The Average Gamer

Risen 2 Preview: Pirates

I had never heard of Risen until the trailer to Risen 2 was released in April. It’s a pirate RPG. A pirate RPG! And one that looks pretty bloody good.

A group of us were led through a live demo of Risen 2 the other week. It’s an open world game filled with oddball piratey characters such as Jaffar, a gnome who has learned to speak English from pirates and is therefore prone to using salty phrases like “Jaffar is cleverest bastard, no? Fuck, yes!” You play the same unnamed hero from the first Risen game, returned from battle and disillusioned with his less-than-stellar reception from the Inquisition military with whom he serves.

As you progress through the game you’ll meet people from different factions all over the world. Allying yourself with one person or another will open and close different quest lines. Skills are gained by hanging out with certain characters as well – spend time with a brute bouncer outside the pirate pub and you’ll be able to learn perks that make you tougher and more resilient in combat. Hang out with the rogues and you’ll learn how to pickpocket and sneak. The final type of skills you can learn is focused on weapon types – bonuses to slashing, piercing and other forms of damage.

I spoke to Daniel Oberlerchner, Senior Brand Manager at Deep Silver about how the developers reacted to criticisms of the first game. “In Risen 1, people felt really isolated. Characters in the game popped into the story, you made a few quests with them and then they popped out. You never saw them again. In Risen 2 we made sure you have a movable base.

“When you play Mass Effect – the Normandy – it’s a similar concept where you have characters around you who are making a journey with you and then giving you feedback,” he told me. “Sometimes you already know what you’re doing but it’s interesting to have someone from another faction shining some light on your actions and giving insights on how he or she feels about what you’re doing.”

It’s a nice idea that we’ve seen in BioWare’s Dragon Age as well. I do hope that some of these party member reactions will have a more interesting impact than in Mass Effect 2, where the loyalty mission payoff turned out to be “like me or you die”.

During the demo we were shown a number of sub-missions to support the main section objective of getting onto a ship. I really like that you can choose different ways to complete the sub-missions and – crucially – the game doesn’t do that awful “Oh, my friend always managed to sneak into the club for free. I saw him going down THAT BACK ALLEY OVER THERE” style of ‘hint’ that permeated Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

Instead, we were told to break a guy out of jail and that this guard over here has the key. Sure, we could pickpocket the guard. Or maybe blow open the door. Or try something else. The final execution of this in-game freedom remains to be seen but I’m glad that you’re left to explore and try creative solutions on your own.

As well as combat skill trees, mission choices and factions, the game world will feature weather effects, day/night cycles and plenty of support skills like blacksmithing. Basically, if you see an NPC doing it, you can probably do it too. It’s up to you how immersed you want to be in pirate world of Risen 2.



Risen 2 will be coming to Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in 2012