Reviewed by Alex
Playtime: 150 hours
From June to September 2015
Witcher 2 was a great game with some weird bugs and gameplay systems. Lot of people quit right at the start because of confusing game design and awkward controls. If you stuck through it like I did, you were introduced to one of the most beautiful and engaging RPG’s in a long time. Think a mix between Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings. A harsh war-torn world, inhabited by different factions each fighting to survive. You are a Witcher, a legendary one, Geralt of Rivia, a Ranger/Alchemist type character with certain magic abilities. Having finished the second one (40-50 hour play-through) you could only wish it was an open world game. But how could they? A medium sized Polish developper with two games under their belt. How could they compete with the giants like Bethesda and Bioware?
When Witcher 3 was announced, the developper’s ambitions were clear, they were going all out.
Full open world, larger than any other game before it. Best graphics in the industry. Dynamic mission systems and conversation systems. Multiple endings, 200 hours of content. Swimming, boating, dynamic weather, and full day/night cycles. The most ambitious list of features I’ve ever witnessed. How did they fare?
Story is pretty basic this time around, that’s a great thing since it keeps the focus tight. You’re basically searching for someone, trying to find her before the bad-guys do. If the baddies get a hold of her, it’s the end of the world. Pretty basic right? Yes and no. The politics and events surrounding everything are world class, second to none in their quality. Let’s just say no game has ever kept me looped-in for 150 hours before. Not even close in fact. This game doesn’t rush things, no quests are boring, the voice work is absolutely incredible, every cut-scene is meticulously animated and nuanced. Simply put, Witcher 3 is the new benchmark in open world story-telling. Bethesda and Bioware have their work cut out for them.
Graphics and Sound
CD Project RED (the developer) like to push graphics to the edge of what’s possible, and never has this been more true than in the Witcher 3. The tech at work here is staggering. This is the first true next generation RPG, it’s the new benchmark.
There are no loading times between caves and houses, making the entire world flow and breathe beautifully. Wind blows in the trees, cities are fully populated and feel alive. Countrysides, Mountains, Swamps, Caves, Forests all look perfect. Monster variety is huge, bosses are menacing, NPC’s are fully detailed and speak their lines and animate perfectly. The lighting is the real king here, the day/night cycle and dynamic weather system is off the charts beautiful. The comic-book style interludes and story refreshers all look incredible as well.
The game also sounds great, but some songs come back a bit too often and tend to not match the scene (talking about you Gwent song!). The voice work and the sound effects are all super top notch though.
Witcher 2’s main grippes were all gameplay based. They fixed 95% that stuff. No more QTE’s, Geralt now chooses the correct sword for the situation. Potions can now be used on the fly. The Map system is greatly improved, and tells you what route to take. The inventory system management is also very good. There are however a few things that would need tuning:
- The movement system is a bit off.
- The load times when dying are 1-2 minutes long.
- Sword hits don’t seem to register physically all the time.
- Crossbows don’t do enough damage and are almost useless
- Fall damage is inconsistent and can easily result in death
- Crafting system is greatly improved, but still a bit off.
- After the second set of upgrades, your abilities don’t change much at all.
Other these couple of things, the gameplay shines. The in-game card game called GWENT is worth mentioning as it is without a doubt the best side game in videogame history. The investigative stuff is super top-level, and is never cheap or boring. That’s saying a lot for a 150 hour play-through. A lot indeed.
Witcher 3 is a genre defining game, one of the best games I’ve ever played. It’s up there with Baldur’s Gate 2, Skyrim, Link to the Past, in terms of the best RPG of all time.