The Witcher 3 Should Be Subtitled ‘Lovely Scenic Hunt’

Some of the claims in this new The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt trailer sound awfully familiar, especially those to do with the NPCs living in cities. They have their own lives and motivations! They have an opinion of you based on your actions! They’ll gossip about you in public! Have you heard of the Gray Fox?

I’m skeptical. Adam is skeptical. But then, it does look golly pretty, so these five minutes of travelling across its world and fighting monsters is worth your time.

Previous Witcher games have been enjoyed for their world and tone, sometimes in spite of their combat mechanics, AI or story. The Witcher 3 is more ambitious because it’s trying to do everything the old games did well, but in an open world setting. I want it to be good, and it sure looks good, but I’m not going to believe anything until I can play it for a few hours or ten.

The Witcher 3 is due out February next year.

71 Comments

  1. padger says:

    I’m not sure it really matters if the open world is a bit superficial, as you seem to suspect. It’s going to be glorious to wander and set off some of the scripted stuff. Big world, big monsters. It’s all good.

  2. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Or maybe not that subtitle because it sounds a little like…

  3. rustybroomhandle says:

    Duck Hunt ripoff!

  4. Jim Rossignol says:

    I’m less sceptical. I think this is going to be entertaining regardless of whether the open world is actually just fluff.

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      If it has those Witcher mechanics and an engaging story like the last? Damn straight.

      • kament says:

        Please, anything but mechanics. Good thing they seem to have realized it was a major step backwards comparing to the first installment. You couldn’t even, uh, step backwards! And don’t even get me started on the alchemy, it was botched beyond repair. TW1 was kinda wonky gameplay-wise, but TW2 was even worse, underbaked and limited.

        And since I never cared much about neither of the Witcher’s story (although the new one does look promising in that department), I sincerely hope they get the gameplay right this time around, ’cause last time I couldn’t convince myself to get through it more than once despite even the promise of a kinda sorta completely different second act.

    • Wichtel says:

      I actually don’t want the open world to take away the focus from what made the previous witcher games great. If the open world just turns out to be some backdrop for the story I would be happy. My concern is that we get the Gothic II, III or Oblivion, Skyrim situation where the backdrop takes over and the main story becomes a distraction.

      • Cinek says:

        Thing is that in those games the main story was… simply put: garbage.
        From what I seen so far – it won’t be the case with W3.

      • DanMan says:

        Exactly my concern as well. It’s at it’s worst when the main branch has some fake urgency to it (“Make haste! They’re about to rape the princess!”), and then you go collecting herbs for hours or something and it doesn’t matter. You can just come back to the main quest and they’ll be waiting for you patiently.

    • golem09 says:

      Actually, I do hope for a “fluff” open world. Or rather finally an open world where points of interest aren’t scattered evenly in every possible walking direction. This looks like a world that is properly big, and not stuffed full of dungeons and bandit camps evera 10m.

  5. Niko says:

    Did I see the words MONSTER HUNTER?!

  6. Laurentius says:

    It seems like they totally blew it. This reeks “young guy doing cool young guy shit” which is no suprising seeing these young devs. Geralt is old, Sapkowski was over forty when he wrote first Witcher story. Geralt would never gallop through countryside just becasue he can.

    • Geebs says:

      I would love it if there was a “press ‘X’ to say something pithy to Roach” option when riding.

    • Jabberslops says:

      A horse sounds great no mater how old Geralt is seeing as how I never finished the first Witcher because of all the walking, running and back tracking for all the quests. I haven’t touched the Witcher 2 yet because I wanted to finish the first and continue with my game save in Witcher 2. The game started too feel more like The Walker… I still plan to finish the game and start Witcher 2 though, but I still have far too many games left untouched in my Steaming pile of shame.

      • Laurentius says:

        Horse riding is fine as Geralt had a horse in books. It’s just this tiny fragment already shows that combining sandbox open world with story driven “mature” cRPG roughly trying to keep with spirit of books is practically impossible. Galloping through lush countryside is a no brainer in sandbox open world game but it’s antithesis to Geralt personality, what fits young Ezio in AC2. it’s not fiting sardonic witcher on ‘mature” quest.

