Eyes-On: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The rise and rise of CDP has been a remarkable thing to watch. What we’re seeing is a studio spooling up to full power. The enormous ambition of The Witcher failed to really hit its mark, but the intention was clear. The even greater ambition of The Witcher 2 revealed CDP to be an RPG creator that was hitting its stride, as well as achieving its ambitions, and now the third game, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, threatens to outshine an entire industry with its technical and artistic prowess. Full power, I suspect, has been reached.

There’s every reason for scepticism at this early, hype-manufacturing stage, but what we saw at Gamescom this year suggests that The Witcher 3 could be the most important mainstream game of 2014. If nothing else the rather blunt claim of “a world thirty-five times the size of The Witcher 2” should get our attention.

What was shown to press audience at Gamescom was a 45-minute sequence played and narrated by the developers. It was as staged as all such demos are, but there was no doubt that this was the actual game (mistakes in combat revealed that, and we’ll come back to that), running as intended. Well, mostly. There was cause for CDP to joke that the horse AI was currently just donkey AI right now…

But these little glitches aside, it was breathtaking.

That’s not to say that the general visual fidelity was greatly improved over The Witcher 2 – it’s a very similar looking game, but the details are incrementally bettered. Better animation, fancier particle and filtering effects would be flourishes you’d expect, but it’s the scale of the thing: being able to peer off into vast landscapes, then leap on a horse or climb into a boat and head out into those vistas, fills me with anticipation. Nor is it an experience that is necessarily locked down by its loyalty to storytelling. While the main story will spill through the game in a certain direction, the entire game space – an archipelago of islands and a chunk of the North Kingdoms of The Witcher’s world – will be open for the first moments of the game. Explore, say CDP, and damn right, says I.

We watched as the developers rode to a distant castle, spoke with the Jarl, and then headed out into the lavish countryside to look for Geralt’s next lead in his search for The Wild Hunt – a group of demonic slavers that are raiding villages from their nightmarish floating galleons. As Geralt travelled, the men from CDP spoke about the need to create points of interest across the landscape, from villages to ruins and to more mysterious things besides. Having dealt with bandits harassing a farmer, Geralt climbed a hill towards a desolate ruin. A spectacular fight with a horned monster – half stag, half bear, half ick – ensued, and led to the creature fleeing, which could have given the player an opportunity to monster-hunt in the huge landscape. Tracking down beasts is now at the heart of the experience.

The player could have walked away at this point, of course, but the temptation is to see where it leads, which is what CDP did. Conversation revealed a fracture in the village, with the older residents wishing to placate the beast by worshiping it, and the younger thugs wanting its blood. Geralt heads off into the woods to find out more about the threat.

Here we got to see an entirely new aspect of the game: a vision mode which allows the player to pick out relevant monster clues. Initially this allows tracking to places of interest, but then it gives up more clues – claw marks on rocks, a sinister flock of crows – that reveal the nature of the beast. Geralt identifies it, and returns to the village to report. Further use of his observation mode reveals that one of the villagers is “marked” and must leave the village or risk the slain creature being reborn through them after Geralt has dealt with it. More drama in the village.

Then Geralt heads off into the woods for the confrontation. Presumably the player could have avoided returning at all, and have followed the trail of clues that would have led to the beast, but the CDP demo was clearly set up for additional drama.

Anyway, I should mention at this point some of the remarkable atmospherics that were in play on the screen during this session. There was a storm blowing, and the entire forest, every bough and blade of grass, was being battered by the bad weather. The lighting and audio, too, suggested that this was a place tainted by evil, and once the monster was inevitably slain, the oppressive feel of the forest began to lift, the storm subsiding and the sinister effects dissipating into dappled sun and falling leaves. Earlier we’d seen Geralt meditate, and watched as the sky rolled around, and the weather transformed in accelerated time. It’s hardly a surprise when big budget games look incredible, these days, but moments like that nevertheless grasped me by the eyeballs.

Once the creature’s totems were burned, the fight could kick off, and it was a surprisingly dynamic sequence. The towering skull-headed horror could teleport by way of a flock of crows, while its grisly wolf minions darted in to attack as Geralt attempted to land damage on the creature. Occasionally blasts of roots came from the ground, knocking Geralt back and seemingly doing considerable damage. There were a few wobbles from the guy controlling the action – targeting th wrong things, sending spells off in the wrong direction, but it was nevertheless a lavish scene.

On his return to the village, Geralt discovered that the woman who had been marked by the beast, herself innocent of any wrongdoing, had not been exiled, but had been murdered by the villagers. The resolution was, therefore, not a happy one. As The Witcher left to continue his quest, a voiceover revealed something even darker was to befall the village once he had departed. The Witcher 3 is going to be a deep and dark tale, said CDP, full of difficult decisions not just for Geralt, but for the other people living in his world.

All of which was encompassed in a single, optional sidequest. CDP went on to claim that sidequests such as these, in combination with the main plot, will offer around a hundred hours of game. A hundred hours. Man, I hope they give me a bit more time to get it reviewed this time. The Witcher 2 nearly killed me.

Of course a few things still hang: whether the combat really is improved from The Witcher 2 isn’t clear. It seemed very much the same. The awkwardness of the original was by no means fatal to the experience, but the rigidity of the animation and difficulty that caused in fluid play certainly seemed to give many players cause for consternation. Whether CDP can really fill that giant world and those 100 hours with the sort of quality they trotted out at Gamescom is even less clear. If they can then, well, we’ll not simply have watched a development studio coming of age, we’ll have seen them established as one of the most important studios working in games today.

And it’s not every week that I get to type that.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is due for release in 2014.


  1. golem09 says:

    If this isn’t #1 on your most wanted list, you’re doing something wrong.

    • Rikard Peterson says:

      I wonder what it is that I’m doing wrong?

      • golem09 says:

        Wanting things. This was also simply an expression of me wanting it even more thant just simply a usual #1.

