Gothic 3 is my great, white whale.
I bought it when it first came, but gave up on it due to balance issues and frustration. Basically, Gothic 3 was another victim of a publisher (JoWood) forcing a developer (Pirahna Bytes) into puppy-milling out a game before it was ready for prime time. G3 lingered as that one game I wanted to play and finish to get closure on the series, but the infuration of playing it was not worth it.
Over the years a Community Patch was created that fixed most of the nut-kicking issues. Folks said it was better once the patch was applied. So, I decided to take the plunge. I wasn't expecting stellar GOTY game play or awesome balance. I just wanted to grind through it to get the story and slay my great, white whale. Or, at the very least, come to terms with it over a nice cup of tea at the cafe while talking about old times.
For the most part, the patch makes G3 better. Much better.
But ... now we just get to the "normal" annoynaces that may put gamers off of it:
* The Gothic universe is not for everyone. Dinosaurs are running around your savage, medival land. Factions and politics are abundant. Everyone cops an attitude with you (even your allies). It's not your prancy, elf-laden world of high-fantasy. It's like the Land of the Lost, The Lord of the Rings, Mobsters and the Elder Scrolls got together and had an illegitimate love-child.
* There's obvious moral high/low ground, but it's up to you to decide how to go. Orcs hate humans (you're human), but you don't get auto-attacked in Orc towns. This may throw some folks for a loop when they first play, them pulling out a weapon to assault an Orc town without realizing you can just walk in and talk to folks instead. If you like to shoot first and ask questions later, Gothic may not be the series for you.
* The story just picks up where G2 left off. And I'm not talking vanilla G2, I'm talking the Night of the Raven (?) add-on / expansion. If you've never played G1 or G2, you're going to be lost. There's bits and pieces of back-story thrown at you, but you'll still be lost. Even reading an overview online will leave you lost. You can play it as a stand-alone game / story, but you'll get reminders here and there that you're missing a part of the back-story.
* Per Gothic's SOP, you start out as a wuss-bag, and slowly, desperately, try to claw your way up. Even with the patch's combat / AI balancing, combat is still a brutal affair. Every Gothic has been that way, so fair warning. However, G3 (pre-patch) was notorious for having low-level wolves gang-r@ping your high-level character with machine-gun-like lunge attacks en masse while a low-level character was able to use a polearm to easily dispatch high-level trolls. So... yes, the patch did balance combat ... a LOT. But, combat is still brutal. Upgrades to armor are majorly expensive. Upgrades to weapons come slowly. The skill progression system is a slow grind, having to spend points to raise skill levels just as points of entry to unlock actual skills you want. (EG: you have to spend skill points to learn an arbitrary level of alchemy skill to unlock your ability to learn to craft mana potions, or transformation potions, or permanant potions. Does a higher alchemy skill level help you? No. It just acts as a gate-keeper to unlock those skills. So, you'll feel like you wasted a lot of skill points raising skill levels that ultimately did nothing but act as gatekeepers.) You will have to very carefully pick-n-choose your combats, because you will get your rear handed to you over and over... even on easy mode!
* Load times still suck a big one ... I'm not kidding. One reason I gave up G3 back when was because the load times from a HDD took like a minute or two! And saving took time, too. This is the kind of game you want to quick-save and reload, because you will bork things up time and again. Getting punished with a 2 minute reload time EVERY time you did somethign stupid or found out some wuss-creature was able to own you was just torture. If you have an SSD, then they are manageable, but still expect to wait 10-20 seconds.
* Combat is still a tad glitchy post-patch. Making special note of this, because you will still find some animals that seem to lean back and magically avoid all of your attacks even though you see your stupid weapon going right through them. Then they lunge in and nail you. It's not as bad post-patch, but it still happens.
* Quests are banal sometimes ... you will get the usual "go here, kill this, fetch this, deliver that" junk. But, you grind those for xp and levels. The real merit of the game is when you get to decide how to overall play it. Will you side with the humans or the orcs? Is it time to liberate a town? If so, how? (Will you side with some rebels to take it over, or go in solo?) Each move you make impacts your rating with factions, so if you liberate enough towns your rating with the orcs will go down and they will attack you on site going forward. Or, you can go wipe out those nasty rebels for the orcs.
* Walking ... so ... much ... walking. The game world is overly huge, and you'll get stuck aimlessly wandering about. It can be fun exploring, and they try to coax you into hitting the cities in a certain order. But, you can go and do whatever you want. They try to cordone off certain areas by putting harder monsters in your way, but you can run past them or jump up mountains to get around. You can go places you "shouldn't" early on as you please. You'll get your rear handed to you, but it can be fun. But, the game world is flipping huge, and trotting every where will waste hours of your time. Fortunately they put in teleporter stones you can carry to help you get from town to town faster, but you have to find the stone for each town. That can be tricky sometimes (especially when it's hidden in a place that's restricted until you win the town leader's favor). So, break out your walking shoes.
Would I recommend G3? Yes, but only if you played G1 & G2 and liked them.
Would I recommend G3 without the Community Patch? No. Heck no. You have to go to a separate web-site to get the community patch, and once it's installed it's installed. And, if you already started a save game you'll need to restart the game (it invalidates pre-patch save games). So, install G3, install the Community Patch, then play the game. Don't even open or play G3 without the community path.