        • Monkeh says:

          Can’t you play the game however you want? So if you want to role-play the actual Geralt from the books, what’s stopping you? You dislike seeing Geralt roam leisurely on horseback, so just don’t do that.

        • Horg says:

          ”Galloping through lush countryside is a no brainer in sandbox open world game but it’s antithesis to Geralt personality”

          It really isn’t though. Geralts cynicism is largely directed at people, who are consistently shitty to Geralt and each other, and the decline of his profession (and therefore his self worth) as human settlements grow while monsters vanish from the world. A nice relaxing ride through the country side without any people to bother him sounds like something Geralt would like.

          • RedViv says:

            That. If the books teach you anything really big about Geralt, it’s that more than everything he just wants to be kept in freaking peace. That he has to do the witchering thing to keep himself fed since it’s the only thing he is taught, well. Better than having to meddle with the conspiracies of former half-hedgehog people.

        • Jabberslops says:

          Honestly, I’m just tried of games forcing me to run everywhere. I don’t want to spend hours walking around the world unless I have a reason to that is part of the story or maybe if there is some good tangible reward for finding all of the things like maybe a large upgrade for something. The faster I can speed through the parts that have no real game play or story the better. If there is something worth looking at I would probably stop, but otherwise forcing me to walk or run everywhere with limited or no fast travel sucks the fun out of the game.

  7. skyturnedred says:

    Not really looking forward to this. But only because I just started The Witcher 2 and my PC can just barely run that in a playable form, TW3 would probably melt my PC.

    • Niko says:

      Hm, my a few years old PC that wasn’t a cutting edge at the time handled Witcher 2 pretty well.

      • DanMan says:

        That happens when people just crank up everything to 11 and expect it to run perfectly. It doesn’t work that way on PC.

        • skyturnedred says:

          I’m using pretty much the lowest settings I can. My beast just wasn’t meant for this. Loads of other, even newer games run pretty well, so I’m inclined to blame the game!

          • montorsi says:

            It does run like ass way out of line for the graphics on offer. I did a little fiddling some months ago to max the graphics out with improved textures, supersampling, mods and such and the game still looked awful (high res ugly textures are still ugly), so I don’t know that you’re missing anything (not that you implied you were). I remember at the time people thought it looked good but it’s as cringe-inducing as the disjointed story was at release.

            Anyway, that’s neither here nor there wrt W3. We’ve all heard the open world promises before. If they really go all in at the expense of the story (which hasn’t been interesting since W1), they’d better nail the open world stuff. Given all the pitfalls involved I’d be shocked if they managed to avoid them all in their first go at this open world thing. Hopefully their future sci-fi IP benefits from the experience, however.

    • Henson says:

      When I first played through Witcher 2, I was on a single-core GPU. The game occassionally slowed to a halt when loading between locations. My framerate often dropped to about 2 fps. The wraith battle around Henselt was a real bitch. But I got through it!

      Edit: CPU. I meant CPU.

  8. jerf says:

    “Previous Witcher games have been enjoyed for their world and tone, sometimes in spite of theirstory
    Sorry, what?

    I though that most people agreed that The Witcher games had some of the most interesting stories in RPGs (at least if you count the RPGs from the last ten years)?

    Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems to me that RPS (or at least some of RPS staff) are somehow a bit overly aggressive on the Witcher franchise. Many RPS articles on this subject have a bit of this “aww, again these backwards eastern-European developers who even put those nude cards in their first game” vibe, which kind of disappoints me.

    On a side note, I recommend this Witcher-related video of MrBTongue (of Mass Effect ending nagging fame) to everyone: link to youtu.be

    • Alexrd says:

      Yeah, still trying to understand that one…

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I’ve always enjoyed them. If anything The Witcher 1 failed on the first 4+ hours, that was absolute pap, and then improved. W2 was much stronger overall, and even that had a wobbly start.

      I’d say we enjoyed in spite of them basically being pretty shaky at times.