        • latina168 says:

          my co-worker’s step-sister makes $60 an hour on the laptop. She has been out of a job for seven months but last month her pay was $16395 just working on the laptop for a few hours. site ………………link to goo.gl

      • Sir Buildbot Winslave says:



    • kyrieee says:

      Dark Souls II

      • nrvsNRG says:

        for me its this and DS2…..gonna be really spoiled next year!

      • botonjim says:

        That’s right. No other game really matters.

        • nrvsNRG says:

          tbh, every game ive played since Dark Souls has been a dissapointment….DS has ruined gaming for me lol.

      • Ulaxes says:

        I happily take both. :)
        It’s so nice to see how so many games recently evolve and improve in the way their predecessors promised us years ago. Really looking forward to DS2, TW3, WD and the two big upcoming spacegames ED and SC. Abbreviations galore! And Cyberpunk 2077 should also be coming in the
        following years.

        I actually played The Witcher 2 after finishing DS and though it would be an great but much easier game. Boy, this game is damn hard on hard :D

      • golem09 says:

        I’m not so sure how good DS2 will be, but DS was one of my favourite gaming experiences in the last 12 months. So it’s not on my #2 spot either, instead I have Sui Generis there.

      • Tuco says:

        I preferred Dark Souls to The Witcher 2, no doubt about that, but I’m also far more confident that TW3 will improve on the predecessor, when on the other hand there is a lot that worries me about what they showed of DS2 so far.

    • Farsearcher says:

      Cyberpunk 2077 is top of my list, am I forgiven?

    • InternetBatman says:

      Project Eternity and Wasteland 2 take far greater precedence on my wanted list. Even Cyberpunk. I didn’t like any of the characters in the Witcher series, combat was creaky and limited to tiny arenas, and the boss fights (especially the monsters) stunk. I don’t know why people make it out like the Witcher series is the second coming of RPGs.

      • gunny1993 says:

        Probably because they did like the characters in the Witcher series.

    • AJLeuer says:

      I think Dragon Age: Inquisition deserves its spot at the top of my list, given Bioware’s well-established reputation for making superb RPGs. However Jim’s absolutely right that CD Projekt have made a name for themselves in a short period of time, and I think they’ll soon join Bioware and Bethesda at the very top of the list of single-player RPG devs, if they haven’t already. Technically and graphically, Witcher 3 and Inquisition look to be neck-and-neck. What will give DA:I the edge I think is writing – Bioware are simply unmatched when it comes to crafting a good story. This isn’t anything against CD Projekt, Witcher 2‘s writing was mostly very good, but only one developer can be the best.

      • Upper Class Twit says:

        Well, that’s a fairly uncommon opinion you have there. Especially on this site.

        • AJLeuer says:

          That’s OK. Any opinion worth having should be able to withstand debate or challenge.

          • tormeh says:

            You said what? Where? ON THE INTERNET!? Are you mad? This thing could break, you know…

      • FriendlyFire says:

        I really dislike Bioware’s black and white vision of morality, really cliché stories (yay save the world again!) and paper-thin romance. I think CDPR already does all of those much, much better.

        The place where Bioware’s really good is character development. You’ll be hard pressed to find a Bioware game where at least one character hasn’t resonated with each player (and that one character may not necessarily be the same one for everyone, either!). I think I’d put CDPR slightly below Bioware for this.

        Still, overall, I think CDPR is a lot more interesting and refreshing. Bioware’s style feels shallow and formulaic in the end.

        • Juan Carlo says:

          I love Bioware (especially Mass Effect), but the Witcher 1 and 2 blow Bioware out of the water in terms of writing and world building. The Witcher 1 has the best plot of the two, but the Witcher 2 has the most immersive worlds. I spent a huge amount of time in W2 just wandering around and starring at shit, mouth agape at how much detail they packed into the levels.

        • AJLeuer says:

          Hmm. I think the “black and white morality” comes more from the limitations of certain gameplay mechanics (e.g. the Paragon/Renegade system), and is less a feature of Bioware’s actual writing. Take the Mage question, as argued about by your party members in Dragon Age 2. If you listen closely, you’ll find that very many of them have quite nuanced views on the subject. Anders for example wants liberty for the mages at any cost, but even he voices concern about the damage that Blood Magic can cause. Aveline, while she generally sides with the establishment and the side of law-and-order, would never stand for mages being treated unjustly. Isabela, though she is as lawless as Aveline is law-abiding, still has a basic sense of decency and fairness. Fenris thinks freedom is great, but he has good reason not to trust mages. Etc etc.
          I don’t know of any other developer who can write such a broad range of compelling characters, let alone provide insightful social commentary that blends seamlessly into the story. With all the different perspectives that the party members in Bioware games can provide, I think it would be really unfair to say Bioware presents anything as black and white.

          • stkaye says:

            Dragon Age 2 isn’t really the best well to draw from in our defense of Bioware, but I will say that thematically the second act of that game – the whole thing with the Qunari – was superb. Show me an ideological and ethical debate to match it in either Witcher game, and we can talk turkey.

          • gunny1993 says:

            Character writing is certainly their current strong point (No matter how stupid Merril is i can’t not love her, and that’s good writing)

            Plot writing, however, is not.

            I mean look at the beginning of #2 where (erm the witch in #1)’s mother is all forboading about some great evils n shit …. then the rest of the game forgets that ever happened and sends you on some pretty shallow questlines.

            Oh and the head of the mages guild: “don’t ever ever ever ever ever deal with deamons and do blood magic”

            When things geta little hairy (but not that bad):

            FUCK IT, BLOOD MAGIC TIME ….. turns into fuck off demon, not only not saving the mages but infact almost killing their saviours.

            Real fucking weak writing that was.

          • stkaye says:

            Yeah, look, Dragon Age 2 sucks in a rather significant way. I was talking particularly about the Qunari plot.

          • FriendlyFire says:

            See, I think the Renegade/Paragon system is no excuse. Bioware is supposed to be a story-focused developer. Act the part. If a stupid system like this hampers the writers’ ability to create compelling, nuanced stories, throw it out. It’s an excuse for lazy writing and it doesn’t fly with me.

