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The pirate theme permeates through the game in more than just setting and story. In Risen 1, you could join one of three factions. Depending on what faction you joined, everything from your perspective on the story and the world down to little things like the user interface changed. In fact, to see all of the game's content, you would have to play the game to completion three times. Piranha Bytes is hoping to fix a lot of that with Risen 2. Here, you will always be a pirate. While there will still be multiple factions you can join, the main difference is that your choice determines your access to perk trainers in the world, who can join your crew, and access to a few exclusive quests.
Of course, what pirate game would be complete without a ship? You will have full access to a ship in Risen 2, and over the course of the game you will build up a crew. It is important to remember that Piranha Bytes isn't building a sailing simulation. Rather, the ship is your mobile base and functions similarly to the first Mass Effect, where you choose a destination and are transported there after a brief cut scene. You also interact your crew on the ship and decide who will go out with you on shore leave. While you can't customize your ship, there will be different vessels available over the course of the game.
The fact that to see all of the game's content required three playthroughs needed to be "fixed"? I'll respectfully disagree.