The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is almost upon us! Can you hear it? That’s the collective sound of millions of players chomping at the bit to get their hands on this bad boy. We here at the RPG Files are already basking in the deep, warm waters of pre-release excitement and think you should be too, so we’re dedicating this column to the reasons why you’re right to be excited. Read on and see if yours made the list!
1. It’s Game of Thrones Meets Skyrim
If you’ve never played a Witcher game, the best way to describe it is Game of Thrones meets Skyrim. The world of The Witcher isn’t pretty and CD Projekt Red has taken a distinctly grittier tone with the series than Bethesda has taken with The Elder Scrolls. People eek by, poverty is everywhere – unless you’re rich or villainous. Drug use, sex, violence, public executions and bodies in trees, grisly decapitations and spurting amputations – these are the hallmarks of The Witcher, a distinctly more mature fantasy game than you may be used to.
2. The Reviews are Coming In and They’re Good. Very Good.
While we’re still waiting on PC reviews to filter in, the buzz on the console versions is very, very good. Right now, the PS4 version has scored 92 out of 100 on Metacritic with 28 critic reviews factoring in as of this writing. That’s universal acclaim territory. Love it or hate it, Metacritic is a good indicator of critical impressions. By that alone, RPG players should be excited to see Wild Hunt for themselves.
3. Character Advancement Has Been Expanded
Players will have more control over Geralt’s advancement than in any Witcher game previous, which is saying something considering how much freedom players had in the last game. Now, you won’t suddenly be polymorphing enemies into sheep or become a silly villainous necromancer, but magic powers are much deeper than they’ve ever been. You’ll have to make trade-offs to invest in magic, but, if you do, Geralt will be a more apt spellslinger than we’ve ever seen him. Preparing for fights has also been creating potions for buffs has also been made much more intuitive.
4. Combat Has Been Refined from The Witcher 2
Like spell casting, combat has also been reworked since The Witcher 2. Gone are the days of dodge-rolling from everything. Now, you’ll do a lot more side-stepping to keep your endurance up during fights. Everything is snappier and more reactive, plus the animations have been honed to a grisly, blood spurting point. Combat looks and, we hope, feels better than ever before.
5. The World is Massive and Completely Open
Most players already know about this, so I won’t belabor the point, but for the first time in the series you won’t be hampered by a linear path. Instead, you’ll be free to explore to your heart’s content – if you can survive the journey. Word has it that the side content isn’t dragged down by too many fetch quests or escort missions, even if there are a few. Instead, CD Projekt Red has managed to make an incredibly large world feel purposeful and rich with story. That’s a feat if it pans out for the whole 200 hours.
There’s also a full day/night cycle and dynamic weather which NPCs react to. According to a preview by GameRanx, a Viking ship might leave on a sunny day and rush back to port when the storm blows in. If it’s been raining for several days, they might hold down in the local tavern. That same level of AI should apply to other NPCs too!
6. There is Sailing and Sea Creatures
Sometimes you just want to get in a boat and sail. Well, in The Witcher 3 you can do just that! Just be careful because you won’t be alone on the ocean! Boats also take realistic damage, so watch out a tentacle doesn’t break you in two or a strong gust wash you up on the rocks.
7. A Ridiculous Amount of Hours
Early reports peg this game at 200 hours to completely finish. That’s a lot of gameplay! The campaign will be much less than that (and better for it!), but early players are reporting that the open world content is where the game truly shines. That’s beyond impressive. Most games fall down on repetitive open world content, The Witcher 3 thrives on it.
8. Decisions Matter, a Ridiculous Amount of Endings
The Witcher 2 impressed gamers everywhere with the amount of influence players had over their story. Decisions opened and closed gameplay paths, empowering the player to forge their own tell in CDPR’s wider story arc. The same holds true here and leads to an incredible 36 possible endings.
9. It Plays Heavily on the Books
If you’re a reader, you’re in for a treat. Now that Geralt has his memory back, there are more ties than ever to the series of novels that inspired the games. You don’t have to read the books, of course, but doing so promises to enrich the experience more than anything else you could do to prepare and enrich your time with the game. Don’t know where to start? Pick up The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski. It’s the first book in the series and is filled with loosely connected short stories related to classic fairy tales.
10. You Can Actually Play as a Witcher
Amidst all of your campaigning, it’s easy to forget that Geralt actually has to make a living! That is, until you make a stop by some of the game’s storefronts. The economy is built around Geralt taking up monster-slaying contracts that not only provide money but also the experience to build up your skills as a witcher. Contract monsters are more than just your run of the mill Drowners, so you’ll want to be prepared with potions and quick reflexes!
While we’re on the topic of The Witcher, you’ll be pleased to know that CD Projekt Red announced this week that the game has garnered an impressive 1 million pre-orders! While I’m cheering, I’m also cringing at the fact that so many people are still pre-ordering their games. Pre-loading has also begun.
Is Guillermo Del Toro making a cinematic trailer for Fallout 4? According to a LinkedIn profile from a contract worker, that may be the case. On the other hand, that probably means Fallout 4 will wind up cancelled, so maybe we shouldn’t get excited.
The Division has suffered yet another delay, this time pushing it back to 2016. This comes hot on the heels of last week’s announcement that two new studios were coming on to help develop the game. At this point, it’s safe to say there is something terribly wrong with the Division. I applaud that they’re keeping it under wraps until it’s ready to go, but at the same time am terrified we’ll have another Watch Dogs on our hands.
In RPG-inspired land, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate was unveiled. Try as I may, I can’t get excited for this game. Yes, it’s London and yes there are guns (yawn), and heck, there’s even a Batman style grappling hook, but under the surface all I’m seeing is “same old, same old.” AC is a wonderful series that desperately needs a break. Fingers crossed this is the game that makes us forget Unity.
Finally, Chroma Squad, a video game love letter to the Power Rangers, released and is quite good! Read our review, then go check it out for yourself. Just don’t expect a gritty reboot.
That’s all for this week. Let us know what you think in the comments below!