Why I’m (Ever So Slightly) Worried About The Witcher 3

Oh, I do so love a good disclaimer. Why, I think I see one galloping over the hill right now! Look at it go, diving in to interject just as I was about to say something ill-conceived/stupid. So: I largely think The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt looks excellent. I got to watch (though not play, sadly) a new 45 minute demo of it during E3, and it encouraged me to peel off another layer from my carapace of hardened skepticism. There were bustling towns, bizarre characters, and beardly moments of derring do. In the spirit of SENSATIONALIST FEAR, however, I did notice a few cracks in the game’s lovingly rusted witcher armor. These are they. 

Combat Quibbles

The Witcher 3’s combat looks alright – action-y but with a hint of strategy in the form of weapon switches (including a new crossbow for taking out airborne baddies), spells, and Geralt’s trademark mutagen potions – but it struck me as relatively simple. Hack, slash, twirl, dodge, rinse, repeat. The encounters we saw didn’t have much to them. A werewolf required a specific potion and well-timed magic shield deployments for brief stuns, but otherwise he was basically a big, furry shishkebab for Geralt’s silver blade. Afterward, an admirably bizarre evil spirit – some sort of grotesque cave-dwelling tree heart – was easily dispatched as well, requiring a quick clearing out of a few other enemies it summoned and then a swift stab while its guard was down.

So essentially, two very basic action game boss patterns. Nothing particularly inventive or, er, wild. Granted, they could’ve been simplified or sped up for the purposes of the demo. Again, I am just voicing worries based on what I saw – not making definitive statements about the quality of the game. Combat wasn’t Witcher 2’s strongest suit, though, especially in regard to controls. I really would’ve liked the chance to try it for myself, but many of CD Projekt’s developers are bigger than me and well-versed in the art of witching. If I tried to snag the controller, I could’ve been witched. Instead I just ate a sandwich in their booth and everyone was happy.

Moreover, at this stage everything felt just the teensiest bit awkward. The camera, especially, hitched from time-to-time and ended up in very poor positions. Disorienting at best, deadly at worst.

Errand Boy

I love gigantic open worlds more than the next guy (who doesn’t know shit about open worlds, tbh), but they do have their drawbacks. For instance, how do you fill such a massive place – in this case, one 50 times the size of The Witcher 2 – with interesting stuff to do? Some of it is bound to be cookie cutter, right?

It sort of felt that way in our demo as Geralt bounced from “I’ll help you, but only if you do me this favor” fetch quest to fetch quest. Each character’s motivation made sense in the context of the story, but it began to feel a little tedious as we inched ever closer to our actual objective: a tiny sliver of information on the “ashen-haired girl” who seems to be responsible for the titular Wild Hunt, which Geralt aims to stop. Like, yes, I understand, everybody wants something, but can we get to the point?

That said, the quest chain had some wickedly interesting (and downright wicked) characters, including a childlike “godling” whose internal monologue never stayed internal for long (“Defecating into the sunrise, my favorite part of the day” was one of many choice lines) and beautiful Lady spirits who were… not what they seemed.

The other upside here? CD Projekt is apparently trying extremely hard to avoid the sorts of “kill X number of whatever” quests that pop up in, say, Skyrim. Apparently every quest will have some kind of story.

“We call [those Skyrim quests] ‘FedEx Quests,’ and we never want to have them in the game,” game director Konrad Tomaszkiewicz told RPS. “We’ve created a bunch of encounters you can find while wandering the world, and every one of these encounters has its own small storyline. We want to create the feeling that characters really live in this world.”

“We’ve got a lot of more traditional quests, and also we created the plan B of monster hunting, which is how Witchers make money. So you have to gather information about the monster you’re preparing to take down, you’ve got to collect special ingredients for alchemy and potions – those kinds of things for each unique monster. We don’t want to make generic quests where you do the same stuff repeatedly. It’s better to just leave the area with the wandering monsters and the same quests behind. We want to give you a feeling like you’re in a real world. If you change a part of that world permanently, hooray! There will be other stuff for you to do [elsewhere].”

Words Can Never Hurt Me

This is a small one – something indicative of how solid Witcher 3 is looking overall – but some of the writing was a little wonky. The godling child spoke in, like, four or five different overwritten fantasy dialects, and all the Game-of-Thrones-style lingo intermingling with (admittedly charming) humor and low-level Shakespeare got distracting after a little while. It just seemed like a little too much, or rather like Witcher’s writers needed to pick one thing and stick with it.

Meanwhile, Geralt’s dialogue was wooden, and he couldn’t maintain a consistent tone. One moment he was grim as all get-out, and then in a conversation with a guy he barely knew mere moments later, he was cracking awkwardly timed jokes about the tiny ramshackle swamp town they were in.

I don’t know how much of the dialogue is up for possible rewriting, but the game’s still a ways out. CDP isn’t afraid to write and rewrite too, as the game’s director told me, so I’m hopeful.

Walk This Way

Another small one, another thing that can be fixed with more time for polish. But still, it bears mentioning: The Witcher 3 is a gorgeous game, but its character animations sometimes didn’t quite stack up to the hyper-realistic graphics on display. Conversations saw Geralt and co cycle through a couple sort of awkwardly stiff poses and facial expressions, something that only took me out of the experience ever-so-slightly, but it was noticeable. Quit being so uptight, Geralt! Don’t you know you’re in a super sweet videogame world that revolves entirely around you? Jeez, this guy, right?

Bonus Section: Details That Really Surprised Me

So yes, I’m a little worried about a few elements of The Witcher 3, but largely it remains one of my most anticipated games in ages. During the E3 demo I managed to find even more reasons to stand in awe of its mucky, grease-stained radiance. For instance:

  • Cities feel amazingly alive – You thought Skyrim’s “Radiant” AI was impressive? Or if not impressive then at least a cut above the mindless mobs that tend to populate videogame worlds? Well, Witcher 3’s variation on the theme looked magnificently natural. Children shouted and played tag, adults walked and chatted, fires crackled, water wheels churned, etc, etc, etc. It was so palpably alive. Our presenter noted that NPCs react the all sorts of things, too: the time of day, weather, Geralt punching them – every valid and rational human concern. Afterward, I went to a demo of Dragon Age Inquisition, and the difference was night and day. DA’s denizens were stuck in their tracks like they were born and raised in a vat of quicksand. No sudden movements. Really just no… movements in general, actually.
  • Geralt can climb stuff now – Cliffs and hillsides getting in your way? No problem. Like a sprightly assassin or Notch’s envisioning of a horse, Geralt’s got enough spring in his step to vault up/over whatever pitiful rock formation might stand in his way. He doesn’t animate quite as well as, say, the main character of Assassin’s Creed Unity, but it’s a useful skill nonetheless.
  • The draw distance is absurd – Our presenter stood at the top of a cliff after vanquishing its harpy residents, and from there he pointed to a tree on a mountain seemingly miles away. “You can go explore that,” he said.
  • Environmental interaction is apparently a big focus – CD Projekt claims that it always wants to offer you some sort of environmental option in most encounters to add extra oomph to your combat arsenal. During the demo, I saw bee hives you could knock from trees and explosive objects you could tickle into combustive laughter with a few light sparks from Geralt’s fire spell. However, there was then a bit where the presenter tried to burn away some path-blocking roots with said fire spell and it didn’t work, which didn’t even make sense to him. So these things aren’t entirely consistent yet.
  • Day/night doesn’t just affect townsfolk – It changes monsters too. Quick word of advice: maybe don’t plunge into Clearly Demonic Forest when the sun’s down. Just a hunch, is all.
  • People react to your accomplishments – After our presenter slew a werewolf, entered a cave, and came back out, villagers had gathered around the werewolf’s body. Makes sense: it was causing them no end of trouble, and I imagine they were quite happy to see it go.
  • There are still plenty of brothels – Ah, The Witcher’s balancing act between a desire for “mature” depictions of sex and an almost juvenile fixation on it continues.
  • If spooky Ladies trapped in a painting want someone’s still-bleeding ear on a stone, they are probably evil – In retrospect, I really should’ve seen that one coming.

Keep your eyes peeled for tons more Witcher 3 info in the coming days. I somehow managed to spend nearly an entire day of E3 at CD Projekt’s booth, so yeah. This is only the beginning.


  1. MaXimillion says:

    The cutscene at the end of the Griffin fight in the E3 demo has me worried, but hopefully that was just set up for the show.

    • paddymaxson says:

      I suspect if it wasn’t for show, the fight doesn’t just magically end there at least. Perhaps they’re going to use this to introduce the silver sword as a concept?

      While a Witcher is a monster hunter, not all monsters are more susceptible to a Witcher’s silver sword and Geralt has been known to spend his fair share of time fighting humans instead (his bodycount in the blood of elves saga is hugely imbalanced in favour of killing humanoids) so there’s a good chance that 10 hours in you might not really have been properly introduced to the silver sword yet.

      I’ve a lot of faith in CDPRED not being really dumb with cutscenes, they’ve generally used them in the past the way they should be used mid-fight – to introduce new phases of the fight

    • WFMS says:

      It was just like that because they had very limited time on the Microsoft stage.
      If you look at the IGN demo they continue where the E3 demo left off with the player traveling back to Novigrad with the head on the saddle.

  2. GameCat says:

    “The draw distance is absurd – Our presenter stood at the top of a cliff after vanquishing its harpy residents, and from there he pointed to a tree on a mountain seemingly miles away. “You can go explore that,” he said.”

    I’m incredibly pleased with this.

    “For instance, how do you fill such a massive place – in this case, one 50 times the size of The Witcher 2 – with interesting stuff to do? Some of it is bound to be cookie cutter, right?”

    At least it will not turn into Skyrim’s “there are two ancient dungeons, cave, bandits camp and giants camp within 50m radius”. Bleh.

    • InternetBatman says:

      If not it’ll get dinged in a few reviews for feeling empty, like Fallout New Vegas, despite an unrealistically high density of quests.

      • Drinking with Skeletons says:

        One of the strangest yet most consistent complaints I’ve ever seen. Have you ever finished up a playthrough of New Vegas and counted your completed quests? There are probably close to 200 if you have all the DLC, yet the game is “barren.”

        • monkey fedge says:

          for me, fallout new vegas was a bit barren because after you’d done whatever quests were in that area, you knew you could go to that area and see nothing at all (or maybe some animals) – no random encounters

          compare walking across the map (once you’ve completed a lot of quests) in FO3 to the same in FO:NV and you’ll see what i mean

          new vegas would have been a lot better (though it was good) if they’d included, and expanded, the random encounters from FO3

          • Vin_Howard says:

            I actually really disliked FO3’s random encounters for the reason that they were too random; oh look, random people shooting at other random people in a very random. What I look for in a Fallout game is a rich and detailed world that can only come from crafted experiences, not random shooting.

            If you look at it like this, it would be like saying that LotR (or GitS for all you cyberpunk fans) is “barren” because you read (or watch) it once, and nothing new random stuff will happen.

            ((Also, it’s a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland; it wouldn’t make sense if it wasn’t barren to a degree)

          • Volcanu says:

            @ Vin_Howard

            I’m with you on this one. I much preferred FO:NV (for many reasons) , and I liked wandering in the desert. As you say, it’s supposed to be a post apocalyptic wasteland with dangerous types stalking the wastes, not a Saturday lunchtime trip to the high street. I found FO3 got a bit tedious with it’s constant Super Mutant ambushes or Raider attacks, which just served to defuse any sense of tension you could have got from suddenly spotting figures on the horizon after wandering the wastes alone.

            To be quite honest I never found NV to be that deprived of content, or encounters. Besides that, the world was faaaaaaaar more interesting than that of FO3.

        • Aeterna says:

          Oblivion, which came out in 2006, had 199 quests and a huge world with much in it. ‘Close to 200 quests’ isn’t that much.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      Yeah… I don’t want Witcher 3 to be dense like Skyrim. Skyrim’s quest density was unnatural and caused most quests to be generic (how many daedras and nordic tombs did I pillage? dozens, all exactly the same) and boring. I’d rather have a tenth the density, but with each quest crafted to be unique.

      • WiggumEsquilax says:


      • guygodbois00 says:

        My thoughts exactly.+1.

      • Syra says:

        I agree there’s a rising sense of ennui from me towards expansive open worlds in general, I just don’t have the time, willpower or inclination to search every nook and cranny over 100 hours and do every overly menial fetch quest in every fucking game I play. Occasionally there’s a great game that captures my imagination like black flag or far cry 3 in terms of open worldy-ness but for every one there’s a half dozen more I wish would be pared down at least by half of the content bloat.

