E3 06: Gothic 3 Impressions

This dynamic and open-ended role-playing game should offer something for Oblivion fans who are looking for new worlds to conquer.


LOS ANGELES--If you find yourself having seen everything in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion later this year, Aspyr Games and developer Piranha Bytes hope to have the answer in the form of Gothic 3, the latest chapter in the German-made role-playing series that shares many similar features to The Elder Scrolls games. Gothic 3 promises open-ended role-playing, along with realistic artificial intelligence and a dynamic world where all the characters have daily schedules. It also looks quite pretty, to boot.

Gothic 3 promises to be three times larger than its predecessor, and it promises a richly rendered world full of castles, forests, quaint towns, villages, and more. The game has all the eye candy that you'd expect, from high-dynamic range lighting to cool monsters. Everything was hand-crafted in the game, so there's very much an organic and realistic look to it all. Flies circle bodies on the ground; monsters work out by lifting big stones; and you can even whip out a chicken, put it on a stick, and barbeque it.

That's all well and good, but the role-playing looks to be pretty complex in the game, as well. As an example, we were told that you may find a village taken over by orcs. The human villagers will ask you to help them out, but you may end up siding with the orcs instead. If you wipe the orcs out of the village, the humans will come out of hiding and return to town.

The game promises an open class system, meaning that you'll be able to custom-create your character as you go. You earn learning points over the course of the game, and you can spend those points on trainers who will teach you a new skill. You may choose to become faster, stronger, or specialize in certain types of weapons. The more you specialize in a skill, the more powerful you'll be.

Being a fantasy role-playing game, you'll have all sorts of weapons and armor at your disposal. We saw a character running around with a wicked dual-wielding combination. Combat is a system, as the left mouse button executes one attack while the right button handles another. You don't click a few buttons and then watch the combat unfold; rather, you fight like it's an action game. If you don't like swords, you can specialize in other weapons or magical skills and bring down fiery spells and more on your opponents.

The production values seem impressive. We've already noted the nice graphical look, but Aspyr says there will be more than 200,000 words of spoken dialogue in the game. Put it all together, and you have another strong single-player role-playing game for the PC. Gothic 3 will ship this fall.

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