A Witcher 3 Diary, Day 3: We’re Going On A Bear Hunt

fear my gardening gloves

Continuing a (mostly) in-character diary of my adventures in The Witcher 3 [official site]. Probably contains spoilers. N.B. critical opinion & technical complaints are happening elsewhere on the site.

I’m going on a bear hunt.
I’m going to catch a big one.
What a beautiful day!
I’m not scared.

I’m also wearing nothing but my underpants.

Fighting has not, as yet, been terribly exciting. Bar long and brutal tussles with a ghost and griffin, I’ve just hack’n’slashed wildly until everything disintegrates into conveniently tradeable bodyparts (I have so many severed tongues in my backpack right now) and not really had to worry. I want more. I want drama. I want terror. I want…

I want to box a bear to death at sunset while wearing nothing but my undercrackers, I guess. No weapons, either: I’d become too reliant on the various magical swords I’d spent my earnings on. It was time for my fists to earn their keep. I dunno how to explain it: it just felt so right.

Bears are the only non-boss monster who have presented any kind of excitement: they’re big, they’re angry, they take a whole lot of killing rather than collapsing into sticky parts after a couple of stabs, and they’re more than capable of mauling me to death within a few swipes. When dreaming up a way to make me feel alive again, our ill-tempered ursine friends were my first port of call.

I must be honest and admit that this was not just a chance encounter. I spent a worryingly long time scouting across the countryside for a lone bear, with staged murder on my mind. Finally, I struck lucky just outside Mulbrydale in Velen. I saw the beast from a distance, asleep in the long grass. But the time was not right: it was late at night, the light dim and blood-red. Any fight would feel clandestine and lowly rather than dramatic. So I hid behind a tree and waited until dawn.

6am. The sun at my back. The time could never be more right. I solemnly stripped down, like a well-rehearsed ritual: shirt off, trousers off, no weapons, no potions, no magic. The light glinting off my goosepimpled skin, my surprisingly sensible boxer shorts fluttering in the morning breeze: a half-clad hero. Let’s roll.


(Sorry about frame rate wobbles – FRAPS took a heavy toll)

I kept my gloves and boots on because I wanted a boxer aesthetic rather than a drunk-guy-in-the-swimming-pool-changing-rooms aesthetic. I also allowed myself a mid-fight glug of water as my sole concession to death-avoidance, but other than that, this was man versus bear as nature intended. Just call me Bare-Ass Grylls.

You can see how close I came to death, how much harder the bear could hit than I could, in those moments when I was foolish enough to let it. But I made it. I acrobatically punched that poor bear to death on the top of a lonely hillock.

It was my best fight ever. By God, I felt alive. And weirdly reluctant to get dressed again afterwards.

I needed this, I really did. I’d been feeling so emasculated – performing a series of odd-jobs for stony-faced military men with a sideline in sadistic authoritarianism, being told off by former lovers for things I don’t remember doing, and most of all being told to wear this shirt in order to impress Charles Dance:

I mean, come on. No wonder I prefer naked wilderness beast-boxing if this is the alternative.

41 Comments

  1. Horg says:

    This is the most manly thing to have ever happened.

  2. Frraksurred says:

    While I completely agree on having to wear a Dublet and shave, if you’re wanting a challenge, you really need to increase the difficulty above “tell me a story”.

    • Alec Meer says:

      At the risk of sounding tiresomely e-peen: it’s on Blood and Broken Bones.

      • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

        Yeah, that’s what they all say, you huge poofter.

      • inf says:

        I can concur, blood and broken bones isn’t all that challenging, hardly a bump up from normal (whatever that’s called) . Bumping it up to hardest just artificially lengthens all fights to an even worse snoozefest, so i’m not bothering. In the end.., can’t fix a fundamental uninspired combat system.

        Almost every other aspect of the game is lovely though.

        • K_Sezegedin says:

          At least the combat is competent though, its pretty much Witcher 2 combat without the amateur hour control sloppiness.

          CDPR seems to’ve figured out how to make their action mechanics feel deliberate rather than a janky series of uninterruptible animations like W2’s…

      • Admiral Snackbar says:

        You should consider using the dodge button more than rolling so often, a lot of things you can just dodge using the alt key by default, and it’s a faster animation, giving you more time to take advantage of the things you’re dodging.

      • Dux Ducis Hodiernus says:

        well, youre still in the quite early areas. What level are you by the way?

