I recently purchased Gothic 3 and it’s expansion pack and I’m about 24 hours into the main game. While I enjoy many aspects of Gothic 3, and I even like the world they’ve created better than The Elder Scrolls universe, there are some serious problems with the game. Even with all the official patches and the fan made community patches the game is buggy. It also runs poorly on my machine, stuttering often and just providing that sense of “not quite finished” throughout the entirety.
The two worst parts of the game are the animations, which are just terrible. The swing of your sword is a simple back and forth motion that is aweful the first time you see it, and it gets worse as the hours progress. The second and worst offender is the voice acting. While the voice actors themselves aren’t all bad the majority of them are, and the dialog is C-Movie quality. I’m sure this is because the developers are German and it was localized into English.
What does all of this have to do with ArcaniA? The first thing is that I wish I hadn’t played the demo. An hour later and now I’m not sure I can go back for the 30+ hours of Gothic 3 I have left. ArcaniA gets so many things right that I went from not caring, to possible game of the year (for me).
The action takes place in third person with a wonderfully fluid control. This is the one thing I have always been angry about in regards to the Elder Scrolls. They include a third person view but it’s clunky and a nightmare to try and play the game in. Third person really makes a game more enjoyable for me. At least in RPGs.
I can’t speak for the quest flow of the game as I’ve only played the tightly controlled demo area, which was really enjoyable but perhaps not a good example of the actual game. I enjoyed the fact that it’s a new unnamed hero and not a continuation of the Gothic 1-3 characters, especially since the dialog in Gothic 3 made me dislike each and every one of them.
The level up system is much more intelligent and easy to manage this time around. You don’t have to find trainers to upgrade the odd abilities like “hunting” anymore. You get a skill panel where you can update your abilities each time you level up, moving the game more in line with contemporary RPGs. The combat, even the ranged combat, is much more entertaining that Gothic 3 or even Oblivions combat. You must actively block, dodge, and parry. They even included an idea from The Witcher and at the end of your swing your weapon will glow a faint yellow. If you click attack again while it is glowing you will do a flurry of attacks.
The game is still buggy, but it’s simply a demo. A demo that came out before the release of the game and it may not represent the final quality. If it does I might wait for a patch or two as the textures of clothes, even in close up conversation, often defaulted to a VERY low res texture that looked hideous. Add to that the “seams” of the terrain would show and the dialog isn’t much better than in Gothic 3.
Even with these faults I can’t wait for ArcaniA. There is just one thing I think they REALLY screwed up on. Calling it ArcaniA. I know the final capital A is for effect and that is fine, but when you are referencing your world and IN PARAGRAPH you say something like “explore the vast lanscape of ArcaniA and find adventure and excitement. Really? Ugh.