ArcaniA (or Arcania) is a spin-off installment set in the Gothic series, and the first one to be developed by a company other than Piranha Bytes; the game was developed by Spellbound. The first teaser trailer revealed that Arcania was scheduled to be released in Winter 2009, but JoWooD Entertainment has subsequently pushed back the release to October 12, 2010.

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The game was released on October 12, 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360. The PlayStation 3 version was scheduled for release in the first half of 2011, but was never released. In May 2013, Nordic Games released ArcaniA and its expansion, Arcania: Fall of Setarrif, as Arcania: The Complete Tale for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

In September 2014, Nordic Games dropped Gothic 4 from the game's title, with no statement being made as to why this action has been done, but left fans speculating that it may be related with Piranha Bytes getting back the rights to the Gothic series. Also all references that connected Arcania with the Gothic series have been removed from the game's description.

Overview

Ten years have passed since the end of Gothic 3 and the world has changed - theSouthern Islands have become embroiled in conflict, and set the stage for the player to brave countless adventures in the guise of a nameless hero. Decisions will have to be made which will change not only the future of the Southern Islands, but of the entire world. Old acquaintances and new faces will aid the hero or attempt to thwart his efforts throughout his journey.

Gameplay

Arcania was presented to the general public in August at Gamescom in Köln, Germany. The short playable part featured (probably) the very beginning of the game, where we meet the protagonist, his fiancée, a free orc, living in harmony with humans and other characters. The character can only interact with "named" characters, those who have a name. Other characters, filler NPCs, just reply with a short, dismissive sentence hovering above their heads, just like in Neverwinter Nights II. Dialogues are selected via mouse or keyboard and are pre-animated, focusing on the facial features of the characters. We also meet Diego, an old acquaintance from other Gothic prequels. The combat system is similar to the one in Gothic 3, fast and action oriented. Left mouse button attacks and the right mouse button blocks. During blocking the character can roll in any direction. Enemy attacks are predictable and shown by a violet aura around their weapon, enabling us to dodge. Jumping, unlike Gothics so far, isn't a good way of getting around. Jumping into the water kills the character because of falling damage.

Plot

King Rhobar III, the protagonist from the previous games, has united the mainland under his rule. He now wants to include the island of Argaan in his kingdom. He and his fleet of warships and soldiers travel to Argaan and take possession of the capital, Thorniara. The king, however, seems to be possessed by some evil, and is no longer himself.

The new nameless hero is a shepherd and lives on the island of Feshyr near Argaan. He wants to marry his pregnant girlfriend Ivy but he has to pass some exams first. He finishes his tasks but before he can celebrate, the village is attacked and his girlfriend dies in his arms. The hero still sees a ship with the banner of King Rhobars III and swears revenge for his woman and his home. He finally reaches the mainland, where Diego (a character from the previous Gothic games) is looking for a lost temple with a divine anvil. The Paladins were in search of this temple as the weapons created by the anvil could make their army unstoppable. The hero rushes to locate the temple to ensure the powerful anvil doesn't fall into the wrong hands

The hero finds the anvil after a long search. He learns that King Rhobar III is possessed by the arch-demon Krushak, (the final boss of Gothic 1)who devours the soul of the king. The city of Thorniara is plagued by the undead and only the royal palace and the market hold against the monsters. They are commanded by the renegade ally of King Drurhang. After helping the king and his city, the hero discovers Drurhang attacked the village against the king's orders . After some obstacles the hero kills the treacherous general and frees the city from the undead. Now he is free to find the amulet for the sleeper so he may exorcise the king of his demons. The amulet is in a nearby monastery. The villain Xesha attacks the hero in the catacombs but he is victorious.

With the undead armies vanquished, the hero fights his way back to the king's castle and uses the amulet to draw the demon out of the king's body. He thanks the hero for his bravery and the game ends.

Engine

JoWooD and Spellbound Entertainment announced a cooperation with Trinigy, a provider of 3D game engine technology. In the scope of a multi-platform license agreement, Spellbound is developing “Arcania: Gothic 4” utilizing Trinigy's Vision Engine 7, with certain features from the newly released Vision Engine 8.

