The Witcher Is A Bit Patchy

By Jim Rossignol on September 19th, 2008 at 11:48 pm.


That’s right, The Witcher: Enhanced Edition patch is now available for those of you who bought the game the first time around. It’s a beefy 1.2gb and there’s a mirror here.

I’m grinding my way through the Enhanced Edition at the moment and finding The Witcher to be an uneven experience. There’s plenty to like about it – especially with Polish voice-acting and English subtitles glossing over the dodgy dialogue – the grim art style, decaying fantasy world, and general melee combat are all to my tastes. The mechanical elements of the RPG, however, are less slick. It’s full of annoyances in the way some quests are structured, as well as they way character development is introduced. These needed as much of an overhaul as the cosmetic stuff the Enhanced Edition dealt with. And sex cards thing? Wow. That’s so, so crass. I’ll probably write some more on the game generally when I’ve managed to get myself unstuck from the end of the first chapter.

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76 Comments »

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  1. Shawn says:

    @Hero

    Come on. So now developers cannot tell the story of a fictional “womanizing” Witcher? This game is based on very popular Polish Books(can’t remember the Author, google it), and is following the fiction correctly. “Womanizing” is something that is real, it is something that should be put into games if it follows the rules of a fictional world where it was common or part of a characters traits. Also, Women in this world were also very self sufficient and wanted Sex from Gerralt and men equally. Basically, there are whores of men and women, but somehow when a man is a whore he’s automatically labeled negatively and anti-woman? I view the card collection gimmick as more of an achievment to socialize with the women you encounter by conversation, and not just holding them down and forcfully having sex with them, which btw, was the standard hundreds of years ago in many societies. Being able to talk with a Women in the game as a fictional character that acted like that in the books the developers are following, is an added challenge, but not something that I feel reflect poorly on women. The women being potrayed in the game are also mostly whores, not “respectable women”. On the other side of that, you prgress through the game by MURDERING MEN, gaining XP and progression. How is that any better towards men? Aren’t men then looked at as objectives as well? One application is sex with Women, the other application is murdering Men. These are both of course the absolutes in the game, with many interactions with Women that you don’t seduce, and many men in the game that you don’t kill.

    This also isn’t something where you as the character are forcing women to have sex, it’s an expression of the fictional character. I wonder, do you object to fictional books about a “womanizer”(aka: Man who want sex from a woman)? Or can no author ever make a character that’s depicting something similar? And if they do, then they can’t offer achievements(cards) for carrying out the role of the womanizer? Games seem to get placed on this pedestal of higher standards when it’s just another form of art through interactive expression. The makers of the Witcher aren’t supporting male dominance, it’s Gerralt’s character, and nothing more. If you can’t see that, then I don’t know what to tell ya, and the Cards you receive are nothing more then achievement points on Xbox Live, gimmicky yes, but drive the player into interacting with more then just murdering men. If anything, it adds a layer of dialog tree challenge that would otherwise be boring in some cases.

    I also don’t think people’s perceptions of Women are hurt by this game at all, that’s just a ridiculous notion. Men are just as much objectives as Women are in the game, manipulating dialog with both, earning XP or Cards, and both have their defined roles within the game, sex and murder.

    @Hitler’s Gay Dad

    Try grabbing the 1.9gb patch from Fileplanet, you’ll have to wait in line, but I’ve heard it works for many people that are having problems. While you don’t need to cd-key, are you sure you don’t have something written on the back on the manual? I know that’s a dumb question, but I remember not having to put in a cd-key to install it, only to register it which was always optional, so I figured I didn’t have one. You should be able to register your game either way, which you’ll then have to sign into when applying patch, unless the login isn’t working for you. They definitely screwed up this patch launch for many people. I have the UK version, since they US version was censored, so I had some troubles installing the EE patch. Either way, you should be able to at least try the fileplanet package and see if it works for ya.

  2. hero imprisoned says:

    @Shawn – I’ve already been over most of what you’ve said already with other people. You really didn’t bring anything new to the discussion. I’m not talking about the content in and of itself, and never have been. If you want to participate, it would serve you to actually read the entirety of my posts instead of just generalizing my stance as one of “Sex in games is sexist!”

