WE CHECK OUT THE WITCHER 3: WILD HUNT

GAM­ING PRE­VIEW BY PETER NELIS

TekSavvy Insider - - Front Page -

De­spite the fact that Bethesda’s The El­der Scrolls se­ries holds the bulk of the mar­ket share when it comes to huge, sprawl­ing open world ac­tion RPGs, there’s al­ways been a re­mark­ably am­bi­tious pre­tender to the throne in the guise of Pol­ish stu­dio CD Pro­jekt Red’s The Witcher se­ries.

The de­but Witcher ti­tle may have been a lit­tle limited in its ex­e­cu­tion, but fol­low up, The Witcher 2: As­sas­sins of Kings el­e­vated the brand to a true Skyrimkiller sta­tus, build­ing upon pretty much ev­ery me­chanic in the orig­i­nal in a mas­sive way, adding in a slew of re­fine­ments, and broad­en­ing the scope of the ex­pe­ri­ence in just about ev­ery way imag­in­able. It may not have had the fi­nan­cial back­ing of its main com­peti­tor, but for my money it was a vastly su­pe­rior game. The main rea­son for that is the way CD Pro­jekt Red deals with moral­ity within their games. While most ti­tles opt for a black and white ap­proach ( you know the sort, that in­cred­i­bly sim­plis­tic bi­nary “good vs. bad” sys­tem that rarely works as in­tended, and tele­graphs the out­come of your de­ci­sions far in ad­vance), The Witcher in­stead oc­cu­pies con­stant grey ter­ri­tory, and

it’s all the bet­ter for it. This lack of a plain right or wrong means that play­ers are free to ex­plore the world and do as they feel nec­es­sary in a way that feels far more or­ganic than any­thing else in the genre. It also al­lows for far more au­then­tic in­ter­ac­tions with the non- playable char­ac­ters that add so much to the over­all ex­pe­ri­ence, thanks to some supreme nar­ra­tive dis­plays drawing from The Witcher lit­er­ary se­ries by writer An­drzej Sap­kowski. Although the games have now moved well be­yond their ini­tial source ma­te­rial they stay true to the in­ten­tions of the writ­ten se­ries, so play­ers shouldn’t ex­pect to see any ma­jor de­vi­a­tions in the way pro­tag­o­nist Ger­alt of Rivia be­haves or tack­les his tasks. That’s not to say that there aren’t some pretty ma­jor im­prove­ments to be ex­pected in Wild Hunt, though, but rather that you prob­a­bly shouldn’t ex­pect to see Ger­alt run­ning around with new pri­mary weapons - it’s long been es­tab­lished that his sil­ver and steel swords are his main­stay, and CD Pro­jekt Red aren’t about to sac­ri­fice that in the

name of evo­lu­tion. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’s com­bat has seen sig­nif­i­cant changes, though, and they’re shap­ing up to make it the most ac­tion- friendly in­stall­ment in the se­ries to date, and a fit­ting cul­mi­na­tion to Ger­alt’s story. Re­al­ism plays a key part to the over­all com­bat aes­thetic here, with player im­mer­sion just as im­por­tant, and for that rea­son the de­ci­sion has been taken to en­sure that play­ers aren’t taken out­side the com­bat me­chan­ics for fin­ish­ing move cutscenes as they were in the past - ev­ery­thing is choreographed within the main com­bat en­gine, en­sur­ing a much more fi­nessed ex­pe­ri­ence over­all. To that end, quick time events have also been re­moved from the equa­tion. For so long the bane of gamers’ game­play en­joy­ment, the QTE model is an­ti­quated and has lit­tle place in mod­ern ac­tion games, save for very rare oc­ca­sions where they can add a level of ac­cept­able sim­plic­ity to more com­plex set

pieces, so I’m thor­oughly happy we won’t have to en­dure any dur­ing my Wild Hunt ex­pe­ri­ence! An­other wel­come change is the ad­di­tion of new parry moves, coun­ters and dodges, al­low­ing for a much more fluid com­bat ex­pe­ri­ence than we’ve seen be­fore in the se­ries, with de­fen­sive ma­noeu­vres now play­ing a key part over­all, much in the same way as we’ve seen in Rock­steady’s Arkham ti­tles. Wild Hunt will be about more than just com­bat, though, and it’s set to boast a game world larger even than that found in Skyrim, with an es­ti­mated 50- hour long story sup­ple­mented by an ad­di­tional 50 hours of op­tional side quests. Given the siz­able na­ture of Wild Hunt, the game im­ple­ments a fast travel sys­tem to save play­ers end­less treks across the wilder­ness - how­ever the na­ture of the genre means that those who are will­ing to put in the leg work will be greatly re­warded with hid­den ar­eas and new dis­cov­er­ies that’ll add even more time to game­play. Thank­fully, the temp­ta­tion to im­ple­ment any sort of mul­ti­player mode in the game has been re­sisted, and Wild Hunt is a solely sin­gle player en­deav­our. While some may feel that the new com­bat me­chan­ics and in­creased scope of the world would have been a fine bed­fel­low for a mul­ti­player ex­pe­ri­ence, the de­vel­op­ers didn’t want to di­lute the es­tab­lished game­play to fo­cus on some­thing that has, so far, not fea­tured in the se­ries, and that’s a move that I’m happy to ac­cept. Such is CD Pro­jekt Red’s ded­i­ca­tion to mak­ing sure that the game is as close to per­fect as it can pos­si­bly be when it launches, the game has al­ready been de­layed sev­eral times to al­low for ad­di­tional tweak­ing of core me­chan­ics - and all go­ing well, the cur­rent ex­pected launch date of May 19th will re­main firm on PC, Xbox One and PlaySta­tion 4. All go­ing well, it could prove to be a ma­jor mile­stone for the genre, and one of the best ac­tion RPG ti­tles we’ve seen to date.

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