Wot I Think: The Witcher 2

By Jim Rossignol on May 18th, 2011 at 5:34 pm.


So. Finished. I even had a little time to play through some of the alternate storyline stuff. What do I think? Well, I don’t think I’ll be putting any spoilers in this review, so you can read my thoughts on the subject with some degree of safety. If something else needs go above the jump here, it should probably be this: The Witcher 2 is going end up being talked about for a very long time to come.


This is one of the most significant games of 2011. Right now it looks like most significant PC-only game of 2011.

The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings is the sequel to 2007′s wonky fantasy RPG, The Witcher, and it improves on that precarious foundation in almost every conceivable way. I suppose the ambition of the developers for their work should have been clear after they relaunched their original game with the voice acting and character animation redone in 2008, to give us an Enhanced Edition, but even that was a pale creature when compared to the muscular effort of their most recent work. The Witcher 2 is a collossal beast in terms of vision and complexity, and it has engrossed me for the past few days. It’s shorter than the original by some measure, but it is burning half as long to be twice as bright.

I’m getting ahead of myself, and giving away the critical conclusion about how much I admire this game. There’s more to it than simple admiration however, as it’s tough to have an uncomplicated attitude towards this game. So let’s start with the basics. It’s a third-person fantasy RPG. There’s level-based progression, which allows you to unlock skills via a large talent tree. There’s a sizeable, linear story with dozens of quests, set across two distinct, large areas, and two other smaller intro and outro locales. The story is told mostly via dialogue scenes and cutscenes, of which there are many. Your choices have genuine impact in the game world, to the point where the tale told actually wholly diverges after the first chapter. It’s a huge bifurcation of plot, and means that pretty much everyone who enjoys this game through the first time is going to want to play it through a second time.


That story is set within the world of the titular Witcher, who is the creation of Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. Sapkowski created the character in the 1980s and then wrote a number of novels and short stories based on The Witcher’s exploits. Those stories have proven rather popular. The Witcher himself is a chap called Geralt of Rivia, whose genetic mutations means that he is great at fighting, can make a little magic, and is popular with the ladies. All these elements go toward defining CD Projekt’s games, in which we can watch over Geralt’s shoulder as he slays monsters, cast spells, makes potions, collects herbs, has “romps” with sexy females, and a lot of other things that might happen in a world where a cynical magical mercenary with a warped-but-strong code of ethics makes his home.

One of the defining characteristics of Sapkowski ‘s world is that it is morally ambiguous, and fraught with complex politics. While it’s a standard fantasy set up with elves, dwarves, and humans, the dynamic between them is interesting. Humans are warlike and prejudicial towards the dwindling older races, and also fight among themselves in a baroque, multi-factional struggle over land and power. This means that The Witcher 2 has a relatively complicated plot, with numerous characters who are introduced with little scene-setting or explanation. This is one of the first points at which some of The Witcher 2′s intended audience might start to feel a little uncomfortable. As a player you are dropped into the middle of an ongoing story, with minimal exposition, and little reason to care about the characters that Geralt himself obvious does care about.

To be honest, though, I tend to loathe standard modes of exposition in games, and I find the labyrinthine plotting of this game refreshing. Although there are villains, there’s no Chosen One, no Ultimate Evil, just a lot of petty, powerful people squabbling under the shadow of magical weirdness, and all underwritten by the machinations of sorcerers, adventurers, assassins and other complicated, interested – and interesting – parties. It’s quite a world, but it definitely doesn’t welcome you in.


Nor does the difficulty of the game. While there’s a lot of wandering about and chatting, and even a bit of shopping, The Witcher 2 is action-heavy, not least when it comes to fighting. Combat is real-time, and is reliant on you being nifty with your positioning and timing. You perform fast blows with left-click, heavier, slower blows with right-click, and blocking with E. There are also some spells, but I’ll come to that in a moment. What’s weird about The Witcher 2 is that the prologue is about the hardest bit in terms of how this combat system handles you. There’s a lot fighting and a lot of getting flanked by groups of enemies. Because you don’t unlock skills to cope with being flanked until later in the game, the prologue (which lasts a couple of hours) and chapter one (many hours more) are significantly tougher than the chapters that follow.

It’s a peculiarly ill-judged baptism of fire (literally at some points). Where you’re expecting a game to teach you how it works and lead you by the hand, The Witcher 2 offers nothing but a few text-based tips boxes. If you don’t take time to figure out that you have to constantly dodge away with the spacebar, or use magic to buff your combat, you are going to struggle. And the game does not tell beginners this. The spells are barely mentioned, and you’ll need to stop and figure it out for yourself if you want to know what they do. While there are situations in which they /are/ introduced to you, at no point are you explicitly taught that it is a lot easier if you use the shield power to protect yourself in combat, for example

Of course by this point many gamers will have dropped difficulty from Normal, to Easy. You can do this at any time in the game, which is a friendly feature, but there’s an issue with that. Difficulty of combat on Easy is too easy. You can basically grind down any enemy by just beating them to death, and that’s not satisfying. Normal is much better, as you have to think, move, parry, and use magic in a timely fashion to win. This is a real challenge, however, and often just too hard. Frustratingly, Geralt is slightly too slow for this to really be a fluid experience. You will find yourself hammering keys while waiting for animations to play out. Although the system is extremely elegant, and soon mastered, your own skills then become limited by this mechanical system. You want Geralt to get up faster, to cast the spell when you demand it, and so on. He’s simply not agile enough to make for a truly satisfying combat experience. It’s very close to being dynamic, and the wandering cursor which hops from enemy to enemy (but can be locked by holding down Alt) sends you leaping about and means it occasionally feels very alive. But only occasionally. You can see exactly what CDP were trying to do, but actually just the wrong side of being frustrating. This is probably the biggest problem The Witcher 2 faces.


That said, there are times when you feel awesome, particularly into chapter two, when your powers have grown considerably. Some of the scenes in that, where I was able to take on multiple enemies, raking them with magical damage as I darted around with my sword, were extremely satisfying. Basically, the pacing of difficulty in the game feels wrong, and that’s going to be extremely off-putting for many.

Speaking of swords, I should mention loot and equipment. Now, this isn’t a loot-focused game, by any means. I used just a handful of different swords through the entire game, and only a single different outfit from the one Geralt started with. That said, good equipment does make a difference to your overall performance, and it’s notable when you step up to something better.

Irritatingly for me, The Witcher’s loot system strikes one of my pet peeves in its sensitive parts. Things in the world are not “real” in the sense that they are in some other games. So you might see swords or armour, but you can only pick up what the game decides has been dropped. This can be a little frustrating, but at least they’ve been reasonably smart about it (so you lose a sword at one point a replacement is dropped soon thereafter, even if you have to look for it). There’s also a staggering amount of incidental material dropped for crafting and alchemy.


Yes, crafting and alchemy are both heavily in evidence, even though they are basically optional/superfluous. You don’t need to indulge in either to get through the game, but they certainly help. Well, they do if you can bothered with them. I munched my way through a few potions, but got bored of picking up herbs and icky monster bits. I HAD PLOT TO GET THROUGH. That stuff could have been left out as far as I’m concerned, so I can’t pretend to care about it. What it does do is reward exploration, so you’re given some reason to spend more time poking about in the various corners of the the large maps you’re set loose in-

STOP.

Stop.

Stop.

I’ve not yet mentioned how artfully crafted the world of this game is. And that’s really at the fore for me. I want you to leave this piece of writing with some thoughts about how beautiful The Witcher 2 is. It’s the kind of beautiful where you find yourself gazing over particular details, a stoned smile on your face. There was a moment where I stumbled across a shallow lake, with forest glades all around. A moment of serene wilderness. I marvelled at the fact that I could make out a shallow path through the milky water that allowed me to cross the lake. It was exquisite: naturalistic, perfect. The Witcher 2 is filled with details like this. The details are rich, and glorious.


The crows that are perched on ruined walls and gallows’ beams, the idle chatter of peasants in the town square, the way enemies crumple and die, the way the time of day shifts, the amazing horror of spider-like monsters descending trees in the forest, the chillingly brilliant undead materialisation stuff that I can’t possibly spoiler here. All these things come together within The Witcher’s world to make me want to go back and run my eyes over it again and again.

The Witcher 2 is the kind of beautiful where you will start thinking about spending money on graphics cards and stuff. You’ll want this to be dressed in its best.

This beauty extends to all the inhabitants of the world. Even when they’re mongrel-ugly bastards, they’re believable and boldly drawn. The way they hang out in the world, or chat when you interrupt them, is just right. The Witcher 2′s characters are without exception strong, and beautifully imagined. Most of the voice acting is well-delivered, with only one or two lines executed inappropriately. It’s even funny at times. Yes, there are actually one or two jokes that made me, an oil-hearted laugh-miser, blurt out the happy noise. I couldn’t believe it.

It’s perhaps not as large a game world as I would have liked. I think I got through it in around twenty four hours, and although that was a hasty run, I’m sure it could be completed much faster. There are two main areas to explore – with the prologue and chapter three being more sort of book-end pieces – and each of these sprawls off in a number of directions, with sidequests, dungeons and odd vignettes. It doesn’t feel like enough, though. Which is probably because I just want more. More of these entertaining characters, these brual fights, and these oddball quests.


