Risen 2 Dark Waters – Exclusive Interview With Björn Pankratz, Project Director, Piranha Bytes

Posted By | On 04th, Apr. 2012 Under Interviews

We got an exclusive opportunity to speak with Björn Pankratz, Project Director at Piranha Bytes. We have got some interesting details for Risen 2 including the concept behind the game, length and replay value and Piranha Bytes thoughts on the controversial DRM.

We recently previewed the game and we absolutely loved it. Here is what our editor Kartik Mudgal said:

I really loved Risen inspite of its flaws, and from what I have played here, I can say that Risen 2 is shaping up to be a terrific one as well. Now if only the rest of the game holds up – we have a winner in our hands.

Shubhankar: The concept and story of Risen 2 (from what we’ve seen so far) definitely seem to be interesting. Was there any particular media that inspired you while developing this game?

Pankratz: Naturally, we drew some inspiration from classics like Monkey Island, Treasure Island, or Pirates of the Caribbean. Finally we sat down, tried to pool our ideas, and implemented them. What would a pirate game be without treasure hunts, eyepatches, and rum?

Shubhankar: There’ve been a lot of “Pirate games” in recent times, and none of the have been particularly successful in portraying characters. How will you avoid that in Risen 2?

Pankratz: We spent a lot of time debating what developments the player character as well as his friends and enemies could undergo. We decided to give each main character an individual appearance and voice, and to reveal their story and motivation in the game. We hope there will be something for everyone.

Shubhankar: The PC version of Risen incorporates the use of DRM, but it doesn’t require the DVD itself for the game to be played, and it has unlimited installs too. That is obviously the right way to go about this rather controversial issue. But does it pose any kind of problems for the developers or the publishers- at all? And what is your general outlook on DRM as a whole?

Pankratz: It is far from lucrative for both our publisher Deep Silver and us to find that the game can be downloaded free of charge on the internet two days before the release, so we opted for Steam this time, a platform that is widely used and popular among gamers, as well as providing quite a high level of security. We hope it will prove to be the best possible solution for everyone.

Shubhankar: The first Risen game was so successful in what it did because of its grounded charm and uniqueness. Is Risen 2 similar in that fashion, or does it have its own kind of charm?

Pankratz: We improved some elements such as the skill system for Risen 2, and dedicated a whole game to the pirate setting. This certainly gives Risen 2 its own kind of charm. However, the game is still quite unmistakably a Piranha Bytes title, especially with regard to the linguistic style and the design of the game world.

Shubhankar: How long will Risen 2 be? Will it promote replay value?

Pankratz: Risen 2 turned out to be a bit larger than its predecessor, but it was still important to us not to let the frequency of quests drop towards the end of the game, but to keep it exciting throughout. Depending on which faction you play for, the story also develops differently. Thus, you can choose to fight for or against the Natives or the Inquisition, specialize in firearms or voodoo, or take different crew members on board your ship. The dialogs also offer many choices of answers and different quest solutions for the player, which all increase the replay value.

Shubhankar: Risen 2 is being called by many to be a semi-open world game. How is that going to work here? How many and what kind of things will players be able to do? Can we expect a level of freedom that games like Skyrim offer, or will it be more towards the Fable side?

Pankratz: Risen 2 starts with a short tutorial introducing the player to the game, and becomes bigger and more open as the game progresses. You can move around freely on a medium-sized island to begin with, but have your own ship later in the game, allowing you to return to locations you have been to before, or travel to other islands. Eventually, the whole game world will be open to you and you can freely decide where you want to go.

Shubhankar: Risen 2 is a very unique RPG in that it doesn’t make players choose a particular class. Do you think that might have a negative impact among conventional RPG purists?

Pankratz: We feel that focusing on a specific hero and telling his story like a book has a positive effect on character creation and the game plot. Players have plenty of liberties in the course of the game. That is where they will make their choices and define their character further. We believe that the games market has enough room for both ways of playing, and we think that is a good thing.

Shubhankar: If a gamer has a PS3, Xbox 360 and PC, which version would you recommend picking up and why?

Pankratz: Although we develop our games on the PC, privately some of us are console gamers and others prefer PC games. The advantage of consoles is quite clearly convenience – you can watch the game on a big TV screen while sitting comfortably on your sofa, while PC gamers usually sit at their desks. On the other hand, PC gamers get to enjoy better graphics, for example. So people should decide for themselves what is more important to them.

Shubhankar: Can you detail the combat system of Risen 2 a little more?

Pankratz: There will be right-hand weapons such as sabers and cutlasses as well as left-hand weapons, e.g. the pistol or Dirty Tricks. Depending on the skills the player character has learned, these can be combined. There is also voodoo magic, which allows the player to set monsters against each other or weaken enemies, or muskets which have to be wielded with both hands. So the combat system is quite diverse. I recommend you try it yourselves!

Shubhankar: Can we expect any more games or DLCs from the Risen franchise in the future?

Pankratz: We are definitely planning DLC for Risen 2. It will be more like an add-in, not directly interwoven with the main story. We also have some ideas for the time after Risen 2, of course, but we will see where they lead in the future.

Shubhankar: Is there anything else you want to share about the game?

Pankratz: We tried to develop a game that we would like to play ourselves, and we achieved that. We hope you will enjoy it as much as we do!

Stay tuned to GamingBolt for the full review of the game.

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