    I’ll be happy to discuss it with you if you address anything that I’ve actually talked about, instead of things I’ve already had to clarify multiple times that I’m not.

    EDIT: I guess I can say a few words in response to the “achievement” nature of the cards.

    I don’t see this, at all. The cards are a tacky as fuck, player-only reward for pursuing objectifying behavior. They are not akin to progressive rewards like XP or loot in that they serve no in-game purpose for the character. They are not akin to achievements because they are not comparable with other players and lack any sort of social aspect to them at all. I can, if I stretch hard enough, kind of see where you’re going with that, but I think it’s pretty thin. There are ways to make conversation trees rewarding that aren’t laughably bad soft porn for the players eyes only.

    If, for example, Geralt got a buff from sleeping with different women, I would have a lot less of an issue with this. Geralt’s a womanizer and a Witcher. He’s rewarded for one set of these behaviors, the player is rewarded for the other. Shit, if he could then go to the nearest tavern and brag to the boys about his conquest and get free drinks/potions/whatever, it would make a lot more contextual sense.

    The cards are obvious, offensive pandering. At best.

    One more EDIT: Do you really think that the defining role for men in this game, where you play a man is that of a victim? Interesting.

  3. Mil says:

    @hero imprisoned:
    I have no interest in continuing this particular discussion with you, but I thought I’d say something about this:

    Mil, your searching for people’s geographic origins has absolutely nothing to do with the discussion of content in the Witcher.

    Of course it does. You interpret the content in the context of your culture, which is influenced by your geographic origins. If your culture has a very strong anti-sex element, as some do, your comments about sexual content are less relevant to me. So the question of whether there’s a correlation between people’s positions on this issue and which country they come from is valid, and of interest to me.

  4. Shawn says:

    @Hero

    Let me try this. What would the Witcher as a game have to do in order for you NOT to object to it or call it “sexist”? What would make it a better game in your eyes from this perspective. Spell it out.

    Instead of objecting to what’s there, what would you have CDProjekt do in order to make a politically correct game? Because I can tell you this, whether you want to hear it or not, Women are looked at by Men as sexual beings (you call it objects), period, it’s human nature and the way we’re built. If you’re a women, you’re boyfriend or husband looks at you as a person, but also as a sexual being(you call it object). That’s just life and the way men are built and think. This hard-wiring of men is then carried into the real world and into entertainment and games and movies and books etc..Women are just as sexual though in reality, but often hold back on acting out as there’s a double standard in society where it’s ok to be a whore if you’re a man, but not a woman (I’m speaking for here in the US). Personally, I think women should be able to be as sexual as they want and NOT be looked at as whores, it would be better all around for everyone. There are women that come after you in the Witcher for sex, and since this game only allows you to play as a Man, is the only option here. If they let you play as a Women , and you were given cards for fucking men, making them equal sexual beings (objects you call them), then would that be ok and more consistent? The cards are achievements, bragging rights, something Men discuss all the time when they get together, but if you’re a Women, you’ve probably never heard a real life discussion between Men about Women. If you are a Man, then get out the house already.(that was a joke, just to be clear lol)

    I’ll take a guess since you seem to have hit on exactly what bothers you and that’s the fact that the cards don’t act in favor of the character, only the player. Now, if the cards impacted the ingame character, that would be ok then, correct? Like I said, they aren’t something integral to the game, and feel like something tacked on. BUT, I can see the reason for why they were added, which was for the added function to get the player more involved with the dialog with Women, just like the Fictional Gerralt from the books. You can’t be “The Witcher” without being sexual, and if that was taken out of the game, the player probably wouldn’t know what would be possible. The cards act as a guide to let the player know that you can fuck these woman, just like the Character Gerralt in the real fictional book. Without that aspect in the game, it wouldn’t be true to an RPG dealing with the Witcher. The implementation of the cards could have been implemented better, but that’s besides the point. They have a function in the very least.