While much of the dialogue shines, the writing isn’t all as good as I’d like it to be, and I’m unsure of how much of that is a remnant from Sapkowski’s work. For example, there’s a moment where the characters make a Lord Of The Rings reference, and then dismiss it as a “fairy tale”. It’s quite out of place, and jars badly. Making that kind of genre meta-reference doesn’t suit the game, and doesn’t make sense. Jokes yes, but this isn’t Magicka. There’s also the constant reference to modern scientific terms. I understand that is in keeping with The Witcher’s back-fiction, but it’s incongruous and just comes across as a series of anachronistic mistakes in the writing. These issues, combined with the overall opacity of the plot do not welcome anyone with either a drifting attention span, or a pernickety sense for imaginative coherence. Finally, although the game seems to set up for an epic sequel, the writing in the closing couple of hours really doesn’t wrap the game up satisfactorily. I’m not saying it’s bad or disappointing ending, just that it runs out of energy, and is something of a let down next to the ludicrous awesomeness of Chapter Two. I’m not going to spoil that, but let’s just say: Strong like ox.

I suppose I should mention the sex stuff. I found it to be extremely low-key by comparison to the previous game. It’s bawdy at times, and a little sexist, but seldom too offensive to worry about. There’s nakedness and bad sex jokes, but it’s fine. It is however totally fucking weird at times. There’s a scene where Geralt deliberately bursts in on some lesbian dominatrix stuff. It’s entirely (to my perception) random, and makes about as much sense as the camera panning around to reveal a Martian wearing a Tuxedo. There’s no explanation, and the scene skips straight to quest dialogue. (Yes, I have the magic crystal, etc.) I’m not sure what it was meant to say about the character in question. I don’t actually know why it was there at all. Weird.

You can, of course, have sex with prostitutes. (And in the game!)

So, now that I’ve finished blathering about words and flesh, are there other issues to take note of? Well, there was a moment toward the start where the scripting just didn’t work, but that seems like a minor issue in a game of this breadth and complexity. I managed to complete all the side-quests that I went for, even if I did get badly stuck on a couple of them. The worst element for me, actually, was the map. The close-up view left me baffled about where I was, and was near-useless for navigating my way around. I’m usually Captain Spatial Awareness when it comes to this kind of game, but The Witcher 2′s map had me running in circles. It’s also notable that you can zoom out and get a wider map of the various regions, which are all in Cyrillic. (Although, I now note, in english on the paper map that comes with the Premium Edition.) That seems like authentic touch, until you realise it conveys no information at all to anyone without that language. You can’t even make out where you are supposed be if you’re not up on that particular alphabet. An English-language map might not have been as atmospheric, but it would have made all the rambling on about different nations and regions make sense. It would have given me context, I would have been able to see who was fighting who. That would have made a huge difference to the overall experience of the game.


Also, doors are terrible. Really badly done. Characters have to use them one at a time, rather than walking through a door that is already open. This created some combat weirdness, and made me shout. A minor quirk, but not good.

Yet none of this really matters, because of what The Witcher 2 manages to do overall. It creates a sinister, cogent, violent, colourful world that is routinely affected by your actions within it. The game comes to life as it is merged with your decisions and articulates a story that is at once overwhelming and engrossing. I’ve enjoyed this collision of combat and story more than I have with any RPG since Vampire Bloodlines. It dissolves my lack of interest in fantasy games with its intensity.

The Witcher 2 is flawed in some ways, and a paragon in others. I cannot recommend everyone play it, because it simply won’t satisfy everyone in the same way, and will frustrate and off-put many with its bizarre little quirks of difficulty and moments of poor design. But I will recommend everyone buy it, because I want to play another one. And another one. And many more after that.

Well done, CD Projekt, you’ve just brought the fantasy RPG back to life. It’s still twitching from the electricity, but it’s a beautiful thing.

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301 Comments »

  1. timmyvos says:

    With this and Red Orchestra 2 it seems to be a mighty fine year for the PC.

    • Toxanite says:

      so who plays Witcher in the movie they will eventually make?

      Brad Pitt with Nickelback doing the song (prolly called Wytchify or some sh..)

    • Kaira- says:

      The movie has already been made, and it is shite. The tv-series are much better.

    • Eukatheude says:

      God, the Vader song for the first one was awful.

    • Kaira- says:

      @Eukatheude

      I thought it was quite marvelous.

    • Eukatheude says:

      Compared to their old stuff, it sounded pretty lame to me.

    • Drakon says:

      @timmyvos: Any news on the release date of RO2, though?

    • timmyvos says:

      @Drakon It’s rumored that it’s going to be released in July/August but it hasn’t been confirmed by the devs yet.

    • Drakon says:

      Thanks for the reply, mate, I’ve been waiting for this one for quite some time and lately they’ve been very skimpy with updates. See you on the battlefront!

  2. Teddy Leach says:

    Fine, I’ll buy it!

    … As soon as I’ve the money and have pre-ordered Xenonauts. Please don’t hit me.

  3. ulix says:

    What machine did you play it on? I’m worried my Core 2 Duo (2.75 Ghz) with a GForce 9800 (1GB memory) won’t suffice, when (up until Need for Speed Hot Pursuit… don’t ask why…) it was enough for anything.

    • Sorbicol says:

      Ulix,

      I’m playing this with Duo Core 2.3Ghz, 2GB RAM and a 1GB 260GTX nVidia card. Windows 7 64 bit. It runs fine in “medium” (stutters a bit in some of the cut scenes admittedly) with the uberrending turned off. Make of that what you will.

    • Conor says:

      Ulix,
      I’m running on a 9800GT 512Mb and an AMD 6000* at 3.1 GHz. On high and even ultra, the game ran pretty nicely and looked stunning, but there was some notable slowdown, probably caused by me going silly with settings.

    • Kamikaze-X says:

      @Sorbicol

      I’m sure you mean Dual Core. Unless you are indeed using a Duo Core, such as an AMD Bros-dozer.
      CUO 2 DUO! CUO 2 DUO!
      wait what?

    • Kaira- says:

      My laptop has AMD Turion II P560 dual-core @ 2.5Ghz and Ati Radeon 6650m, and it runs bloody brilliantly, it suggested me pretty much minimum-settings, but it runs steadily 20-30 FPS on medium-like settings, 1600×900 resolution.

    • sebmojo says:

      9800GT, athlon ii X2 250 (3 Ghz dual core) and 2 gig of rubbish RAM. Works very playably on Medium, though it suggested low. You’ll be fine – it scales very well.

    • Droopy The Dog says:

      @Kamikaze-X

      Or he means an actual intell “core duo”. Though I only remember ever seeing those in old laptops.

    • P4p3Rc1iP says:

      It runs terrible on my Intel T4400, 4GB ram and Geforce GT 320m. I have to play with everything on low and a resolution of 800×600 to get about 20 fps.

      I know it’s a laptop, and not the latest stuff, but it’s still within minimum system specs if I’m not mistaken, and Bulletstorm and Portal 2 run just fine….

    • beloid says:

      T4400 isn’t an equivalent to C2D or Athlon X2. Clock Speed is not all there is to CPUs

  4. Premium User Badge

    sendmark says:

    The difficulty spikes and the doors they can fix with patching.

    Hopefully they can also add some more content, be it the (free) DLC or an expansion. Frankly I would be happy to pay them for good DLC.

    • Kryopsis says:

      There is already a DLC pack you can download. You may have to register the game for that but it’s free.

  5. Premium User Badge

    tomeoftom says:

    …as was this review! Ah, RPS.

  6. Dominic White says:

    Being quite far into Chapter 1 now, I assumed – like Jim – that combat was getting easier and faster because I’d levelled up quite a bit.

    So I tested this. I went back to that initial difficulty spike. A brutally difficult combat encounter in the prologue, where you need to fight four waves of fairly well equipped and diverse enemies in a row. It seems hugely unfair and brutally hard at the time.

    Even returning myself to Level 1, and starting out without any of the savegame-import bonuses or preorder perks, I blazed through it without any significant effort. I was just plain better at the game now, and was able to tear apart a whole squad of soldiers in a few graceful moves and a little clever usage of traps and bombs.

    The combat is incredibly skill-based. If you’re playing well, it’ll reward you with a pile of enemy corpses around you. If you get overconfident or cocky, you’ll die in seconds.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I’ve done prologue and Ch1 through three times, and that is still definitely harder than the rest of the game. Get a bit further and you will see what I mean.

    • Archonsod says:

      Can’t say I find the combat that tough to be honest, dashing in, cutting off a quick flurry and rolling back out seems to work well. In fact, if anything it feels more like one of the old scrolling beat em ups rather than RPG combat which I think is why it feels more inclined towards player skill than character skill.

  7. Miidgi says:

    How important is it to play the first one?

    • Oneironaut says:

      I don’t think it’s important at all. I’m just starting act 2 now, but so far there have only been a few references to the first game, and none of it is really tied to the main plot of this game.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Definitely optional.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      Jim,

      Good, because I completely despite Witcher 1. It’s the only game that physically drains my desire to keep playing it. Witcher 2 looks better in every way, and I want to support CD Projekt. I’m just waiting to see if people consider Witcher 1 to be necessary or if the gameplay/pacing is at all similar. All signs point to “no”, so I’m definitely getting excited for Witcher 2 here :P

    • bill says:

      I bought the first one, but my free time has disappeared. I think I might skip it and head into number two fresh. So, a related question:

      If you play this one, will it ruin the first one?

      (Eg: People told me i didn’t need to play BG1 to enjoy BG2 – but they were wrong – but the intro of BG2 seems to give away the whole plot/twist/ending of BG1… so now i’m stuck).

  8. Azradesh says:

    Still waiting for my copy. Bloody Royal Mail.

  9. Turin Turambar says:

    “There’s also the constant reference to modern scientific terms. I understand that is in keeping with The Witcher’s back-fiction, but it’s incongruous and just comes across as a series of anachronistic mistakes in the writing. ”
    It would be anachronistic if the setting was historical. It isn’t. It isn’t real medieval times: it’s a fantasy setting, with different laws of nature. In this universe, there are sciences, a bit of”real science”, but also magic and alchemy as sciencies. They do know about DNA, for example. So yeah, it’s not a vanilla fantasy setting, there is a bit of Thief like magic-science going on.

