In September player, sessions will start to test the first part of the game. They will use the feedback received from these sessions to determine whether something needs to be changed. According to Philippe, this is used to reduce the chance that the game will be released with many bugs and to verify whether what they have made is really interesting for the player. The review version we were shown is similar to the version that existed around E3 - it is not clear to me why they did that as if they are having test sessions in September, they should have something workable in August in my opinion. Philippe added to my confusion by stating that they do have a much better version but are still showing us the old E3 version. Anyway, no point in contemplating about this: let's get going.
The game takes place 10 years after Gothic 3 and starts on a beach where you meet Diego, who should be known by those who played Gothic. Diego brings you up to speed on where you are and what you are about to do. Diego is only one of the Gothic characters making an appearance. They are using as much from the Gothic lore as possible to make this game a real successor to the Gothic series - but also the start of a new series of games aimed at a broader audience than just the PC player. For this they added support for an Xbox 360 controller on the PC and are developing - at the same time - for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. We were only shown the game with the controller in use but I was told that Arcania is definitely not "consolised" - much effort has been put in making the game just as playable with a keyboard and mouse as it is with the controller. There will be support for key remapping and on the PC you can remove some of the menu items, such as the mini map, to make it a more hardcore game, which you cannot do on the console.
Arcania is divided into chapters. In total there will be five chapters and a tutorial area. At this moment only chapter one is close to being finished and this is also the part that will be tested in September. You can only play in one chapter at the time so once you go via a cut scene to the next chapter it is impossible to go back to any of the previous chapters. They implemented it in this way to make sure that the player is not running around in previous chapters with nothing to do.
There are about 20 quests in chapter one and with the tests they will find out how much time is needed on average to complete this chapter, so they will know if some things need to be changed. They are, however, not focusing on the length of the game. Their main priority is for it to be interesting for the player.
The hidden stuff
The game that was shown to us lacked a lot of things that apparently are in the development version but not in what was shown to us. The weather system was one of them, which they claim is a dynamic system that is completely controllable by the designer to allow changing the weather based on the situation and emotions they want to player to undergo. Other things that were not in were NPCs, monsters, a range of weapons, spells and a working combat system. All of these things will be in the first chapter, though.
What was already in was that there is no loading time in a chapter; the only loading time you will have in Arcania is when you start the game and when you go to a new chapter. Inside the chapter there are absolutely no loading times, not even when entering buildings or dungeons.
Wrapping it up
As the game was a bit empty there is not much to tell about what I saw, besides the graphics, so here are some things that Philippe told us that you might find interesting.
Every object in Arcania has been created by hand. Every rock, tree, house, item etc. were hand made by one of the artists and there are no randomly generated areas and dungeons either. To make this hand crafted world lively every animal, monster and NPC has their own schedule and reacts differently depending on the action the player takes. All this effort was invested for only one reason; to make an interesting world for the player.
There are only trainers for the crafting system, the rest of your skills you'll have to train yourself by using them and improving your skills in the process. According to Philippe this gives the player a better control over the character so you don't have to wait for a trainer to be available.
All dialogs will be spoken and the dialogs from characters that were also in the previous Gothics the same actors will be used to speak them.
Combat is supposed to be challenging but you can avoid some of the fights by using the stealth option. Also, some of the quests will give you options to avoid fighting.
What is there to say about Arcania? It looks good. It is promising, too. I don't know whether the change from an open world in Gothic to chapters in Arcania will work. It might drive a lot of Gothic fans away. I also think 20 quests for a chapter is a bit on the low side, but it could be that the quests are rather lengthy, so it still could be a lot. I would have liked to see combat and also monster and NPC interaction, but unfortunately, that was not possible. We will just have to wait and see.
One thing I do know; as they have only finished one chapter at the moment and planned five chapters in total I don't see how this could ever have been a 2009 game (maybe it never was). There is no date mentioned for the release in 2010, but it could well be that next year at Gamescom 2010 a real preview of Arcania can be done that hopefully shows a very good game.
Information aboutArcania: Gothic 4
Developer: Spellbound Entertainment
Regions & platforms
· Platform: Xbox 360
· Released at 2010-10-12
· Publisher: JoWooD
· Arcania: A Gothic Tale
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2010-10-01
· Publisher: JoWooD
· Arcania: A Gothic Tale
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2010-10-19
· Publisher: Dreamcatcher