A Witcher 3 Diary, Day 1: Beyond The End Of The World

glaring eyes

Richard is handling opinions on The Witcher 3 [official site] (including tech issues and similar fun), but as a man without 200-odd hours to spare on questing, quaffing, sexing and beard-growing, I shall instead run a (mostly) in-character diary series covering my adventures in, presumably, just the earlier stages of CDP’s saucy roleplayer. But for the record, it runs OK if I turn Fancy Hair off but it has crashed twice so far.

Disclaimer: I didn’t finish The Witcher 2 and can’t remember much of what I did play, so expect confusion/getting people’s names wrong. Also, there will almost certainly be SPOILERS throughout.

My latest adventure begins with approximately 19 different visions and flashbacks, which leave me none the wiser about what I’m doing and who all these to-a-one all-knowing people around me are. But one of them immediately gets her bum out, which at least is a context I can figure out by myself, another one is a precocious child-Witcher whose side I can’t help but take over her testy instructor’s, and then everyone gets straight-up murdered by a Nazgûl. Whoops?

Before that, I’m challenged to race the kid around the walls of the castle we all live in, and I – a semi-immortal magic dude who’s fought more battles than you’ve shed eyelashes – am so damn desperate to beat a 10-year-old girl that I end up plunging to my death while trying to take a shortcut. Fortunately there are ways around that these days. We try again. I let her win this time, and try to look supportive rather than humiliated.

And then everyone gets killed anyway. But it’s only a dream, probably. I wake up on a hillside with the Testy Instructor, aka The Amazing Tutorial-Man, clarify that the slaughter hasn’t actually happened yet, and find out I’ve got a note from the lady who got her bum out telling me to meet her somewhere around here. She also mentions that apparently we once did it on a stuffed unicorn, which sounds super-uncomfortable. Anyway, plans to meet her somewhere around here are thrown into disarray, given that here is the scene of a recent and bloody battle. There are corpses everywhere, and the only bums in sight are covered in dented armour, mud and blood. Also I keep standing on people’s faces by mistake

Turns out not everything here is dead. There are some ghouls too, who are only a bit dead. They’re not alghouls, importantly: The Amazing Tutorial-Man mentioned those earlier. I’m not entirely sure of the difference, but sincerely hope it means that some ghouls bellow Paul Simon songs as a battlecry. Anyway, it’s chopping time, but in the middle of decapitating a ghoul who seems sadly unfamiliar with Graceland I spot some flowers. Flowers! You can’t not pick a flower if you see it, even if a scuttling horror is trying to chew your earlobes at the time. I don’t quite know what’s going on, so I’ve decided my purpose in life is to become known as The Sexy, Cat-Eyed, Semi-Immortal Dude Who Collects Flowers. The bards shall sing of my exploits, and of my tasteful floral arrangements.

That done, The Amazing Tutorial-Man tells me to follow him yet again. But this time I’ve got a horse, and the last thing I’m going to do is follow anyone. I turn the other way, and ride. I’ll keep on riding until I can’t ride no more. I’ll reach the ends of this earth, and…

Oh. Well, that was quick. And anti-climactic.

So if this is the end of the world, where does that road go? Who built it? And how? Is it even really a road, or is my mind unable to cope with the infinite cosmic emptiness just beyond the bit of grass I’m standing on and has imagined familiar scenery there to spare me from madness? More importantly, what is that blood stain in the distance? If someone died beyond the end of the world, this feels like something I should know about.

I spend an ungodly amount of time trying to circle closer, approaching from every direction I can , but The Mysterious Force That Really Should Have Built An Impassable Mountain Range If They So Badly Wanted To Stop Me Going Over Here blocks me every time. A brainwave: I try dismounting from my horse, and by taking baby-steps and approaching the road from the woods to the left, I’m able to draw closer to The Blood Stain Beyond The End Of The World. You won’t believe what I discovered.

TO BE CONTINU…

No, no, it’s fine, I’ll tell you now. It was just a blood stain.

