GOTHIC 3 (preview)

PUBLISHER: Aspyr DEVELOPER: Piranha Bytes GENRE: RPG AVAILABLE: September 2006
GAME PREVIEW

WHEN THERE ARE NO OBLIVION GATES LEFT TO CLOSE AND YOU CAN’T BE BOTHERED WITH
those pesky “other people” in MMOs, where’s a roleplayer to turn next for his free-form fi x? The
hardcore RPG cognoscenti have their palantíri fi xed on German-born Gothic 3, heir apparent to
Oblivion and cult-favorite series among the illuminated. But how does this third iteration stack up to The
Elder Scrolls? Producer Michael Paeck helps us count the ways.
Bugged that Lord Porridge the Bedeviler, boss monster from your favorite MMO, seems to have infinite heads to turn in? In single-player RPGs, actions can have real, world-changing consequences.
Previous Gothic games were huge hits in their native Germany but tanked in the U.S. Paeck attributes that to poor localization and general market differences.

A DRAGONFLY FLAPS ITS WINGS IN THE DESERT, AND AN UPRISING FAILS IN NORDMAR

THE WAY OF THE WILL
While Oblivion’s “Radiant” A.I. boasted NPCs with needs and goals, most players never saw much more than folks strolling around town with fi erce determination. “Although the NPCs in Oblivion follow a daily routine,” says Paeck, “most of them just stand around or walk from Point A to B.” Gothic 3’s A.I. purports to go beyond mere Radiance: “We believe that the variety
of the daily tasks that NPCs perform in Gothic 3 is much higher—from smiths creating weapons, selling items, and sharpening their swords to tavern owners sweeping the fl oor and serving guests, among other things.”

But the A.I. deals in more than just individual motivation—it also covers pack communication. If you act like a loot-stealing, peasant-slaughtering fool in one town, expect word of your actions
to spread to the next. Paeck describes the RPG equivalent of chaos theory: “You get into a fi ght with a drunken barbarian and knock him down. As a consequence, his friends seek you out later to discuss the matter, and you teach them a lesson. Much later, you travel north and come to a
village, which turns out to be the drunken barbarian’s hometown. People there realize that you’re the guy who knocked down their cousin, because news of the incident traveled. They probably won’t like you, and they may be afraid of you. On the other hand, you gained the respect of this village’s local chieftain, who exiled this particular troublemaker long ago. Had you
taken different actions with this barbarian, the interaction with the villagers would likely be different.” A dragonfl y fl aps its wings in the desert, in other words, and an uprising fails in the mountains of Nordmar..

THE WAY OF THE WARRIOR
As in Oblivion, combat is action-oriented; unlike those in Oblivion, Gothic’s battles are designed to be fought from third-person with soft-lock targeting. The left and right mouse buttons control a variety of attack types (quick, normal, heavy, jump, stab), while hotkeys switch among spells, ranged weapons, and melee confi gurations. Freedom is the watchword for character development; players don’t choose a class, but rather develop based on play style. “Our system supports players who want to focus only on being a pure, weaponless mage, pure fi ghter, pure thief, or those who want to be well-rounded,” says Paeck. “The hero can also learn how to sneak into houses and pick locks or how to sneak near animals to become the perfect hunter. The catch is that the player must fi nd the right trainers and convince them that he’s worthy.”

THE WAY OF THE WORLD
As anyone who’s hoofed it across Cyrodiil will tell you, the landscape of Oblivion isn’t mottled with intense variety— gray medieval towns, blue elven ruins, green forests, repeat. Gothic 3’s world is smaller and cozier, but it’s divided into three distinct regions, each with its own visual and gameplay nuances.

The Middle Realm Lush forests, narrow passages, torrential downpours, and a little bit of magic defi ne the Middle Realm. “Each of the three regions contains new tribes and factions with their own philosophies and goals,” says Paeck. There are no clearly “good” or “evil” factions in Gothic 3’s world—just parties with different views. Varant “The wide-open spaces of the desert emphasize a sense of isolation as you’re searching for the next town or oasis,” says Paeck of Gothic 3’s Arabian-influenced southern realm, ruled by the Hashishin tribe. Players can pick up
certain skills only in specifi c areas of the world. Only the Hashishin, for example, can teach how to fi ght with two swords. Nordmar Harsh mountain terrain, cliffs, and heavy snowfall mark the Nordic-inspired country to the north. “There are only a few small paths leading through the mountains of Nordmar,” says Paeck.

“Thus there are no ways to avoid your opponents—you have to face them. But of course, it’s easier to push enemies over the edge of a cliff.”

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