When you play ArcaniA aka Gothic 4, it seems to be very important how the game is compared to it's predecessors. And there's a lot to live up to because the first 2 games were considered sort of icons of the genre. I won't write a long essay on how this game is better or worse than the first three. Instead I present a list of remarks I made while playing it:
The positive things:
1. Both the menu and they way you loot is way better and faster than in the Gothic games
2. One of the coolest looking minimaps I've seen in any game
3. Beautiful textures, highly improved compared to Gothic 3 BUT they blend togeter horribly
4. Approaching an npc with the main quest automatically triggers the conversation. This prevents fruitless dialogues with npc's who don't really have anything to say.
5. Npc's who have quests to offer are marked with an exclamation mark
6. Attacking an enemy has auto trigger on. In ArcaniA you come across places where you fight off 8 enemies or so at once. The auto trigger feature makes the battle in such occasions more fluent and faster overall
7. This goes for all the games of the Gothic series: the protagonist actually talks when you trigger a dialogue. Games these days (Skyrim, Half-Life etc.) have taken the silent protagonist approach which in my opinion closes some potent doors.
8. Diego and Gorn are the coolest they've ever been during the whole series.
9. This is probably the most prominent feature of ArcaniA: they've managed to come up with a useful, working, easy-to-use dodging system. My experience with other games (Elder Scrolls, Assassin's Creed, Gothic) is that going in for the kill is more profitable that starting to dodge/ block, which in most cases is hard and pointless. ArcaniA nailed it and I give them huge credit for it.
10. The character is a charming fellow with good spirit. It contrasts highly with the previous nameless hero who at least in Gothic 3: Forsaken Gods was a war mongering bloody dictator. (Poor people of Myrtana, terrible to think he ended up as a king. Just thinking of all the missions in forsaken gods where he went after some small tribe who wanted to live in their own way.)
11. Health regenerates
12. Goblins do whatever goblins might do before you arrive, meaning they don't just stand there idly, waiting for you to arrive. AND they actually look cool and a little more sophisticated than those poor bare ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥s in Gothic 3. AND they carry cool names like ''Warrior of the bugeater tribe'.
13. Interesting lock picking system
14. Game creates savegames itself in important places. Don't remember the previous ones doing that.
15. There's actually an epic story behind the whole thing with twists and plots.
16. I left a curious note for the last: the game actually get's better designwise as the game advances. It's almost like they created the first chapter just to learn how to do the job and afterwards they got better and better at it.
The negative things:
1. The guy who crreated the 3D models obviously doesn't have clue about human anatomy.
2. Probably the biggest downsize: to the end it doesn't develop that true Gothic atmosphere that made the games popular.
3. If the quest location stays out of the range of the minimap then the minimap doesn't show you the direction towards the location.
4. Like so often in games the main character looks like some fancy-pants out of a men's magazine.
5. Voice acting is terribly overdramatized, doesn't sound like natural speech at all.
6. The font that they've chosen for npc names and other written material is a kind of modern comic style font and does not suit at all with the overall atmosphere. Also, if you have to mark a frindly npc's name with green, don't choose neon green for gods sake.
7. Minor bugs with characters getting stuck behind invisible corners.
8. During dialogues, when the characters are zoomed in, the rigid parts of the 3D model like armor stretch and bend, as if they were part of flesh and muscle.
9. The question weather it is open world or not. Fans of Gothic say that ArcaniA is not open world like the other Gothic games were. I ask: was Gothic 1 open world? They say 'yes, but a really small open world'. I say: well, there you have it. Arcania has those small areas, bigger than in Witcher, but it's not open in the same way Gothic 3, Skyrim and GTA were. I bring it up because it has been noted as a flaw but I don't want to sound too pedantic about it because they've played it out quite well.
10. Insanely few character models. The orcs, for example, look all the same.
11. Levelling up badly balanced. The game is way too generous which in return helps you max your stats with no effort. By the time I was through two thirds of the game I had maxed out everything I needed and I seriously rushed through the game.
12. In the whole there's not much to explore, the world feels empty.
I had a lot of time to think during gamplay and I had this interesting thought....Some ancient cultures belived that your spirit is immune to harm if your enemy didn't know your real name. The idea is used in both fantasy books and occult rituals. You have to know the name of the demon to summon him. Knowing the name bends the demon to your will. This allegory now comes to mind as I think of the former nameless hero, now Rhobar III who has been attacked by a demon. While he was nameless, he was mighty, but once he got a name, he became subject to harm. The game unconciously plays with this idea.
Try the game. Never mind the old Gothic games, they had their flaws as well. Arcania had both good and bad sides.