Couldn’t even see any giblets. Sorry.

Disgruntled but still determined not to follow The Amazing Tutorial-Man’s mandates, I explore other directions. Impassable valleys preclude me from going far, but I get to kill some more ghouls (still no renditions of You Can Call Me Al, alas) and pick some more flowers. I also find a magic rock which makes me better at fighting. Thanks, magic rock. Eventually, with nowhere else left to go, I return to the battlefield, a little deflated. It’s then that I discover something incredible, something which more than makes up for the peculiar geographical restrictions of this world.

Every single body on this battlefield can be looted. Even the horses.

By God, I’ve got more rusty axes than I’ll ever know what to do with, and sacks positively brimming with festering horse-hide. Now this is my kind of adventure.

54 Comments

  1. colossalstrikepackage says:

    Diary! Yes!

    Also, glad to hear that looting a battlefield made up for gazing at the end of the world.

    Can’t wait for more. :)

  2. FurryLippedSquid says:

    I think you can go down those roads eventually, it just triggers a fast travel instance.

    • phelix says:

      You Can Call Me Al is a crime against humanity and the sooner it disappears off the face of this earth the better.

      • phelix says:

        Whoopsie, didn’t mean to reply to you!

      • BroRadley says:

        Geralt walks down the street
        It’s a street in a strange world
        Maybe it’s the Third World
        Maybe it’s his first time around?

  3. Orija says:

    The witcher 3 may be a good game or a bad game depending on people’s opinion, but one thing that can’t be denied is that it was a labour of love for the devs. There are all these little nuggets throughout the world, and the really satisfying way in which they connect to each other.

    Something that can only happen when everyone working on the project absolutely loves what he’s doing.

    • Orija says:

      The first cool thing that the game does is at the absolute beginning where it allows you to jump to your death from the balcony. I was expecting an invisible wall so much that I let out a chortle when my geralt shot straight down to meet the ground.

      • Dogsbody says:

        The #1 first thing I tried to do in Mass Effect 3:
        The council building or whatever you start in blows up, and you have to skirt the edge of the building. I try to jump. Invisible wall does not allow me to jump. I then decide I do not like the game.

        • keithzg says:

          I like the way you folk think. Invisible collision hulls always jar me out of the game reality.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Swordfishtrombone says:

    I think Geralt’s hair actually looks better *without* Snazzy Hair Physics (R).

    • MadMinstrel says:

      Yeah, it’s not bad, but also tends to move a lot in the wind. Which looks great except when indoors. It’s probably those nasty draughts.

      • Krazen says:

        Is it just me or does the movement of the trees / plants / hair blowing in the wind all seem to move three times faster than they should be? Only time I seen a branch shake that much was in a hurricane.

        • GallonOfAlan says:

          I did notice that in one of the final pre-release trailers. The trees looked like ‘tall grass’, i.e. they seemed to be thrashing about as much as the plants were.

        • Bernardo says:

          Where do you guys live? Granted, there should be some more windstill times, but I just need to look outside my window to see trees swaying in the wind just like that. And it happens often.

  5. tomek says:

    I was pretty disappointed in the worlds size restrictions too. It didnt look better than Dragon Age 3, apart from the dynamic day/nighttime, maybe even worse in cases and the map was aprox. the same size. This changes dramatically once you hit the 2nd map, its so much bigger that in its size context the games gfx go from good to superb.

  6. lizzardborn says:

    Can we stop fixating on Yenn’s buttocks … we see at least as much from Geralt of the opening scene. And it is totally normal to be naked in front of your lover.

  7. Wowbagger says:

    Yay Diaries! I hope this will be as entertaining as the Mount and blade ones.

  8. aircool says:

    I am now using an xbox 360 controller. Feels damned weird, but it’s obvious the game was made for it. Still crap at fighting, had to turn the game down to super-easy.

    • colossalstrikepackage says:

      Did you also play Shadow of Mordor? How does it compare?

      I loved the SoM combat, but turned down Witcher 2 to easiest to just get through the darn things (tentacle monster was a particular pain in the butt).