Arcania's physics engine will be NVIDIA GPU PhysX as confirmed by a JoWooD Entertainment representative.

Development

The start of the development was officially announced on August 23, 2007, along with the name of the new developer. The project was originally entitled Gothic 4: Genesis; the name change to Gothic 4: Arcania was announced in 2008. At the Games Convention in 2008, JoWooD Entertainment announced another name for the game - "Arcania: A Gothic Tale". The name change serves two purposes. First, it hints at a world rich in magic and fantasy. Second, and completely from a marketing perspective, it helps give the Gothic franchise a fresh start in North America, where it has failed to gain significant popularity. During a press conference of the Polish distributor CD Projekt, the games to be published by the company were presented, including Arcania. The title of the game was stated as Arcania: Gothic 4. A Polish fan-site asked the community manager Reinhard Pollice, known as Megalomaniac, regarding that issue and he confirmed the change of the name. On 1 April JoWooD marketing manager Clemens Schneidhofer confirmed the new name to GamersGlobal.de: "I can confirm that! Because the date of the release is already defined (more details soon in a press release), we decided to leave the working title "Arcania – A Gothic Tale" behind and to announce the final name "Arcania - Gothic 4". This change is available for all countries (EU & US)." As announced at the CD Projekt Conference 2010, Spellbound Entertainment is developing the Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows versions, while later, another studio will port the game on the PlayStation 3 system. Later news confirmed that the PlayStation 3 version has been delayed until 2011, while the Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows release remained unchanged. At the 2008 Games Convention in Leipzig, JoWooD Entertainment presented Arcania behind closed doors.

JoWooD and Spellbound Entertainment announced a cooperation with Trinigy, a provider of 3D game engine technology. In the scope of a multi-platform license agreement, Spellbound is developing Arcania: Gothic 4 utilizing Trinigy's Vision Engine 7, with certain features from the newly released Vision Engine 8.

Arcania's physics engine is NVIDIA PhysX as confirmed by a JoWooD Entertainment representative.

In 2009, JoWooD Entertainment released the official website for Arcania: Gothic 4, revealing new information, screenshots and artworks. In August 2009 JoWooD Entertainment announced that Arcania: Gothic 4 will be delayed until 2010, giving Spellbound more time to polish the game.

JoWooD Entertainment planned to make Arcania an AAA title - the most successful title from the Gothic series, and one of the best RPGs of 2010. In September 2009 the Gothic Community sent a letter to JoWooD Entertainment, complaining about the lack of support and information regarding Arcania: Gothic 4.

In March 2010, Dr. Albert Seidl, JoWooD's former CEO, revealed that Arcania will be released in the autumn of 2010. In June 2010, Franz Rossler, JoWooD's CEO confirmed via interview that Arcania's release date has been scheduled for October 12, 2010. A demo for the game was released on September 24, 2010.

Arcania was first presented to the general public in August at Gamescom in Köln, Germany. The short playable part featured the very beginning of the game.

Reception

Initial reviews of Arcania have been mixed or average, with a Metacritic average of 63 (based on 25 critics) for the PC version. While the game was praised for its graphics and production values, it was criticized heavily for doing away with many elements of previous Gothic installments in order to make the game friendlier to casual players and failing to meet expectations of the series' fans.

GameSpot awarded it 5.0 out of ten and wrote: "Arcania has been dumbed down into a generic action role-playing game, so it isn't a Gothic game in anything but its subtitle."

IGN gave the game an overall rating of 7.5 complimenting the game's great graphics as well as the game's " loot-heavy dungeon crawling experience that doesn't tax your skills" as well as the way the game allows for the player to play leisurely and enjoy the world.

Sequel

According to an interview with JoWooD's former CEO, Dr. Albert Seidl, it seems that a sequel was once planned.  As of August 2011, the JoWooD brand was acquired by Nordic Games, which expressed their agreement to revive key series of the company such as The GuildSpellForceArcania and more.

Trivia

  • Originally ArcaniA was a bridge between the Gothic series and a completely new series, but due to the bankruptcy of the publisher, developers never realized this idea.
  • Game title comes from the word arcane, which means secret. Game publisher thought it was a good description of the game world.

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