Something Less Wicked This Way Comes

By Alec Meer on February 18th, 2008 at 6:05 pm.

Crivens, this is unprecedented. Last year’s most divisive RPG, The Witcher, is to be re-released. But not just re-released in a shiny box and with extra smutty collector’s cards – re-made, almost. Loading times are to be cut by up to 80%, stability’s in for a-fixin’ and there are to be improvements in “interactivity and precision in combat.” Most fascinatingly for me – as it was the often painfully wobbly dialogue that most kept the game from my affections – its script and voiceovers are in for a near-complete overhaul.

“The English-language version will, for the most part, be completely re-done. The amount of text in that version was reduced compared to other language versions and that was said to cause a significant decrease in immersion and atmosphere. Now the English version will be as polished and atmospheric as the other language versions.”

That’s still not all. Bloody hell.

“Over 50 new supporting character models will be added, so that the player won’t run into the same person too often. The inventory panel will be re-designed and improved, and some elements of the main game screen will be polished. However, one of the biggest changes that will greatly increase the player’s immersion in the game world will be improvements concerning dialogue scenes. Both Geralt and non-player characters will get over 100 new animated gestures which will make their body language during conversations much more natural. Additionally, the facial animation and lip-sync system will be re-created, making the faces of the speakers now even more natural, as well.”

So that’s The Witcher 2.0 then, with almost everything anyone bitched about due for a tarting up. It’s a second chance to be the game its developers wanted it to be, it seems. That’s pretty incredible – certainly, I can’t think of any other game that’s been officially re-loved to this extent post-release.

The Witcher’s sold a truckload, truly one of last year’s sleeper hits. So I wonder. Is this Enhanced Edition aimed at those who haven’t yet played the game, or rather at those that have already sworn undying allegiance to it, and won’t hesitate to buy a second copy?

Update – the new content will be free to existing Witcher owners, it seems. Me gazes forlornly at my timed-out, unpatchable, mega-buggy review code.

It’s enough to get me interested in revisiting the thing, certainly – I really struggled to stomach the atmosphere-fracture of the clumsily-translated dialogue and cutscenes, but maybe this will cause the scales to fall from my eyes.

Whether new lines can make the unchecked misogyny any less risibly cheesy remains to be seen. Let’s hope so.

More info on The Witcher: Enhanced Edition in this cut out’n'keep PDF.

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113 Comments »

  1. The_B says:

    So Alec, will you be the man to review it again, or will you pass to one of your colleagues for fear of the internet hating you?

  2. ImperialCreed says:

    Er, is the linky to the PDF broken?

    I feel quite annoyed about this, it seems like a patent admission that they did a half-arsed job the first time round, sold it to you at full price anyway and now want you to shell out again for the experience that by rights should have been there in the first place….

    Any idea if current owners will be offered some form of free upgrade?

  3. suibhne says:

    @ImperialCreed: Given that CD Projekt is a genuinely indie developer, it strikes me as more of an admission that they didn’t have the resources to totally fulfill their vision the first time around – and that now, with the success of 600,000 copies in the bank, they’re re-investing some of that into accomplishing all of their goals rather than buying Maseratis. (Don’t miss the fact that it seems they’re taking it upon themselves to fix some of the localization problems that were actually caused by Atari.)

    This also seems like a significant investment into the community and the potential of the recently-released toolkit…and of course it’s a great opportunity to fix the basic tech and assets in preparation for the inevitable sequel.

  4. Jonathan says:

    Is this actually a proper release or will just be an uber patch/add-on?

    Still haven’t bought it yet because I’m waiting for a decent translation so either way I’ll probably get it.

    But seriously the dialogue can’t be as bad as Pathologic can it?

  5. SwiftRanger says:

    From RPGWatch who are quoting the PDF-file I guess:

    (http://www.thewitcher.com/resources/upload/img/news/2008/02/Enhanced Edition fact sheet.pdf):

    “For those who already own The Witcher, the new content will be available as a download”

    Gotta love these guys, demo really convinced me despite the blatant mistakes everyone knows by now but I hadn’t got the time to buy the game yet. I think the real dilemma now for me is; do I buy it now or wait for the enhanced version or should I perhaps go for the Collector’s Edition which only costs 10 euro more?

  6. feffrey says:

    I have the UK version and I was incredible surprised at how much better it is compared to the US version. I had figured that thy would have only cut the “adult” content for the US version, but was surprised by how much else was cut or screwed up.
    Will they update the UK version as well?
    The only problem I ever had with the game was the somewhat long loading times, around 45 seconds, but I never thought it was excessive.
    I am guessing that they might do a discount for people who have boughten Witcher the first time and can send in a proof of purchase.
    For UT2004 If you could send them a page of the game manual from UT2003, or a receipt of UT2003 they would send you a $10 off coupon for UT2004.

