The Gothic series of games are probably in the category of you "either hate them or love them" and not much in between. I'm in the love it category.
One reason I keep replaying old games, especially ones with great replay value is because I get sick of the problems that come with new ones and I have several in various stages of play. Even Oblivion pisses me off with it's many problems even after modders have fixed a lot of of them. The hard coded ones remain though which is frustrating at times.
While Gothic 2 with Night of the Raven is my favourite I've played it to death and the only complaint I have about it is that playing a mage is severely hampered by the inability to find enough plants and potions to replenish mana, especially in the late stages. You can sleep of course but that's not always feasible or convenient. The spells are awesome though and they are all one really needs as long as mana is plentiful.
This is about Gothic 3 though. I know many Gothic fans didn't like it as much and it was buggy as hell at release, but that wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't for the frame rate and hitching problems on loading new areas...and even at times, just moving in a different direction.
BUT, I've never actually finished the complete game, but got close a few times as it's absolutely huge. I gave up on it for awhile until the Community Patch team started "fixing" the game and now it's actually a pleasure to play.
Besides that, and a reason I've started over a few times, there are addon packs and quest packs that change the game to more of a Gothic 2 style. Last night I downloaded the latest packs and had to start over again which isn't a problem as the game has so many different ways to play.
I've been going on about how I like Two Worlds a lot, but Gothic 3 (and 2 of course) is so much more the type of open world rpg I think is actually worthy of the title. One day I might write something about the disaster that Arcania Gothic 4 is, but it will pain me to even think about it.
Since I never played past the so called tutorial stage or the first island in Arcania because I could see the writing on the wall even then, people may say I didn't give it a fair chance. However, the fact you could steal anything and kill anyone in front of others with no consequences, as the NPC's are so unbelievably stupid, and it's completely linear with invisible walls to keep you from going to places before you obtained a quest to do so, was quite enough for me. Then there were absolutely NO features that made it a real rpg in the Gothic style. I wish I could sell my copy of the game and forget I ever bought it.. Heck, I'd even give it away if anyone actually wanted it. It has Securom protection though which is a pain in itself.
Just a quick mention about Gothic - Forsaken Gods. This mess has also been overhauled by the Community team and is now playable and stable, if not a great game. It's worth at least one play through now.
Back to Gothic 3... I do tend to get offtrack...
I'm not going into the ins and outs of the things that make this a great game, post community patching and especially with the addons I'm going to talk about. Fans will know what I mean and anyone else who may be interested can look it up.
I did find this excellent review of Gothic 3 though and it also mentions Arcania and I agree totally with the author. I don't actually agree with his comments about the controls as I've customized mine to work much better.
The main addons for the game besides the Community Patch is the Content Mod 2.2. It adds so much it's not possible to include it all here, but the whole game is retextured or most of it, including creatures, armour, landscape, buildings and NPC's and a there are also a few added locations. And Pirates! They returned the Orcs from Gothic 2, added many new armours and weapons, new menus and HUD icons and much more. Oh, and also returned many of the sounds from Gothic 2.
When installing you can choose to have everything, or just the textures and menus and HUD elements, so it's versatile, not all or nothing.
Read about it here. Lots of screen shots as well. It's in the English section of the forum.
The Community Patch 1.74 rebalances the whole game, has alternate AI and balancing choices, multiple bug fixes that read like a novel, added a version of HDR and a heap of other improvements. It also removes the copy protection with permission from the developers and includes the previous Official patches.
Download and read about it here. It's 914mb but worth every byte.
The Content Mod, 229mb, requires the Community Patch 1.74 and Questpacket 4.2 which is another very large addition at 654mb. It adds new quests, NPC's and a lot more. It only comes in the German language, however there are English subtitles so obviously subtitles for speech need to be on, but are unobtrusive. However, you won't have German voices in the background, assuming you need the English version of course.
Download it here. The text is German but is easily translated via Google. This page says version 4.1 but the download is the correct one, or it was for me.
Both packs have support for other languages and are exe files so it's easy to install or remove if necessary.
I only started playing again last night and have been hooked all over again so I can see myself staying up until the very early hours, and in some cases as I've done before, see the sun come up because I've been so involved.
One screen shot so far, but more to follow. This is a wolf and a scavenger fighting as creatures also have factions in the game and either get along or hate each other. Both creatures are retextured from the originals.
I could only get this close because they were fighting. Usually, potentially aggressive animals will give a warning if you get too close and they won't attack either just because you are in the same area. Something which I find refreshing. Boars are anti social though and hate everything and everybody.
The white dome in the background is the capital city which has been closed off behind a force field. The only way in is via a hard to get teleport stone.
Click to enlarge is so desired.
Doing a screen shot tour of the animals... If I can I'll get some screenshots of the creatures sleeping which they actually do at night with the correct animations as well. It can be interesting when one runs into a Shadow Beast in the dark when it's asleep. They are really grumpy when woken....and any other time...lol.
Dairy Cows. You can milk the cows and use the milk in recipes at cooking pots.
Pigs on the farm. Orcs have taken it over...or at least they had until I came along and evicted them forcefully and permanently.
Bandit Vs Wolf. The bandit lost as I pinged him with arrows for amusement after killing his friends. They were offensive after all and just didn't want to talk. I then used a taming spell on the wolf so it would be a companion and fight with me.
Around the campfire. You can sit at the fire and cook meat from animals you've hunted. There's nothing like a nice haunch of roast meat and a glass of red to boost the health just when you need it.