        • scatterbrainless says:

          I think the problem is that so many open world games focus on content in the form of discrete quests, whilst you notice most of the popular mods for Skyrim and other such games focus upon adding layers of interaction to the world at large, usually in the form of environmental factors such as more dynamic a-life, complex economic regionalization, survival based weather and crafting systems, hunting, etc. These make the process of simply existing and travelling in the world inherently interesting, without the artificial interest of constantly being made the protagonist in a series of mini-stories.

    • Chaz says:

      Yeah that’s one of the few things I don’t like about Skyrim, that despite all its openness it still feels cramped. You don’t feel as if you could just hop on a horse and ride off into the distant sunset. Not without quickly gathering a small conga line of mobs anyway.

      I want a bit of distance and breathing room between locations. Otherwise your sense of exploration feels diminished if you know that around every rock and corner you’re going to find something of interest.

      • waltC says:

        OTOH, you could have vast expanses of nothingness, like Oblivion, which functioned as a great sleep-aid for me. Fire it up and within a quarter hour I’d be snoozing…;) I much prefer Skyrim’s approach–because you could skip pretty much anything you wanted, return to it later, etc. Your choice. I made those choices plenty of times. Having many possibilities doesn’t at all mean you have to engage them all–it just keeps up my interest levels long after I’ve tired of looking at vast, empty vistas filled with nothing but mostly invisible wildlife.

        • Aeterna says:

          Funny, ‘coz Skyrim has been criticised but fans for its lack of choice. Choice in past Elder Scrolls games was much better than in Skyrim, which felt a bit more linear and action adventure, not role playing.

  3. povu says:

    As much as I love that CDProjekt puts in the effort to release free ‘enhanced editions’ of the first two games to deal with some of the criticism, I hope there won’t be a glaring need for one here.

    • pilouuuu says:

      Well, I agree, although I wouldn’t mind one if it is to polish an already amazing game and not polishing a piece of turd like the end of Mass Effect 3 and its DLC, which tried to fix the unfixable. TW1 and TW2 weren’t completely in need of fixing, but CD Projekt were nice enough to make them better.

      • ninnisinni says:

        Actually (although I never played it pre-EE) I understand that TW1 actually WAS in pretty poor shape, and that the english translation was poor enough that large parts of it were redone entirely for the Enhanced Edition. But post-EE, I think it was a masterpiece.

  4. rotekz says:

    Regarding the combat I read that the E3 demo has the difficulty turned down a few notches so presenters don’t die and have to replay stuff.

    • DanMan says:

      Yeah, I heard that, too. The enemies had much less health, I think.

    • iniudan says:

      Depend on who was playing for the presentation, if it was CDPR usual player, he an ex-pro gamer, so he likely make it look easier then it would be for your average journalist. (not that it sign to be good at multiple genre, but your usual pro-gamer, for most game genre, should have superior coordination and reflex)

      • FriendlyFire says:

        It’s probably a mix of both. The monster in the demo was way too quick to damage, I doubt that’s the final health value for a creature that large and threatening.

  5. Hahaha says:

    What do you know for all that time I have been thinking fedex quests are deliver X to X quests

    • Keyrock says:

      I’ve always lumped them in under the umbrella of “Fetch Quest”, though I have seen the term “FedEx Quest” used quite a bit.

      • HadToLogin says:

        Fetch is more usual RPG quest: “go somewhere then find item”.
        Fedex are reversed: “take this item then go somewhere”.

  6. paranoydandroyd says:

    “These are they.”

    +1 for proper use of the predicate nominative.

    • dsch says:

      It’s unidiomatic. Most complaints about predicate nominatives are misunderstandings of disjunctive pronouns.

      • Ross Angus says:

        I have no idea what either of you are talking about. I’m frightened.

  7. d3vilsadvocate says:

    I have a feeling that I will be disappointed with this. I was a huge fan of the Witcher 2 but loathed the combat system. What I hate even more are open world games with their Fed Ex Quests and lack of story. Combine the two and above mentioned flaws and you’ll end up having a Skyrim II with a certain console feel to it.

    I pray they will be able to make this interesting as they seem to intent. I just fear the game won’t cut it.

    • Zenicetus says:

      The first two games (which I enjoyed) taught me not to expect much from the combat, other than it not be too annoying. It’s just a way to move the story forward. For me, it’s like the reverse of the Batman games, where the combat is great and the story and environment are just barely good enough to carry the series.

      They did realize the combat needed some tightening up for Witcher 2 after release, and we got that in the Enhanced edition. Still not great, but a noticeable improvement, I thought. So there is at least a small ray of hope that it won’t be quite as bad as Witcher 2 was at first, or the weird timed combat they used for Witcher 1.

      • Nenjin says:

        Yeah, this line: “Combat wasn’t Witcher 2′s strongest suit, though, especially in regard to controls”

        Had me chuckling. Combat, period, has been the Witcher’s weakest suit. I honestly enjoyed Witcher 1’s combat more. It was…..basically a QTE but at least it flowed. A boring sort of slowly gurgling stream, but it still flowed.. Combat in Witcher 2, even after the rework, feels pretty awkward at times, and involved a lot of Start–>Stop–>Reposition.

    • Gamgee says:

      I loved the combat system of both 1 and 2 in their own ways. I feel the Witcher 2’s still gets slammed because they just tossed you in to the fray with no help and expected you to figure it out. Sort of a lingering resentment to the games combat. I will say in its own way it rewards smart thinking on the higher difficult levels. I cleared the entire game on second highest difficulty with only one death. I think it was dark difficulty.

      Its an RPG that requires a high amount of skill to play, but once you get to that minimum threshold the combat is super quick. I really felt like a Witcher. It was me dodging and weaving and striking with precision.

      I’m going to probably get flamed for this, but in its own way the combat is an equal to the Arkham games. Those are great, but they also help you a lot in the fight. So your pinches home in and your dodges are really big, and you can home in on unrealistic attacks from super far away. The Witcher 2 doesn’t have that combat aid the Arkham games have so mistakes are punished more, and maneuvering is more important like in a real fight. So I feel in its own way it was a great game.

      I will say some of the attacks were a little slow, but that’s nothing they can’t iron out if they just stop and take some time to look at it. I’m looking forward to the Witcher 2 style of combat, but tweaked.

