I don't think combat has changed all that much. The story is completely different and new things added like VooDoo, but combat looks pretty much the same. Still I would give it a shot if you have the time.
And it has guns. Pirate-era guns.
Take one for the team and get eeeeeeeeeeeeeet. I blew my months' allowance for games on Steam to get it, even with its ridiculous price.
[Edited by Skyheart, 4/11/2012 1:04:19 PM]
I second this motion. If the two of us unanimously agree on a game being awesome, then it is a potential fire hazard if consumed in large doses due to awesomeness.
In retrospect, I did go back through Gothic 3 a bit earlier this year - and for all intents and purposes, the combat in the first Risen was a carryover from it. I'd honestly say it was the weakest aspect, and is (as I see it) a result of action-RPGs doing away with minimalist combat in the intervening years - so with a game released in 2009, it just seemed lazy/bland to most.
Combat this time around, though... Hoo boy, it looks very interesting, to say the least. For anyone who is new to Gothic/Risen, I'd say the best comparison with the swordplay is something like The Witcher's (first game) time based style, but with emphasis on using the freedom of no locked in target to put the focus on very, very deliberate choices in how and when you attack and block.
Basically, I've found it most helpful for people newer to Piranha Bytes games to compare the melee combat to a combo system in any other third person ARPG. Get in two blows, block to keep the combo, get in one hit, block next two opponents, shift to another and get in three good hits, etc. It's more about keeping your fluidity going than an actual combo.
Anyhoo, the actual interesting part that's different... (all that was just some fanwank/newbie help) Well, you get a combat parrot! A weaponized Semi-Autonomous Guided Ballistic Avian Mark I. I really like where they're taking the whole pirate thing, actually. The additions of flintlocks and parrots bodes quite well for the suitably pirate-y "pragmatic" fighting style this time around. Having your own pirate ship and being able to have one of the NPCs on its crew out with you as a shore party looks to change things up quite nicely as well. (Only ever one NPC at a time, though you can have several that can act as your lone companion as part of your ship's crew at once)