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January 30th, 2009, 01:26
OK, here's a more comprehensive summary:

Page 1) The article starts off with a description of the general premise: A nameless hero is washed upon the shore of an exotic island amidst of drowned corpses and shipwreck rubble. The hero is bruised, battered, haggard and worn down. The appearance and looks of the hero are supposed to be reworked in the coming months (on page #8 it says that they want him to slightly resemble Michael Scofield from Prison Break). They aren't quite happy with it yet.
Then there's a quote from Kai Rosenkranz (composer and game designer) with the usual blurb about how -after Gothic 3- they really owe the Gothic community a true spiritual successor and a hopefully mostly bugfree game and all that blahblah that you'd expect in this context .
Back to the beach with our stranded hero… as usual you don't get to create your character but have to live with the predefined nameless hero.

Page #2) This one is mostly about the technical aspects like the great quality of the water/ocean. There's also talk about the integrated in-game tutorial (a novelty for a PB game). You will come across a female character after the first few minutes and she will give you a few simple tasks so you can get used to the controls. As always all dialogue is recorded.
Another quote from Rosenkranz reveals that they are calling their tutorial system a system of "indirect guidance", i.e. you can but don't have to follow the "orders" of the female NPC that you meet at the beach. You can just as well ignore her and head out and explore the world on your own.
At least in theory. In practice there will be certain obstacles that are impossible to be overcome by a shipwrecked weakling plus there are certain key quests that need to be finished before you can move on. Which is why the game is divided up in chapters like Gothic 1 and 2 and why it will be a lot more linear than Gothic 3 but also more story-driven.

Page #3) We have teamed up with the female NPC from the beach and we're off to explore the world heading into a palm forest. The author mentions the much improved pathfinding here. He's also very enthusiastic about the environmental effects like the realistic wind effects. This also directly affects the lighing effects so that the scenery is really breathtaking. The author calls it the "most atmospheric" forest in a game ever.
Rosenkranz explains that the world is once again completely handcrafted and that all objects have been placed by hand (rather than terrain generation). In order to enhance the atmosphere they have borrowed effects from Hollywood movies, i.e. they have worked a lot with contrasts and scales. End reult: Castles are really monumental and sunsets a little more colorful than in reality.
Also there'll be realistic weather effects and a dynamic day/night system (one hour in game = 5 minutes real time just as in Gothic).
Finally there's talk about the first fight which didn't impress the author due to the combat system being unfinished.

Page #4) This one is about the gnomes. They are sort of a running gag in the game, picking their nose when they have nothing to do and generally providing a lot of entertainment. The rest of the page deals with some of the monsters we can expect to meet in the game. There will be no orcs this time but a lot of the monsters sound like straight copies of Gothic creatures plus there'll be outright "clones" like the natural beasts such as boars, wolves etc.

Page #5) This page is mostly about the combat system which -as pointed out above- is not finalized yet and Rosenkranz isn't exactly talkative when the author tries to bug him for more details. What is known basically is that like in Gothic 1 there will be a direct link between the level of skill of your character and the moves/combos that you can perform. So in the beginning you will only have a limited number of strikes and combos but that will improve as you advance. Likewise -as a ranged combatant- you will be able to aim more precisley and reload faster as you climb up the ranks. You will need to seek out trainers in order to improve your combat talents.

Page #6) Some talk about the variety of weapons and how some weapons will work better on certain types of monsters than others. There's supposed to be some special end bosses that can only be defeated by employing certain strategies.
The next paragraph is about the story. The island used to be a peaceful paradise over the last few decades but recently things changed dramatically as the volcano resumed activity. With every eruption there are mysterious temple ruins popping up out of the ground and no one seems to realize or know what's going on. The temple ruins seem to produce hellish beasts (basically a demon invasion) who hunt down the locals.
Making things even more difficult than they already are, there is an Inquisitor who was sent to the island to investigate but instead of helping the population he is having people arrested left, right and center.
Anyone who is resisting is impressed by the Inquisition to aid in the temple ruin excavations. As you might expect some of the island's inhabitants aren't exactly d'accord with that kind of treatment and rebel against the oppressors.
Rosenkranz adds that the whole island is packed with story and that the dialogue will be typically PB-style (rough, explicit etc.).
There will be prerendered cutscenes to advance the story when greater events take place.
The next paragraph is about dialogue and choices and consequences and naturally Rosenkranz promises that there will be a lot of all that in the game. Rosenkranz is calling this "multiple linearity" (one quest, many options, one goal).

Page #7) The author continues talking about the quest diversity and the options. An example is given where a murder is committed at the castle of the Inquistion. You can now help find the murderer which will set you on the tracks of a smuggler organization. It is now up to you to find out if or how or why they were involved with the murder or to decide that solving the murder mystery is much less rewarding than joining the smugglers.
Next there's a paragraph dealing with the typical "live world feel" of PB games. NPCs will have their schedules again and it will all be very detailed.

Page #8) The author moves on to explore the hidden rebel camp in the swamps which seems to be very reminiscent of the swamp camp in Gothic 1. Rosenkranz describes the rebel leader as a charismatic mix of a pirate and Robin Hood with a very relaxed perspective of life.
The next paragraph is about the choice of faction. Rebels or Inquistion? The choices is yours and it will have to be made fairly early in the game (for enhanced replayability so you won't have a lot of "neutral" repeat content).
Then there's some talk about the magic system which is still unfinished though so there's not much revealed yet (sounds like they are once again heavily borrowing from their own creation, Gothic).

Page #9) There's some talk about the dungeons here. Quite contrary to the Gothic games where we spent most of the time above ground level, Risen will take us below the ground level for roughly 40% of its game time. As with the lands above, the dungeons have received a lot of attention to detail as far as graphics and sound are concerned. It is supposed to be a very atmospheric experience. There's also supposed to be traps and puzzles.
Then there's the conclusion and the author is basically full of praise for the most part though he is slightly worried about the (unfinished) combat system and the possibility of bugs spoiling the experience. He is hopeful though since PB still has several months to polish the game and Deep Silver seems to be willing to give them the time they need.
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