      • Wowbagger says:

        It’s not much like the Batman/SoM style combat, but compared to W2 it has both the dodge roll and a dedicated dodge. Choosing runes/quick items is much easier and quicker and the auto lock on is more intelligent.

        • colossalstrikepackage says:

          Ok – thanks for the clarification. Shame they’re not borrowing more from other games, but glad to hear it’s improved from W2.

          • Wowbagger says:

            Oh and Parry/counters are unlocked from the start.

          • Horg says:

            It’s a bit of a culture shock having the expanded move set available from the start, but a good change. The hardest part is getting your head out of the Witcher 2 mind set of tumbling away from everything like a hyperactive assault clown.

      • Orionmeister says:

        The weird thing about the Witcher 2 (And by extension 3, though not as much) is that they find this middle ground between responsiveness and animation priority, unlike other games which go for full responsiveness to your actions right away and total animation priority (e.g. Souls games). I’m playing with a mouse at the moment and it’s alright, but yes a controller was definitely the input method the game was built for. All of Geralt’s actions make much more sense with the gradual movement of the analog stick. In Witcher 2 if you pressed forward and then left and right in quick succession Geralt would essentially “twitch” back and forth, changing directions instantly which each button press. It looked weird, but meant he turned as soon as the button was pressed. Now the movement is more like a traditional 3rd person game where he takes a second to shift his weight and turn. This just feels better on an analog stick since the transition from one direction to the other is a little smoother than the keyboard’s digital inputs. I still think it controls fine though.

        • aircool says:

          I’ve now switched back to mouse and keyboard. Neither controller setup seems superior, in fact, they both feel inferior to each other if that makes sense.

  9. Zunt says:

    She also mentions that apparently we once did it on a stuffed unicorn

    Does that make you horny, baby?

  10. Flavour Beans says:

    Question for anyone: I haven’t played Witchers 1 and 2 (though I do have them to play eventually). While I’m sure playing them isn’t a requirement for playing Witcher 3, would it significantly diminish the experience? How much story carries over into the third installment, am I going to miss out on satisfying character development arcs, does the game assume you’re familiar with the other two in terms of explaining lore and such, and so on?

    • TormDK says:

      There’s some background information you’ll be missing (such as the ongoing war etc.), but CDPR has so far done a good job of not making it a requirement.

      I’ve not imported a savegame, but I understand that at some point in the game you will be able to simulate choices from the previous games.

      • Orionmeister says:

        To add to the save game import stuff, the very start of the game allows you to choose some of the major decisions in Witcher 2 that you would have made.

        • DigitalSignalX says:

          There’s also the option to just accept the canon Witcher choices and play from there when selecting a new game. Evidently you’ll miss out on a couple major quest lines though if you don’t explore some of the options.

    • Orionmeister says:

      Witcher 1 is a fairly self contained story, that pretty much only shares some main characters with Witcher 3. The first game also does not touch directly on the Northern Kingdoms and the Great War, although there is some information in the books you can find.
      Witcher 2 is related alot more to the story in the third game, since it sets up the war that is going on, and provides a bit of backstory for why Geralt wants to find Ten and Ciri (although neither of them are present in Witcher 2 save for flashbacks as Gerald regains his memory). The Witcher 2 also describes Geralt’s history with the Wild Hunt (again through flashbacks).
      I suppose my opinion at the end of the day is that the flashbacks in the Witcher 2 are the most important going into Witcher 3, and while they definitely agree spoilers for the second game they also don’t have much to do directly with your actions in the second game, if that makes sense. Either way if you wanted to jump right into the Witcher 3 you definitely could, but you might just want to take aquick glance at a map and read a brief wiki on the Continent. The beginning of Witcher 3 does a pretty good job of summing up the most relationships between the main characters.

    • aircool says:

      No idea… I’ve never player 1 or 2 either. Seems ok though.