    Now, back to what you’re saying, should they have given the Character ingame a wisdom bonus for having seduced a women that WANTED to have sex with the character in the first place? Would that have legitimized the game and cards better for you personally? I thought the interaction between Gerralt and the women in the game was far better then anything I’ve seen in any other game to date, and at least the game went into that whole “sexuality” territory, which is usually off limits in every aspect of public life. (Speaking about the US again, and yes, where we live has everything to do with this discussion. Here in the States, Violence is far more excepted((just look at TV for evidence)), whereas sexuality from men and women are heavily repressed, creating unnecessary barries between men and women in general)

  5. hero imprisoned says:

    Mil – There are exceptions to every cultural and geographic generalization that you can make, as I’m sure you could figure out if you thought about it long enough. Consider the arguments, not the mentality that you want to assign their origins to. I said it before, I’ll say it again, it’s a thinly veiled ad hominem that does not hold up to any scrutiny.

    Shawn – I’ll give you some time to catch up to my edits, as I think I actually already answered most of what you’re asking. I think you would’ve seen it though, so I’m not sure what the disconnect is. Just in case, re-read what you think you’re responding to in the context of your questions.

  6. Jonathanstrange says:

    I’d love to play the Enhanced Edition, unfortunately I’m Canadian, which means I can’t. But why, you ask? Because Atari didn’t put any damn CD keys in the packaging, so now I’m spending the weekend I’d hoped to be playing The Witcher waiting for a responce from Atari customer support, who haven’t sent a responce yet other than an automated “We’ll get right to you!”, and that was two days ago when I contacted them for support.

    When they finally do answer me it’ll probably to be to ask for proof of purchase, then after sending them that it’ll probably be another couple days before they respond, hopefully with CD key that I should have had in the first place in hand. ARG!

    I know it’s not the developers fault, but damn, this is really annoying.

  7. dhex says:

    if the canadian version didn’t come with cd keys, how did it handle installation/activation?

    that’s just plain weird.

    the EE seems to have improved load times a bit; i haven’t delved in far enough to see what else is totally groovy. but big ups to cd projekt for doing this in the first place – it’s also a great way to extend the life of a property.

    (insert gripe comparing gsc’s attitude here)

  8. Deuteronomy says:

    dhex . . . so what’s your beef with GSC exactly? Are you saying GSC and deep silver rock so much harder because they delayed release to get the CD keys in the retail boxes?

    Or are you saying they should have released Clear Sky for free (insane)? What exactly?

  9. Kieron Gillen says:

    Now, I haven’t read the ballooning thread since we’ve gone out, but if someone’s arguing without actually accepting the difference between someone objecting to sex in a game (Which no-one in RPS has ever done, and never will. Except for John) and objecting to the sex cards as being a bit tacky and a questionable game mechanic (Which they are), I’m going to get jolly cross.

    Assuming they are – In short: Vampire: Bloodlines does story about sexual dominance, submission and the player’s misogyny. Awesome. Witcher undermines every single statement to do with sex in the game with tacky immersion breaking mechanic. Shit.

    Of course, this isn’t something which I’d have changed the game’s percentage score over. It’s something that’s not worth more than a sentence in a review – which is what I actually did in mine (It’s mainly interesting in that it’s a one-off mistake, completely outside every single design philosophy elsewhere in the game). But it’s there, and there’s really no vaguely justifiable argument in favour of it – which is why every single one of the defenders pretends the opposition is arguing something else.

    (Actually, the only credible position are actually the ones who go with the simple “I like the cards”. Because that’s based on an honest response to the things as opposed to ill-judged attempts to justify ‘em. )

    KG

  10. dhex says:

    dhex . . . so what’s your beef with GSC exactly?

    about a pound and a half of ground angus covered in poor customer relations.

  11. Kadayi says:

    Objectification is a fact of life and to label everything misogynistic (hatred of women) that objectifies women is poor logic at work (sorry). Sure it would be great if we all lived in a world of light where people loved us solely for our mental brilliance or personalities alone, but that is not an honest reality. We do assess those we are attracted to as objects. To claim the objectification of women is inherently misogynistic is an utter nonsense; it is the natural state of human existence like it or not politically correct fans. Misogyny is more than simple objectification, it is the mental state in which the object is viewed. Porn and Erotica both cover the same subject matter, but people understand and acknowledge the differences between the two, one debases the subject, whilst the other elevates it.

