Risen 2: Dark Waters Hands-On Preview and Interview

Back in June, we had a chance to get our first look at Risen 2: Dark Waters during our exhaustive coverage of E3.  It was quite an eye opener at the time as the graphics had been improved considerably from the first game and a little droplet of excitement once again oozed out as I feasted my eyes on the rolling vistas and treacherous coastlines.  That was, as mentioned above, only two months ago and yet so much has happened since then.  A thirty minute presentation of pre-recorded gameplay footage had been re-shot with new scenes and those of us itching to visit Caldera would be afforded the opportunity on the show floor.

With more than an hour to spare before my first appointment at Gamescom, and with Hall 7 being directly opposite the Press Centre, I caught a glimpse of the now-familiar red flag beckoning me towards it… and so I answered the call.  The booth itself was perfectly kitted out in typical pirate affair – bamboo cage, guys with striped shirts and eye patches, all finished off with palm trees dominating the vast space above my head.  I wasn’t here to check out the decor though, and so I headed to one of the available PCs and struggled through the German menu until I found the correct combination of keys to start the demo.

The gameplay was fluid and the textures were better than expected, assuming that the rigs on the show floor would have been a more mainstream set up than most PC gamers would have at their disposal, and it was exactly what you’d expect from a follow up to Risen… except with pirates.  I’d like to be able to comment on the dialogue options but, as I don’t speak Germany beyond “Ja wohl Herr Schmidt” (points to anyone who gets that reference), I can’t say whether it offers more choice than the original game BUT there were certainly a lot of options available and in our presentation with Daniel Oberlerchner the following day, we noticed a great deal more humour than before.

As is customary whenever I get my hands on an open world title, I like to ignore everyone and run off to do my own thing.  It means that I may end up wandering into a level twenty quest location, as was the case with Vindasel in Oblivion, but it also means that I get to quickly understand the terrain and how best to approach certain aspects.  It didn’t quite work out that way with Risen 2, however, as I wandered down to the beach and was immediately mesmerised by the sight of a hulking galleon (although I’m sure pedants would point out otherwise) and a mid-day sun glistening on crystal clear waters.  The water in Risen was always incredible, and I remember standing at the edge of a stream in awe, watching it caress smoothed pebbles as it found its way to a frothy drop, to the point where I dragged Lorna through to show her both the realism and attention to detail.  I didn’t think it could be improved upon, but Piranha Bytes have clearly tweaked something somewhere because I had that overwhelming urge to “drop trou” and dive in for a quick swim.

The combat was as intuitive as the previous game, although it could be argued that I was already familiar with the play style and was therefore geared up to switch over to muscle memory.  Either way, it was a bit of a kick ass experience in more ways than one.  As is touched on by Daniel, the initial island is more or less what we’ve come to know as a tutorial level by modern RPG standards in that it’s almost impossible to be killed and serves more as away to familiarise the player with techniques and controls. Having said that, I still had one or two cans of Wupass (now with no added sugar) opened up on me thanks to my lack of any real weaponry.

Character animations and meshes are obviously not up to the standards of Crysis yet, but we’ve come to expect that anyway, but do appear to have been refined somewhat for the sequel.  Patty has grown her hair and, for whatever reason, has lost a bit of her sex appeal this time around.  Maybe it was the fact that she had more choppy hair and a bit of a mouth on her that I adored her so much, but this new Patty is considerably cleaner and with less sarcasm than before.  Perhaps that will change as the game progresses though, as I don’t know many pirates who subscribe to the Mary Whitehouse school of thought.

As we’ve already covered the preview here and will undoubtedly get a more extensive hands-on as the release date grows nearer, I’ll save the more in depth coverage for nearer the time and leave you with our interview with Daniel Oberlerchner – a gentleman, a scholar and, from what I heard through the grapevine, an acrobat.  Risen 2 will be hitting the shelves in the first half of 2012… buy it, or you’ll be walking the plank!  Risen 2 will undoubtedly be my top RPG for 2012.

Last five articles by Mark R



  1. Lorna Lorna says:

    The more I see of this game, the more I can’t wait until release. The screens look stunning and the theme is always appealing. Have a feeling that the difficulty will be punishing, but it should be a welcome challenge. I just hope that there is a decent collector’s edition released for this one – such great potential for it…

  2. Ben Ben says:

    Really liking the pirate theme it has going on for it, more so because (going from screenshots) it’s bright and vibrant, rather than being dark and cold. Three cheers for sunshine and blue sky!