      • Zenicetus says:

        Well, I’ll just be happy if we get the tighter control-to-action feel of the Enhanced Edition, and we also get at least one other effective dodge maneuver besides that silly rolling around on the ground bit. I never did figure out how Geralt could manage that without hurting himself, with a sword strapped to his back.

      • soxism says:

        I have to completely agree with you here.

        CD Projekt didnt baby you into the combat. My First time through i played Hard. and Lets say it was a massive learning curve. But once my skill level came up, you really had to think strategically about fights, time attacks, and plan on the fly. When you played on the harder levels, it really made you feel like a witcher. Monsters were not just hack and slash easy mode.

        I feel most games these days are far to easy, they seriously baby step their audience in.

        While i’ll acknowledge the combat itself wasnt the best system. It is extremely under-rated/valued for was it is.

  8. XhomeB says:

    “You thought Skyrim’s “Radiant” AI was impressive? Or if not impressive then at least a cut above the mindless mobs that tend to populate videogame worlds? ”

    Compared to how alive and lived in Ultima 7, Gothic 1-3, Risen felt, no, Skyrim sure as hell wasn’t impressive in the slightest.
    Funny that when Oblivion came out, one of the worst RPG-wannabies in existence, everyone kept comparing other games to it, as if it set some kind of standard. Fast forward a few years, Skyrim gets released, slightly less mediocre and flawed, but still nothing to get ecstatic about, and the story repeats itself. Wow. I guess all it takes is to create a huge landmass with nothing interesting to do apart from walking around and placing random clones all over the place.

    • InternetBatman says:

      And after that sentence a description followed of things Skyrim’s AI does. But yeah, I’d rather have Gothic / Risen’s one incredibly detailed city and two minor ones than 18 bajillion.

    • Dave Tosser says:

      If anyone is impressed by Skyrim’s Radiant AI, they are both wrong and in dire need of playing… Anything else. Are games writers even human? Are they secretly all androids with programmed ideas about video games? (ie: Skyrim was a popular thing what might be an RPG, so that must’ve had good AI because the AI had a name and Todd Howard flapped his arms at E3 2011, yeah?”)

      It should be a rule of games writing that you can’t praise Skyrim/Oblivion until you’ve looked to see if the feature in question is in Ultima VII, and done better there. Which is basically everything in Skyrim/Oblivion.

    • Keyrock says:

      Yeah, I was not in the slightest bit impressed by Skyrim’s “Radiant AI”.

    • Earth Nuggets says:

      In Oblivion and Skyrim, the A.I. system was always more annoying than anything else. Having to search different areas depending on the time of day and go through endless loading screens just to get your underwhelming reward (the best items were craftable of course) made things even more of a tedious slog. Oh and I remember when Oblivion first came out, an important NPC could clip through a bridge and die on his morning walk and break the entire main questline. Bethesda should just lock their characters in place; their coders and animators aren’t capable enough for anything else, hate to say it.

      • Aeterna says:

        Incorrect. Important NPCs can’t die in Oblivion. They can in Morrowind, though. Morrowind’s AI was fantastic for the date it came out!

    • gabrielonuris says:

      I’m trying to get into Oblivion for the third time since I bought it, just to know what kind of game I’ll get when I play Skyrim, which I still didn’t even buy yet; TBH, Oblivion looks and plays so boring and bland, that every hour I put into it I get closer to the certainty that I should spend my money on something else, instead of Skyrim; even if it’s better than Oblivion, I doubt it would be ‘better’ the way I think it should. For instace, why the hell would you create a big open world to fill it with absolutely nothing?? Everytime I find a new cave/temple/mine in that game, I don’t feel anxious to see what’s inside, I actually feel hatred as in: “oh my god, one more of those copy and paste caves with nothing at all inside, but a ton of the same monsters and probably a closed chest with a couple coins, a useless broom and a lock pick.” (which I broke three to open the damn chest). The only reason I’m eager to play Witcher 3 is because I trust into CDProjektRED’s work. If it fails, I’ll never play another open world game again, that’s for sure.

      • LionsPhil says:

        If you think that’s bad, wait until the Oblivion gates start appearing.

        Now you have have identikit caves that are red! And an even longer slog to get through. And force you into a close-quarters melee battle even if your character is a stealthy assassin who’s only really effective when sneak-attacking.

        Trust your feelings. These hours are not well-spent.

      • Grygus says:

        In my opinion, Oblivion is the worst Elder Scrolls game by quite a margin. Not saying you’d necessarily like Skyrim (which you can pick up pretty cheap nowadays), but you seem to be judging the series based on its weakest entry. My advice is to check out the Dark Brotherhood quest line. It’s the best thing Oblivion has to offer; if you don’t like that then you should uninstall. If you do like it, uninstall anyway and get Skyrim.

        • Aeterna says:

          Arena is the worst, as a generic RPG. Skyrim easily follows that. Skyrim is terrible compared to the other Elder Scrolls games. Oblivion is a great game, once you get to know it. It’s easily my favourite game of all time, with Morrowind following rather closely behind (and I do admit that Morrowind is objectively the best in the series, with Daggerfall falling behind that). But don’t hold Skyrim on a pedestal in the series. That’s ridiculous.

    • Frank says:

      Yeah, I was disappointed to see Grayson write this. If the Radiant AI in Oblivion is any indication, Bethsoft is not exactly at the cutting edge. (I haven’t played Skyrim.)

      Along similar lines, I would be disappointed if this game had a day-night cycle that *didn’t* affect monsters. That’s another basic feature (like slightly believable AI patterns) that I would expect, at the minimum from a modern big-budget RPG.

      The Elder Scrolls series is like Bioshock. Video game bloggers and “press” decided that these are the pinnacles of modern gaming simply because they (1) made a ton of money on consoles and (2) started on PC and so automatically are regarded as “deep”.

      • drewski says:

        Hah! Yeah, they definitely didn’t just, y’know, like the games.

      • bill says:

        AFAIK there was no Radiant AI in Oblivion. They hyped it up before hand, but they couldn’t get it to work on time so they basically ripped most of it out and hard coded the rest. Skyrim was what Oblivion was supposed to be.

        That’s just what I read somewhere…

        • WiggumEsquilax says:

          The Radiant A.I. actually did exist on Oblivion, on PC, but no contemporary console had the power to run it. The pc iteration being superior to the console version simply couldn’t be allowed; as such Radiant was pulled from all platforms.

          So, yeah, thanks Bethesda.