    When it comes to the Witcher it’s not enough to say the game objectifies women therefore it is misogynistic, one has to consider the manner in which it does it. Does the Witcher rape anyone, or generally debase them? No. Certainly there’s a tonne of sexual encounters to be had in the game if you choose, but none of the participants are unwilling.

    Personally I think they could of toned it down a lot and maybe they could of just stuck to the love story aspect, but it might be a reflection of the bawdy nature of the books and the Witchers underlying cockmastery as a fictional character. Perhaps someone whose read them can comment?

    As for the mechanic of the cards, tacky yes. Pornographic? not really imho.

  12. James T says:

    Well, Devin had the DEVINATIVE (HOH!) word on this about thirty posts ago — which is great, ‘cos you can skip all the crap that’s come since — but anyway, I thought the cards were a waste of good concept art. The stills where Geralt contemplates his past decisions during a fork in the story were great; if the ‘interludes’ during Geralt’s trademark shaggery were more like that, an exploration of what motivated him to do such-and-such a favour for the girl in question, or what he thinks of the character, it would work infinitely better. Tits or no tits. It means more writing, but hey, chop out some of the more extraeneous flings, and yer laughing.

    (and indeed, ‘misogyny’ really isn’t the word… It’s tacky and disrespectful to its audience, but misogyny means a lot more than that. If you chucked the ‘cards’, the game’s frank approach to gender and sexual politics would be just about the best in the business; it makes the misstep all the more galling. If it’s a joke, it’s poorly told).

    Meanwhile, the EE is running far, far better than the original, the new models/textures are nice, and the new dub smooths out a lot of the more glaring directorial/acting mishaps. And the ‘Side Effects’ mission pack is a chucke. It’s not a ‘revolution’, but it’s a nice polish, and that’s all I was really after, as the Witcher was brilliant to begin with. Can’t wait for the next CDPR game, whatever it is.

    …Well, maybe not if it’s a fucking F1 racer or something, but jeez, I’d look no further for RPGs.

  13. James T says:

    Regarding GSC, I think the lack of fixing leaves the realm of the inconsiderate and enters ‘they can’t help it, they must have been born that way’ idiot savant territory. I completed a run of Clear Sky just before I returned to the Witcher, and now find myself torn between two brilliant games — Clear Sky is great, and I want to get back to it! But it needs fixing. Thankfully the one repeatable game-breaking bug I encountered was fixed with a (very difficult-to-find) user patch, but there’s still a propensity to crash occasionally, and much of the clan warfare and story-telling still needs fixing (three or four times I triggered events out of sequence, was sent on story mission segments I’d completed hours and hours ago — thankfully they could be re-completed easily enough, just ‘climb onto the roof of the Yantar factory’, etc — or was left with no idea whether the game was bugging, or whether it wanted me to go on mission segment it had told me nothing about — I had to look to the internet, which isn’t a great resource for a game which has only been out a week). How can a studio simultaeneously have the talent to put out games as brilliant as the STALKER series, and yet be incapable of making them work? (yeah, Clear Sky could still get substantial fixes, but their record on the original STALKER doesn’t inspire confidence…)

  14. Mil says:

    I think some of us are not so much defending the sex cards themselves (I don’t care much about them one way or the other) but commenting on the disconcertingly strong reaction to them:

    1. They get a disproportionate amount of criticism for the tiny part they play in the game.

    2. They get a disproportionate amount of criticism for being immersion-breaking, when they’re not any more artificial than any of the traditional CRPG elements of experience, health bars and so on. They seem to represent Geralt’s fond memories of those sexual encounters, which is surely quite in-character with him.

    3. They get a disproportionate amount of criticism for being bad politics, while killing inordinate amounts of people and sentient monsters doesn’t get a mention. This reminds me a lot of the Hot Coffee controversy (see There’s sex in my violence). Incidentally, I’ve always suspected that “sex is bad because my priest tells me so” and “sex is bad because it objectionificates women” are just two sides of the same cultural coin, in part because these positions seem specially prevalent in the same countries (mostly anglosaxon, as far as I can tell).

