So, in-between poking at mobile games and playing Smite in my free time, I’ve been playing The Witcher 3. While the game launched a few weeks ago, I’ve only found myself just over 5-hours into the game. I just killed the griffin. Yeah, I know, I’m still not very far yet. But I have my reasons!
You see, I have the bad habit of wanting to explore everything. In games as rich and dense as The Witcher 3 is, I get distracted very easily. Like a kid in a toy store, I see one thing that catches my attention and halfway there I see another thing that catches my attention and so I shift directions to head for the new thing instead, and so on and so on. This makes progressing through open-world games a much longer experience for me than it is for people who methodically stick to the quests. But for me, a large part of the fun is the exploration, rather than unraveling a plot.
And that, boys and girls, is why after five hours and twenty minutes of playing The Witcher 3, I’ve only just slain the griffin that was terrorizing the starter zone.
So since it’d be silly to review a 50+ hour game after just 5 hours, I’ve decided to put together some micro-reviews of certain aspects of the game I’ve encountered thus far.
My name is Geralt de Rivia, now watch my hair blow in the wind.
One of the hot topics surrounding The Witcher 3 is the game’s visual presentation. Saying anything but a synonym for “impressive” is just a lie. There is no doubt that The Witcher 3 may be one of the best looking video games to release this year. It is gorgeous.
A problem flared up in that the developers showed a previous version of The Witcher 3 that had better looking visuals than what ended up in the game. There are countless examples floating around online, comparing the preview and launch versions of the game (here’s a random one I found on YouTube). It’s absolutely clear that The Witcher 3’s launch version was graphically downgraded.
But does that bother me? No.
The Witcher 3 still looks amazing. The way the sun comes through the trees and the rest of the environment is always spectacular. Then you have the plants (and hair!) blowing in the wind…it’s all just glorious.
A game is going to change as it is developed. Over time mechanics may change, the story may change, and certainly the graphics will change. Maybe what CD Projekt Red was running in the preview version ended up being too much for consoles to handle. Maybe something conflicted with the highly-touted NVIDIA Gameworks stuff. I can only guess.
At the end of the day, The Witcher 3 looks amazing, and that’s all that matters.
It’s Not About Putting On A Show, It’s About Getting The Job Done
Initially, I was disappointed that Geralt’s sign abilities were not that flashy. The fire ability, Igni, is pretty much a small handful of burning embers, when I was hoping for a channeled blast of pyrokinetic energy.
But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Geralt, and Witchers, are not meant to be super heroes. They’re not meant to swoop in, save the village, and high-five all the kids on the way out. They are humans with modified genetics who happen to be well-versed in the art of slaying monsters. They don’t do it for the betterment of the world, they do it because it’s how they keep from starving.
Witchers are the medieval equivalent to a modern-day pest control worker. Bob from ABC Pest Control doesn’t care that there is a giant rat in your basement, but if you pay him, he’ll come out and get rid of it for you. The same is true with Witchers and things like ghouls, beasts, and wraiths.
The fact that CD Projekt Red elected to reduce the magical potential of Geralt, shows that they want the player to focus more on the humanity of The Witchers, than the flashy-ness of their jobs.
“This world doesn’t need a hero,” Geralt said in the game’s TV Spot (below), “it needs a professional.”
Killing Monsters Isn’t Easy
I currently have a love-hate relationship with The Witcher 3’s combat. I love how it *encourages* me to prepare for monster fights by doing an assortment of preparations, without straight-up forcing me to. I think it’s neat that when you take a contract to kill a monster, you can open up your little “How To Witcher For Dummies” book and look at the best ways to kill the particular monster in question.
By taking a few moments to look up the best way to handle a monster, heading to the town and sharpening your weapons and repairing your armor, and crafting some potions, you’re putting yourself at a major advantage over someone who just takes the contract to kill a monster, hops on their horse, and rides out into the middle of the spooky forest.
I think the whole preparation aspect of The Witcher 3 really helps to drive home the fact that Geralt is a professional. Killing monsters is just part of the job and the Witchers have it down to a science. That’s super cool.
My problem with the combat came in that, even prepared, it’s really tough.
I spend about three-quarters of the fight just rolling around, dodging. The combat doesn’t really feel fluid, I am just dodging around until I can blast the monster with some magic and then poke at it a couple of times with my sword, before I have to go back to dodging. If I get greedy and try to really pummel the enemy, I risk it counter-attacking me, and Geralt isn’t the most sturdy of video game characters. Monsters can kill you in about 4-5 good hits, so it is critical to avoid their strikes as much as possible.
Granted, I still have a lot to learn (and improve on) when it comes to fighting in The Witcher 3, but currently, my combat experience has been my least favorite aspect of the game so far.
So there you go, some opening thoughts on The Witcher 3. I expect to do a few more Thoughtbits on the game as I progress further and further into it.
Until next time, happy hunting, witchers.