  7. feffrey says:

    an as i make my comment my question is answered lol

  8. ImperialCreed says:

    @suibhne: I suppose I should temper my annoyance somewhat – I did like the Witcher a bit, it felt shiny and slick and different, but the more I played it the more shoddy it started to feel. Perhaps the devs are manning up and trying to fix things and that’s good, but if they’re asking for full price again I think that’s a bit rich. Of course, we just don’t know yet.

    EDIT: Aha, a download eh? Free perhaps, or for a few quid? I was wrong then. That seems more appealing.

  9. Larington says:

    Its a funny thing with this one, I bought it, installed it, but *something* drove me to stop playing and uninstall it, but I couldn’t figure out what.
    Its been bugging the hell out of me such that I keep glancing at the box which is still sitting on my desk begging to be given a second chance (At least I haven’t put it away yet)…
    I certainly want to give it another go because I want to play the game, but this *something* is hitting my apathy chip and preventing me from doing the magic install thing.
    Shame, ‘cos I can tell lots of effort went into it, and by the sounds of it, even more is on the way.
    It reminds me of X3 which had a major patch available on the website on the release date of the game, that was impressive and worrying at the same time and as it turned out, that game hit my apathy chip as well, but this time I could figure out that the combat seemed less fun and the visibility restrictions in some sectors made navigation a chore.

  10. Yhancik says:

    About re-releases, Firefly is going to make a new version of Stronghold Crusader, subtly named Stronghold Crusader Extreme.
    The update is less spectacular than The Witcher’s one, but still sounds exciting (to me). Especially the 10000 units battles :D

  11. Rook says:

    Most people seem to suggest it’s free.

    I wonder if saves will be backwards compatible though, I only got to the second chapter before the Christmas break and have been too busy to pick it up again.

  12. Richard says:

    (shelves playthrough until it’s done)

  13. Funkula says:

    (convinces roommate to hold off on purchasing it)

  14. Turin Turambar says:

    Last year’s most divisive RPG?

    Everyone loved it except you. :P

  15. Ohle says:

    Yeah, if I can help it, Meer won’t review it. haha :)

  16. Pidesco says:

    Brilliantly awesome!

  17. Thelps says:

    Well well well. This is great news to me. The one major factor putting me off buying The Witcher was how much people complained about the combat and the dialogue (the two aspects that completely make or break an RPG for me, and most people, it seems). I won’t hesitate to pick up the enhanced version though, since there’ll apparently be far fewer barriers to immersion.

  18. Homunculus says:

    Crivens. Now that’s an unprecedented taking to heart of criticisms with an appropriate response, and very welcome news. If only all developers with rough diamond games had the wherewithal to mimic this behaviour.

  19. Leeks! says:

    @Turin: Not entirely true. Eurogamer gave the game a bit of a “meh” score, and I do seem to remember reading some pretty heated forum chatter about the silliness of the script.

  20. Ghiest says:

    Glad I held off buying this now :)

    Most people who played it that I know, quite liked the game so I will probably pick up 2.0 version.

  21. Schadenfreude says:

    Yeah, but Eurogamer opened their review by saying it wasn’t actually an RPG. Much debate ensued.

    A lady here -> http://www.n-joy.cz/video/the-witcher-enhanced-edition-pl-trailer/6abiu0md79hw5pko/ mentions that there’s an extra module being developed by some “Canadian modders”; smells like a Bioware side project to me :D

  22. elias says:

    The Escapist is reporting that it will be free to download for current owners. Which leads me to think they are doing it to hopefully get more sales from those who shied away because of what they read in reviews.

  23. Schadenfreude says:

    If it actually sells with a cloth map I’d be tempted to buy a second copy.

    Haven’t seen a cloth map since Ultima 9. And a short story too; that takes me back to my Frontier days.

    Remember when games manuals used to be fun to read?

  24. Ravenger says:

    I’ve completed the game (or at least played through it once – there are many decision points in the game that have a large effect on the story) and I loved it. Not sure about the new version really, as on the one hand I’d love to have all the extra stuff, like the soundtrack (even though you can copy the oggs out of the game anyway) and making of dvd, but on the other I’ve already paid once for the game, and don’t really feel like paying out again for a more ‘finished’ version.

    It’s good the extra content will be downloadable, but will the new english script and dialogue be downloadable too? The script and dialogue were probably my major bugbear with the game. The acting was wooden in places, and there were some dodgily translated bits. The inventory also was a bit of a nightmare to use.

    It’s still one of my favourite RPGs of recent years though, despite any flaws, and a totally enthralling experience to play.

  25. FreezerBag says:

    According to a CD Projekt RED comment on the official forums:

    All expanded content would be downloadable for people with registered game.

  26. Alex says:

    Really loved this game. The biggest complaint for me were those horrendous load- and savetimes.

    Anyway – the game made me buy the recently published first English translated book of Geralt stories, “The Last Wish” – only read a few pages, but it seems pretty great.

  27. Mr.Moon says:

    It’s free for those who have purchased and registered the game.