    • Premium User Badge

      Andy_Panthro says:

      The first game had plenty of moments like this too, with references to Lovecraft and Arthurian legend amongst others.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Okay, well anachronism seems like the best way to describe it. These are modern periodic table sort of stuff, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense against what *is* a feudal medieval background, fantasy or otherwise.

    • Premium User Badge

      Thirith says:

      @Turin Turambar: Doesn’t mean the fiction pulls this off, though. Doing that sort of mix needs a deft hand, and if the first Witcher is anything to go by, the writers don’t quite pull off the meta elements and the anachronisms in a way that feels organic and coherent.

    • pandora says:

      I don’t know what exactly is in the game and how it is executed, but those anachronisms and jokes are surely inspired by Sapkowski’s writing. Actually, when at one point somebody commented that The Witcher had a realistic medieval settings I wondered as I remembered all those old discussions about how Sapkowski was wrong/unpure exactly by incorporating anachronisms and all this postmodern stuff into his novels (with modern-type sexy lingerie being in the spotlight, obviously). Also, Witcher’s books are usually considered funny (not silly, just expect a joke every two pages or so on average).

      All this makes me think I should go reread the books, it’s been quite a long time.

    • choconutjoe says:

      I’m with Jim on this. Every time someone mentions ‘genetics’ or ‘psycobabble’ my suspension of disbelief comes crashing down. It’s as if Geralt has just whipped out an iPod.

    • Archonsod says:

      “Actually, when at one point somebody commented that The Witcher had a realistic medieval settings I wondered as I remembered all those old discussions about how Sapkowski was wrong/unpure exactly by incorporating anachronisms and all this postmodern stuff into his novels”

      It’s not so much realistic in terms of simulating a medieval setting, it is realistic in terms of simulating a world. It’s one thing I noted playing through the first; it’s not like D&D where kobolds randomly appear for no reason, there’s actual thought gone into such things; for example necrophages like ghouls are attracted by corpses, and tend to follow (insofar as can be gleaned from the setting) the behaviour you would expect of a scavenger.

    • pandora says:

      @Archonsod, I agree with what you’re saying (about the first game), but that comment seemed to be about historical faithfulness, which looked somehow not thought through (but on the other hand, it could’ve been only about the setting being non-fairy-tale fantasy).

      Sadly, it will be some time before I can play the second game to see how it came out this time. Anyone can send in some good microchips in exchange for cookies?

    • Vorrin says:

      I personally was really quite put off by the (I suppose) anachronistic way the soldiers would talk to the king, in the prologue.

      Not really sure what the military terminology was in medieval times, or would be in a medieval-ish fantasy alternate world whatever, but to hear an armor-clad soldier talk about not having ‘penetrated’ an ‘area’, sounding every bit like Arma 2′s good little american soldiermen, seemed massively out of place.

      Didn’t spoil the prologue which was wonderful, but yeh, it was, to me, on of those ‘what were you guys(CD Project) thinking’ moment…

    • Ptosio says:

      I bet they were thinking “Let’ us better be canonical or the Saga fanboys/purists would burn us at stake”.
      That’s a part of the Witcher Universum. You may like it or not, but you have to accept it, just as the fact that Geralt’s hair is white. If CDP would ever do their own franchise, there’d time to criticize them for such things, now they’re just doing the Witcher the way the fans expect them to.

  10. rasputinsownbear says:

    A cyrillic map? Why would they do this? They use latin in Poland, and I’m pretty sure it was also latin in the books.
    Also, yes, modern scientific terms, ideas and pop culture references are kind of Sapkowski’s trademark.

    • grasskit says:

      because its not actually Cyrillic, but some imagined fantasy language that has some similar characters to Cyrillic

    • Dozer says:

      what the…

      I learned Cyrillic solely so I could play Russian computer games. Since Il-2 Sturmovik’s final expansions were translated and sold internationally I haven’t exercised this talent yet. What’s the point in communicating to the player in a language they definitely won’t understand?

      Someone should mod the map with English/Latin names overprinted with a Dymo labeller.

    • Dajs says:

      The Witcher borrows a lot from old Slavic traditions, including old folk lore and writing. I can remember that signposts in the original TW were written in glagolitic alphabet, which is an old Slavic alphabet.

  11. Casimir Effect says:

    The first game liked to throw in meta-jokes too. I’m replaying it right now and upon asking an Innkeeper if he had any work for a Witcher he replies something to the effect of:

    Yes, my boots were stolen by a monster last week who dwells in a haunted crypt

    To which Geralt asks “Really?”, the guy replies “Nah, I’m just playing a game with you”, and Geralt goes “Oh, it kind of sounded familiar…”

    • suibhne says:

      There’s an AssCreed joke near the beginning of the Prologue, which struck me as a little off-putting (but only a little).

  12. SirKicksalot says:

    “The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings is the sequel to 2007′s wonky fantasy RPG, The Witcher, and it improves on that precarious foundation in almost every conceivable way.”

    This made my blood boil.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      No one can deny the wonkiness. It was a great game in spite of that, but let’s be honest.

    • Premium User Badge

      Crimsoneer says:

      If by wonky, you mean massively screwy. I could never finish it, because the translation was so utterly cringeworthy. The opening is still a benchmark for crappy use of swearwords.

    • Maykael says:

      Oh come on! You have got to appreciate the inventiveness of a swear like: “Your mother sucks dwarf cock!’ The first time I heard that I literally fell out of my chair.

    • alilsneaky says:

      Same here, nothing wonky about the enhanced edition at all.

      Pacing may be a bit lacking now and then and chapter 1 and 4 make you run back n forth a bit too much but otherwise it’s an incredibly good game.

      Apart from the crashes (few and far between with the 1.5 patch) and quicksaves not overwriting eachother (meaning you have to delete them now and then to keep things from getting bogged down) there is nothing wonky on the technical side either.

      Graphics are great despite the awful engine, load times are very very quick after the initial precaching when you start the game, plenty of impressive effects and lighting for the time , awesome textures with lots of variation.

      Voice acting in the enhanced edition is just fine too, surely above average when it comes to videogames and wrpgs.

    • Betamax says:

      The English voice acting in TW1 was mostly awful, even for video games. Sorry. The Polish was better, but still lacking compared to some other efforts. I went through the EE recently and I’m a fan of the series, I enjoyed it but it is definitely flawed (or ‘wonky’). To say otherwise is just silly in my opinion.

  13. Jimbo says:

    I told you The Witcher 2 would be better!

    The reverse difficulty curve thing doesn’t really bother me too much. You quite often get that in RPGs to some extent- usually because you’ve levelled up smartly, but the game still has to work for those who haven’t.

  14. Ricc says:

    I assume this question has been asked in other Witcher 2 threads, but can somebody tell what kind of graphics card / CPU is needed to play the game with high details on a resolution similar to 1680×1050 or higher?

    I’m really impressed by the game so far, but I’m struggling to find the right graphics settings. Every lowered setting feels like a sacrifice, because of the incredible visual fidelity. Probably time to update my old Core2Duo. :/

    • Dozer says:

      You’ll need a computer more modern than a 486DX, for certain.

    • tehnomad says:

      I can run it decently at 1920×1080 with my C2D E8400 and a 4890.

    • Thants says:

      From what I’ve heard, make sure to turn off Ubersampling.

    • Avish says:

      I run the game on high on my dual core (2.9 ghz. I think), 2gb of ram and geforcce 550 1gb.
      Looks great and smooth.

    • rhizo says:

      E8400 + 5870 runs it playably at high settings and 2560×1440 for me. Just barely though. Might have to tweak the settings a bit. For some reason full screen mode doesn’t work, have to start the game windowed :/.

  15. frenz0rz says:

    I’ll read this in a second, but first I’d quickly like to get something out there.

    Got the game in the mail today, and started playing this afternoon. After much research and more than a little annoyance on my part, it seems that the game ONLY supports a 16:10 aspect ratio. 16:9, 4:3 and 5:4 (my own native ratio) are all unsupported, and -at least in my case- result in huge two-inch letterboxed black bars on the top and bottom of the screen. Now, I’ve heard rumours that a patch is on the way to fix this and add support for these ratios as there was in Witcher 1, but I’ve not been able to find anything official.

    Its worth noting as well that this was mentioned a while back in one of Jim’s previews, but was suggested as being a problem with the current test build at the time. Well, ladies and gents, it wasn’t – the problem still exists, and I wish someone had mentioned it to me before buying the game on release, as I probably would have waited a while until the game got patched. Thats not to say that I’m not enjoying the experience. So far its been a marvelous game and I’ve hardly had issue or annoyance with anything. Even so, those big black bars really do detract from the otherwise stunning visuals, as well as making the UI noticeably smaller.

    Has anyone else experienced this, got any advice to offer, or has read official news of an incoming patch?

    • Nim says:

      Several posters in the two previous Witcher articles claimed that the screen ratios will be fully supported in an upcoming patch and I have no reason to believe otherwise.

    • Paul says:

      yes, there will be patch. It has been promised several times already.

    • Zenicetus says:

      That’s the only complaint I have about this otherwise excellent WIT. Why didn’t Jim mention the enforced 16:9 ratio, which causes letterboxing on other display formats? Running this game on my 4:3 monitor does actually change the experience. It reduces the size of all the UI elements and text, and it makes everything you see in combat look smaller, which is hard enough already. Does the RPS staff only have 16:9 ratio monitors in the office or something? Try sitting 2 feet further back from your monitor while playing the game, and see how you like it.