            The Witcher doesn’t have any sort of moral compass; you have choices to make but the game doesn’t judge your choices in any way. I think the games are much better for it.

          • AJLeuer says:

            @ stkaye
            You’re right that Dragon Age 2 is a weak spot. But I figure if anyone’s going to attack Bioware, they’re gonna go for DA2. May as well put it out there and let people take their shots. If people can understand that DA2, as disappointing as it was, had at least some redeeming qualities, then maybe they’ll reconsider their position on Dragon Age as a whole.

      • Lawful Evil says:

        Oh that is a good one. (I detect sarcasm)

        • AJLeuer says:

          Right. Because no one could anticipate one highly-anticipated follow-up slightly more than another highly-anticipated follow-up. [<–THIS WAS ACTUALLY SARCASTIC]

      • Tuco says:

        “Technically and graphically, Witcher 3 and Inquisition look to be neck-and-neck. What will give DA:I”

        is that supposed to be a joke? They aren’t even in the same league.

        • AJLeuer says:

          I think that was the least controversial of everything I said. DA:I will run on the Frostbite 3 engine, which is generally regarded as being at the very cutting edge of modern game engines (up there with CryEngine 3 and soon, Unreal 4). REDengine is a bit more unproven (Witcher 2 is the only game released to use it thus far, I believe), but I think it’s fair to say everyone’s been impressed with what it could do in that game, and with the epic open world stuff we’re seeing in the previews for Witcher 3. So, I’ll say it again, when it comes to technology, both games are looking very impressive. No controversy here, move along.

          • Tuco says:

            I don’t give a damn about the engines are “generally regarded”? That’s not even relevant.
            I’m talking about how the two games look in the screenshots and videos released so far (especially the latter) and they aren’t even remotely in the same league.

            One looks too good to be true even for future systems and the other wouldn’t impress me even if released on older machines.

          • AJLeuer says:

            There’s no reason to so grossly overstate your case. Both games are looking great, and that’s fine. Witcher 3 looks to have an edge when it comes to textures and overall level of detail. DA:I seems to have more impressive lighting, skin, and subsurface scattering. And yes, the engines that both games run on play an important part in the way they look. Both are far from finished in any case, so it’s a bit early to make any absolute judgments about the graphics of one or the other.

      • jerf says:

        Sorry, but the writing in The Witcher games is so far considerably ahead of everything Bioware produced in their entire history. I’d say that The Witcher series is on par with Planescape: Torment in terms of writing quality.

        • stkaye says:

          This is, of course, subjective. But I’d say that this comes very close to being an explicitly falsifiable claim, and one which can be shown to be… false.

          • gunny1993 says:

            I’d say that writing quality (Prose, characters, plot quality) is not that subjective, i mean it’s pretty easy to tell that Dan Brown books are badly written even if you do enjoy them. I can certainly say when a book has good writing even when I dislike it. (Mark Chadbourne is my example for that, hate his characters with a passion but he is a good writer)

          • stkaye says:

            @gunny If you’re comfortable with the absolutes, then okay: Planescape is waaay better-written than the Witcher.

            Though one factor that’s hard to really trace out is how much gets lost in translation with The Witcher.

          • gunny1993 says:

            Maybe not absolutes but certainly general rules, like if a character does something extremely idiosyncratic without a good reason then it’s certainly bad writing. If a plot has massive holes in it or fails to go anywhere then that’s bad writing. (that for me is the biggest failing of DA:2)

            Never played planescape, can’t get passed the hideous UI. Which is annoying as what I got of the writing I freaking loved.

          • ramonkahn says:

            For just the writing and the story of Planescape: Torment, somebody wrote down his playthrough and made it available for lecture: link to wischik.com

      • stkaye says:

        DA:I is above Witcher 3 on my list, too.

        I have kind of a… complex… relationship with the Witcher series. On paper, these games offer exactly the kind of things that I look for – responsive worlds, detailed, atmospheric settings, complex morality, etc. In practice, I kind of don’t like Geralt, with his absurd 80s action movie voiceovers, his inexplicable teenage wet dream sexual adventures and prevailing gloominess. The humour, in particular, doesn’t survive translation, I find. There’s little opportunity to mould his character into something I’d prefer – unlike a lot of the world around him, Geralt is pretty much a fixed point; take him or leave him.

        I don’t find a lot of charm or charisma in the Witcher games, and I don’t find a lot of grounds to invest in the various characters or care about their fates. There’s a definite sense of place, and it’s being rendered with increasing beauty with each new episode in the series. But the problem is that these are not places I want to visit.

        • gunny1993 says:

          Guessing you’re more of a High fantasy fan, rather than Dark fantasy then?

          Fair enough

          • stkaye says:

            Well, I don’t know… I really like Game of Thrones. And Warhammer. And I’d hesitate to describe Dragon Age as archetypally ‘high’ fantasy, though it’s higher than the Witcher. Origins was certainly reaching for some darker themes and visuals than anything else in the Bioware back-catalogue – even if in the end it seemed sort of like a compromise between G R R Martin and J R R Tolkien.

          • gunny1993 says:

            Game of thrones i would put into a class of it’s own (proably the most original fantasy in years, due to it’s cross of Dark (everyone fucking dies) High (White walkers) and serious Machiavellian themes.

            I think i would say Dragon age is pretty close to the LOTR archetype : Black and white morality: check One definite enemy that is 100% evil (the blight): Check Hero from an unlikely background rising through the ranks (Depends on the path you take) It mixes it up with the Paladins and the Mages certainly.

            Even if you play a more evil character it’s pretty close to high fantasy (not that i dislike that)

            Witcher however, is a very Dark, Dark fantasy, where there are no “right courses” no “true evils” only perceived evils. And in the witcher world that makes it very hard to get a good ending, no matter what you do you won’t be able to get a truley satisfying ending as there will always be something you wish you could change.