      • jerf says:

        Thanks for replying. What I’m saying is that some of the criticism appearing on RPS regarding this franchise seems to be a bit unjustified, at least in my opinion. Like, as I pointed above, it’s not clear how “in spite of their .. story” can really apply to The Witcher games, or why did Adam had to once again mention the sex cards in the previous article on TW3 (after the devs long ago agreed that this was a wrong thing, and the cards didn’t appear in the second game). Or why do Graham and Adam put so much emphasis on this “scepticism” part without giving much justification for that (also taking into account how The Witcher devs mostly delivered on their promises in the past).

        I completely agree with the RPS policy of giving subjective views on all matters, but in this case I just don’t really understand the basis of these particular subjective views (or, rather, I have this nagging, and maybe completely wrong, suspicion that some people just couldn’t get over the sex card issue or something like that; which to me seems to be a pretty bad basis).

        • padger says:

          I think it’s just down to individual voices. Lots of people are pretty leery about The Witcher games. I like ’em, others don’t. But that’s usually a sign of something interesting, and certainly makes for good discussion.

        • Jim Rossignol says:

          It lets you know how people are positioned: Adam and Graham aren’t big fans of the series, and that’s good to know. I like them, and I’m aware of people’s criticisms. (My biggest issue with them was the animation-dependent combat, which always felt slow and restrictive.)

          • baozi says:

            Perhaps it would be a good idea to have posts on TW games written by people who like them? :D Or at least to have posts with alternate views?

            Sometimes it just sounds like people want to be intentionally polarizing

        • Ieolus says:

          I liked the sex cards. I’m sorry they are gone. I’m a collector at heart.

        • wrycon says:

          I’m skeptical of any trailer that purports you can do anything in the game:

          “On your ride you might see a windmill and in that windmill is a snail who may or may not be singning a faint snail song recalling your heroism in your fight with the lich and his direrats five days ago.”

          All sounds great and awesome, but until I see that snail I will remain skeptical.

    • Siimon says:

      I loved TW2, didn’t play TW1. Perhaps part of (or the) problem, but TW2 story was hard to get into. When I got it, I loved it and perhaps even a bit more because I had put effort into puzzling things together, but it took a bit of gameplay to understand who was who and why they wanted/were doing whatever it was they wanted/were doing. I was, for lack of a better way to put it, expected to know so many things, places, people and histories – this even reflected in choices “Do you want to help X or Y?” and it seemed like there was a deep story about both X and Y that I didn’t know about (until like 5 hours later, if at all).

      The animated cut scenes didn’t really do much for me either, but thats a matter of personal taste more than anything.

      Just my 2c.

      • dudleyisasillyname says:

        Just look in the journal if your confused about the story, there are incredibly detailed journal entries about all the characters, locations, items, etc that you might help you understand the back story better in The Witcher 2. There are also plenty of in-game books you can buy from vendors that tell a little about the world, past events and stuff. Honestly, The Witcher 2 is a pretty separate story from The Witcher 1, aside from a few of the main characters that are in both games, there are only a few minor references to the first game. You don’t need to have played the first game to understand nearly everything that happens in the second game.

      • Henson says:

        They really did not fully explain a lot about the different people, kingdoms, or factions involved in Witcher 2; you had to piece it together yourself over the course of the game.

        And, in a way, I think that’s cool. It’s confusing, sure, but it also presents the world as a distinct setting and not as a thing for the player’s benefit. The world exists and changes regardless of the player, and that’s kinda the point of these games: Geralt is only one man, and as much as he is capable of, there are many things much larger than he could ever be.

        • montorsi says:

          It’s “cool” if you’re predisposed to enjoy the game. For someone wandering in from a Steam sale, it’s confusing at best and alienating at worst to have such a poorly written story you can’t figure out what the fuck is going on until several hours in.

    • bill says:

      I haven’t played them, but I’ve read several reviews criticising the story and the delivery.

      All subjective of course, but I got the impression that people who got into the vibe of the world/books rather liked them, but a lot of people bounced off them. (some due to combat, some due to story, some due to sexy cards, etc..)

    • Juan Carlo says:

      RPS has never liked the Witcher series, which has always puzzled me. They will praise mediocrity like Deus Ex:HR and Skyrim to the heavens, but suddenly get super nit picky when it comes to Witcher.