      As for the patch to fix it, I’ve seen it mentioned secondhand, but no official word or a timeline. If anyone has a link, please post it. I’m debating whether to continue much further, or wait for an aspect ratio patch that fits my monitor. It’s such a beautiful-looking game, I’d like to enjoy seeing it full scale instead of peering through this letterboxed slot of a view.

    • frenz0rz says:

      @Zenicetus

      My dilemma exactly. Do I enjoy the game now while I have the time, or hold off for a while until this supposed patch arrives so that I can experience it in all it’s glory? I already regret playing past the opening sequence, since I’d love to have actually seen those massive trebuchets and the beautiful vista instead of a couple of large black lines. The problem is, I’ve seen no official word on this patch at all, despite seeing many people referencing it. A product of the internet rumour-mill, perhaps?

      Dont get me wrong, I’ve had the same 1280×1024 LCD monitor since 2003, and its been on my upgrade to-do list for some time. But I’m an unemployed student who just had to shell out over £100 for a replacement graphics card, and I dont have the money for a new monitor just floating around. I had this very issue weeks ago with Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Athena, where the widescreen ratio was forced despite the previous game being fine on my monitor. Is this the way games are going – are widescreen monitors no longer a luxury, but an absolute necessity? Because according to the most recent steam survey, by limiting the game to 16:10, CD Projekt are essentially ignoring 70% of their fanbase.

    • Uthred says:

      The games isnt limited to 16:10, it currently only natively supports 16:9, so thats probably a big more than 30%

  16. Stitched says:

    Currently in the dungeons. I agree with the combat difficulty when you are first starting off. I died constantly, only to realize that you MUST use rolling to avoid damage (parrying subtracts total damage), bombs and traps, and plain ol’ patience while your health and spells regenerate. Of course, you can always sit back during the siege and let the NPC’s take care of everything…

    After a few hours of play, I keep thinking how much more I care about what’s going on than I did with Dragon Age 2; it’s more interesting.

    And I loved finding the white-robed dead assassin on top of a broken hay-wagon and Geralt remarks – “they never learn do they?”

  17. Njordsk says:

    Just finished prologue.

    MAN THIS GAME FUCKING ROCK §

    And I don’t say that often. And I didn’t like witcher 1 btw.

    Just… buy….it NAOW §

  18. Nameless1 says:

    This game and this company are SO full of win. Glad to have bought it on gog.

  19. Derk_Henderson says:

    I’m really looking forward to finally being able to play it properly, but I’ve decided to hold off on really getting started with it until there are some patches. I realize this doesn’t hit everyone, but I can’t run in fullscreen mode (the game won’t even launch) and I can’t run in Crossfire, and the combination of the two means I have to deal with my taskbar at the bottom of the screen and much lower graphics settings than I’d like. And given just how gorgeous everyone’s been saying the game is – including this review – I think it’s probably worth waiting until I can really play it to its full potential.

    For reference, I have a nice quad-core, 12 gigs of RAM and 2 5870s in Crossfire, and a monitor with 2560×1440 resolution, so I *should* be able to crank shit up a bit.

    I’m sure I’m going to enjoy the hell out of it when I can run it properly, though.

    • kyrieee says:

      Turn off UberSampling

    • Derk_Henderson says:

      It’s off. Sadly, this doesn’t fix the problem.

    • Zihua says:

      You should definitely rollback (upgrade) to an older version of your ATi drivers from before they broke whatever’s making The Witcher 2 not work for you. I’m running it with 5850s in Crossfire and everything is great.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      Try “Gamers Window Relocater’ – what it does is fool your eyes and controller into thinking you’re running full screen when you’re actually not. It tends to stabilize games quite a bit. I was getting some crash to desktop errors toward the end of act1 and this fixed it immediately.

      gwr.orekaria.com

    • Premium User Badge

      sonofsanta says:

      Don’t know about the full screen issue, but re: Crossfire, download RadeonPRO, create a new profile linked to the Witcher2.exe (in the bin directory) and the launcher, and on the Tweaks tab use the Dirt2 crossfire profile with AFR. Uses both my 5770s correctly.

      It’ll tide you over till the proper CAP, at least.

  20. skinlo says:

    I didn’t enjoy the first one, will I enjoy this?

  21. ArcaneSaint says:

    I played it, I found combat felt like a badly-executed console port.
    But, maybe I just missed the tutorial window in which they explain how you can change your friggin’ target, because the game refuses to let me kill (or even hit) that swordsman right in front of me as I looked at the crossbowman on the other side of the field when entering combat. No matter what I do (short of turning around, running a distance away from combat and then carefully turn and look at the swordsman) I can’t get the target to switch to the guy who just… stabbed me… great, I’m dead. Again. Wonderful.
    The reverse happens when I have to land just one more blow to kill an enemy, in that case the target will instantly switch to a random enemy.
    When I got to the part where I have to look for a tunnel, I couldn’t handle the thought of going through even more of the, so I saved and quit.
    But I heard you need to level up to make combat easier, does this mean target-switching is an unlockable skill? Does anyone have any advice on how to fix this glitch (I hope it’s a glitch anyway)?

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Alt key. But no, I don’t think the game explains it very well. One of the key problems, I think.

    • Ricc says:

      I was confused at first, too. Geralt seems to always target the enemy in the middle of the screen. Imagine having a crosshair there. This means that turning with WASD has no effect on who you are facing. It depends entirely on the camera, which is unusual for a 3rd person game. Also, you can press ALT to lock your target on an enemy. I only found that out after taking a look at the keyboard configuration. That’s at least what I think it works like.

    • ArcaneSaint says:

      But my problem is not being able to switch, even if the target (that damned archer over there) isn’t even on the screen anymore and I’m facing the swordsman (both having Geralt facing him and looking at the target with the camera) it won’t switch the target until I get enough distance between me and the archer. And before you ask, no I did’t accidentally Lock the enemy by pressing Alt. Too bad, well I guess that means I could give a go at Fable III (although, exams are creeping up rather close… ah, screw exams, I’m gonna get me a copy of Fabl3)

    • Urael says:

      “Alt key. But no, I don’t think the game explains it very well. One of the key problems, I think.”

      …no pun intended, eh Jim? ;)

    • pernake says:

      The fact that your sword just phases through any non-targeted enemies without having any effect pretty much just totally kills the melee in Twitcher 2 for me.
      It’s not that that makes combat insurmountably hard, even on hard, but it just feels so wrong and ridiculous, and it’s amazingly annoying (and deadly) when you accidentally switch to one of the seven other guys behind the guy you’re trying to murder. It also makes fighting those large groups (which seem to be the most common encounter type) feel like a grind. Just running around, waiting for an opening where you can smack someone a couple of times without everyone immediately piling on you.

      The sad part is, I think the combat would be absolutely great without that silly little limitation.

      (And maybe they could tone the shield guys’ shielding down just a tiny bit. Attacking them from even a vaguely frontal direction is actually a far worse idea than hitting a wall. Nothing can break their guard. Even if they’re staggering they can easily block Geralt’s mightiest blows with the dinkiest little buckler they could find.)

      EDIT: Actually partially disregard all that. Apparently specialising in swinging ye swordes fixes that problem almost entirely by letting you hit the things your sword actually hits instead of just the target. Of course non-melee-specialists still have the horrible standard melee.

  22. YourMessageHere says:

    Spoiler is a noun, not a verb, surely? You want “…I can’t possibly spoil here.”, yes? Discuss.

    Nice assemblage of ponderings (does this count as an actual review?). Can’t help thinking this might be something I could play, even though I too hate fantasy games.

    • Brainstrain91 says:

      Unless you are contesting the ability of food to spoil, then “spoil” is most definitely a verb in both of its meanings. A spoiler is, of course, a noun, but that is a different word.

      EDIT: Which is of course the point you were making. Well done. Carry on then.

  23. skurmedel says:

    I was a bit scared my pre-order was naff, because I can’t actually afford it until next month. But turns out they are pretty kind with this stuff as well, if you pre-ordered at GoG you have until the 31st to complete your purchase and rake your bonuses.

  24. HexagonalBolts says:

    Is anyone else unable to talk to king Henselt? Seems to be an error of some sort, he just stands there and I can’t progress :(

  25. subedii says:

    Well that WIT came out super fast. I actually wasn’t expecting this for another week, especially given the previous post on “not rushing it”. :P

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/05/17/no-the-witcher-2-wit-today/

  26. Wizardry says:

    “The Witcher 2 is action-heavy, not least when it comes to fighting. Combat is real-time, and is reliant on you being nifty with your positioning and timing.”

    Says it all.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Yeah, progress! Isn’t it fantastic?

    • Wizardry says:

      What progress?

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Towards simulation and away from stat-defined RPG systems. But that’s for another article.

    • Vinraith says:

      Now see, you went from a situation where Wizardry was being silly, complaining that an action RPG is an action RPG, to a situation where he has a point, by suggesting that action heavy games are somehow objectively superior to stat-based ones and the industry’s move away from stat based games constitutes “progress.”

      If progress is turning a thought-heavy genre into a twitch-heavy genre, you can keep it.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      True, to a point. But progress within action-based RPGs as a form is still progress.

    • Wizardry says:

      What level do action RPGs simulate on that turn-based RPGs do not? Time? Nope. Both simulate time in different ways. Space? Depends on if the turn-based RPG uses a grid or not, but even if it does it just simulates space in a different (non-continuous) way.

      What you mean is the removal of abstractions that are so vital to what RPGs are about. When you model hit detection with a mesh to mesh accuracy and model time per millisecond you end up with a simulation that is truer to life. Your hit becomes your character’s hit. Your dodge become your character’s dodge. You and your character become almost a single entity. What are statistics for if you can perfect this? If you look at Oblivion it scrapped the “abstract” chance to hit calculations that Morrowind had. This made accuracy an irrelevant statistic. If you had a better Die by the Sword (1988) sword fighting system you could even do away with strength and damage statistics by basing it on the forcefulness of your mouse strokes combined with the volume and material of the weapon you are wielding (to calculate its weight).