          • fish99 says:

            It’s probably more accurate to say Radiant AI was simplified, rather than completely removed, since the NPCs would do many of the things shown in the Radiant AI videos, like practice spells and archery, go to the pub, sleep etc.

            That video was the feature sped up many times to showcase the possible interactions.

  9. Eight Rooks says:

    Having now read books 4 and 5 as well as gone back to Assassins of Kings, none of this surprises me at all. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll happily take AoK: Bigger and Grumpier edition, if that’s what we’re in for, but yeah…

    our actual objective: a tiny sliver of information on the “ashen-haired girl” who seems to be responsible for the titular Wild Hunt

    …or plainly is, if you’ve read the books. Gee, I wonder if they’ll just ignore anyone who hasn’t, yet again, and bury that in the menus and a few weird-looking cartoon interludes. (I can’t even remember if AoK properly explains who she is. Sure, she’s not in that game, but she’s largely responsible for how the games got started, so…) Is it going to be presented as some gasp-worthy What A Twist that she’s been off teleporting through Arthurian England?

    But yeah, simple combat, slightly herky animation, inconsistent writing and vanilla side quests sound like par for the course, to be honest. (And the way they regard sex, though from books 4 and 5 I’m convinced there’s absolutely no chance of that ever changing significantly any time soon.) Still, I hope the technical shortcomings do get “fixed”, and again, I stress I’d still buy The Wild Hunt if it was just for the visual upgrade and the much, much larger world.

    • iucounu says:

      Gee, I wonder if they’ll just ignore anyone who hasn’t, yet again, and bury that in the menus and a few weird-looking cartoon interludes. (I can’t even remember if AoK properly explains who she is. Sure, she’s not in that game, but she’s largely responsible for how the games got started, so…) Is it going to be presented as some gasp-worthy What A Twist that she’s been off teleporting through Arthurian England?

      Or perhaps the assumption on the part of the devs and Nathan here is that not everyone has read five of these books, and so it’s worth preserving the possibility of twist-gasp for the audience of the game/preview?

      • Eight Rooks says:

        Might be hard to get into details on a comment thread on the front page, but overall my complaint with the story of the Witcher games as a whole is that it is blatantly, blatantly, blatantly geared towards a Polish audience who have read all five books, and yet it does a terrible job of putting this across. It wants to treat this as obvious and A Thing Of Mystery at the same time, and it simply doesn’t work anything like as well as it should do, IMO.

        EDIT: And what I said has absolutely no bearing on any important plot elements in any of the books, AFAIK (certainly not 1, 4 and 5), nor does it have anything to do with what happens in games #1 and #2 – hard to see how it could seriously affect #3 in any way whatsoever, but I wouldn’t be surprised if CDP throw it in as an OMG moment that’s played for the shock value then never referred to again.

        • Einhaender says:

          “towards Polish gamers who read the books”

          Don’t you mean “gamers who read the books”? Since I’m german and also read the books.
          Also yeah, the game is based on books and doesn’t hide that fact.
          It makes many references people who didn’t read the books wouldn’t understand(ever heard of the butcher of blaviken?) but at the same time offers a great story and characters that are easy to enjoy and to get into without knowing them.

          If anything, I’d say that the Witcher masters the relationship between those two perfectly.

          • Drinking with Skeletons says:

            Well, the books aren’t widely available outside of Europe and the English translations are kind of dodgy. I read the first one but didn’t go further because the availability is all over the map.

            But I agree with his criticism. The game would’ve been better had it been about a different Witcher than Geralt. As it stands, it’s simultaneously trying to play to fans while still being understandable to the many people who might play who never read the books and kind of fumbling a bit. In particular, I don’t understand why Geralt is so hung up on his lost lady love. Well, I understand it, but because that’s entirely extraneous to anything that’s actually happened in the games, I really had to work to understand the broad outlines of what’s going on, and I don’t particularly care one way or the other because, again, everything has happened outside of my experience with the franchise.

    • RedViv says:

      Us having read the book know more than Geralt, important information mostly just shared between him, co-amnesiac Yen, and Ciri. Other players get to go on that journey and enjoy it, while we enjoy how lines of plot are advanced and webs of connections are spun.
      I think that is a fine way to go about it.

  10. InternetBatman says:

    The Witcher 3′s combat looks alright – action-y but with a hint of strategy in the form of weapon switches (including a new crossbow for taking out airborne baddies), spells, and Geralt’s trademark mutagen potions – but it struck me as relatively simple. Hack, slash, twirl, dodge, rinse, repeat.

    So pretty much the normal Witcher then?

    • 2helix4u says:

      Same with Geralt’s tone switching between grimdark and cheesy jokes, which I personally have always kind of dug although it is a legit issue. I think of it as a game written if Hideo Kojima was Eastern European and obsessed with grim fairy tales rather than social engineering.

  11. Scurra says:

    The quest stuff has always been the core of the problem here. One evening of “real” RPGing (face-to-face at a table) will have more inventive stuff happening than any CRPG can manage, simply because our imagination is not constrained by the need for a fixed storyline: the joy of running a game is in not having the first clue what the players will do, and in adapting details and outcomes on the fly to take account of a much more interesting direction inspired by their actions (sometimes even abandoning the original direction entirely.)
    Sure, I can enjoy them as much as any other form of narrative storytelling (and there have been great ones, like Planescape Torment) but in the end we shouldn’t kid ourselves that these are anything other than novels, with a predetermined storyline that cannot be averted, except, perhaps in the details. *cough* Mass Effect *cough*
    Free will? Pah. It’s all determinism.

    • Wut The Melon says:

      And I would argue that stating that determinism excludes the possibility of free will is hopelessly outdated and incorrect. But we need not get into that here ;)

    • fish99 says:

      Fallout New Vegas at least let you pick from several storylines which did have dramatically different outcomes.

  12. Myrdinn says:

    I was never convinced they would be able to make a decent combat system. Having sub-par dialogue -does- worry me though; it was the same in the Witcher 1 IIRC. They eventually got around to fixing that with the EE. Come to think of it, I only got to enjoy it’s sequel only when they released the EE of that. So I’ll probably wait for the Witcher 3: EE.

  13. ribby says:

    D Projekt is apparently trying extremely hard to avoid the sorts of “kill X number of whatever” quests that pop up in, say, Skyrim

    I don’t remember any kill x of y quests in skyrim… I’m fairly sure they all had some kind of story behind them too. Some you even got by reading books i.e investigate this legend that you just read about.