      Which is fine. Different strokes for different folks, and all that. But they bash the games enough before (and after) they are released that it does seem to be almost a vendetta of sorts. So I’ve learned to take their coverage of the games with a grain of salt.

    • Jade Raven says:

      It might be hard to believe now, but having the “sex cards” was actually a progressive step forward at the time. Really.

      • Wulfram says:

        Would you care to expand your thinking there?

      • montorsi says:

        It’s not progressive. It’s the same brand of “late night on Showtime” -adult material- as W2 sex scenes that passes for mature if you’re a teenager.

  9. The Dark One says:

    Screw all the other details. I just love that warm green tone in the trees and that vibrant blue in the sky. The world of the Witcher may be dour as hell in general, but that location is lush as fuck.

    • Noxman says:

      Agreed, it doesn’t matter how grimdark the subject content is, the world still appears in real colour.

  10. amateurviking says:

    Wild? I was absolutely livid!

  11. Yglorba says:

    When you think about it, it’s a bit amusing that game developers keep trying to do the whole “give everyone lives and motivations” thing. Yes, it sounds good on paper, but honestly, when you walk down the street in real life, how often to the lives and motivations of everyone around you actually matter?

    I mean, it’s a cool concept for occasional oddball games like Dwarf Fortress, but when you get down to it NPCs are one of the areas where it makes the most sense for games to fudge things; and they’re a place where the amount of work put into actual simulation like that is going to yield disproportionately small results. (Which is probably why they always end up throwing up their hands and having NPCs just randomly shout scripted barks that vaguely depend on some mission / reputation variables.)

    Also, who in the world ever played a fantasy RPG and said to themselves “you know what this game really needs? A bunch of waiting outside a shop because it was closed while the shopkeeper went home to sleep! Realism!” It makes a bit of sense if your game is focused on thievery, but mostly it’s just irritating.

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      I agree with you. I don’t really need to see simulated peasants running around in my story-heavy RPG. I need to find the quest givers and/or dialogue dispensers, ideally confined to one location and not wandering around wherever the winds may take them; the rest is just so much window dressing. It’s part of the problem that inevitably leads to constant use of the woefully inelegant “highlight useful stuff please” button.

      There are indeed two approaches clashing here, and trying to combine them together ends up hurting both.

      • Niko says:

        And why bother drawing, modeling and animating them, for that matter. Just make them look like cubes signed “quest giver” and “dialogue dispenser.”

        • KillahMate says:

          That suggestion shows how undedicated you are to good player experience. Why have boxes that the player would need to travel to, wasting valuable hacking and slashing time? Simply add a /quest command to general chat (you *do* have a chat window in the game, right?), and wherever the player is, they can simply type it in – and out pops a quest! And by ‘a quest’, I mean a map pointer to where you need to go, and a counter on the HUD of the number of rats you need to slaughter when you get there. If you can click on the map pointer to instantly appear there, all the better.

          Dialogue is extraneous fluff and should be omitted completely.

          • zero signal says:

            Indeed. In addition there should be precisely one button, and the player should be rewarded for clicking it.

          • Diatribe says:

            I think we should go the other direction and have immersive simulations! Instead of “quests” when you find an NPC who may possibly be interested in your services he refers you to his attorney or personal representative, and you visit him and hammer together a contract (with contract reading and negotiation minigames), then reaching an agreement you perform the services requested. Sometimes, you will randomly have to contact a magistrate or other official, or wait in line for days to see the king if there is a dispute in the terms of your contract and payment.

            Also you can’t just go out and start fighting things. As Malcolm Gladwell taught us, you will first have to practice for approximately 10,000 hours to gain mastery of your fighting technique. Then you might be qualified to kill something without also getting killed. Don’t forget that it will take weeks or months for your injuries to heal, and if you suffer a severe injury your character will be crippled for the rest of his/her life.

            Adventure awaits!

    • baozi says:

      All I know is I that I really liked waking up in the misty Swamp Camp in Gothic 1 and watching people smoke water pipes early in the morning.

      In those games, shop keepers do go sleeping.

      And it is glorious.