      Ultimately what I’m getting at is that the perfection of real-time action simulation with the removal of all abstractions would effectively destroy what we all consider to be RPG elements. Statistics. It turns the game into what you as a player can do rather than what your character can do.

      However, this does reinforce the idea that the action RPG is a true hybrid genre. You can “perfect it” by going back to RPG territory or “perfect it” by heading to the action game territory. As both action games and true RPGs exist (or have existed in the past), does that mean that the abstractions are left in purely for the fun of the game on a primitive level? Surely if someone prefers action RPGs to both action games and RPGs then that tells us all something.

    • skurmedel says:

      To me, at least partially, a RPG is something that allows you to mould your character. The options to do so should be more extensive than choosing if Plot NPC A dies or lives (like GTA 4.) On the other hand I usually reserve the term RPG for something like Baldur’s Gate or the Fallout games.

    • DAdvocate says:

      @Wizardry you make a fair point that the inclusion of player skill reduces the role playing nature of of the combat, however this assumes that the combat itself is part of the role playing which isn’t entirely correct.

      If combat was a principal part of a role playing experience then the game should offer the player options when they are defeated, instead they are presented with a game over screen and prompted to reload. All players are expected to be able to pass through the fight with the same outcome (with the opponent killed) rather than role playing a character who may or may not be able to win.

      Combat is a choke point where you must succeed to further the game and return to the role playing in the branching storyline.

      This distinguishes computer RPGs from table top gaming where combat has multiple outcomes and a defeat could result in the dungeon master having the characters captured, or knocked unconscious and left for dead.

    • Wizardry says:

      What? You can win combat in most CRPGs with characters dead/poisoned/injured/wounded/unconscious. Only in modern single character action RPGs (with debatable RPG credentials) do you tend to either win fights or try again.

      In other words, I don’t really understand what you mean. Are you saying that Pool of Radiance isn’t a CRPG because it is 99% combat and combat isn’t role-playing? Can you clarify at all?

    • DAdvocate says:

      @Wizardry In games such as Pools of Radiance you are role playing a party instead of single character and the same rules apply, the party cannot be defeated without encountering the game over/reload outcome.

      The core basis of an RPG is to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes. In games such as the Witcher, your role is expressed by the choices you make in the storyline, not in combat. My point is that you could strip the combat out of the Witcher and still call it an RPG, but if you removed the branching dialogue then it would be more appropriate to label it as an action game.

      “Role playing” is not just about determining whether your character can swing a sword effectively.

      This is not an attack on earlier RPGs, I loved Might and Magic, Wizardry, Ultima, I just don’t believe they have a monopoly on how you can role play in games.

    • Wizardry says:

      Not this again. It’s about the bulk of the experienced game mechanics being determined by the statistics of your character. As Pool of Radiance is 99% combat, in order for it to have been an RPG it needed to have fleshed out combat roles by making statistical differences determine outcomes. It achieved this by implementing D&D rules. As The Witcher has a heavy dialogue component, it needed to make heavy use of conversational skills to change paths through dialogue in order to match Pool of Radiance’s CRPG credentials. It didn’t really have any, though, making dialogue choices (and consequences) player determined rather than character determined. The Witcher also has minimal RPG elements in its combat system because, as you said, there aren’t any roles to play in combat. On top of that, combat is also largely player skill derived (with its timed clicks playing a huge part in combat effectiveness).

      In other words, what skurmedel said is true. Having choices for you to make does not make an RPG. It allows you to role-play, just like GTA IV allows you to role-play by choosing whether to kill or free various characters, but so does other genres of games like some adventure games and interactive fiction. Even choose your own adventure books allow you to change the direction of the story at your will. What makes an RPG different from these examples is that statistics need to be there to limit your character, provide extra options for your character, and to affect their chances of success and failure when performing actions that could very well branch the story.

      Look at the differences between these two examples.

      You chase the thief down a dark alley. Upon seeing a wall up ahead you slow down, assuming the thief will give up. To your surprise, the thief leaps up and clambers over the wall. Do you:

      a) Give up the chase. (Go to page 12)
      b) Follow the thief over the wall. (Go to page 24)
      c) Run round the block and hope to catch the criminal. (Go to page 34)
      d) Break into a parked car and drive round the block. (Go to page 59)

      And.

      You chase the thief down a dark alley. Upon seeing a wall up ahead you slow down, assuming the thief will give up. To your surprise, the thief leaps up and clambers over the wall. Do you:

      a) Give up the chase.
      b) Follow the thief over the wall (7+ Agility).
      c) Run round the block and hope to catch the criminal. (8+ Stamina)
      d) Break into a parked car and drive round the block. (60+ Thievery)

    • Freud says:

      If only it was turn based like Fallout. I would stab everyone in the eyes.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      What about riddles and puzzles and the like? I think there’s a place for player skill in (C)RPGs, so long as it’s not the primary focus of the game mechanics.

      While your idiot barbarian who can only drool and club things on the head shouldn’t ever be able to answer that riddle, it’s no fun if my reasonably intelligent/educated character can only come up with the answer by a dice roll.

    • Eolirin says:

      Statistical abstraction is not what lies at the heart of RPGs, that’s an artifact of Dungeons and Dragons being based on wargames. There are a decent amount of pen and paper rpgs that dispense with a lot of the statistics and the combat modelling, and some larps use actual physical actions to determine whether you succeed or fail at something. They’re still valuable because they’re modelling something that we can’t actually do: using boffers and having an actual sword fight still avoids the messy consequences of using actual swords, and never mind that we’re not really elves or adventurers from a fantasy kingdom.

      The ability to do things that you are physically incapable of, or to be someone that you’re not, lies at the heart of RPGs, and as long as that remains true, even going all the way to the action simulation side lets you maintain that core. Clicking a mouse button to swing a sword is already an abstraction. Statistical modelling beyond that can be nice, especially if we’re really bad at the task that would be required, but isn’t strictly necessary.

      Things are only slightly different when we talk about video game rpgs. You need either character progression or an adventure game level story (either or both is fine) and ‘combat’ (though it doesn’t necessarily have to map to fighting, it just needs to be an isolated gameplay system that fits between the story bits) to really qualify there, rather than becoming just an action game or just an adventure game. I would argue that you can replace story with a sufficiently simulated world and the proper pacing as well; a real sense of *place* is sufficiently removed from action games that it’d kick it back into the RPG territory. So statistical abstraction is just one of two (or three) options.

    • Wizardry says:

      @TillEulenspiegel: I know what you mean. Puzzles have always been one of those mysterious components that have stuck with the genre yet tend to not rely on the skill of the character solving them. Basically, they were originally included in the genre to add variety to combat heavy dungeon crawlers. They’ve stuck with the genre because they are often fun themselves. Should they be in RPGs? Arguably not. I have seen some work arounds, though. Some have suggested that unintelligent or unwise characters should not be able to solve puzzles, while intelligent and wise characters should be able to have the option of bypassing puzzles. This allows players to solve puzzles even if they control intelligent characters, if they so wish.

      Another work around would be some sort of in game commentary explaining away attempts at solving the puzzle.

      Bob van Dumbfuck:

      Bob stares at the panel before him and is confused by its arrangement of sparkling gems. There is no chance that Bob will find a use for this object. He’s just too thick.

      Everyman Tim:

      Tim examines the panel carefully. After a while, what looked to him like a haphazard arrangement of glowing buttons reveals itself to be a cleverly designed puzzle. It seems that Tim will need to shift the glowing buttons from column 1 to column 3. Tim will…

      a) Press the dim button at the top of column 1.
      b) Press the bright button in the middle of column 1.
      c) Press the blinding button at the bottom of column 1.
      d) Step away from the panel.

      Jim the Win:

      Jim turns to his party within a split second of viewing the panel. “It’s the Tower of Hanoi”, he blurts. “It’s a bland puzzle popularly seen in BioWare games.” Jim spins back round and…

      a) Presses the dim button at the top of column 1.
      b) Presses the bright button in the middle of column 1.
      c) Presses the blinding button at the bottom of column 1.
      d) Uses his superior intellect to rush through the puzzle.
      e) Then decides to step away from the panel.

    • Wizardry says:

      @Eolirin: If you prevent statistics from determining the outcome of actions performed by your character you don’t have an RPG. Seriously. Just imagine whatever you think a CRPG should be but without underlying character statistics. It’s probably an open world action game in a highly simulated world where there are choices and consequences to every action you perform. That’s just a simulation heavy action game with a branching story. It’s probably the best possible LARP simulator as you can pretend to be who you want to be, but there is no firm character abstraction that defines an RPG.

      Notice there is no RPG in LARP? Only RP is shared between both terms. LARPing is basically action role-playing. Instead of sitting down at a desk pretending to be an interviewer or interviewee for educational purposes you are running around the forest pretending to be a barbarian. Sitting around a table rolling dice (though you don’t need dice as can be seen in lots of newer pen & paper systems) and writing things down on bits of paper according to the rules of the system (and what the GM decides) is an RPG.

      You can transfer LARPing into video game form. You can also transfer RPGs to video game form. One is effectively an action “RPG” with no statistics but with lots of player freedom and the other is basically the Gold Box games. Fundamentally different uses of role-playing. Fundamentally different games. Fundamentally different genres.