    • LTK says:

      I do remember them, and in this case the story behind the quest is “I hate bears, kill them for me.” They weren’t ubiquitous, but they were there.

      • Stevostin says:

        Actually, it was. It’s the only one. It’s also cleary a quest about “keep those bear hides rather than sell it”, because you can get them in many ways – not only killing bear. It’s certainly not a Fetch Quest, unless you want to play it that way.

        Skyrim has next to no Fetch quest at all, which is not to say writing is always rewarding (pretty far from it). Same can be said about Oblivion. I don’t know who thought smart to make those games landmarks for Fetch quests but that shows poor knowledge of them. MMO have fetch quest. TES have ‘go in that dungeon and grab this/kill this guy”. Skyrim was dressing that extremely well, with a pretty clear rule: one dungeon always include a story and sight. Pretty mechanical but still pleasant, at least the first 200 hours.

    • Boarnoah says:

      I didn’t notice any either, then again I played it all wrong.

      • ribby says:

        how did you play it all wrong? was there a right way to play?

    • HadToLogin says:

      Beside some side-quests like this (mentioned bear quest, there were some quests where you could skip killing and buying animal/monster parts in shops), Radiant Quests are made of this.

      Just with KILL ONE OF X, where X can be animal, monster or unnamed human, depending if you ask Companions or Dark Brotherhood for another Radiant quest.

      • Grygus says:

        Killing a singular boss/target is not a kill x of y quest; you’ve just included virtually all RPG combat under the umbrella, making it meaningless.

        • Stevostin says:

          Clearly. Quest are always “go there and click that”. At best they offer options. People who hated Fallout 3 and didn’t notice it had systematically options like this. Skyrim was more praised, with way more quests and story, but options ? Not that much.

    • Einhaender says:

      Actually, “kill x of y” quests would make a lot of sense in the Witcher universe since that’s the reason Witchers exist. And even with another, higher goal on his mind, Geralt (almost) always stopped to “kill x of y” in the books.

      But on the other hand, it’s a game and things need to be balanced out so player’s wont get too bored along the way.

  14. Turin Turambar says:

    “There are still plenty of brothels – Ah, The Witcher’s balancing act between a desire for “mature” depictions of sex and an almost juvenile fixation on it continues.”

    Look, sorry to burst your bubble but brothels and prostitutes also exist in real life so I don’t see how that’s “juvenile”, and adults talk a lot about sex (it’s almost an obsession!) and mostly in a not very serious way. Just yesterday’s night I went out with 2 ex-workers, friends, both 40 years old, and guess what the talk between was while beer and whisky disappeared in our hands…

    Were my friends “juvenile”? At some point you should notice that isn’t juvenile, it’s that’s how the average serious adult human is. It makes the world turn around, etc.

    • Shooop says:

      Bringing too much attention to it can be considered juvenile.

    • DanMan says:

      I hate prostitution, for all it’s negative side-effects, so I could do without it. Juvenile? In context of the game, maybe.

    • SRTie4k says:

      It’s not talk about sex that is necessarily juvenile (although some, myself included, might consider it tasteless), it’s the act we’re talking about in this discussion. Having sex with a handful of different extremely attractive, buxom women at a whim is a thing of juvenile fantasy, not reality for 99.9% of people out there.

      • Einhaender says:

        I’m guessing you’re talking about the “story related” sex and not about the brothels(which advertise with having sex with a handful of women).

        And while the implentation like in the witcher 1 is discussable, I wouldn’t necessarily label it as “juvenile approach” since literature for adults(just to name one example of media) includes the same theme regularly in books focused towards both genders.
        I don’t even wanna start on how much “literature” my best friend’s wife has about that stuff.

        Promiscuity or the fantasy about it itself is not “juvenile” though I agree that games are not the best medium to portrait it decently.

        But blatantly juvenile have only been many japanese games for me with their “here’s another naked babe – high five! time for some nosebleed” approach.

      • PopeRatzo says:

        Having sex with a handful of different extremely attractive, buxom women at a whim is a thing of juvenile fantasy

        And being a monster-killer with magical powers is not?

        • SillyWizard says:

          Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha thank you.

        • jonahcutter says:

          Ha. Nice.

          I’d say the monster-killer fantasy is far -more- juvenile than the sexual one. (Fortunately for me, I’m not above indulging in a good, juvenile fantasy. I’m looking forward to this game.)

          A person clucking their tongue over others’ fantasies generally comes across to me as someone wanting to show others how mature they are. I find it more an insight into the scolds themselves, than the scoldees.

      • jonahcutter says:

        Having multiple, no-strings encounters with attractive, willing partners is a fantasy. There’s not anything inherently juvenile about it.

        It’s also a more common reality for more people than you may realize.

    • Rizlar says:

      Well the Witcher games always felt pretty juvenile to me. Not that it’s really a bad thing, but there is so much talk of ‘motherfuckers’ and what people intend to do with each other’s ‘pricks’, pretty much all the young women have their tits out and big bald men constantly shout and beat each other up, it’s hard to interpret the tone as anything other than teenage. Feels a bit Conan the Barbarian to me.

      Note: not that it’s a bad thing, it is pretty amusing. And I love the Conan films with Arnie. But it’s certainly not genuinely mature.

      • Einhaender says:

        Well the folks you are talking about are TW’s portrayal of the medieval lower classes and as far as we know, that’s pretty accurate behaviour on their part.

        Is it mature? No. Is it accurate? Yes.

        I agree with you about this being amusing and I guess that’s the intention of it.

        • Rizlar says:

          Does anyone actually think it is historically accurate?

          • Zenicetus says:

            I wouldn’t call it 100% historically accurate, and this series isn’t meant to be “historical” anyway.

            But I do think it seems a bit more realistic in terms of basic human nature, than the PG-rated and cliche’d mannequins we get in other recent pseudo-Medieval fantasy games like Dragon Age or Skyrim.

          • Grygus says:

            I take it you haven’t actually played Dragon Age.

    • AngelTear says:

      Talking about sex, representing sex is not inherently juvenile.

      Being all “Look, I dare say SEX!, because, unlike others who don’t dare, I’m so mature” is immature. It’s what teenagers do to attract the attention of other teenagers, much like swearing for the sake of swearing. Certain ways of representing sex/relationships are also immature.