  15. Deuteronomy says:

    dhex . . . ok so they released a buggy game . . . which history shows they are going to patch. The Witcher was definitely not bug free on release – and a far less dynamic game to boot.

    By the way I’m about 12 hours into clear sky without a single crash or error on the Steam version. The only bug I’ve noticed is the invisible grenade one. Yes the game has bugs, but less than SOC did on release, and in my opinion the gameplay is brilliant.

    I enjoy reading the RPS guys articles and reviews no question, but I’m going to take their opinions with a couple grains of salt from here on out.

  16. Andrew says:

    I am really enjoying the Enhanced Edition so far. I chucked the original game at some point in Chapter 2 first time round, when we first got news of the coming improvements.

    The loading times are much more tolerable, and it’s running smoothly apart from that (on high-ish settings on my ageing PC). The dialogue seems improved from what I can tell, and it remains pleasingly violent. Oh and I get a kick out of the Elvish language in the game being a mix of Welsh and Scots Gaelic.

    Loving the music and atmosphere once more.

    The sex cards are still bafflingly out of place but who cares.

  17. dhex says:

    dhex . . . ok so they released a buggy game . . . which history shows they are going to patch. The Witcher was definitely not bug free on release – and a far less dynamic game to boot.

    By the way I’m about 12 hours into clear sky without a single crash or error on the Steam version.

    the lack of communication on gsc’s side has convinced me that i will never purchase one of their games on launch again. i understand they’re a small dev and all, but i give to charity already. there’s not even the bare minimum of “there’s a patch coming soon, stay buttoned down” out of their camp. now, it appears a .05 patch is coming, but that’s according to a translation of the russian forums. what that’s worth, i know not. (nor how long it will take to come to steam)

    anyway:

    my neat bug is that having bought it via steam, i can install and play it – once. once i exit the game, regardless of whether i just relaunch clear sky, steam or reboot the entire machine, i get a freeze upon trying to load, change graphical options or even start a new game.

    the 30 minutes i played were very good, though!

    perhaps this is revenge for my having been able to play the original game unpatched with no gamestopping bugs or errors. (subsequent patches did improve performance significantly, though)

    since i bought the steam version, i may very well be buggered (is that the proper britishism?), have no tech support from valve and can’t even just sell it on ebay and call it a day. i figure i’ll come back in a few weeks and see if the situation has improved, but right now i’m presuming that clear skies are not in my future.

  18. tmp says:

    They seem to represent Geralt’s fond memories of those sexual encounters, which is surely quite in-character with him.

    This. I’m not sure why there’s so much wailing over “immersion breaking” aspect of these cards when they seem mostly to be compromise between development time needed to produce content, and a wish to provide the player with diverse sex scenes. So the cards provide some rough narrative to optional parts of story that couldn’t be developed fully and shown in detail. Noes, there goes my immersion.

  19. Alec Meer says:

    For the record- no-one at RPS has ever said they hated the Witcher or that it was a big pile of poo. (Well, maybe John did – but he does so like to be outraged). It really is disappointing that so many presumably rational people manage to interpret “it’s alright but with lots of problems” as “hatekilldestroy” – especially when it eventually leads to empty blanket statements like “oh, the RPS guys’ opinions can’t be trusted.” The same weird misconception’s being applied to our various reviews of Clear Sky, depressingly. Oh noes- some of us don’t like some games quite as much as some other people. Imagine!

    (I AM VERY HUNGOVER. And thus dismayed more than I otherwise would be by this thread.)

  20. Larington says:

    Heh, what game isn’t without at least some flaws, I feel no need to be outraged that this game also has minor flaws of some sort.

    Personally, I think I’m going to install the french language pack, so that even the daftest of lines spoken by the women actors sounds sexy/filthy/dirty/insert-sex-related-naughty-word-here.

  21. Dominic White says:

    So, am I the only one who played Geralt as something other than a shameless man-whore? Throughout the whole campaign, he ended up in bed with a couple of women, but no more than James Bond would have done so over a comparably long adventure.