    • Premium User Badge

      Joshua says:

      Not this again. It’s about the bulk of the experienced game mechanics being determined by the statistics of your character —
      What? That has never been the point in any Role Playing, off or on the PC, I have ever done. RP’ing has never been about stats. Stats are just another way of describing your character. An Role playing game can choose to forego the stats, but still leave the role playing in.
      (though you don’t need dice as can be seen in lots of newer pen & paper systems)
      No, and you do not need stats really either. Stats are just a way of describing your character and what he can do. The Witcher 2 mostly did a lot of that for you allready, although there’s still a skill tree and all.

      The problem is with abstract definitions you are trying to instill is quite simple that it is impossible. There are so many ways of doing a game of a certain genre (look at the RTS genre for example, or the FPS, or the racing or the…)

    • DeepSleeper says:

      Don’t show Wizardry, say, the Amber Diceless RPG system.
      His head will split open and FIRE will come out.

    • Premium User Badge

      Joshua says:

      And in the end, every RPG is determined by player skill. What are we going on about anyway?

    • Wizlah says:

      @Wizardry “Just imagine whatever you think a CRPG should be but without underlying character statistics. It’s probably an open world action game in a highly simulated world where there are choices and consequences to every action you perform.”
      Gosh, if you took action game out of that sentence it would be just the same as a crpg with statistics, or indeed a pen and paper role playing game. Because action is ultimately a mechanic. a mechanic better suited to some people who prefer not to engage in turn-based combat, but a mechanic none the less.
      You don’t like the mechanic, and so have tried relentlessly to define rpgs in this argument as necessarily requiring stastics and suggesting that any action taken by a player which does not involve statistics is merely ‘role-playing’ and not actually a role-playing game.
      I understand in part what you’re getting at, but outside of alternate immersive worlds, what defines and makes a roleplaying game is a satisfying freedom of interactivity with consequences. It was mario f, I think, who said we’re never going to get what a game which provides the freedom that a p and p with a good games master gives, and I agree, but where computer games can excel is in providing an involving believable and immersive world that does not simply respond to shooting and simple binary choices.
      Your tedious puritanism (and it *is* tedious) places the focus squarely on mechanics, not on worlds in which you can explore. Fine. Really, I would love to play a nice looking 3rd party version of Baldur’s Gate (I’m not too sure whether that is dragon age or not – I’ve not tried the latter and may well not do for some time to come, principally because I’m a bit leery of bioware writing) with more hardcore survival mechanics, an interesting world and the majority of the writing delivered by text. That would be right fine by me (although I’d prefer a contemporary setting, or a far future setting, or a steampunk setting, or in fact anything but another fantsasy setting, but that’s unlikely to happen). But if the world isn’t well-written and isn’t cohesive, I really don’t want to know. Otherwise, what I’ll have is an univolving resource management game across a number of different characters, and no matter how engrossing and involved the mechanics, it’s ultimately not an interesting game to me.
      CRPGS should be about building worlds to explore and interact with. the mechanics are by the by. The roleplaying should come first. I get the dislike of action mechanics, although I don’t agree with it. I don’t understand why you constantly define role-playing in such strictly mechanistic terms and then effectively suggest it is not essential to an rpg. role playing is a combination of involving mechanics and good writing. But the action mechanic, in and of itself, does not necessarily prevent role-playing. It can be structured to make your character more or less capable with experience. Even with sufficient player skill, you can still structure scenarios where player skill without thought,planning and improvement are not sufficient and where the player has to think about alternatives.

    • Wizardry says:

      @Joshua: Not quite sure where you read that I believe role-playing is rolling dice. I said the complete opposite in fact. If you can’t read then don’t reply.

      @Wizlah: Of course action is a mechanic. It’s just one that relies on the player’s own reflexes and precision with the inputs (keyboard and mouse). What this means is that the reflexes and precision of the character, as traditionally defined by their dexterity, agility, accuracy and other statistics, is either completely ignored or lessened in significance. The more you head into the action game territory the more the player becomes the character and the less the character is an abstracted entity representing the figure that the player wants to role-play as.

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If a player wants to play a character who is terrible at combat but good at diplomacy, they can do so in a statistics heavy game by creating a character in the appropriate way. If a player wants to play a character who is terrible at combat but good at diplomacy in a statisticless game they have to actually play worse than they possibly are by intentionally misfiring and failing to dodge. That right there is the difference.

    • Eolirin says:

      Wizardry, I started to write a really lengthy reply, but then I realized that what I was trying to say can be summed much much much more simply as this: if you do a mechanical analysis of what makes a video game RPG a video game RPG, only one element comes out: all video game RPGs will have to allow you to grind. If they don’t, they’re not RPGs, if they do, they are. Nothing else matters at all. Not the combat system, not the existence of stats, not the existence of story or choices. The ability to grind is the entire core of what defines a video game rpg. Pen and paper stuff is different, but mostly because not all pen and paper rpgs are actually games.

      If you want a more detailed explanation, I’d be happy to walk through why this is.

      Also, LARPs are definitely games, with rules and everything. The G gets dropped off much like it does in MMO, even though in both cases that results in a term with no actual noun. LARPing works as a verb for this reason, in a way that RPG doesn’t. Playing on semantics does not help you make your point.

      As an aside: all games, of any nature, ultimately rely entirely on the skill of the player at playing them. Twitch skills in an action game are not any different than being able to make complex choices about what makes a good build in a complex stat based rpg, or how best to go about dealing with a combat situation in a turn based strategy rpg. So that line of argument is kind of disingenuous. Action combat systems benefit people who are better at actiony skills and are harder for people who aren’t good at them, and deeply complex statistical combat systems benefit people good at statistical analysis or complex long term planning but harder for people not good at that; there’s no inherent value to either proposition unless you happen to fall into one of the two groups. It’s entirely preferential, and has nothing to do with being more or less skill based; it uses different skills yes, but you can make a twitch heavy game that’s incredibly forgiving and easy that almost anyone could play, or a stat heavy game that’s deeply impenetrable and difficult and very few people can get anywhere in, or vice versa. Skill has nothing to do with it.

  27. Josh W says:

    I can have sex with prostitutes? I think I’ll pass actually, and besides, I don’t think I could stand up in a court and say “But Jim Rossignol said it was fine???!”

    • Ricc says:

      Also, you are probably not immune to all diseases (including STDs) like Geralt. That guy is just built for fucking around… *sadface*

    • iniudan says:

      There is a place called Netherland just across a bit of sea for you British type. =p

      But shrug, I am not the best judge for distance in Europe, since has a Canadian, every European city just seem to be right next to each other to me. =p

  28. suibhne says:

    Some of screenshots are pretty spoiler-ish – including the first one, which shows up on RPS’s main page even if you don’t click through to this WIT.

  29. kyrieee says:

    Jim, do the sidequests always show up on the map once you’ve explored the area they’re in?

    I have a few now that I don’t know where to go for, but there are parts of the forest I haven’t explored yet.

  30. Darthus says:

    Great review Jim. I’m just past the temple in the prologue and can agree with you about the… opacity of the combat system. There have been a number of threads on the official forum complaining about it, saying it’s worse etc etc, but I can tell that it is highly skill based and unforgiving and also that as you advance with things like all directional blocking and group attacks, it gets easier.

    Also… am I the only one that finds the writing in the Witcher games… I don’t know… awkward? Like, unnatural. They leave out words and it feels stilted and like a translation. It’s not badly translated in the way JRPGs are, but a typical exchange will be, “What about the dream?” “Not worth it.” It’s like… wait, what? Like they’re trying to write in a gruff casual style, but it just feels like the natural flow of conversation isn’t there.

    Despite being a masterwork of a European game, this is still a European PC RPG, and still has all those little oddities that make European games so refreshing but also so… non-mainstream a lot of ways. They just expect things of the player that were commonplace in the old PC era but the US videogaming public feels we’ve “moved past”, things like an uneven difficulty curve, being expected to read the manual, very little hand holding etc.

    Anyways, thanks for this review Jim, I was getting a little frustrated with parts (like the combat, the conversational flow, how finicking the “click to interact” is, the QTE, but I’m floored by other parts, so it’s great to hear it all begins to gel a lot more as it goes along.

    • Darthus says:

      On this note… without being too spoilery, why the hell is the person you’re talking to you in the intro acting like he was not there? I understand he didn’t see everything, but what the heck, he’s like, tell me what happened, and then you proceed to tell him exactly what he saw. He’s not like, “I was doing something else, so tell me what you went and did.” Again, I think it has to do with the writing, which just “feels” translated. Or when Geralt says, “Are you going to introduce us?” to the lady at the start in the prison, so he’s obviously talking to the interviewer guy, but the lady goes, “No thank you.” I understand the joke, but it felt so flat and awkward because that’s not how a natural conversation would go and just feels like perhaps the flow made sense in the original Polish.

  31. jack4cc says:

    While normal is wayyyyy too hard, the game is still great on easy. Unfortunately I had tried to kill the kraken thing twenty times before I figured that out. Still, this is the game I’ve been waiting for.

    • Premium User Badge

      cairbre says:

      Yeah it took me a lot of turns to beat the kraken and the fight in the elven ruins took a lot of goes too but I am really impressed with this games far I am still in flotsam but my god am I enjoying it. Best game so far this year. Bioware watch out there is a new kid on the block and they are hungry.

  32. ChainsawCharlie says:

    Must.Buy.This.

  33. Casimir's Blake says:

    Good article, detailed and elaborate enough to convince me this is yet another third person pseudo-RPG with hack-and-slash combat.

    The dialogue that I’ve heard so far is compelling, but why is there no first person? Why do the opening sections have to be so damned linear? Why can’t anyone make open-world first-person RPGs worth playing any more? (I wonder if even Bethesda will be capable come Skyrim release day.)

    I’ll say this though, it beats the hell out of Dragon Age, both visually and with its writing. A damned sight more intelligent than BioWare’s recent abortion, just a shame that there’s no possibility for playing it in any other way than as a third person hack-and-slash. Which is relentlessly tedious.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      It picks up a lot after the prologue. It’s worth getting through.

