E3 2011: Risen 2 Dark Waters Preview

Some may remember the game Risen which was released last year on Xbox 360 and garnered less-than-favorable reviews. The game was criticized for its outdates graphics, unsatisfying combat, and extremely slow pacing. Deep Silver is hoping that Risen 2 brings nothing but positive remarks from critics when it releases.

For those who haven’t been keeping up on the game, here’s what you need to know. Risen 2: Dark Waters takes place 10 years after its predecessor with the hero dealing with titans that are awakening on several islands as well as sea monsters that are interrupting trade routes. Our hero isn’t your typical noble fighter ready to take deal a might blow to all that is evil. Instead, we have a man who’s dealing with internal issues and comes off as very distant to people. Regardless, he’s still looking to solve the issues plaguing these islands.

The first noticeable change between Risen 1 and 2 is the graphical difference and the time period. During the preview event, there were comparison images put up onto the screen to truly understand the visual upgrade we were seeing thanks to the new engine. As for the time period, the environment isn’t modeled around medieval aesthetics. Instead, we are seeing pirate themes everywhere. This new pirate style has also greatly changed the way combat works.

Being a pirate, your hero isn’t going to rely on a sword and shield during hostile encounters. In the demo, the sword proved to be the most reliable primary weapon. There was a gun used as a secondary, but it worked more like a special move since it was accompanied by a cooldown time. It was even stated that dual pistols was an option later on. Other special moves came in the form of “dirty tricks” (upgradable to lessen cooldown time). Pirates rarely play by the rules and that’s where these tricks come in. The ones that were spoken of included throwing daggers, tossing sand into the enemy’s eyes, and sending out a trained parot to distract the enemy. These additions plus a revamped battle system have made combat much more engaging. The hero fought a huge leviathan, spider, and crab. All of them have weakspots that can be exploited. For example, the crab can be flipped over exposing its soft underbelly.

It takes more than seasoned fighting skills to make a true pirate. Having a crew (hopefully loyal) is a crucial component to the pirate’s lifestyle. There are around 5 different companions you can obtain that have unique abilities and specialties. The crew is collected from each island which you can travel to via ship (another important aspect for pirates). Only one crew member can be taken on land at a time. Their actions will vary once they are by your side. They may instigate a fight, interrupt in dialogue, lead you to treasure, and so on. Picking the right one for the job is something you’ll have to learn throughout the game. Some are better at ranged combat and, therefore, better in open environments. In the demo, our hero chose Captain Steelbeard who specializes in close quarters and proved useful in the tight engagement. If you find you and your companion overwhelmed by enemies, don’t worry. Your companions cannot die. They will only remain unconscious for a little while. This does put all enemy attention on you however.

As the demo came to a close, we were treated to a few extra details. Crafting is returning to Risen 2 and can be used to create legendary weapons if the proper blueprints are located. Also, the game will be much more user-friendly by picking up the action early on and saving the challenging portions for later on in the game after you have leveled up your hero. Be sure to check out the upcoming demonstration at Gamescon as they are going to add facial expressions and gestures into the animations, thus making a more immersive experience. Deep Silver did briefly mention they are gearing up to announce something concerning “special magic,” but weren’t ready to talk about it at the moment. There’s a chance that we will see this at Gamescon as well.

Risen 2: Dark Waters will release on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC before the end of this year.