            For me that is the attraction, but it’s not for everyone. personally i enjoy both (Although DA:2 was pretty crap so i’m not really hopeful for DA:I)

        • AJLeuer says:

          Witcher 2, as much as I liked it, didn’t have anyone who could compare to Varic, or Alistair, or Jack, or [name your party member/squadmate]. And when it comes down to it, compelling characters are what keep me interested in your game, probably more so than any other feature save combat gameplay. It’s no crime that CDP can’t do this as well as Bioware – no one can.

          • stkaye says:

            Right. Say whatever you like about Bioware, but they’re getting really close to nailing that Whedonesque feeling of a community, a snarky little gang you want to keep coming back to.

          • gunny1993 says:

            That is true, the only side character who I can actually remember that well is Iorveth … man i love that character.

            To put it in perspective I have played through #2 three times, every time i have meant to go with roche and see his side of the story …. but every time i get to iorveth i am unable to do anything except go with him XD

          • Voronwer says:

            I’m so glad I’m not alone here. I tried getting into The Witcher, but just couldn’t and failed to finish the first game due to lacking any fucks given. DA2 for all its flaws still sticks with me because of its wonderful characters. So yeah, I don’t give much about Witcher 3, but hope DA:I will get things right this time and have as good a gameplay as it has story/characters.

        • Henson says:

          If Geralt is your main sticking point, I would suggest trying the game out with Polish language. My brother did that, and it worked wonders for him.

          But yeah, as much as I love them, the Witcher games are not for everyone.

          • stkaye says:

            Interesting! I’ll definitely try that out, thanks for the tip.

        • Trondur says:

          As much as I love the Witcher series, I can understand the gripe some people have with the main character Geralt.

          Imo, CDPR does a good job at portraying Geralt they excecuted the introduction into Geralt’s past somewhat poorly. If you read the books, you can see the choices Geralt has to fake and the continueous struggle he has with understanding destiny. But I have good hopes that CDPR will explain A LOT of the book stories in part 3. It’s their most ambitious project ever and I loved both Witcher games so far. As stated before though, besides some referrences (which are lovely) in-game, it’s hard to figure out Geralt’s personality, his lust and his gloomy attitude.

          PS: SPOILERS FOR BOOKS, well minor ones but still, SPOOOOOOILERS:

          The characters of the books do in fact comment on Geralt’s constant sulking and self-pity. Maybe it is something he’ll overcome in the future.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        CDP certainly have better writers than Bioware, who house some of the worst RPG writers, perhaps beat out only by Bethesda. Obsidian usually have very well written dialogues, though the plots tend to be rather cliche.
        But seriously, Bioware’s recent games have had horrible writing. DA: Origins had some great ideas, but even in that game the dialogue writing doesn’t come close to something Obsidian would have done.

      • Inarborat says:

        Have to disagree. Their last three games have been turds (besides ME3’s incredibly fun mulitplayer!) and Bioware’s been writing the same game for over a decade with black and white or red and blue choices disguised as having impact. Bioware’s problem is they want players to have a choice in the story but not at the expense of the tale they want to tell. Which is perfectly fine, just stop feeding me bullshit about my choices actually mattering when in fact they don’t, eg kill the rachni queen in ME1 for somehow another one appearing in ME3 etc etc :(. It sounds like Inquisition will be more of the same with yet another evil infiltrating the world with the godlike player character rounding up a merry, sarcastic crew to defeat said evil. Before you go there, yes, The Witcher 3 is dealing with a supernatural evil but it’s personal to Geralt and that makes it much more interesting for me. The whole mages vs Templars story was tired in Dragon Age Origins and for the life of me I can’t figure out why they think that angle is interesting for a third time.

        Bioware is a strictly $5 or less studio for me now. Also, if I have to hear one more time that Bioware listens to their fans I’m going to jump out the window. 100% bulllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllshit.

    • fdisk says:

      As much as I’ve tried because I love the graphics I simply cannot get into the Witcher series. I don’t like the melee combat.

    • Stevostin says:

      Can I customize Gerald face ? Class ? Change his name ? No ?
      Is it still butthead ugly like the 2 previous game ? Apprently not but from the above, yes ?
      Is the story engaging ? Don’t know, but it’s not even mentioned in this presentation which isn’t very enticing.
      Does it have first person view ?

      I do think it will be the best of the three but to me TW is limitated by the serie’s rules. The cyberpunk thing will probably a game I can play ; first 2 witchers weren’t and my expectation are moderate on that one.

      • MellowKrogoth says:

        Get out of my game with your customization options, you heretic. This game series is great precisely because Geralt is a well-defined character, not a virtual dress-up doll.

    • -SD- says:

      The Witcher 3 is not even ON my list.

  2. Christo4 says:

    Can i hope on a better optimization?

    • Dominic White says:

      I’ve got a mid-range PC (i5-3570k, 660ti – hardly a monster machine) and it The Witcher 2 runs at 60fps @1080p here without a hitch. Maximum detail and all.

      • Derppy says:

        Still, that’s hardware made available long after the release of the game.

        If the graphical fidelity is close to Witcher 2, hopefully a machine capable of running Witcher 2 smoothly (current mid-end gaming hardware) is enough for Witcher 3.

        • Wut The Melon says:

          I’m running an i5 750 + HD 5850 and I can run the game on ultra, 30-40 FPS as well, which I think is fine. I don’t think the game is badly optimised, it’s just very demanding (as you might expect from a game that looks as good as TW2 does).

      • Christo4 says:

        I dunno, i had a pretty good gaming laptop and while most games run on max details at 60 fps, witcher 2 ran at about 40 or so.

    • Jazzyboy says:

      Assuming you have a decent PC in the first place, turn Ubersampling off. It’s the most common cause of framerate loss in The Witcher 2 and it’s basically just a very heavy sharpening and anti-aliasing filter.

      I’m on a 9500 GT atm myself so I can barely play the game at all but I hear the 660 can run it at 60fps at max settings, excluding Ubersampling.

      You can always turn FXAA on in the Nvidia Control Panel if you have an Nvidia card anyway and get perfectly reasonable anti-aliasing, minus the halved framerate.

