Review of Gothic 3 (PC)
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UK Boxshot of Gothic 3 (PC)
US Boxshot of Gothic 3 (PC)
UK RELEASE: 13-Oct-2006 (Released)  | NORDIC RELEASE: 13-Oct-2006 (Released) |  US RELEASE: 14-Nov-2006 (Released)
  Review of: Gothic 3 | By: Aasmund Eikli
11 Jan-2007

The Gothic series of games, of which there are two so far, have always been a bit elusive of the mainstream RPG crowd. They are hard games and adding to being hard, also have had their large share of bugs and problems. Here's the review of the third game in the series.

The Gothic series of games, of which there are two so far, have always been a bit elusive of the mainstream RPG crowd. They are hard games and adding to being hard, also have had their large share of bugs and problems. The third offering from the German developer Piranha Bytes comes as some sort of a mixed bag; it can go from being incredibly annoying to being great fun in a very short time and vice versa. We've taken a closer look at the game now that it has been out for a little while and Piranha Bytes have had the time to release a few patches. Without further ado, let's find out if this game can rival Oblivion.


Let me first say that when this game came out in Europe it was a bug ridden crash fest. People reported all kinds of problems with the game, including quest-breaking bugs such as NPC's simply disappearing under the world while others reported massive graphical problems with the game crashing and even being generally very sluggish on high end systems. As of this writing, and indeed what this review is based upon, the game is in version 1.08. I deliberately chose to wait, my experience of certain other JoWood games marred by the same problems reminding me that it would probably be wise to let a few patches emerge before taking it on. I understand of course that this may somewhat defeat the purpose of a review as a review is usuallym based on the retail version of a game (and a game should generally be judged by it's retail state) but there you have it. Also, most other reviews debunked the game for its bugs, so let's see what our review can come up with since the game is now in a much more playable state than it was when those reviews were written.

I don't do this often, but let's look at it from that angle.

You start the game rescuing a village from an orc invasion, which provides the basic tutorial of the game. As you progress through the village, killing orcs, you get hints at what attack options you have and such. It's a very basic tutorial but I suppose it works for the bare minimum of the game's mechanics.
Since I played the patched version, I've had almost no trouble getting the game to work and after applying a few other tweaks, the game runs pretty good on my trusty old 6800GT; certainly not great, but keeping details at medium, I've been able to get a fair fps.

The game play itself mainly consists of running around hitting things with whatever you happen to wield at the time. The combat system is very straight forward with a small selection of attacks available to you. The problem with this system is that it is most often better than not to just spam one attack until the target dies. In other words, click furiously, rinse repeat. I will talk more about the combat system later in this review.

The character advancement system is rather more involved and there are several paths you can take and you're free to combine paths as well as learning a few other misc skills. This system is based upon what the game calls Learning Points which you receive each time you gain a level. You spend Learning Points to advance skills but to actually use them, you will need to find trainers all over the world who also charges gold for their services. I like this system and it keeps things fairly interesting, but it isn't very well balanced. Magic for instance is based on a skill called Arcane Knowledge but at lower levels, this skill is not a viable option compared to melee. However, when you max the skill, magic becomes hilariously powerful and you can resort to just fire off a few fireballs to clear out whatever group of baddies who stand in your way. It takes quite a bit of playing to max any skill though.

Thus far, I've described mostly bad points about the game, but what I'm about to talk about is what makes this game so interesting; namely it's content. There's an unbelievable amount of stuff to do everywhere, ranging from simple "collect 5 milk barrels and bring them to me" to all out attacks on towns. It is in this area Gothic 3 excels. The quests are interesting, often quite involved and for the most part fun to do. And it never ends as around the next bend there's something new to do. The main game play is spread out on three main areas, the snowy north, the temperate lands in the middle and the desert region in the south. Since the game is open-ended you can choose to ignore the main quest and focus on all the other things to do, but if you choose to involve yourself in the main quest you are put in the middle of the struggle between the invading orcs and the humans and subsequently forced to choose which side you wish to be on. To accomplish that, you do quests and favours for either faction and gain reputation with them. When your reputation in a town is high enough, you can make the town's leader your buddy and hatch evil plans (or just kill the leader and then everyone else).

But even in all the great content there is some trouble. The quest log system which keeps track of what you've done and not is god awful and can sometimes be very confusing and not at all helpful. If they had done this more in the vein of Morrowind/Oblivion, I wouldn't have to run around sometimes blindly to find out what to do next.

The game world is huge and packed to the brim with interesting things to do and this is why this game is worth playing even with all it's problems. The game play certainly does not earn top score due to the dull combat system and the poor quest log but it makes up for a fair deal of it with all the content available.


