I like PB writing - but I don't remember ever having been impressed with any of the stories. It's mostly been "decent" and nothing more, so I'm not sure what PB games you're talking about that were much better than R2-3 - but I guess that comes down to personal preference.
To me, Gothic 1 is -by far- unmatched. I like it when in addition to exploring the world, you also have to explore and uncover the story like an onion layer by layer.
Gothic 1 did a really good job at at that IMHO. It was not clear at all from the start that there would be a way out of the prison or that this would be a goal in the game.
You had your hands full with much more mundane goals in the early game and only as you explored and progressed further, did it become apparent that there might in fact be a way to bring down the barrier.
Gothic 2 was initially a pretty huge disappointment to me because Xardas tells you literally 30 seconds into the game that you need to find the Eye of Innos and kill all the dragons.
I found that pretty underwhelming to find out about the end goals right from the start but as you said it might be a matter of taste.
Some people may prefer when they have clear goals to work towards from the beginning. Me, I'm more of an explorer and I prefer to slowly learn about the world, its inhabitants and uncover the intermediate and ultimate goals piece by piece.
Also, quests were fine in both R2 and R3? I don't remember them being bad, anyway.
I thought they were very mediocre on a whole. Honestly, I can not remember a single really memorable quest from both games.
The simple quests in R2 and R3 were a far cry from the quests e.g. in G2 Gold where you had Khorinis as this small bustling microcosm and where many quests had multiple solutions, actual choices & consequences or were intertwined even across chapters (it made sense to revisit many NPCs throughout the course of the game).
The quests in R2 and R3 were usually one shot affairs due to the island design. You basically finished an island, chalked it off and went on to finish the next one. The quests mostly had one solution, practically no consequences at all and there was effectively no relations between the NPCs, let alone between islands.
Of course, the simpler quests are easier for PB to manage, write, develop, keep polished and bug-free etc., but as a player, I would have liked to see them expand
on their strengths (G2 Gold and the tight network of quests across Khorinis) instead of making bigger games with less complexity.
I'm not quite sure what to think after watching that. I love the variety in the environment, but it still looks like a Beta in some aspects. I saw foliage clipping through solid objects several times, and the combat doesn't look very fluid at all.
I think the worst thing to me though is the UI. My god that's ugly.
Yes, definitely. Well, there is still time until September and I'm sure they are doing this LP this early to collect as much feedback as possible to make some last minute adjustments where needed (and feasible).
However, just as with Bethesda and Creation, I believe the time has more than come to put this old horse of an engine to rest. It is beginning to overstay its welcome and, except for subpar animations, is still suffering from the same old issues as always (e.g. the vertical gameplay here
where the monsters are trying to come up the stairs and failing hard).