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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Preview

Jonathan_Leack By:
M Contains Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Alcohol

What do these ratings mean?

My sword is bigger than your sword.

Following the release of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Polish development studio CD Projekt RED immediately went to work on a sequel. It already proved it can make a mature RPG that tosses in everything fans of the genre look for, but the developer wasn’t satisfied. It knew that a new lineup of hardware was coming and sought to push its new IP to the limits.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt's main goal is to have even more grandeur than its predecessor, which is no easy task. One way it seeks to accomplish this is with one of the most remarkably large worlds in video gaming. For comparison’s sake, it’s 30 times larger than The Witcher 2. It’s so massive, in fact, that boat travel will play an important role. It’s new to the series and highlights the impressive detail of the world while simultaneously providing a sense of adventure. But traveling on a boat isn’t always a bright idea. Storms swoop in that can flip your boat and leave the game’s protagonist, Geralt, dead in the water. As such, you’ll need to pay attention to the skies where weather is forecast.

Unsurprisingly, The Witcher 3 is a gorgeous game. You can even go as far as to say it’s one of the three best-looking games shown at E3. During action, the game’s attention to detail is noticeable immediately; enemies hit with fire burn into cinders and sparks leave the foliage below them aflame. One section of the demonstration placed Geralt at a campfire where the time around him passed at a quick pace. The game’s new weather effects and dynamic lighting were nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Although this is the third installment in the series, newcomers will feel right at home. The story is self-sufficient in order to make it appealing to everyone. However, this is a mature game. Those who are turned off by nudity and gore need not apply. That said, such themes aren’t very common in the RPG sphere -- the game invokes an allure that is similar to the blockbuster T.V. series Game of Thrones.

Combat has been refined since the last time you saw The Witcher. Dodging, attacking, and using Geralt’s toolkit of spells and items is much more streamlined. Furthermore, battles between man and foe are thoroughly engaging. You’ll find that quick reflexes lead to opportunities to dismantle and destroy those in your way.  

Combat wouldn’t be much fun without interesting enemies, and thankfully, The Witcher 3 has dozens of them. There are said to be over 80 different monster types, all ranging in technique. During the E3 demonstration one particular monster was shown who had several interesting mechanics. For one, he charges the player causing brutal damage, so being quick to dodge is critical to surviving his assaults. He also has an ability that inflicts you with limited vision. At that point, visually locating the enemy is a challenge, so using the shield spell for protection and treading lightly is the best option.
The biggest point made by CD Project RED in regards to combat and enemies is that there are no bosses in The Witcher 3. Instead, each enemy has had substantial development time invested to ensure that all engagements are interesting. You’ll regularly find yourself in challenging circumstances that summon the champion within you.

There are many choices to make during dialogue exchanges, many of which have ramifications on the story. Actions you make early on will have noticeable consequences hours later. For example, aiding an NPC will lead to his or her appearance later in the story. You’ll constantly be reminded that your impact on the epic narrative is important. Considering the game is expected to contain over 100 hours of content, it’s got a lot to keep you interested, too.

CD Projekt RED knows this is an opportunity to have a prominent role in the first year of the next generation. Western RPGs have become extremely popular over the last decade and The Witcher 3 could be the game that takes the genre to the next level. Just make sure you’re ready for one heck of a ride before you sign up, when it releases in 2014 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
More GR previews for this game:
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt preview posted on 06/16/14.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt preview posted on 01/22/15.

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