|System: PS4, Xbox One, PC|
|Dev: CD Projekt RED|
|Pub: WB Games|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
We first saw The Witcher 3 at E3 2013 where we were shown a lot of what the game has to offer. We were shown the games huge open world, its real time day system that changes as the sun rises and sets, it’s procedurally generated weather, its travel system, its tracking system, and its open sidequesting. CD Projekt would have to do a lot to top their performance from last year. So what did this year’s The Witcher 3 preview have to show us?
Well a lot of the focus of previews this year was placed on showing of what it’s like to actually complete quests in the game world. For example, we were taken to the city of Novigrad where Geralt, our white haired Witcher protagonist, was going to deliver the head of a recently slain Gryphon. You might notice that the Gryphon head looks familiar. Yes, it’s the same Gryphon that Geralt slayed in the press conference trailer. You didn’t think that you would kill a gryphon and the quest would be over did you?
So you bring the head to the guy who gave you the job, some slob in a bar. Geralt then exchanges the head for information on where to find a key character. It was noted that you will be able to turn your jobs in for a variety of different things in The Witcher 3. You can, for example, turn it in for gold or loot, or if you prize info or connections you can gain those as well. It’s not just a simple “pop the quest, get a reward” system.
Geralt then traveled into a swamp where he had to rescue a boy from some harpies. Let me tell you, nothing in this game looks… nice. You’d think harpies would be, I don’t know, somewhat easy on the eyes, but nope. They look like mangled scavengers. Everything looks dark, diseased, and mangy, which I suppose is about accurate for a medieval themed game.
Unfortunately, a lot of what was shown next kind of mirrored what we already saw. Geralt talked to a variety of different NPCs, killed some monsters, went to another town, killed some more monsters, and talked to some more NPCs. Don’t get us wrong, slaying treants and werewolves and gryphons and such is cool and all, but we basically saw that in the E3 2013 preview.
Once again it was shown that choice is a very important thing. Geralt can basically flat out choose to walk away from any quest that he has taken. He can choose to stab people who betray him, or manipulate them. He can choose to simply act as a machine of murder, killing every monster around him, or he can hold himself back and learn which creatures are more important to which people. Depending on who you side with, you will get completely different quests and the story will change dramatically.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much more to say about The Witcher 3, and that’s what disturbs me. The game feels like it hasn’t evolved from E3 2013. In fact, it feels a bit like it took a step back. The hands-off demo was really just a sequence of events that you would probably be used to in any RPG. It was a string of fetch quests leading you to speak to a person, kill a thing, and then speak to another person before killing another thing. Sure, that looks fun, and it certainly looked awesome when Geralt was tracking and killing monsters in 2013, but this year it just looked… tedious. I didn’t particularly care about what Geralt was doing. I wanted to see him using the information of his enemies against them again, or gaining powerful intel from the people he talked to. Here, the people he talked to seemed like little more than waypoints.
I’m honestly very torn about my opinions on The Witcher 3 this year. Last year it was one of my picks of the show, a huge and innovative RPG that looked like it would outshine all others. This year, it just looks like more of the same. While the world has gotten prettier and bigger, the action doesn’t feel compelling. Granted, all of this is said without a frame of reference for the game’s story. Maybe all of this will make more sense when you get to play more than a short 15 minute stretch of a quest. But for now… I guess I have to say that E3 2014 made me more skeptical about The Witcher 3 than I had been before.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: August 8, 2014