    You don’t *get* anything (no loot, no XP, no plot development – nothing!) from running around and seducing women in the game, so why do it, unless you’re as immature as the cards that it’ll hand out to you?

    Anyway – the Enhanced Edition does fix a lot of the problems. It’s still best played with the original Polish voice track (which has a far more emotionally nuanced Geralt, rather than the monotone/deadpan treatment he got in English) with subtitles though.

    My main problem with the game was that it had the same difficulty curve as a Bioware RPG. Brutally hard at the start (the first boss is largely a matter of luck and/or exploiting areas where it gets stuck on geometry), and insultingly easy at the end. If anything, shouldn’t it be the other way round?

    Wish there was an easy way of just opening up the game data and monkeying around with the enemy variables a little. It wouldn’t take much to make the combat more enjoyable simply through altering enemy toughness and strength.

  22. Alarik says:

    Dominic White: Hmm, have you played on Hard? Anyway, I agree that it should be harder, but on the other hand, current wide gaming population would probably “bitch” about how hard is it then :-)

    Regarding that card issue – it is just a bonus, nobody is forcing you to it. I find it mostly funny – rather than erotic/disgusting – funny as in funny dialogues and encounters (and funny pictures on most cards) – and funny in a good sense I mean. Rather nice stops and pauses amidst all that slaughter. Concerning ‘womanizing’ – seems that women don’t have right to want just sex, do they? At least from some of the opinions/posts here I got this vibe some of you think so :)

  23. Esha says:

    I just wanted to clarify my previous point, due to an aspect or two that hero brought up.

    I actually had nothing to say about the way the cards were presented, because I know as well as anyone that they’re just a tacky way of handling game-art unlocks. I was actually playing devil’s advocate in regards to how people will kick up a stink if human mating rituals are taken as anything less than sacred, whereas mass homicide is good times.

    The point I was trying to make was that in a game of that ilk, pretty much everything is tacky, but I think it’s meant to be. In talking about the cards, and Geralt’s experiences with women, I think it’s silly to overlook the rest of the game. The whole Witcher thing is an amusing example of alpha male mentality, as Geralt the Übermensch lords over the countryside.

    What I was trying to get at with my point, albeit a tad satirically, was that it’s interesting how only the tacky sides of a game which are sexual are raised. That fascinates me, I can’t help that. And that’s what I was trying to get at there, more than anything else.

    So I think I might’ve been misunderstood in that post, I was primarily highlighting that discrepancy more than sexual content. You see, I wasn’t saying that people had a problem with sexual content, taking it in context I was saying overall that I’m amused that in a tacky game, it’s only the tacky sexual aspects which are raised.

    Reminds me of Duke Nukem, really. Everyone kicked up a fuss about the women, and the pig cops were barely even mentioned.

    /shrug

    It’s just interesting, from a sociological standpoint.

  24. Alarik says:

    “The whole Witcher thing is an amusing example of alpha male mentality, as Geralt the Übermensch lords over the countryside.”

    Oh, so if the main protagonist was woman, you wouldn’t feel this as an issue then? Since Sapkowski doesn’t have this kind of problem, and both male and female protagonists are promiscuous (or not – depends on specific character of course).

    They should have made Ciri as the protagonist – I wonder, what would ‘angry internet reviewers’ have said then :) Guess that cards with all those young men wouldn’t be as popular .-) I think it could have been interesting though. Maybe suggestion for a mod?

  25. dhex says:

    mass homicide is good times.

    but mass homicide really is good times!

  26. Stromko says:

    Well now I understand why they put out this awesome patch, it requires online registration whereas the original game didn’t. Now if I want to play the Enhanced Edition I have to lock out my brother from using my copy of The Witcher on his machine.

    I’ll probably go ahead and do that eventually, this was just a bit more drama than I wanted before 9 AM. It’d be unfair to call out The Witcher for this form of copy protection since every boxed MMO ever and also Spore have used similar methods to stop gamer siblings from sharing, and some of them (FFIX and Spore) have used even more nefarious systems on top of that to inconvenience even the primary user.