  28. Lucky says:

    *raises brow* If there’s any justice in the world, I’ll finally be forced to buy it then.

  29. Hypocee says:

    If they get everything right this time, it would be the last major version and therefore the Witcherierest!

  30. Nick says:

    Nice, I’m glad I won’t have to buy it again (as I wouldn’t) and it will give me reason to go back to playing it.

  31. KingMob says:

    I don’t suppose they could make this really compelling for me and release it on Steam?

  32. Mr.Brand says:

    I avoided this game because I had too many games to play – still do. But this Witchest edition might finally get my money.

  33. Ridicule Swarm says:

    Great to hear it. Haven’t played more than the demo yet (ah, the busy life), but this definitely gives me something to look forward too.

    There are too few good RPGs nowadays. I miss Planescape Torment.

  34. Thiefsie says:

    w00t. let’s hope they keep the original polish dialogue we’ve seen all over the place. I’ll be purchasing this, double quick if it is on steam at a reasonable price.

  35. Alec Meer says:

    The_B: While I won’t actually turn a review down if someone asks, more preferably I’d try the thing in my own time and write about it here, unhampered by deadlines or wordcounts.

  36. Nny says:

    @suibhne: CdProjekt is mainly a games distributor, then a developer so they’re not that indie ;)

    Anyway, it’s really great to see that this game gets kind of attention it deserved, no other polish game sold that many copies before (due to piracy or mostly low product quality) and now you non-polish folks will get to enjoy a well done language version :)

  37. Janek says:

    That’s good news. I’m quite enjoying my current playthrough with the “fixed” subtitles and original Polish voiceovers, plus the loading times aren’t that bad with patch 1.2.

    So yeah. Aces.

  38. James says:

    This is A Good Thing.

    It’d be great to see more developers consider their reputation over economic feasibility. Good on ‘em.

  39. McCool says:

    Wow, I played the demo and hated it, always thought this game was awfully overated.

    But I love this move by them, the admittance that they messed it up and trying again..if they go good on their promises, I’ll almost certainly buy the thing this time round!

  40. malkav11 says:

    The dialogue isn’t anywhere near as bad as Pathologic. Trust me.

    That said, I found it tolerable but it was definitely clunky in places and I hope that the rewrite will improve things as much as they claim it will. Everything else sounds great, except for them fixing the Dice Poker AI. That was my money source, dammit! :)

  41. John Walker says:

    I’m please to hear this is happening. I’m also pleased that all the faults Alec and I recognised in our reviews (bearing in mind I gave it a lower mark than Alec, but somehow got away with it) – the faults that made the game shambolic – are accepted and being addressed.

    I’m interested to hear the response to this news from those who made the claims that the dialogue, acting, and animation was perfect in every way before.

    I very much look forward to playing the game once it’s in coherent English.

  42. Nick says:

    I think the biggest outcry was caused by him describing (complaining about) the combat in some detail completely incorrectly, which led a lot of people to question the rest of the review, valid or not.

    That and fanboyism, I suppose, but I personally didn’t find too much wrong with it aside from the dialogue being rather messed up.

  43. The_B says:

    I never found the demo that complelling either, which did in fact slightly perplex me when it came to the criticism of Alec’s review.

    But indeed, I am all for the second chance. If indeed the promised is fufilled then count me among the ranks more than willing to give it another go.

  44. WCAYPAHWAT says:

    Good to hear they’re doing this….but somewhat annoying also…..I just want to play the damn game. I got the collectors edition on release, and still haven’t made it past the first act……So now i have to wait for this to come down the line :(

    Oh, and Schadenfreude – to address your love of cloth maps, NWN2 came with one, at least in Australia. but they had their bizarre collection of 12 different localized collectors editions…

  45. Chiablo says:

    I noticed a few horrible lines of dialog in the english version. There is a section where you are doing some investigation (Sherlock Holmes style) and the detective you are working with has regular lines of dialog… but every so often, his voice noticeably changes in volume and tone. It’s clear that at some time during late development, they changed the story that required them to re-record dialog, and they either had a different actor or different recording company do it.

    Other than that, I didn’t have any real problem with the dialog in the game.

  46. ConayR says:

    Folks, fix tags please. It’s not CD Projeckt – it’s CD Projekt.

  47. Shawny D says:

    Hmm….I’m really liking the Witcher, and this is why I love indie devs. Gotta love the fact that they aren’t just releasing a booster pack to try and cash in, rather offering it up as a download, great news indeed.

  48. Joonas says:

    Hmm, interesting. I just didn’t have the time for this last year, but will probably pick it up now.

  49. malkav11 says:

    Re: the detective – something happens later on that might explain that. Depending on whether it’s particular lines at random from the moment you meet him, or whether it changes later. I myself didn’t notice a great deal of discrepancy, but I wasn’t extraordinarily impressed with the voice acting and tended to skip it once I’d read the text.

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