The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Preview
I don’t know about you, but I always have a tough time getting through E3 without squealing with glee at the thought of so much gaming goodness coming in the next year. The bigger the E3, the bigger the squeal, and this year I’ve almost gone hoarse. With so many amazing games on the horizon for both current and next gen, it’s tough to focus on favorites. However, everything shown about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt tickles me in a way that few games do.
The Witcher 3 continues the story of Geralt of Rivia, but thankfully this is a story that stands alone. While that may upset fans of the series that have been with it since the beginning, it’s a great move for next generation console owners who may have missed out on the console version of The Witcher 2, which was only released for the Xbox 360. Geralt’s struggle is against the Wild Hunt: a pack of ghostly riders that are commanded by four spectral generals.
While the story may not connect to the first two games as far as player decisions, CD Projekt Red promises a deep level of player choice within this tale, which will greatly alter the outcome. Geralt can take on much of the main quests in any order he sees fit, and many of these story threads can be completed in parallel to each other.
This freedom to the quest structure is surely a product of the vast open world that The Witcher 3 is set in. The area that Geralt can traverse is simply massive, easily dwarfing the real estate of the second game. Of course, “open world” can mean a lot of things to a lot of different gamers, and while it’s impossible to say at this time if The Witcher 3 will afford players the ability to explore in the way that Skyrim did, the trailer is quite impressive. Whether on foot, by horse, or by boat, Geralt is shown covering a lot of unique ground. If CD Projekt Red can truly deliver on this open world and succeeds in populating it with interesting things to do, this could very well be the game to set the standard for next generation RPGs.
Exploring the world in The Witcher 3 should be delightful, as the game is gorgeous. I expected games to improve drastically in the graphics department as we move into the next generation, but I wasn’t expecting to be this impressed so soon. Considering how much landscape is in this game, and considering how much freedom the development team is promising to players, the attention to detail shown so far is amazing. Taking a cue from games like Far Cry 3, this game includes a robust amount of living details, such as animals stalking their prey, NPC characters going about their business (even in the wilderness), and massive towns packed to the brim with buildings and people.
The Witcher 2 got equal parts praise and criticism for its tough-to-pick-up battle system. Fans who mastered the combat were pleased with the skill involved in even the simplest of fights, but there were plenty of people who never reached that level of finesse. The battle system has been reworked from the ground up, but will still reward players for skillful use of all of Geralt’s abilities. At the same time, new tutorials will help ease new players into the combat. Time will tell how successful of an approach this will be, but so far the combat in the game looks great.
As a fan of deep fantasy lore and RPGs that really let me soak in the universe, The Witcher 3 seems like it was made just for me. There’s no release date for this massive game as of yet, but I’m willing to wait. If CD Projekt Red can deliver on only half of what they’ve promised, I think next gen console and PC owners are in for a very special adventure.