  3. Richie richie says:

    This is on my radar now.

    I’ll look forward to checking the video when I get out of Cocksucker Central (AKA work).

  4. Edward Edward says:

    Love how in depth and enthusiastic you are Mark, it’s great to see your smile eek out when you’re told something that excites you about the game, it shows how much you care and how much effort went in, it’s brilliant :D

  5. [...] Risen 2: Dark Waters Hands-On Preview and Interview | Gaming Lives Reply With Quote [...]

  6. Ivanhoe says:

    I’m a pretty huge fanatic of the first Risen…it beats out Ultima 4 as my favorite RPG.

    Just got done listening to this review and I’m a little worried now. The guy doing the interview questions hit the nail on the head: “In the first Risen, you really got a sense of isolation and probably for the first hour of the game, I kept dying from just birds on the beach!” Thats what makes Risen 1 an awesome game. NO HAND HOLDING!! The response to that was a little disappointing. It makes me think that they are tailoring what was a great game (Risen 1) and making it more adaptable to all the idiot gamers out there that can’t handle a REAL RPG.

    If you guys are reading this a PB, please re-think this if you ever make a Risen 3. Be true to yourselves, the original idea of Risen, and all the true RPG fans out there such as myself.

  7. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    @Ivanhoe – it’s funny, because for the first half an hour of playing the first Risen game, I was being killed by everything that I came across and I started to think that there was no point in playing if the enemies in the first scene, whcih was basically just wildlife, could kill me every time. I then started to adopt a stealth approach to try and manoeuvre myself around them without alerting them, and that’s how I got through the first couple of hours of gameplay while I found myself better weapons. As much as it annoyed me for the first hour or so, when I really just wanted to hack and slash my way through enemies, it gave me a real sense of challenge. I adored the first game and, from what I’ve played of Risen 2 so far, it does look as though it’ll be every bit as good OR better… but they’ve definitely gone down the wrong road for the die-hard player by giving them an easy ride on the tutorial level… but then again, how many people would that punishing difficulty actually drive away? When Daniel said in the interview that there was plenty of time later on in the game to punish the player, it put my mind at rest.

    I still think they’re going to knock it out of the park on this one, although I do still prefer the previous Patty as she’s gone more “girly” and lost the worn down sarcasm from what I’ve seen so far.

  8. Ivanhoe says:

    I’m sure the game is going to be great, and it will have that Piranha Bytes awesomeness to it, but I really feel like this whole idea of having to hold your hand (hopefully just at the beginning, though he did say the second island was easy-moderate levels as well) is simply a matter of the fact that they are targeting more at the consoles this time around. In Risen 1, there were no difficulty levels per say, there was just…..well the game!

    I hate console games for that very reason. The general public are idiot gamers, and want everything spoon-fed to them so they can feel “comfortable” when playing a game. If people died in the beginning of the game all the time, most of them would put it down, tell their friends this game wasn’t worth buying, and never even give it another chance.
    I guarantee you that is the reason PB is going in this direction. They, just like all other companies, need to make money in order to stay alive, right? So, this game needs to be more adaptable to the general public. Because of that, the game suffers imo.

    I’m not knocking you Piranha Bytes, you’ve done nothing but brought me some serious great quality games, but Risen 1 really held a special place in my heart as a REAL RPG. Surely one of the best of all time. I was just hoping that the Risen series was going to continue in that fashion (regardelss of the fact you have guns now…), but from what I’m seeing, you guys are being talked into going in the console direction. I wish consoles were never invented. They’ve ruined video games.

  9. [...] game out at several events this year, including E3, leading to our extensive preview piece and our hands on preview and interview. Of course, pirates is always a popular theme, especially here at GLHQ, and in this first episode [...]

  10. [...] Waters since it was first announced, and it was one of the titles we previewed at E3 this year, and at Gamescom, so the release date couldn’t come soon enough.  The game, developed by Piranha Bytes and [...]

  11. [...] looks and interviews last year, resulting in some sexy Risen 2 preview coverage from E3 and Gamescom that makes it one of our most eagerly anticipated releases for the first half of the year… [...]

  12. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    Just wanted to follow up to Ivanhoe… I’ve been playing Risen 2 for around two weeks now (full preview coming this week) and it IS as punishing as the original game. The first island is, quite literally, ten or fifteen minutes worth of game play and then you move on to Tacarigua and it’s that same hellish difficulty as Risen was. I’m pleased!

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