THE WITCHER III : WILD HUNT
Publisher Bandai Namco Developer CD Projekt Red Format PC, PS4, Xbox One Release February 24
The Witcher series has always had woman trouble. In the first game, Geralt collected a card for each of his sexual conquests. The Witcher
2’ s Triss was a CG centrefold in Polish Playboy, and teams at CD Projekt’s Warsaw HQ work under giant wall-hung prints of that issue’s cover. The Witcher III:
Wild Hunt was E3’s game of the show for many, but the same old problems remain. When Geralt Of Rivia rides on horseback into the bustling city of Novigrad, the first female voice we hear is that of a passerby. “You look sweaty. Fancy sweating on me?”
The ultimate objective of the lengthy quest that forms CD Projekt’s behind-closed-doors demo is an ashen-haired girl who, we will find out in close-up later on, has a nice bottom. Along the way, we meet three mystical women whose faces are covered by burlap sacks and are called Crones. This is the most beautiful and ambitious game CD Projekt has made yet, but the studio is lucky that Ubisoft’s showfloor gaffes hoovered up all the accusations of misogyny.
The game’s problems extend beyond the thematic. This 40-minute demo contains what is presented as a single example of CD Projekt’s new quest system but is in fact three traditional ones stitched end to end. After meeting an informant, we set out into swampland in search of a Godling – an endangered, boyish humanoid creature – who we’re told may be able to help. After clearing out a settlement of bandits (its sole inhabitant a woman who coquettishly invites us back for some tea later on) we find that he can, but he’s lost his voice, so we get it back by killing some harpies who are keeping it in a jar. He directs us to the Crones, who won’t speak to us until we’ve collected a debt from the alderman of a nearby village. He, in turn, needs help: some local evil force has been picking off villagers. We assist – first killing a werewolf, then an evil spirit that has possessed a tree – then collect the debt, return to the Crones, marvel at their dreadful Welsh accents and, at last, find the girl. Life in the Witcher III is an endless procession of trade and barter in which all we have to offer is death and a willingness to travel.
Swordplay has, at least, been much improved. It’s slowpaced, deliberate and fluidly animated, but Geralt’s arsenal of spells are clearly more powerful than either his steel or silver blades. It’s a fine-looking game, too, but nowhere near as fine as the new trailer shown at the demo’s end suggests. A delay to February means there’s still time to sort that out, but we suspect it’s already too late for the women.
More sex and stabbing than spells ’n’ elves, The
Witcher is a hardboiled take on high fantasy in the style of Conan The Barbarian, setting it apart from DragonAge, despite their similarities when viewed from afar