      A mature representation of sex/relationships is a) Appropriately complex and b) has some kind of place in the narrative, instead of being simply shoehorned for the sake of being edgy and mature.

      Come on, now, we have an awesome regular column on sex and relationships, where did you get that idea that RPS thinks representing sex is immature?

      • xao says:

        Unfortunately, Nathan doesn’t make any case for the presentation of sex being juvenile. He just equates the presence, possibly the frequency (while leaving it at a vague “plenty”), of brothels as being juvenile. This is not a compelling argument for myself, and apparently others.

        • Blinky343 says:

          It was like two sentences, relax

          • WiggumEsquilax says:

            That, or Nathan has taken to inserting flame bait into his articles.

            In other news, Kotaku is hiring.

          • Gilead says:


            I think Nathan already writes some stuff for Kotaku, in fact. And to be fair to him, he did put a SENSATIONALIST FEAR warning at the top of the article, which I think should be implemented more generally — you’d just be able to skip any posts with a SENSATIONALIST FEAR tag. Other possible tags might include I HAVE DONE NO FACT-CHECKING and KNEE-JERK REACTION TO COMPLEX ISSUE.

  15. Shooop says:

    Combat was never any of the Witcher games’ strong point. It was passable, but was never something you’d go out of your way to get into.

    For me that’s OK because the characters and stories are stars of the show in the Witcher world. But I would welcome something surprisingly deep and interesting. I don’t expect Dark Souls, but something that doesn’t turn into an extended game of keep-away like the previous game would be great.

    • DanMan says:

      The story has been good all along though. Time to improve the less stellar things this time around, no?

    • nimbulan says:

      Very true, the combat system actually completely stopped me from playing the first game because it was so bad. The second was a bit clunky and unresponsive but what really hurt it was the insane difficulty spikes during certain fights. I’d gladly take simpler more straightforward combat over dealing with that again.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        If they can remove the difficulty spikes, I’d honestly be fine with a simple refinement over TW2’s combat system. It was fine, a little awkward perhaps, but fine. It’s the fact that you’d just get utterly butchered in an encounter after breezing through 20 of them that was jarring and aggravating.

        • SpoonySeeker says:

          Tw2’s combat was largely just a rip-off of another European RPG, Risen; which had fun and challenging combat. It boggles the mind that CD projeckt stole so much of it yet the end result turned out so bad.

  16. Eightball says:

    Worst of all, they don’t let you play as a woman.

    I agree with InternetBatman, a lot of this sounds like flaws that were present in The Witcher II (disclaimer, I’ve only played a bit of it, since I can only beat the combat on easy, which is too easy and thus boring).

    • Nenjin says:


      it’s a game based on a series about a guy. Are you really going to pull the “why don’t you let me play as a woman” card on this?

      Because stopping playing as Geralt so I can play an interlude as one of the many 2d female characters, or even Triss, does not sound like fun to me.

      • Blinky343 says:

        He’s making a reference to the “can’t be a woman” controversy in the new AssCreed

        • Nenjin says:

          Part of me figured, but I erred on the side of not sarcasm. I’ll leave it there, so it can stay in the AssCreed article.

  17. NothingFunny says:

    Thanks for the info. Im also worried about the typical open-world problems. The game looks amazing from previews.

  18. noodlecake says:

    I’ve been worried about it since they went open world. I really hope it doesn’t distract from the tight storytelling of the second game.

    • Einhaender says:


      TW2 was “packed” with story. Of course the open world setting will thin things out in favor of exploration but I still hope they remain on their path.

  19. DanMan says:

    Could it be that CDPR actually are mere mortals? I sure hope they find enough time to polish this thing into a blinding thing that shines really bright.

    The combat didn’t look much different, and yes, animations are important to me as well. They make everything convincing and come to life. Vaulting over obstacles in BF3 left a big impression on me, even if it’s totally unimportant in the grand view. It just made me happy, as corny as that sounds.

  20. Jimbo says:

    Geralt isn’t female? Fuck this game.

  21. Bostec says:

    Too much hype for this game. It will come out, get lambasted by the gaming critic for encouraging to much, become a cult classic with the gamers, not the critics. Drop in price to £4.99 and will be talked about in a random forum for a good few years. Next please.

  22. karthink says:

    Sounds exactly like a list of issues with The Witcher 2. Even some of the surprises, like a town feeling alive, was done by that game pretty well.

    More Witcher 2, with all its foibles, would be fantastic in itself. Witcher 2 with great draw distances sounds pretty good.

    • Rizlar says:

      It does indeed sound like the same strengths and weaknesses from The Witcher 2.

      The idea of a proper open world, not just somewhere with a series of pretty landscapes you cannot touch, but a living, open landscape to traverse and experience, sounds amazing. But The Witcher 2 had some pretty big QA issues. I bumped into a lot of minor bugs, nonsensical dialogue, shonky mechanics. Which all might be fine, but in a big, complex, open world a lot could go horribly wrong. Really hope that the extra time they are spending on The Witcher 3 means it doesn’t all fall apart like a beautiful house of cards.

  23. Einhaender says:

    “There are still plenty of brothels – Ah, The Witcher’s balancing act between a desire for “mature” depictions of sex and an almost juvenile fixation on it continues.”

    I hate when people say such things without elaborating, assuming that it’s “common knowledge” like “fart jokes” for example. Such statements would be considered “low effort posting” on many forums and on some boards even “shitposting”.

    “Ah, Nathan Grayson’s balancing act between a desire for “quality” writing about games and an almost rudimentary approach on it continues”

    • Paul says:

      It cannot be elaborated on because there is nothing juvenile about it in the first place.
      But maybe it is just my different central european sensibility. I’ve always found US and UK press’s incessant focusing on sex cards in TW1 and boobs in TW2 extremely overblown.

  24. Laurentius says:

    Somehow I’m loosing intrest in this game by every new information that is presented. There is nothing new or innovative or even very cRPG in traditional sense. It’s just they actually doing what they aimed for a cross between swords and coverstation action game and Skyrim’s open worldness and for me it’s not very appealing.

  25. Lobotomist says:

    Combat is weird , animations are wonky and dialogue is strange. So you telling us its the same as in Witcher 1 and 2 ?

    And if its anything like prequels the game is kickass and better by long mile than any other RPG on the market.