    • Stochastic says:

      Take a look at this and make sure your GPU drivers are up to date: link to geforce.com

  3. db1331 says:

    My new PC parts just arrived today. I can’t wait to see this running on high/ultra. The next novel is out in just a few days as well. It’s a great time to be a Witcher fan.

    • HothMonster says:

      Please tell me they are finally getting around to doing the rest of the books in english?

      • Wut The Melon says:

        You can find fan-created translations here: link to en.thewitcher.com, which I hear are pretty good. Other than that, I think they’re still working on translating the books into English, just VERY slowly and with a lot of delays. The third one should be out by now, though.

        • Lone Gunman says:

          I thought only one was translated?

          I have read ‘The Last Wish’ what is the other one?

        • HothMonster says:

          I read some of the fan translations a few years ago, was pretty hit and miss. I’ll give it another look though.

          Slowly to say the least. The last English book was ~5 years ago and the original book it is translating is 20 years old.

          Whoever owns the American and UK distribution rights to these is a moron.

          @Gunman The Blood of Elves is the other translated one. Which is the first of the Novels but skips the second short story collection which I have been told has some crucial parts of the narrative in it.

          link to witcher.wikia.com

          • NicholasTimothyJones says:

            The Last Wish was translated and released in 2007, Blood of Elves was 2008, Time on Contempt was June 27 this year and Baptism of Fire is due February/March next year.

            link to i.imgur.com

            Too bad they changed the cover design.

      • JamieB says:

        Time of Contempt was locked up in a lengthy copyright dispute; now that’s been resolved, hopefully the rest of the series will be available shortly.

        • kud13 says:

          Does this mean they’ll actually release “Sword of Destiny” (second short story collection, chronologically right before “Blood of the Elves”) now?

          • JamieB says:

            Can’t speak to Gollancz’s future plans. I’d expect they’ll get the rest of the series out if they’re contracted for it; if not locked in to the lot, it’ll depend on sales. Hopefully WH will attract more people to the books, which (IMO) are not brilliant, but an interesting new perspective on ye olde fantasy tropes.

  4. RuySan says:

    Witcher 1 was a good game despite the awful combat. W2 combat was perfectly fine though, and it was one of the most gorgeous games I’ve ever seen.

    • Apocalypse says:

      Shiny lights do distract you a lot, right?

      I have never seen a game that got ruined more by its bad lighting. The global lighting is horrible, the blooms and lighting effects are super over-saturated and overdone and many of its animations are all chunky even if the game itself runes just fine at 60 FPS.
      While the witcher 2 engine seems technical superior I prefer the witcher 1 art direction and the quality of execution within the engine very much over the second game.

      And that is just criticizing the bad parts about the graphic quality, the game is full of bugs, insist to get me out of my ravens armor on each new scene . I can completely understand why witcher 1 is so highly praised, not so much for its second incarnation.

      • DanMan says:

        I feel like i need to stress the point about the bugs. I’ve lost count of how often it crashed to the desktop out of nowhere, despite running just fine the rest of the time – just like any other game. So please RPS, no more leeway when it comes to those. If CDP want to play with the big guys, better do your homework.

    • Stevostin says:

      TW2 featured well rendered map at less than 5 meters from you. Awful art directions/color, but well rendered. Then everything was blurry real fast, with a ton of cheap filters to hide the misery. To me this visual disaster was 50% of the reasons I deinstalled it after a few hours of gameplay.

      The most frustrating part was that there was clearly some talent in the team, especially regarding character design.

  5. Squirly says:

    Please don’t screw this up CDP. If you do this right we’ll be able to leave Bethesda and it’s inert, boring worlds behind us. Heck, maybe it’ll convince them to get off their lazy asses and actually build a world instead of just a sandbox.

  6. WoundedBum says:

    Oh man it sounds so incredibly good.

    Fingers crossed for a better AA solution than Ubersampling.

  7. db1331 says:

    Is that entering/exiting through doors weirdness from 2 still around?

  8. Andy_Panthro says:

    I really disliked the Witcher 2 combat, and just the interface in general. Tried a couple of times to get into it, but I find it a struggle. It’s had heaps of praise (here and elsewhere), and I just get frustrated that I can’t get to grips with the game enough to enjoy it.

    Even though the combat in the first game wasn’t great, I found it (and the interface in general) much better. I guess I worry that if they’re keeping with the Witcher 2 style, I’ll be avoiding it and possibly missing out on what could be a great game.

    • HothMonster says:

      Have you tried the unofficial combat patch? I haven’t gotten around to it but a buddy who hated the original combat said it’s much improved.

      • Andy_Panthro says:

        Haven’t tried that, but given my backlog of games I think it might be a while before I try TW2 again.

        • HothMonster says:

          Yeah, I keep wanting to but something newer grabs my eye. I imagine the hype right before 3 releases will convince me to give it a go.

    • Meldreth says:

      Did you play the Enhanced Edition too ?
      It prabably wouldn’t make any difference as regards the UI, but the combat definitely improved over time, even though nothing significant changed.
      What bothered you with it ? Personally I somehow found it kind of floaty at times at first, with Geralt taking damage while seemingly being out of range of ennemy attacks. And then one day I tried again, and for some reason from that moment on I found the combats really fun, everything was responsive, parries didn’t cost Vigor anymore, and they blocked all incoming damage, counter-attacks were mostly well implemented and didn’t leave you vulnerable to other ennemies, and I stopped taking damage for no reason, so suddenly everything just felt great, and I don’t even know if anything significant changed. So maybe it was all in my head.
      But regardless, it’s a shame that you never quite managed to get into it, because it’s definitely worth it.

      • Andy_Panthro says:

        Something about that sort of third-person combat didn’t click with me. I found myself fighting the control system at every turn, didn’t like the UI/menu system etc.. Wasn’t restricted to the combat though, and made me feel like the UI was a big obstacle between me and the game.