Even on low-medium settings, the game looks really good. The graphics design is very well done and you really get the feeling of being in some shoddy backwater town or a great city. The scenery and countryside are generally interesting, especially considering you find new things to do along the way too. When you turn up the details, the game looks simply gorgeous. The designers have done a pretty good job in getting areas to have a different feel to them. What I think is a little sad is that you spend quite a bit of time in the more Oblivion-ish middle lands where you get the feeling of a more generic rpg type graphics, while the more interesting north and southern regions are less utilized.

A thing that bugs an old Morrowind/Oblivion player is the fact that you can't pick up a great deal of the things laying about. It's just a minor thing but it does kill immersion somewhat. Being a bit of a cleptomaniac when playing the aforementioned games, it annoys me to no end that there's many items I just can't pick up. That said, the detail on many of the objects lying about is quite good.

The effects on spells and magic swords (i.e blazing swords) are pretty cool and some spells look pretty awesome when cast.


The music for Gothic 3 was done by the German Bochum symphony orchestra which is supposed to be really good. And it definitely is. The music is beautifully done from loading screens to in-game atmospheric music. They even offer the game music up as an album for sale on the official site.

Sound effects are fairly standard, and I didn't notice anything too weird or anything particularly good. The voice work is pretty good as well and there certainly is a lot of it. Characters speak all their dialogue and the voice actors are decent. The sound in the game does it's job and it does it fairly well; especially the music is top-notch as previously mentioned.


The interface on the play screen is rather sparse but does it's job decently. You have a compass (and believe me, you need one), a quick bar where you can put pretty much anything from weapons to spells to food. Then there's the three bars displaying your health, endurance and mana. That's it for the play window and you don't really need anything else. When you start poking into the menus you can find some pretty decent screens such as the skills screen, inventory screen (you have unlimited inventory space by the way), alchemist recipe screen, map and many other things. The map is integrated with the quest log and is pretty useless as it doesn't tell you where you are, only where the different cities are. It's useful in the sense that you can click on any city on the map and the quests you have taken on for that city appears beside it. It's a good way to keep track of quests, I just wish the quest descriptions wasn't so vague.

Despite this, I understand this is a hard game and I like it that way. Unlike many other games the recent years, this one doesn't hold your hand through everything. You're pretty much on your own. Some people think this is bad, while old school gamers like myself are still used to this idea and I think it makes for a more interesting and involving game experience.

The controls for the game are also fairly straight forward. You see your character from behind, although you can also zoom into first-person perspective, and you control him with the normal sequence of keys while using the mouse to steer. As previously mentioned, the combat system can seem simple at first with very few types of attacks. I've found that blocking is pretty useless as your character loses endurance and health while blocking anyway and early on you don't have a lot of hit points to go around so you're better off attacking aggressively instead of being on the defence. When you figure out how different monsters fight, it gets a little more involved as you can start to anticipate blows and counter them.

There's some trouble with NPC pathing still and yes, there's still problems with the combat system but I didn't find any huge game breaking bugs in this area as was reported when the game first came out.


Gothic 3 is a worthy sequel to Gothic 2 in terms of being hard and unforgiving but at the same time (and because of) be interesting and involving to play. It still got it's fair share of problems and after a few patches you would think they had fixed most of them but sadly this is not the case. The amount of content in the game does add up for many of it's shortcomings but despite that it's hard to overlook many of the problems.

It's fine that a game is hard, hell I think games should be hard as it usually makes them more fun. But the problems with this quickly shows when quest descriptions gets too vague and you have no real idea of where to go next. You sorta just have to stumble upon a clue and in certain cases this is cool but the world is too big for this to be cool beyond a few times.

Also, and this might seem a little trivial but believe me when I say it is annoying, is that the wildlife pretty much stunlocks you and kills you very quickly in your early levels and even all the way up to level 18-20 this is still a problem. I heard that it was even worse before one of the earlier patches but I still think it is incredibly annoying. Like I already said, and this seems to be a mainsay with this game, is that it's ok when things are hard as long as they are logically hard, not hard because of bugs or just stupidly hard for no reason.

All in all it's a solid game content wise, with interesting quests and lots of things to do, but some of the game play problems are too apparent.


  • Great content and fun quests
  • The game looks gorgeous on good graphic cards
  • It's a hard game
  • It's a hard game
  • The quest log system leaves much to be desired
  • It's easy to break quests in the game such as accidentally killing someone you really shouldn't have
Click to enlarge this screenshot of Gothic 3 (PC)
Click to enlarge this screenshot of Gothic 3 (PC)
Click to enlarge this screenshot of Gothic 3 (PC)
Click to enlarge this screenshot of Gothic 3 (PC)
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