    • Dominic White says:

      “why is there no first person?”

      Because not every game ever made needs to be an FPS. Also, given how the combat works, you’d spend even MORE time getting stabbed in the back (and you take double damage from behind) than you do already. Even with a fairly wide third-person camera angle, you can still get snuck up on fairly easily.

    • Darthus says:

      From your post it assumes you want a first person open world game. This is not it, but that does not mean this has no value. If that is the game you want, you’re better off waiting for Skyrim, but if you put those expectations aside and appreciate this for what it is, then you might find yourself enjoying it despite yourself.

    • kyrieee says:

      Why don’t you play it before you judge it

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      Thanks for the reply Jim. This is the most tempting vaguely mainstream game I’ve seen in a long time, but I’m having trouble getting through this first chapter. Little tolerance for fantasy stories, even if I can enjoy a fantasy environment in a game.

      Dominic, careful how you use that acronym: I’m not after an FPS.

      I’m after more immersive sims. Please? Any devs reading this? Someone has to step up to the Looking Glass plate, it’s been empty for far too long.

      Someday, someone has to try and merge the balls-tighteningly excellent melee combat from Condemned to an open-world RPG (though open-under-world would be even better). I can’t be the only one that would be interested? Armour and weapons change your agility and your combat effectiveness etc? Stabs working better with some enemies, slices with others… Oh sod it, maybe I should just try and learn Unity?

    • paterah says:

      No, you are not the only one. However, the games you mention are being developed by Bethesda. Yes, more developers should pick up on the design of their games. But that in no way means Witcher is not a good game and it definitely does not mean it should be made in some other way. Cause what it does, it does it good and I like its way as well as Bethesda’s style of RPG design. Each one got their own flavor and I like them both.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I do hope Skyrim is good, because Oblivion was only okay, and I didn’t like Fallout 3. High hopes for it, but we shall see.

    • starmanjones says:

      Pseudo-rpg? What about this game makes it a “pseudo-rpg”? From what I’ve played it most definitely contains all the elements of the genre. The combat, although frustrating at times, is a damn lot better than the majority of role playing games that attempt real time combat.
      I’m also unsure why you’re disappointed that there’s no first person and that it isn’t open enough (which probably has something to do with the fact that it isn’t an open world RPG and was never advertised as such ). I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but first person RPGs are a bit of a rarity. You’ve got The Elder Scrolls, Deus Ex, VTM Bloodlines, System Shock and a handful of others that can be considered worth playing. Why is it so shocking that there’s no first person? That and if you consider the fact that in combat you are constantly rolling and jumping from target to target, a first person camera would be terrible.
      I think criticizing the game because it doesn’t cater to your specific tastes and expectations is a tad silly.

  34. kcn4000 says:

    Barring the combat difficulty curve, I am loving this game

  35. Kaldor says:

    I admire CD Project for not desperately clinging to some “classic” RPG formula but neither to make “cool and trendy” things, but just to make a game at its best and in its own style with all possibilities that are open to game design and good storytelling.

  36. Unaco says:

    “only a single different outfit from the one Geralt started with”

    Are you certain about this? From the ArtBook there are around 15 or so different Armours listed. I imported a Witcher 1 save, so have been using the Raven Armour, but then, I started with other Armour actually on, so that + Raven is 2 outfits. During the prologue I found another Armour, the Quilted Jacket. That’s 3. Take away the Raven Armour as it’s imported, and that’s still 2, or ‘a single different outfit from the one Geralt started with’. Are there really no other armours after the prologue? I’m just starting Chapter 1, but that would seem somewhat strange to me… if there were no other armours available throughout the entirety of the game. Again, from the ArtBook it mentions that different paths will lead to you getting different Armours.

    Anyone confirm this?

    On the rest of this WIT… you mention combat is the biggest, or the pacing is the biggest problem. I’ve had no problems, on Normal, with the Prologue combat. Even tempted to crank it up to Hard. So I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. However, you also say that Alchemy + Crafting you largely ignored… but, these elements are supposed to be used, I thought, to help with the combat. The Witcher doesn’t just have his Swords and ability to dodge. He can use traps, bombs, take potions etc.

    I largely agree with the rest of what you say though. The game is beautiful. The world is convincing. The story if compelling. All in all, I think this is shaping up to be a truly fantastic, possibly even classic game. A few niggles, but nothing that’s going to get in my way.

    Also, I will say, I have not encountered any bugs or problems worth mentioning.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Read that part again. The point I was making was that my progress wasn’t dependent on me being decked out with new loot. There are loads of outfits in there, they’re just not fundamentally necessary in the way they can be in other RPGs.

    • Unaco says:

      Ahhh… I see now. It was prefixed with “I used…”. Thanks for clearing that up.

  37. airtekh says:

    Nice WIT Jim.

    I didn’t finish the first game and I’m not a huge fan of it, but it sounds like the sequel is much better. I’ll probably pick it up at some point.

  38. Premium User Badge

    Morlock says:

    I remember reading that it is possible to import your savegame from Witcher 1. How much do your choices from the first game matter in the sequel?

  39. Wixard says:

    I was feeling a bit unsure about my pre-order, until I actually played it.

    The game is stupidly beautiful, and stupidly good. Every bit as good as Dragon age:O and ME2.

    It’s been years since I was this amazed with a game. At various points I stop and stare in awe at the scenery. The best looking game ever without a doubt. Very impressive. Can’t wait to get back home so I can continue playing.

    • Unaco says:

      Yeah. I’m actually considering starting a new game, just so I can go through the prologue again and stop and stare at and appreciate all of the stuff I ‘rushed’ past in my first playthrough… The exit from the Siege tower, the courtyard and the inside of the Temple, the camp and Trebuchets at the start, La Vallete Castle itself.

    • Outsider says:

      I’ve been meandering through everything really slowly in the prologue, going everywhere (except where you have to run), just taking everything in. I caps locked in “walk” as default key so shift is for “run.” I love the costume design too and the texturing, especially on characters is really impressive.

    • Wixard says:

      Yea I think i’ll go through it, then try a second playthrough with the DLC on a harder difficulty level.

    • starmanjones says:

      It is ridiculously pretty. From the massive set pieces to the tiniest rooms (the bath under the elven ruins comes to mind) it always looks gorgeous.

  40. Maykael says:

    I think the bugs and other various niggles we keep mentioning in the comment threads and the forum are actually a testament of the game’s quality (for once.. :|). We notice the issues more easily because they are so unexpected. To blame are the extreme amounts of polish (no pun intended) from the other areas of the game. Every little niggle that I would normally ignore in other games because some other, bigger, problems, shines here because it detracts me from experiencing the exceptional world building that CD Projekt Red have done here.

    Has anyone noticed that in the prologue they are actually loading the trebuchets. There are soldiers that pull in some wheels to bring down the wooden throwing arm and some other poor bastard pushes the boulder that is to be thrown into its rightful place. This is similar to the turret building scene in Portal 2. The future we imagined 10 years ago has come up earlier than I expected. I welcome it with open arms.. :)

  41. xcolour says:

    I’d still like to play The Witcher 1, but I want to play this one while it’s fresh. How much am I going to spoil the story to the first one by playing them out of order?

    • Darthus says:

      Very little I think, there are some repeating characters but the stories seem relatively disconnected. In general even the Witcher books are structured such that they’re more standalone.

    • FiveO says:

      Not much spoilerage between 1 and 2 as far as I can tell (but i haven’t finished the game yet). However, since you have the option, I will say that you are much better off playing the (nicely patched up) Witcher 1 now and waiting for a few patches for 2 to come out. Games are often at their worst when ‘fresh.’ That and you’ll find that the Witcher 1 graphics are atrocious after playing 2.

    • sebmojo says:

      I think Witcher 1 still looks ok. The invisible walls are the most annoying thing, and it’s not a particularly well optimised engine, but it’s quite a pretty game even now.

  42. Hellraiserzlo says:

    So they released that free dlc but if I haven’t registered their site before it crashed or something then I can’t claim it?

    • Unaco says:

      No. I’m fairly sure they’ll let you claim it when their site is back up. Which it appears to be now. I’m able to connect, through the launcher, and look at the DLC (Troll Trouble + English/Polish Language Packs).

    • Hellraiserzlo says:

      Yes I know about that but in their site the registration on the upper right corner is grey, http://en.thewitcher.com/#
      I haven’t moved for longer then like 50 meters from the tent because it ran so bad, now it’s okay after I lowered the resolution to 1440X900 but I am not sure if should start playing without the dlc :(

  43. Mist says:

    Question…. besides in the introduction, are there any more “unexpected” sexy times? Like the dominatrix stuff; do you get at least some warning that there are going to be naked 3d women on your screen, or is it like you’re chopping up some dudes, then enter a conversation with some guy in the middle of a tavern and suddenly it cuts to some naked women?
    I don’t mind the naked women, but I normally play when there is family in the room, which is just a bit awkward when my screen suddenly starts showing sex…

    • Premium User Badge

      QuantaCat says:

      but its not ackward when people get chopped in the face?

    • Dominic White says:

      “I don’t mind the naked women, but I normally play when there is family in the room, ”

      There is an astonishing amount of profanity, and the violence is downright brutal – I’ve found myself cringing at a lot of the finishing animations. Even when you’re not doing fancy finishers, there’s plenty of blood and flying limbs/heads too.

      If that doesn’t offend your family, but the sight of a naked breast does… then your family is broken and you should get them replaced under warranty.

    • Nick says:

      Don’t be silly guys, surely you would feel awkward during a sex scene in a film with your parents there when you were younger, for example?