        It really felt like it was supposed to be controller based, but I fared no better with a 360 controller (unlike Alpha Protocol, which I loved after switching to a controller). I also tried the EE, and got quite a bit further (into the first town), but it wasn’t a significant improvement. After a while I found myself playing other games and wondering why I still had it installed.

        It took me a long time before I played through the first Witcher (although not because of the control system or combat, but because of that long middle section), so it’s possible I’ll try again at some point and get into it.

        • Ross Angus says:

          I bounced off the first one – despite reading up online and watching The Tubes, I never understood the combat at all. Is there one article or video which breaks it down for idiots like me?

          • Andy_Panthro says:

            It’s just a matter of clicking at the right time, if you’re playing on one of the easier modes I think it tells you when to click (when the sword icon changes to a flaming sword? It’s been a while since I played it).

            It’s not a great system, but once you manage to click to the appropriate rhythm it gets easier. There was also plenty of focus on using the right potions before a fight, some of them could make it much easier.

          • Ross Angus says:

            Thanks, Andy: that makes sense. I’ll give it another go (one day).

          • Apocalypse says:

            The combat of the first one is a mixture of mini-QTE and strategy. You have to know your enemy to chose the right style and evade enemy attacks and attack in QTE-style attack sequences. If you menage to pull of whole strike series with the right timing of your mouse clicking and taking care of enemies reaction the combat becomes rather easy and yet imo enjoyable. Much less hack & slash than the second one and much more realistic in animation and style than the second one.

    • Sunjumper says:

      I never had much problems with the Witcher 2’s combat except a few ridiculous moments and was quite happy adapting to its somewhat ponderous and strange style of long reaction times paired with quite rapid pacing.

      Then I played Dark Souls and when I cam back to the Witcher 2 I had massive problems readjusting. Strangely enough because the games have, for me at least, a similar atmosphere and flavour that I kept expecting the precision and timing of Dark Souls. Suddenly I felt like I was playing a game with considerable lag. Which is strange as the Witcher did not change in the mean time.

      I need to try out the rebalanced combat to see how it flows now.
      I do hope that the third part has more immediate controls than its predecessor.

    • Strangerator says:

      Here’s the real key… you never need to parry (nor should you). It keeps you immobilized and you will quickly get surrounded. Geralt should be ninja rolling all over the place.

      The first feats you take should be the ones that let you roll further. You can spend a ton of points on parrying so that you don’t take damage or lose less vigor when parrying etc, but rolling is free and you can spam it. The other thing you can safely upgrade twice is the Aard sign, which turns into an area of effect and can stun/knockdown enemies. This replaces the need to parry/counter to break through enemy defenses. Once you get the timing down, you’ll realize you can launch into your sword attack before your Aard has even connected, so that there is nearly no delay between the two hits. These are both first level abilities, and will work well no matter which route you go down. On the Dark difficulty, I only ever needed the Quen sign in one battle (the final one, due to annoying one-hit deaths), but otherwise playing with generalized hit and roll tactics worked quite well and was very enjoyable on all difficulties. The tutorial kind of makes it seem like parrying is a big part of the combat system, but I rarely ever touched the parry key.

      This is reminding me I need to complete my all-magic playthrough…

    • Michael Fogg says:

      The Witcher’s combat could really use a Batman AA style dodge/counter button

    • katinkabot says:

      Ok, not just me. I could NOT get into these games. I wanted to. Hell I tried. Put about 5 hours into each game and got bored. Maybe I’ll try again. Power through.

    • Nova says:

      Exactly how I feel. Loved the first Witcher, but the combat in the second part screwed the game up for me.
      If they use the same system in Witcher 3, well…

  9. Lone Gunman says:

    This sounds like it could turn out to be the game I imagined when I first found out about The Elder Scrolls series.

  10. Vivi says:

    Witcher 2: 30-40 hours

    Witcher 3: World 35 times bigger, yet only (and I use that term very relatively) 100 hours.

    Huge worlds are nice, but only when they’re full of stuff to do. And yes, I know developer estimates on a game’s length are pointless, but they said it.

    The game looks great, I just hope they don’t get lost trying to out do that other game.

    • Ringwraith says:

      Well, the things that’s because of the smaller size, everything is very dense, so instead of having a single quest related to one village, you would’ve had several crammed into a small space.
      If a village like that was in the Witcher 2 there would’ve been probably half a dozen quests there, instead of just big one which envelops the whole thing.
      My conjecture anyway.

    • dr4gz0r says:

      To be fair, CDP was on point with TW2’s lenght: they said about 40 hours, and that was what it took for many – some took even more, some slightly less.

      You also needed to play the game at least once more because of the chapter 2/3+epilogue implications, so in the end the game lasted more than that too.

      If they’re saying it’s 100 hours this time around, I think it’s safe to say the game won’t be much shorter than that, at least if you’re not ignoring content.

    • Bluestormzion says:

      A lot of The Witcher 2, and 1 for that matter, was backtracking. They had lots and lots of content, but it made me run through the same camps, forests, towns, etc. over and over again. And that’s kinda a shame, since the best content will give you a compelling story set in a new, exciting location, maybe give you a friendly zone nearby you can talk and shop in, and then when things are set right send me to a new exciting location. The bigger and more open world will allow for exactly this, if done right.

    • MondSemmel says:

      Statements like that worry me, too. Specifically, each title in the Gothic series was said to be 3x as large as the last one. While Gothic I was great, Gothic II was spectacular. Clearly, the bigger the game, the better!
      Then Gothic III was released and it was panned as a buggy, unfun mess…

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t think I want to play any game for 1,400 hours.

  11. golem09 says:

    Yes, they should be full of stuff to do. But especially for this game, I want a huge mass of land. First so that traveling feels like actual traveling and not hopping from one interest point to the next 5m away, and second so that monster hunts are actual hunts.

    • stampy says:

      huuuuuuge tracts of land?

