Risen 2: Dark Waters Previews and Interview

We have rounded up quite a few new hands-on previews for Piranha Bytes' pirate-y action-RPG Risen 2: Dark Waters for your perusal, along with a video interview toward the end.

A quest often comes down to persuasion or combat, and, when given the choice, I took the pacifist's route because Risen 2's combat needs some work. Despite a lack of polish in other areas, the combat system has me most concerned. Piranha Bytes attempts a slow, meditative system that requires technique, precision, and reflexes, which is all theoretically sound. Implementation suffers from poor control and fussy timing. Some enemies are easily dispatched, but human foes are much more intelligent and merciless. Swordfighting is thrust upon players early on, which can lead to frustration even on the easy setting. Later, additional combat options help alleviate some of the tedium. A surprise bullet in the face can put a nice conclusion on an otherwise harrowing duel.

I wasn't really impressed with the main characters voice acting but the voice acting is really good besides that. It just seemed like the main character was reading off a script with no real enthusiasm and when you compare it to the voice acting by the other people you speak to, it really takes away from the conversations.

Overall the script is really great, with plenty of witty banter and cursing where appropriate, and you will definitely enjoy interacting with the people in the game.

As you talk to people and receive quests, you really start to experience the world Piranha Bytes has created. This is the best aspect of the game in my opinion; PB did a great job creating beautiful landscapes and scenery to enjoy.

MMOMFG, which also offers some video footage:
The combat in Risen 2 is one of the more diverse systems I've played in some time. While it does take awhile to level up and unlock a few moves, once you do, it can be a pretty fun adventure. The ability to parry, block, and kick your opponent allows for some very intense sword fights. Being able to toss a coconut at an opponent or throw sand in his eye is a nice bonus as well. Of course, you can always pull out your trusty pistol to make short work of things as well. There are plenty of skills to unlock in Risen 2 (one gives you the ability to blow someone's head off during a conversation.how cool is that!) and instead of worrying about picking a specific class, all skills are opened to you, as long as you have enough coin and the proper level to be trained. One thing I did notice however is that there was no apparent way to simply dodge or roll out of the way of attacks. Not sure if that's missing from the preview build or just not in the game altogether, as enemies often spam attacks (especially wildlife) and I was stuck in place until they decided to stop. It was the one frustrating part of the preview I experienced. Give me some sort of dodge attack and all will be well for this pirate.

Platform Nation:
Risen 2 is hard. Every aspect of it challenges you. The combat, leveling up, gaining skills, getting items, completing quests even just obtaining a map of the area you are in is a challenge. This is something that sets Risen 2 apart. You aren't Kratos or Master Chief who single-handedly kill thousands or save whole worlds. You're a regular person who can very easily be killed by any other regular person. Fortunately, for much of my playtime I had an AI partner or two with me. They were much better at the game than I was so I cowardly hid behind them when I got into serious trouble.

The Xbox 360 version I played had some major texture popup, frame rate issues and lighting problems to boot. I'm told that the game has yet to be fully optimised - which is fine except for the ominous feeling that the stability of the code hasn't really changed since I last saw it four months ago. With the game out in April, the developer hasn't got a lot of time left to power through all of these very significant troubles.

Side Questing:
Instead of experience, quests and kills reward (Glory) used to invest points into one of the five attributes: Blades, Firearms, Toughness, Cunning, and Voodoo. A particular attribute's skills will open up after reaching a certain level. They include abilities like lockpicking, pickpocketing, a riposte attack, kicking, and the ability to end conversations with a gunshot to someone's head. They can be learned from separate instructors around the world. Similar to how other RPGs handle them, skills provide ways to bypass steps in quests, but it's frequently possible to approach a situation differently with success, albeit with a little more time spent exploring.

Brutal Gamer:
Risen 2: Dark Waters is a game that likes to let you make your own way. There isn't any sort of real tutorial or hint features in play part of the fun is that you need to figure out where to go and how to get there. You'll need to listen very carefully when speaking with other characters, and the choices you make in conversation will affect how the game plays out for you. This adds a definite hint of added replay value to the mix, and just plain makes you pay closer attention and think just a little bit more about each decision you make.

Daily Joypad:
Combat is also deceptively deep. At first I just hacked away swinging my cutlass around as if trying to swat an angry wasp. Parrying attacks, and good timing is certainly the way to win fights in the world of Dark Waters. Plus, being a pirate means you can fight dirty, so you have the option of unleashing your parrot to distract an enemy, throw salt in their eyes, or simply pull out you pistol for a quick shot in amongst the sword play.

But it's the freedom of choice in Risen 2 that is the most satisfying. Any situation you face, be it a side mission or part of the main quest, can be completed in multiple ways. For example, you could choose to draw your cutlass and dice up any enemy that stands in your way, or you could decide to drop them from a distance using a rifle. But the most satisfying is playing smart and using a combination of each and taking advantage of your surroundings. You can also use Voodoo Magic to manipulate enemies and bend their will to your own needs which never stops being fun!

The NPCs are an important part of any RPG, and thankfully they seem to be a decent bunch. The voice acting was good, though they all seem to have Spanish names but speak with random British regional accents. Why would a man named (Alessandro) have a Birmingham accent? Maybe it's just Risen 2'˜s crazy pirate universe.

From what I played of Risen 2, it seems to tick all the old school RPG boxes. I doubt it will be a game to convert non-RPG fans, but I think anyone looking for a traditional role-playing game about pirates could find something to like when the game comes out- and if you're a console gamer looking for more of this type of game it will likely work for you too. There's also a shitload of pirate-themed content, so perhaps if you're just mental about sea criminals, Risen 2 will be for you.

Finally, GamesRadar has a video interview with Deep Silver's brand manager Pete Brolly.