    • Horg says:

      It’s small details like the NPC routines that turn a game from a sterile facade (example; SWtOR) into something compelling and immersive (example; TW2). Mechanics can only carry a game so far. Look at the latest Wolfenstein as an example. If they had just released another fairly linear FPS with minimal plot and no NPC interaction, it would likely have tanked. It got praised for it’s attention to detail in aesthetic, animations, immersion, character building…..small details that make it stand head and shoulders above any other FPS that’s come out in the last few years. Immersion is difficult to quantify, but it is undeniably important, and the games that put in no effort in this area stand out like a sore thumb.

  12. Turin Turambar says:

    Skeptical? After the lauded Witcher 1 and Witcher 2??
    Story is fantastic. And first time I read someone complain about the AI.

  13. Jabberslops says:

    A horse sounds great seeing as how I never finished the first Witcher because of all the walking,running and back tracking for all the quests. I haven’t touched the Witcher 2 yet because I wanted to finish the first and continue with my game save in Witcher 2. The game started too feel more like The Walker… I still plan to finish the game and start Witcher 2 though, but I still have far too many games left untouched in my Steaming pile of shame.

    *Edit* This was suppose to be a response to Laurentius above.

  14. RaoulDuke says:

    Dev 1: Hey, I played the Black Flag this week, the underwater sections didn’t work in practice [Because of shitty “underwater stealth” mechanics and general lack of satisfaction] but they would look/sound great for the trailer!

    Dev 2: “You are right! We can make a half-decent underwater swimming animation and put it in our latest trailer, then people will think it is remotely good like AC:Black Flag trailers implied their diving sections were but its really just smoke and mirrors!”

    Dev 1 [Driving JCB with a bucket filled with “gameplay features (for trailers)”]: “Come on guys we can still pile some more promises on top of this teetering stack that is our game before it ships. The best thing is we don’t even need to fulfill them because of our legion of fanboys who will say none of the promised features are what make it a good game anyway! Running around clicking on static people who have question marks above their heads is what makes it good! Not dynamic, emergent gameplay based on systems interacting, just scripts firing off and making a quest giver run up to you/call you over/summon you from afar/whatever”

    Dev: 2: Yeah! And lets not forget the most important part, drawing your sword in a pub and knocking over tables filled with physics objects and killing quest givers/random people and then ultimately succumb to the guards in the city and die… wait that sounds pointless why did we put that in our game? And why are we lauding it?

    Both Dev’s: ARRRRGHHH! [A huge stack of over-hype falls over and crushes them]

    • jerf says:

      Well, CDPR (The Witcher devs) delivered on most of their promises for the previous games (at least, up to my knowledge), so I don’t see any real reason to think that this will change in the TW3 case.

  15. marano says:

    I tried playing the witcher 2 but really couldn’t get into it. I was bored out of my mind and it felt like a chain of bland cut scenes and tedious conversations rather than a fun, action packed, atmospherical rpg.

    I hope this will be different.

    • Brosecutor says:

      That pretty much describes my TW2 experience. Never understood what people saw in this game except for awesome graphics. I may sound like a broken record, but the Gothic/Risen series (for all its own glaring problems) is still the benchmark in immersive world-building.

  16. honuk says:

    pretty game with animations from a PS2 game. stop me if you’ve heard this story before.

  17. garisson says:

    Comment deleted.

    Ok, how about this. Every Witcher article you people write is backhanded to CDP and meant to incite fans. It’s become painfully obvious by now you don’t like the series, so why do you continue to write about it other than to get clicks?

    • Premium User Badge

      Graham Smith says:

      Some of us do like the games, we’ve written plenty of positive articles about them, and this post explicitly states why it was posted: because although I’m skeptical, it looks jolly pretty.

      I want The Witcher 3 to be good. I like its ideas. I’ve bounced off the first two for various reasons – both have been criticised by plenty of places in plenty of ways – but I see their merits and the value in what they’re trying to achieve.

      And I have plenty of doubts and criticisms which have nothing to do with sex cards, which I make no mention of in this article.

      It’s possible to be interested in something, excited for something, hopeful for something, and still be skeptical and critical of parts of it at the same time.