    • Strangerator says:

      I hear you man. There is such thing as content density being too high. An open world should have some “openness” to it, so that it feels like you are actually travelling to different locations, instead of being led along a theme-park path. I guess I’m one of those weird people who wants immersion.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        Ironically, that was one of my problems with Skyrim. The game was packed full of quests, dungeons, caves, etc. The problem is that being a rather heavy completionist, I’d often run in and do all of them. After a while, those dungeons and caves became REALLY same-y and I lost interest.

        I’d rather have fewer, more unique quests/areas than having something where you can’t walk for five seconds without seeing a pop-up for something to do, but where all of them look alike.

  12. scumblr says:

    I know feeling this way makes me a bad person etc., but the combat really did sink the ship for me. If I’m going to be spending that much time with something, I should enjoy the most basic parts of it, at least.

    • P.M. Gleason says:

      TW2 ended up being one of my favorite games ever, and I’ve been gaming a damn long time. I recently went back and tried to play the first game but I just can’t do it. I hate its gameplay with an almost lurid passion.

      My only real concern about TW3 is from the reveal “documentary” which was one of the most pompous and arrogant things I’ve seen since the announcement of Squeenix’s Final Fantasy Whatever Friendship Mode. It was one that played like an MMO but wasn’t.

      I don’t only love CDR’s games, but I love the company. Enhanced edition is the normal edition, the dlc was free, removed all drm (when it was relevant to begin with), bases games on literary sources, etc.
      But they appear to also be gaining quite the ego.

  13. MichaelPalin says:

    CDP makes me cry of joy. Don’t ever change!

  14. MichaelPalin says:

    Just one question: climbing up and down and jumping still works as contextual actions or the witcher can traverse vertically with more freedom than in The Witcher 2?

  15. PopeRatzo says:

    I’m glad to see CDP isn’t going to scrimp on the lens flare in Witcher 3. Geralt would surely be willing to trade the power to shoot flames out of his ass if he could just get a pair of polarized glasses.

    • Lone Gunman says:

      Well you play as the floating camera following Geralt where ever he goes so the lens flare makes perfect sense.

      • Lone Gunman says:

        I have nothing against the lighting effects shown in the screen shots. Just thought I would point out how you do not play as Geralt in first person.

        Edit: I replied to my self because I am an idiot.

    • Premium User Badge

      Waltorious says:

      Perhaps I am confused, but I do not see any lens flare in any of those shots. There are some bright lights on that boat, but they’re not producing the typical rings or star patterns you’d see in a camera lens. Personally, I think the lighting looks great in those shots, but I know it’s something of a touchy subject for many players.

    • gunny1993 says:

      The only lens flare there is in the second image, and that looks like it’s created by the fog.

  16. Peeveepee says:

    Sorry but I’ll believe it when I see it. All those “whoa I saw an awesome video” are pretty exaggerated.

  17. starmatt says:

    where can we watch the demo?

  18. Carra says:

    At last a game I’m really looking forward to. The Witcher 2 was a very good game. And without doubt the prettiest game I had ever played when it came out.

  19. bigjig says:

    “Of course a few things still hang: whether the combat really is improved from The Witcher 2 isn’t clear. It seemed very much the same. ”

    That’s a shame. I had hoped they’d taken some tips from Demons/Dark Souls on how to do melee combat. Combat in the Witcher 2 was alright, but it didn’t have any weight to it, or any real depth.. Hopefully they can fix this up before release.

  20. honuk says:

    So this game is THE MOST IMPORTANT GAME EVER because it is, in your own words, a lot bigger and incrementally better than its predecessor.

    call my a cynic, but I’m no longer twelve years old, so that’s not really going to blow me away.



    I mean whatever maybe this game is great but this thing reads like a child wrote it

    • Arren says:

      Pot, kettle.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Actually, it’s more like the pot calling a polar bear black.

      Edit: ok, I know polar bears have black skin, but you get the picture, jeez.

  21. jonahcutter says:

    Please for the love of god no dive-rolling.

    Parrying and footwork make for cool, eye-pleasing combat. Constant dive-rolling through every combat encounter looks incredibly stupid.

  22. yesterdayisawadeer says:

    >hunt and kill the native evil of his grim fantasy home
    Not native. Most mosters came to the world of The Witcher a very long time ago from another dimension in an event called by scholars “The Convergence of Spheres”. This new danger to humans facilitated the creation of witchers – superhuman monster-hunters.

    • Strangerator says:

      You must be the other person who obsessively reads the lore entries…

      • yesterdayisawadeer says:

        Pfft, “lore entries”. I’ve read the original novels.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      Or you could assume that by “native”, Jim meant “native to the universe of the series”. You don’t have to be pedantic.

    • Bhazor says:

      Looks like we got a nerd over here.

    • kud13 says:

      weel, technically, one of those convergences brought humans to the Witcher World, so that kind of throws the whole “alien” definition off-kilter

  23. Paul says:

    Buying both GOG and CE versions on day one. Witcher 1 and 2 were incredible. Now that incredibility in an open world…can’t wait.

  24. Swoo says:

    Witcher 3: Everything Dragon Age Wishes It Was.

    I’ve become a bit jaded towards Day One purchases, but this one has me dammit.

  25. Iskariot says:

    The Witcher 2 was the first game that brought my PC to its knees. I hope they did not only enhance the visuals even more, but made them easier to handle for my poor rig too.

  26. Thorontur says:

    Looks amazing, but I do hope they’ll get rid of that silly outfit Geralt is wearing in all the footage. It kinda reminds me of the suit Scarlett Johansson wears in The Avengers…

  27. krisk7 says:

    Great read! The combat will be greatly improved vs. TW2 in terms of responsiveness – you can break any sequence now and combine sword with magic. The also increased the number of fight animations from around 30 to around 100.

  28. crinkles esq. says:

    Geralt, Destroyer of Woodland Creatures

    Looks like lots of pretty bits there, but “tracking down beasts is now at the heart of the experience” is not the kind of character role I want to play.

    • P.M. Gleason says:

      Geralt is a Witcher, and a Witcher kills monsters for money.
      It’s kind of half the point.