  26. Orija says:

    I really hope Mr Grayson got a chance to get his concerns across to the devs. I’m rather excited for the game and wouldn’t want it come out as a flawed gem, like the last one ended up being. Still one of my favourite games of course.

  27. derbefrier says:

    Sounds to me you just got reminded this is, in factan just a video game and will have your standard video game issues and tropes. People always seem to forget that during hype season.

  28. MrStones says:

    Needs a smile menacingly button, for that final guy who just watched you cut down all his mates in mere seconds after they unwisely chose to attack a man covered head to toe with scars and weapons, give him a chance to rethink his decision and leg it. Would be a lot better than the usual last guy charges headfirst to his doom thing most games do.

    Can’t think of any games that couldn’t be improved with a button mapped to an intimidating smile but Geralt especially, it’s basicly his thing.

    • Dave Tosser says:

      Saints Row gestures should be mandatory in all massacre sims. There was a Fable II achievement that involved toying with the feelings of Bandits by playing with gestures, and I’d love if something dumb like that turned up in more games. Especially ones that aren’t Fable fucking II.

      Else, just let us kick heads about like in Rune.

      • WiggumEsquilax says:

        That’s it!

        CD Project should give Witcher 4 Rune’s combat system!

        All problems solved, forever.

  29. 2helix4u says:

    I’m on the fence about pre-ordering this badboy. CD Projekt and GoG are two groups I always want to support regardless of “don’t preorder the game it might be shit” because they’ve built up an incredibly amount of goodwill with me, now GoG has regional pricing though and it is expensive in poonds.
    Being GoG they have a really neat deal where even though its like $15 more than it would be if I could pay in dollars they credit me back (rounding -up- even!) that money as GoG credit. That is a really nice solution and I read their explanation of why they essentially have to charge regional pricing or get sued until retail finally dies which was actually an incredibly solid peice of PR. Store credit though… I got all the games I want GoG.
    To twist my arm even more Witcher 1 and 2 both got free overhauls and updates long after the game came out which makes pirating this morally objectional to me.

    Still, £41 is pretty crazy expensive for a (discounted!) PC game, and it seems like CD Projekt could control the price of Witcher 3 more if they wanted.

    That was my enormous post about why regional pricing on GoG has turned this game from a “Shit yeah I’ll throw those guys some bucks!” insta-preorder to “Eeeeehh uuurhhhh moneeeeey~”

    • Gilead says:

      That was essentially my position, but because I originally bought both of the Witcher games at retail and GOG let me redeem them on their store, I got the discount that brings the price down to £36, which is in-line with regular new release price, plus I also get the store credit etc. So now I’m torn between getting it at GOG and wanting a physical edition to go along with the nice big boxes I have for the previous games.

  30. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    So instead of complaining about arbitrary “Kill X” quests, now we’ll get to complain about how no task, no matter how trivial, is attached to some endless story about NPC Bumfuck and his woes.

    I foresee much mashing of the “skip dialogue” button.

  31. aryman says:

    TW3 will be great game, i’m almost sure about it, but i’m afraid CDP REDs are loosing their balls. They said their games are for mature audience, right? So why they are listening kids (and freaks) disgusted by a naked women? I saw Geralt in a brothel and there was not even one naked nipple around. In a brothel! With whores! Is TW3 still game for mature players? or just 12+ rated game like Bioware RPGs?

  32. Kein says:

    >all this biased subjectivistic nitpicking

    link to i.imgur.com

    So, this is gamejur of 2014, huh. Sad.

  33. Paul says:

    If what CDP does regarding sex and relationship is “juvenile”, then I sure as fuck hope they will always stay juvenile.

  34. Don Reba says:

    Why, hello, handsome reader. Would you be a dear and fetch me a still-bleeding ear, please?

  35. knowitall011 says:

    I liked witcher 2 combat, never thought it was too hard. took me 30 mins to learn the combat and I was breezing through the game.

    from what I have read so far, it seems like they might have toned down the difficulty too much to accommodate the lazy noobs who never wants to learn. I haven’t been disappointed yet by a witcher game, still happy with my pre order.

  36. alsoran says:

    I got the pre-order on GoG too, because its worth the support. Combat wise I have two left thumbs so need all the help I can get. I wondered whether there would be a Red Kit this time?

  37. Halk says:

    No first person view => no purchase.

    I just don’t get why there are still companies making games with third person view.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Different personal tastes, maybe? Why should we only have one type of perspective in games? Choices are good.

      I like third person in games focused on close-range melee combat like this, because it allows good situational awareness of what’s around you, and most importantly behind you. That can be important when you’re often surrounded by attackers. It’s less important in a gun-based FPS where enemies are usually at a distance.

    • Phantom_Renegade says:

      For me it’s the exact opposite, I cannot play a first person game without it immediately feeling unrealistic and disjointed.

  38. Megakoresh says:

    All valid concerns, all shared. Particularly that about combat – it looks better, but still I know W2 was repetitive and quite boring when it came to the actual gameplay execution of the combat. The most gameplay depth you could get was select and throw flammable gas and then ignite it, that was about the only “combo” you could do yourself. Rest was “Mash LMB/RMB buttons without stopping so animations rack up”.

    And second and possibly most important: facial animations. Yeah in W2 they were crap. Real crap. And it really stood out seeing as how gorgeous and high-quality the rest of the game was. They should REALLY put effort into this. Like really. CDP, please. Make the facial animations good.

  39. krisk7 says:

    Smart title Nathan. Bashing things will always create more controversy and bring you more viewers = profit :)

  40. drewski says:

    Interesting stuff. I’m sure I’ll get it eventually, but I dunno, not screaming MUST PLAY to me.

    But two things – 1. literally nobody apart from Pete Hines is impressed by Bethesda’s AI, and 2. I’m baffled that anyone actually bothered with the radiant quests in Skyrim given how much else there was to do.

  41. seruko says:

    So lemme get this straight…
    you have some reservations about Witcher III
    but are optimistic about DA:I?
    your fears are deeply out of order.

  42. fish99 says:

    To be fair, Skyrim has almost no kill X enemy quests, it’s always ‘go here and wipe out all the [enemy type]’. The kill X enemy thing is from MMOs. Skyrim won’t force you to sit there waiting for something to randomly spawn like an MMO will, and it’s that tedium that spawned said meme.

  43. frymaster says:

    Even the first witcher game had nicely bustling villages and towns, if only because they filled them with people, which is a concept strangely hard to grasp for some developers