    • Mist says:

      Wearing headphones so profanity is not a problem (it’s not as if they can read the subtitles). And I’m not saying that it’s a good thing that society cares less about violence than about sex, but hey, there it is.

      (my family wouldn’t really be offended per se – but it will at least lead to a “ehm… what the hell are you doing?”. And I personally just don’t feel comfortable watching sexy times with family in the room ;))

    • Veracity says:

      @Nick: The game’s cert 18 by whoever does that these days, isn’t it? So not really, no. I mean, everyone has their peculiarities, but you might be overestimating the universality of yours.

    • kyrieee says:

      The second sex scene I came across appeared to be optional, so you can probably opt out.

  44. Premium User Badge

    QuantaCat says:

    The Witcher 1 is a grand adventure, one where you will want to continue in The Witcher 2 ASAP.

    Its not like Mass Effect 1 & ME2, where one was flawed a bit, and the other was just right.

    (coming from the perspective of where they tried to do a space-action rpg with ME1, and failed on the RP bits, and where ME2 didnt really try much to do RP, and succeeded)

    so I really suggest you get the first one first, as long as its the newer edition.

  45. Tim James says:

    Jim, what skill tree did you go with and how do you think it affected combat? Was it the swordplay tree that allowed you to jump in the middle of enemies, or did you mix and match from multiple trees?

  46. CryingTheAnnualKingo says:

    “there’s no Chosen One, no Ultimate Evil”

    Sold.

    • Mirqy says:

      The greatest trick the devil played was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.

      /misquote

  47. Ertard says:

    Just got started basically, and just got in to combat for the first time. I have to say the combat feels significantly more clunky then The Witcher’s fairly easy to use, if a bit stale, combat. I just can’t control Geralt at all, where he sometimes just refuses to do stuff. In general it just feels very hard as well, where the only way to win is stand your guard blocking, waiting for an opening, and waiting for your signs to recharge.

    Hope it gets better.

    • Dominic White says:

      *It* doesn’t get better. You do.

      Once you’re a couple of major quests into Chapter 1, try going back to the prologue and seeing just how easy it is, and how much smoother it feels. You should be bouncing between targets and picking off stragglers quite gracefully once you’ve got the hang of it.

      It’s exceptionally player-skill-oriented.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I disagree. Spending a lot of points in swordsmanship makes a huge difference.

    • Zenicetus says:

      So, it sounds like a good plan might be to go deep on the swordsmanship tree for the first play-through, and then one of the other trees for the next time through the game? I’m tempted by magic or alchemy (I did a lot of potion and oil creation in the first game), but a second run-through would be easier with less sword skills, once the basic combat moves are ingrained. On the other hand… I’m very curious to see what a fully magic-enhanced Geralt is like. Decisions… decisions…

      By the way, “exceptionally player-skill-oriented” or not, there’s still something a little odd about the linkage between my mouse and keyboard commands, and what Geralt actually does. Player skill only works to full potential when there is an exceptionally tight control system. Since it’s a little goofy, I don’t mind buffing with sword (or magic) skills to help out.

  48. google says:

    I’m so glad you’ve written this review, Jim. Reading some of the various forums, I thought I was the only one finding faults with the design of the combat and signposting. While the combat never feels difficult, it always feels slow, and not reactive to what you’re wanting to do. So all I’m doing is screaming at Geralt and his fucking unresponsive block/rolling.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Yeah, it’s could do with being just a fraction more responsive, I feel.

    • Zarim says:

      Combat:
      - Blocking (E) uses up Vigor as much as Signs do. No Vigor = no block available.
      - Enemies hitting you throw you off-balance, leaving you ‘dazed’ for a second or so. Key: Avoid being hit.
      - Most effective way of dodging is by double-tapping the directional keys.
      - Do not try to ‘queue-up’ actions. This is what results in the “clunky” experience. Instead…
      - WATCH your enemies’ combat moves. When they lift their weapon, a blow is coming (duh). Dodge the attack.
      - You can chain up attacks, though the more you chain, the more likely the opponent will retaliate and daze you. Thus, after your 3rd strike or so, block in anticipation, await the retaliation and continue.
      - Create space, don’t let yourself be “boxed” (+1 for anyone who remembers this Ultima Online term)
      - Make clever use of Axii and Aard. Set a hotkey for the “dial menu” that is accessible while not impeding movement controls (I remapped Space) so you can quickly change Signs during combat.
      - Last but certainly helpful on slower machines: DISABLE “Vertical Sync” in the advanced options. That will make your input/mouse-lag go away

      In short, once you get the hang of the combat and begin to understand the reasons for “unresponsiveness”, you will most likely start to enjoy combat thoroughly, dancing from opponent to opponent.
      The key is to watch opponent’s behavior and consiously execute your actions in anticipation =)

    • Ultra Superior says:

      Excellent guide Zarim!!

      I’ve learned the same (the hard way)

      Vigor is the most important thing in combat – remember to visit the magic skill tree and place some points there.

      I’d like to comment and stuff but I just need to get back and play this GHOOODNHESS !!!!

      Perfect WIT Jim, it’s just 100% pure truth.

      For those who don’t have it yet – GO FOR IT – it’s totally worth the pain (which goes away as soon as you make yourselves comfy in the game)

  49. Sunjammer says:

    Staggeringly gorgeous game. Maybe the best looking game I can recall playing on the PC. I think the last time i reacted so viscerally to simply looking at a game was the first time i played Outcast.

    It’s just so coherent. You can’t see the seams. Even simple things like the way Geralt runs, with the right amount of bounce to each step, it all just makes perfect sense to the eyes.

    It’s shockingly good stuff, and it makes Bioware look, dare i say it, second rate. If CDP can keep this up, we have a new RPG champion.

    So… Anyone else prefer to play it with a gamepad?

    • jimjonescult says:

      This game feels and plays so much better using the Xbox 360 game pad over the mouse and keyboard. Here we go: OMG they consolized it!! /s I did hear they are considering a console port of this game, however, and given the playability with the game pad, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were true.

      My biggest concern with the game is performance. I have an i7 920 oc’ed to 3.2ghz, 12gb ram, an SSD and 2 6870s in crossfire mode. Even with those specs I get brightness flickering that comes close to inducing an epileptic seizure. My eyes hurt after 20 minutes of playing. I also get fps dips. Combined, these really break my immersion. There also seems to be random input latency that ruins the fluidity of combat despite my raving above about how it plays better with the game pad (I only meant it feels more natural and logical when played using a controller). I’m hoping that some new AMD drivers and/or CAPs are released along with some patches for the game within the next 2 weeks so that I can get back to playing and fully enjoying the game. I think I’m going to hold off until that all happens, though.

    • Zenicetus says:

      You’re aware that parry requires vigor, same as spells? That could be the problem. It’s not very intuitive (although the manual mentions it), because in other games the mana pool is usually not linked to combat actions.

      Edit: Reply fail, that was directed to TheBlobThing below.

    • Premium User Badge

      Oozo says:

      So, The Witcher 2 is officially announced for XBox. Angry nerd boys going in “Told you it’s consolized”-mode in 3, 2, 1…
      Anyway, it will be interesting to see how the consoles put up with a game that really was designed with more horse power in mind.

  50. TheBlobThing says:

    I agree with most of this review. I’m surprised no one has mentioned the catastrophic confusion the parry (E) key feels. Often, when I’ve just cast a spell the E key makes the ‘fizzle’ sound like when you try and cast a spell with no vigor points left. It takes a couple of tries before I can get it to work. Am I really the only one with this bug?

    Also, I agree about the large scale map, but I had absolutely no problem with the close-up one. Granted, I’m only in the middle of Chapter One, so it might get a bit worse later on.

    I adore that Triss DIDN’T wear stupid pubescent-fantasy cringe-worthy chainmail bikini type wear. A few of the other non-prostitute characters did, but it’s nice to see such an important female supporting character not dress like a tart for the benefit of the young male audience out there.

    And GAH THOSE DOORS!

    • Unaco says:

      ” Often, when I’ve just cast a spell the E key makes the ‘fizzle’ sound like when you try and cast a spell with no vigor points left. It takes a couple of tries before I can get it to work. Am I really the only one with this bug?”

      It’s not a bug. It’s a feature. It says, in the Instruction Manual (which no one seems to have read), that Parrying/Blocking requires Vigor. If you have none left, like if you’ve just cast a Sign, then you won’t be able to Parry.

      In addition, Parrying initially only works from the front, so you can still be hit in the back/flanks, and only reduces damage, doesn’t eliminate it entirely. With Upgrades to Parry, you can first block in all directions, and then later Reduce Damage by 100%. Also, some (at least one) Swordsman Abilities improve Parrying… Riposte allows you to counter after a successful Parry.

    • TariqOne says:

      The game opens with a loving topographic exploration of Triss’s humongous nakie boobies and every other nude curve and crevasse. And unless I’m mistaken, she was also submitted to a spread in Polish Playboy. I’d say the young male demo got their fapbait out of her just fine.

    • TheBlobThing says:

      Unaco: Whoa, you’re right, didn’t read the manual at all. So used to the manual being completely useless these days it didn’t even cross my mind. Thanks for that. I’ll be more conservative with my vigor now.

      Tariq: Yes but that’s in a cutscene, not the entire time when she’s on the scene. You’re right, there still is fapmaterial for the prepubescents out there, but at least they’ve cut down on it a little. And I’m not familiar with Polish Playboy.

    • m4x1u says:

      @ TariqOne

      Yeah, I’ve bought that Playboy (my gf convinced me to do it – weird, huh? ;).

      The session is done as with a regular girl, meaning – you have an interview with her :)
      The renders/pics are okay. Some look realistic/lifelike, but majority are just nice renders.