    • MattMk1 says:

      You’re not going to miss out on too much plot-wise if you skip Witcher 1 – I loved the game, but the story is a bit of a mess at times and very little of it has to do with the Wild Hunt or what happens in Witcher 2.

      Witcher 2 is another matter… I think Witcher 3 does a *great* job of introducing you to world and the story (despite what Alec’s diary about trying to play it like Skyrim makes it sound like), and you could just read a 5-minute recap of some of the things it doesn’t spell out to make sure you’re 100% clear on what’s going on. What you will miss out, if you skip Witcher 2, is a stronger connection with some of the (IMO) very well-developed NPCs that are an important part of the world. It’s one thing to be told that some NPC is your character’s best friend, it’s another to actually remember the trouble you got in together.

      • Toadsmash says:

        Keira Metz being one of the best examples of this. Keira is a total peach and easily my favorite of the returning cast so far.

      • Flavour Beans says:

        Dang. I was prepared to skip it until you said this. But well-developed NPCs are just my sort of thing! Witcher 2 it is.

    • jonahcutter says:

      You don’t need the earlier games, but at least playing through Witcher 2 will definitely up your enjoyment of 3. Especially if you have just played it so the memory is fresh. It will weight to conversation choices and actions, knowing the events of 2.

      If you want to experience Witcher 2 story as quickly as possible, I recommend downloading the Combat Rebalance mod. It makes you much more powerful vs ordinary foes. Put it on the easiest setting, and with the mod you should burn through the combat encounters pretty quick with minimal deaths. If you skip sidequests, crafting, etc, you could play the storyline within a day or two with this setup. Maybe a couple days more if you enjoy the sidequests (some are quite fun and worth the time).

      Again, it’s not necessary. But I do think it will add to the experience if you can spare a few days for it, and that you won’t regret it. Witcher 2’s story is worth experiencing for itself.

      Witcher 3 gives you a choice to simulate a save or not. If you do *not* simulate the save, there’s a neat little sequence a bit after the first zone’s main monster fight where an npc questions you about the events of Witcher 2. Basically asking you what choices you made for 3-4 of the big decisions, which lets you transfer those choices into your Witcher 3 playthrough.

      • jonahcutter says:

        Correction: If you want the questioning scene and to give your choices in game, you *do* simulate a save when starting a new game. I did it late last night and was a bit foggy. Became unsure so I checked…

        link to vg247.com

  11. Barchester says:

    Yes! Adventure Dairy! You fight like a cow!

  12. klops says:

    Nothing gives you more street cred than a scar across the eye.

  13. Hohumm4sh3d says:

    Sod everything. Steam wants 50 notes for this game? I think I’ll wait until this drops in price before giving it a go.

    Ho

    • WhiskyPenguin says:

      It’s just over 30 squids to download from Amazon. You won’t get a Steam code though.

  14. Michael Fogg says:

    Worth noting that the ‘end of the world’ prompt appears to be a reference to one of Sapkowski’s short stories

  15. aircool says:

    Got tired of fannying about with the graphics setting, so just whacked ’em up, turned off the pointless options and dropped the resolution by a peg.

    Looks a hell of a lot better, with added atmosphere too.

  16. SuicideKing says:

    They’re not alghouls, importantly:

    Not Ra’s Al Ghul, you say?

    • SuicideKing says:

      oh damn I keep closing the tag with cite instead of blockquote. ¬_¬

  17. MasodikTiasma says:

    Maybe I’m hopeless (or I’m just not a native English speaker), but I don’t get the Paul Simon ghouls joke. Would somebody care to enlighten me?

    • mgardner says:

      Paul Simon is a musician/singer/songwriter. One of his songs is “You Can Call Me Al.” The author jokes that this song links alghouls to Paul Simon, e.g. “You Can Call Me Al-ghoul”. And with this dry explanation, I believe I have succeeded in entirely draining whatever comedic value may have once been found in the original pun.

  18. Ubernym says:

    So it’s like the 13th Floor. Anyone remember that movie? Anyone? … no, I guess not.

    Joking aside, I just started playing this game last night and am loving every minute of it.