For those not familiar, the basic plot of Gothic goes like this:
There’s a prison under a magical barrier with prisoners pretty much free to govern over themselves while in there, but unable to ever get out alive and with an arrangement to mine some special ore in exchange for stuff from the outside. The player is a fresh prisoner, just sent into the prison. Before he got sent inside, he was slipped a letter for the leader of the Fire Mages within the prison and that’s it. No name, not much further plot.
I actually like games with an anonymous protagonist, so this works for me, especially if there’s a prophecy to be fulfilled or something like that, the way it is with the Elder Scrolls series.
There’s a lot of characters in Gothic and, so I probably won’t remember most of them, but I managed to remember Diego. Diego is a denizen of the Old Camp and his job is to greet fresh prisoners. He basically introduces me to the prison and the inner politics.
The deal is, the prisoners split into three camps. The Old Camp still does the mining and gets most of the sought after outside stuff in exchange for the ore. They are probably the best equipped in there, but they aren’t really interested in changing the status quo. The New Camp has separated from the Old Camp and they’re actively trying to find a way to escape from the prison.
The Swamp Cultists are religious freaks. They found some entity they consider a god and they believe this thing will give them a way out of the prison and also grant them powers or something. I’m not completely sure yet, but I think I’ll either go with the Old or the New Camp when I finally join a faction. Religious freaks really aren’t my cup of tea.
Diego is part of the Old Camp, so his description was obviously biased. He told me who I need to talk to when I get there, pointed me in the direction of some discarded gear and sent me on my way.
I did some exploring around the landing area and found a pickaxe. This is not a very good weapon, even for the first one, but I don’t have a choice, really. From what I understand, the way weapons work in Gothic is that they have a strength requirement, and the more you surpass that requirement, the faster you can swing that weapon, up to a certain point. I might be completely wrong here, but if that’s true, then it’s probably in my best interest to pick a faster weapon instead of always going for the strongest one.
With the pickaxe, I did some more exploring and climbed a nearby cliff. On the top, I found two juvenile scavengers, a couple of mole rats and a goblin. The rats and the scavengers are beginner monsters, so they were easy to kill. The goblins, however, I remember from one of my earlier attempts at this game, so I was pretty scared when I attacked it. Somehow, I managed to kill it with a bit of health remaining, though, so I could freely enjoy the great view from the top of the cliff.
I went back down to the other side of the canyon, picked up a rusty sword, which is a weaker, but a faster weapon, and killed the last mole rat there. On the way to the Old Camp, I also killed a couple of meat bugs and got their meat for later.
First Time at the Old Camp
The Old Camp is arranged into several (two or three, I’m not sure) levels, with only the outer level accessible to me right now. I explored it in a circular fashion, talked to everyone and got all the quests I could.
One of the people there wanted to buy an ornamental sword from a merchant, but the merchant wouldn’t sell it to him, so I played mediator. Several guards wanted protection money from me, so I picked one and gave him the 10 ore he wanted. I think I need to pay all three to be protected everywhere, though.
There was an arena there to, as well as several people from the Cultist and the New Camp, trading and looking for recruits. The head guy at the arena wanted me to win a match in exchange for his good word with Diego. Several other people also wanted favors in exchange for their recommendation. Getting enough recommendations would make me an official member of the Old Camp, but even though I’m still not sure which side I’ll pick, I’ll do most of the quests anyway, for the experience and the rewards.
I found a frying pan over a fire and fried all of the meat I picked up from the scavengers and rats I killed. I remember this being very impressive back when Gothic was first released and it still holds its own now. I mean, sure, there’s alchemy in other games, but there’s an actual animation of frying the meat in this one. It’s a nice touch.
With all the exploration and quest solving, I finally got my fist level, so I traded most of my good away for ore and then gave the ore to some New Camp hunters outside, in exchange for them to teach me how to scavenge dead monster parts. I can now extract claws and skin animals. I still have two more to learn, so as soon as I get the money, I’ll come back.
I also explored the area outside the Old Camp and climbed some cliffs. In one of the caves, I found a dead guard and reported it to another guard inside the camp. This secured me another recommendation. In another cave, on top of a cliff, I found basically a hermit. He used to live at the Old Camp, but then just decided to get away from it all.
I also spent far too much time trying to get down from that cliff. The controls in Gothic really have room for improvement. I kept taking from steps and falling to my death on my way down. I need to say something outright, though. Unlike many, I’m fine with the way Gothic handles combat. I’m OK with those controls. I just think the movement and jumping needs work.
I actually spent a couple of hours doing all of this, so I decided to take a break at this point. There’s a lot to explore in the world of Gothic and I’m looking forward to it. It’s a great game that just happens to be rough around the edges.