. Once you’ve joined you advance the plot in a regular fashion. However in Risen 2 you are already a pirate and you will be a pirate. You will advance the plot as a pirate but will have an option to choose whether to help one rivalling faction or another. I guess you’ll either get spells or advanced gunpowder weaponry.

      All in all, those recent Risen 2 videos got me pretty excited and I can’t wait to see what game it’ll turn out to be.

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  14. kud13 says:

    so, they have Lizard-Kender?

    i’m nearly sold.

    • InternetBatman says:

      They were actually in Risen too. I think they might have been goblins in the Gothic series, which were just differently designed.

    • Wulf says:

      Except they’ve one-upped Kender.

      With Kender, as I recall, it was that they were clever and inclined toward greed, but they didn’t have an instinctive pull to collect. What they’ve done with the goblins seems like they’ve grabbed the hunter-gatherer dial and jammed it all the way towards gatherer, and then broke the knob.

      This is an instinctive compulsion on their part, from the sound of it, a belief that they need to hoard to survive. It almost reminds me of Sam Starfall from Freefall, who’s the closest simile that I can think of. And Sam is… wonderful, frankly. He’s a very alien alien when he wants to be, whilst still being recognisable as a sentient creature. (It’s going to be fun when our ideas of sentience are turned on their head, but I won’t get into that right now.)

      The Kender had an understanding of law, and they were sly, but they did ken that when they took something that wasn’t theirs, it was a wrong thing to do. However, the goblins here actually seem to have a mild (if not a full on) case of blue and orange morality. Essentially it’s topsy-turvy. I’d imagine that they see hoarding as a natural thing, and not a crime or evil in any way. If it’s there and it’s just lying around, it’s not being used, so they hoard it. The real question is why they have this ingrained instinct toward kleptomania and what they do with their hordes.

      But apparently–and this is where it gets really interesting–they’re very sharing. So they seem to have built a society around acquisition, but with open sharing, so resources are pooled. At least if I’m understanding them right. So in their view, it would be good to collect things because they someone knows where they are, and they can be shared/traded around. Now this isn’t something a Kender would do. I suppose what I’m trying to convey here is that they seem like they might be the sort of thief that’s happy to give back what they hoarded (or stole). At least to a degree.

      So they’ve worked that into the culture, satisfying this primal urge to gather and collect, but never letting it put them in a position where the apex predators of that world (mankind) would think that genocide would be a good option because they’re simply more trouble than they’re worth. It’s an interesting proposition.

      Like Kender, in some ways, but in others quite different, and so, so much more interesting.

      That’s if I’m understanding what they’ve told me correctly, anyway.

      Ultimately, the goblins seem far more alien in nature is what I’m trying to say. Much more like the aforementioned Captain Starfall, and less like Kender. Kender are still very familiar, very human. They just have some tweaked personality traits overall.

      These goblins though? Hrmn…

      Lots of hrmn. Hrmn is good because it means that someone has put thought into their world, and it’s got me thinking. And when something gets me thinking, then that’s promising. That’s exceedingly promising. Usually I don’t find myself engaged by most fantasy worlds in this way.

      I really hope they can bring it all together.

    • InternetBatman says:

      That’s actually pretty wrong about Kender. Kender were usually pretty guileless, and they didn’t have a strong concept of ownership. They saw themselves as borrowing everything, and stuff in Kender cities was an heirloom if it lasted in their house for two weeks. They kind of thought things just fell into their pockets, and saw jails as just a natural part of existence, like sneaking into cities, and running from people that were mad at them (the city watch). Later on they made some smarter, meaner ones (after the big dragon burned down kendermore) but the majority of them are pretty clueless.

  15. adonf says:

    Huge improvements on the hairstyle front since the previous video. On the other hand: rum from beets???

  16. Valkesh says:

    There’s only one big question about this game.

    Will. It. Still. Require. TAGES.

    Seriously guys, don’t screw this one up. There are plenty of better alternatives.

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