  29. Chumbaba says:

    You westerlings will probably never understand, but to us, easterners, Witcher 1 was a much better game than Witcher 2. The reason is that the original Witcher captured the atmosphere of Eastern Europe, its history and folklore, much like Sapkowski’s books do. The countryside, villages, lakes, were distinctly Slavic as well as villages, monsters and folk art. The world of the Witcher includes many historical metaphors, such as Nilfgaard symbolizing the growth of German military and industrial power, the conflict between humans and non-humans echoes the struggles between catholic and other religions in the region (e.g. Jews), the order of the flaming rose resembles Teutonic knights etc.

    Where I live (Czech Republic), Witcher 2 is well-loved, however it is seen as giving up most of the Slavic flavour in favour of more mainstream “western” fantasy cliche. Witcher 2 is essentially a tour of Rhine kingdoms and much of the rural and simple beauty of the original is lost. Witcher 2 lost a large part of its uniqueness by adapting to the tastes of intelligent, yet mainstream western gamers, i.a. ditching the nude cards, which were generally loved here and despised by many puritan reviewers in the west. No one seems to mind sex with prostitutes in Witcher 2 though. I wonder if sex with prostitutes is more attuned to western morality than having sex with girls just for fun and mutual pleasure. Also, the brilliant plot with the secret of Alvin and the knightly order was replaced with a rather uninteresting and unfinished main story in Witcher 2.

    Of course Witcher 3 is number 1 on my most expected games list. This is just to let you know that there is a big group of gamers, who probably don’t speak English, who were not all that pleased with Witcher 2 and the course the series took. Many of us thought that Witcher could be a great way to bring Slavic folklore, mentality and mythology to western gamers. Now it looks more and more like Dragon Age or Skyrim.

    • Paul says:

      I am from Czechland too and did not mind the change in setting from slavic to more western in TW2 at all. And story and writing in TW2 seemed lot more…professional to me, TW1 at times was a bit too fanfictiony, even if the actual twist plotline was well done.
      Witcher 3 however should have most variety, with one entire region (no man’s land) modeled after slavic countryside.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I am totally going to have to find excuses to fit the word “westerlings” into conversation now.

    • Henson says:

      As one of those Westerlings, I think that W2 is the better game; overall, it has more polish and less crippling annoyance.

      But while I think it’s the better game, I also couldn’t help but be disappointed by it. You’re right, the general ‘feel’ had changed; environments became super-colorful and contrast-y (but gorgeous), Geralt’s narratives changed from cool paintings to heavy metal comic book -style movies. I miss the quiet feeling of walking through a ruined castle with contemplative music. I miss feeling the passage of time as I meditate. I miss learning what elements each of my alchemical ingredients contained. I miss the awesome leveling system. I miss how potions and toxicity worked. I miss buying twelve different types of alcohol and getting drunk.

      But I don’t miss writing that makes leaps of logic, I don’t miss getting sex cards out of the blue (I think the common objection was less about having sex and more about collecting women-trophies like Pokemon), and I really, really don’t miss having three acts in endless swamps.

      So some great stuff traded in, some great stuff traded out. But yes, it feels like some uniqueness was lost.

    • waltC says:

      W1 was also a completely different kind of game. I’m not sure as to the “Slavic” nature you read into W1, but the themes you mention are common themes all over the world–they are most certainly not just “Slavic” themes. If anything, they are simple “human” themes. But mostly, W1 and W2 are completely different kinds of games. W1 was tongue-‘n cheek and didn’t take itself too seriously–W2 erred, imo, in the opposite direction in that it is far too “serious” about itself. I mean, I love W2 and I loved W1 (played W1 through three times), but the two games might almost have been created by different developers–they are that different. I think on balance however that W2 is very close to what CDPR would like to have done with W1 the first time. W2 could have used more of the first game’s tongue-‘n cheek, imo.

      Your post is crammed with generalities and inaccurate cliches’…surely, Slavic prostitutes exist? Whether in the east or west, people frequent prostitutes because of convenience and because of other reasons totally unrelated to geography. And in both east and west, “having sex with girls just for fun and mutual pleasure” is also a fairly common event. Especially for troops in times of war, prostitutes are a common reality. I mean, when a war’s on you usually don’t have time to play “the dating game” and will be pressed by time for something more expedient–if you must, etc.

      Also, I never read a single review “in the west” in which W1 was panned because of the nude playing cards…;) Not a single one. The cards were not even initially included in the game as sold in the US so that the game publisher could get a sort of “PG 13” rating for the game–the publisher imagining that the game would sell better with a more generic rating. I will say, however, that I played W1 through three times without the nude cards and still loved the game–as the cards were not germane to anything in the game, actually–and because, I suppose, I lost my appetite for cartoon sex long ago (the real thing being far more interesting, etc.)

  30. RProxyOnly says:

    Combat for W2 was ORIGINALLY fine and very smooth, but the first patch broke combat on the gamepad (yes, this game is FAR better with a gamepad) and they never managed to fix it.

    Originally when chosing signs it just flowed, bumper button then left control stick to chose all very fluid, but after the patch it was bumper button, then DOUBLE stick to chose.. that just fucked up the flow entirely and made combat a sticky endevour. I love the Witcher world… but I REALLY hate the combat.

  31. MellowKrogoth says:

    Even without reading, I know that at least half the comments above are stupid suggestions that would ruin what makes this game series great. I hope CDP don’t read forums, except the comments that tell them how Witcher 2’s mouse controls in menus sucked.

  32. Audiocide says:

    Everything about the Witcher series looks fantastic with the exception of the lead character, Geralt. I just couldn’t get into the game playing a character I’d never choose, had I the power to choose. Maybe some day I’ll give it another try.

    • Bweahns says:

      I have a mate who felt the same way. He has played far more RPG games than me and he really didn’t like being forced to play a certain style of character either.

  33. Bweahns says:

    I only played the second one but it’s one of my favourite games from the last decade. The only thing that I didn’t like from the Witcher 2 was most of the boss fights. I played through as a sword expert rather than becoming good at traps or magic and had no real complaints about combat. I just enjoyed a decent story for once.