E3 2010: Arcania: Gothic IV (Impressions)

by: Tina -
The Gothic series of RPG games have been long-standing (since 2001, to be precise), but the fourth title in the franchise picks up a new developer to release Arcania: Gothic IV.

The story for Gothic IV takes place tens years after its predecessor. A stable boy working on his mother’s farm presents himself to his girlfriend Ivy’s father to ask for her hand in marriage. So long as the protagonist completes three quests, he is told, he can marry his daughter. During his travels, he meets a witch who explains that something in him must be awakened.

After a confusing interaction with her, the stable boy leaves with a knowledge of magic with which he can run faster, throw fire, confuse his enemies, etc. Upon his successful return to the villages on the Island, the nameless hero finds that everything has been scorched the the ground. His simple quest for marriage now turns to a quest for revenge.

Armed with the magic he learned from the witch, a sword, a bow and arrow and his motivations, the protagonist battles abnormally large bugs, orcs, and other creatures. While you pick up experience in your battles, you’ll gain access to improving your spells, abilities and weaponry in the typical fashion of a customizable RPG.

Obviously the small fishing village will not be the only area to peruse on your vindictive mission. I also explore Steward, the second of the main world islands with a view of large city in the background. I decided the city would be my next destination after setting several bug-like enemies on fire and having my fill of closed off cave entrances. Walking over was fairly fast, particularly given the lack of loading times. I’m told that a teleporter stone I passed along the way would be another option, so long as I activate the receiving end’s stone.

Opening every door and exploring people’s private homes, the Dreamcatcher representatives on-hand explain that they attempted to keep the medieval feel of the world, as well as maintaining its lively aspect of real life, but that other parts would be more fantastical in nature. Whatever the theme may be to a particular location, they’ve made steps to ensure that it was as unified and immersing as possible.

Finding people in their homes and out on the streets of this city, my first thought was of all the side quests that would probably be found here. Of course, these side quests can be ignored if you felt inclined to do so but I am assured that there are very few quests that feel like useless fillers.

So what is unique to Gothic IV, particularly given the switch from German developers at Piranha Bytes to German developers at Spellbound? I haven’t played the previous iterations of the Gothic series, but apparently the set-up of the RPG titles was lackluster. Frustrations were noted on a lack of quest helpers, mini-map and a scant quest log. The overall experience was explained as too “hardcore,” so further measures were taken to localize the game for North America. By revamping the menu systems and quest helpers, combat and balancing the experience of what is Gothic and what can be changed versus what cannot be changed, Dreamcatcher has collaborated with Spellbound across the ocean to make the game more accessible.

Under its current development process, they are close to submitting short of working out bugs, finishing the FMV and polishing lip syncing and the like. Otherwise, gameplay is essentially final and you can expect the game to be released in the third quarter of 2010. 

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