Greetings Everyone! The Witcher video game franchise was always one that intrigued me. It puts forth that “old world” fantasy darkness that was often lost in translation when such stories crossed the pond. I remember following the development progress of the first installment and getting excited as more screenshots, gameplay videos and plot information surfaced. That being said, for one reason or another, when October 2007 rolled around the release passed me by completely. Now that I think about it, that was probably during the thick of my World of Warcraft days....so maybe...yeah...For The Horde!
I wasn't completely blind to its success though. The reviews always seemed to be positive, with the slight caveat of having a combat system that “takes some time to get used to.” The soundtrack was supposed to be great. The graphics (for the time) were supposed to be great. The story was supposed to be amazing. It even wound up winning awards along the way. There really wasn't much to dissuade a person from wanting to play the game. The experience still proved elusive to me, though as the years passed and the release of the second installment came and went as well.
With still a few months before the release date, I made the decision that if I was going to play The Witcher III: Wild Hunt (Skyrim II as Greggles calls it), I should do it right. With the story being so important and continuing on from release to release, I wanted to play the games in order before diving into Wild Hunt. I had the first and second games on my Steam account from either a Humble Bundle or random Steam Sale, so I had no reason not to. No better place to start than the beginning, right?
Now with this being CD Projekt RED's first release, I knew that not everything was going to be perfect, but with an average score of around 85% there shouldn't be anything really jarring either. Well, things have been interesting so far. As of writing this article, I am in the beginning of the third act (out of five) with about 22 hours invested. What was supposed to be an enjoyable experience has become an exercise in patience and forgiveness for past sins. I made sure to take notes while playing, so the following is more or less unfiltered reactions. So lets get started!
- The game starts with a movie, entertaining and sets mood, but perhaps a bit long. Explains an event taking place before the game and showcases Geralt's abilities.
- The camera is hard to get used to, does not auto rotate appropriately in top down isometric view. There needs to be a combination of "behind the shoulder" view and top down fixed camera with a mouse look.
- The rhythm combat while easy enough to follow get tedious/boring fast. It "seems" that as along as I link attacks I take no damage, when in reality I am just not showing any animations of getting hit. Stat/dice rolls done behind the scenes.
- The game gives quests that you can't access yet (crypt to kill ghouls, crypt locked). This causes you to run all over the place. I tried to turn in a bounty board ghoul quest and the npc is missing even though the map marker says he is in the inn.
- I know its the first chapter, but it gives the illusion of an open world/sandbox game. I can see across the field but there is a fence lining either side of the road.
- I do like the monster design so far and the story of a plague popping up and a secret religious society/group is intriguing.
- I really don't like giving up on games, but regardless of how good they say the story is, these issues are major for me and deal breakers.
- If I hit escape to go through all of the start-up load screens the mouse disappears.
- The game tries to be a hybrid but should have just stuck to one end of the spectrum or the other. (In retrospect of this comment, this is how new genres/breakthroughs are made and should still be attempted)
- I almost uninstalled the game, but I watched the official plot summary of the game and clicked through some of a fan based play through/cut scene movie collection. I decided to give it one more shot, wanting to play through the events described. I am having a lot more fun now.
- The story is full of twists and turns, trying to find out why the Salamandra is after you and the mage that leads them. Very interesting, pulls you in, but does have you doing a lot of running around.
- Great atmosphere, music, environment. You can sense the uneasiness, mistrust and political unrest between those of different and the same race.
- Combat start is broken. Whenever a cut-scene happens and combat starts, the camera automatically positions itself on the side of you looking at your character's profile while the enemies close in on you.
- Being drunk is horrible....
- Lots of running around, but when all of the story lines come together and are explained it pays off BIG time.
- The game has crashed on me two nights in a row. Many times.
- I've gotten use to the combat system but still find it limiting - gotta click on the targets instead of attacking an area. This creates issues when in crowds of enemies.
Right now, I have been taking a break to play an old favorite of mine to just enjoy gaming for the sake of gaming – Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness! I found a site dedicated to “abandonware,” and by utilizing DOSBox I've been able to run it seamlessly. On top of that, I have been catching up on some comics as well - the entire Infinity crossover event (including all of the tie-ins). Of course this is all just “research” for future articles...serious business. Check back in for my coverage of last Friday's Maryland Deathfest main stage performances as well as this weekend's AWESOMECON!!!