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        There is some very big difference in Dead March or what’s the name, and you also won’t get healed by meditating.

        It surely is worth a try, you will want better gear and to be more careful, but i think it’s a nice balance and i only had the biggest problems when i was wandering aimlessly and without a clue how to handle leveling. Still, a reason to actually pursue the treasure hunts and to eat and use alchemy doesn’t hurt in this game.

  3. klo3 says:

    Yes this is the way to do it. I too killed a bear in Witcher 3 today, although cowardly, fully naked and using a sword.

    Ps. Not sure if FRAPS is able to utilise video stream directly from the GPU, but if you have a GeForce GTX or newer card you can use Nvidia ShadowPlay to capture gameplay. The AMD equivalent is called AMD GVR. I also use Mirillis Action!, which can take advantage of Nvidia NVENC as ShadowPlay does not support Dark Souls.

  4. Prolar Bear says:

    Down with this sort of thing! Ban this sick filth!

  5. Laurentius says:

    Very good boxing strategy from a get go. This series of punches to the guts early on took the wind of that “playa’.
    Bear ffs, work on your stamina mate, start with the sit ups.

    • Ross Angus says:

      I’m not sure “repeated punches in the anus” is part of the Marquess of Queensberry Rules. That would be frowned upon.

  6. Zekiel says:

    “Oh-uh grass! Long wavy grass! Can’t go over it… can’t go under it… got to go through it!”

    Thanks for making my day Alec.

  7. Rumpelstilskin says:

    Of all (unmodded) games, I’d expect the witcher to be the one to allow having no underwear. Failing that, they could have at least added a wife-beater chest armour.

  8. Dogsbody says:

    Don’t worry; you are a badass, punch the shit out of him…

  9. Sarfrin says:

    Alec is clearly being mind controlled by Vladimir Putin.

  10. piesmagicos says:

    Man maybe im just bad at gaming but i have the difficulty to Blood and Bones and I have died more than i care to admit. Several fights now have resulted in frustration and the urge to lower difficulty….Drowners in groups of more than 4 are my absolute bane. I have fear when i see those jerks congregating.

    • jonahcutter says:

      Upgrade and slot the Yrden sign. When faced with groups it works great at slowing multiples down. Don’t be afraid to spam it either as you can have three or so up at once, creating a pretty good defensive area.

    • Rumpelstilskin says:

      I found mounted combat very effective outdoors. You just gallop through, whack a couple of dudes, then repeat. At high speed you do 2-3 times more damage per hit, and it’s a lot less risky. Even if the horse throws you off eventually you can still run away then mount again in most cases.

    • GepardenK says:

      I’m playing on the hardest setting and find the combat to be pretty much perfect. Fights are over pretty fast and never frustrating, but I will die almost at once if I do a mistake.

      This game punishes you hard for doing mistakes. This is easier to spot at the hardest setting, on the lower settings I often felt frustrated because my deaths felt random (but this was not the case, I was just so bad at the game that I failed to see my own mistakes). If the game feels frustrating I actually urge you to ramp the difficulty up. You will die horribly of course but it’s so much easier to learn a “right” way to play the game as your mistakes becomes much more transparent. The trick to getting good is simple: Use the right tools for each job (bombs, oils, crossbow bolts etc) and never ever (ever ever) get hit. Never getting hit means learning dodging, parrying and/or using spells like Quen or Yrden (not all of them, just what works for you)

      A few hours on the hardest setting and you will become really good at the game almost without noticing. The combat gets really fun then and feels much more fluid (playing clumsy makes it feel clumsy in this game, most other games avoid that). Just took down a werewolf from a level 7 quest on the first try when I was at level 4 myself, it felt awesome!

      • Sian says:

        You took down the werewolf on your first try? If it’s the quest I’m thinking of, the cutscene in the middle of the fight got me. I’m decent enough at normal fights, but being thrown into a blender with little notice tends to see me disoriented, then dead.

        • Rumpelstilskin says:

          *SPOILER*
          You should have just let him kill the bitch, because she more than deserved it, and that’s the only possible solution drama-wise anyway. After that he’ll let you finish him without a fight.

          • Sian says:

            My Geralt is no judge. He fulfills his contracts, even if they turn out the way this one did.

          • Rumpelstilskin says:

            You fulfill the contract (“find the missing wife”) once you let the werewolf know what happened to his wife. After that you are just asked to not interfere, which is a very Geralt thing to do.

  11. Jockie says:

    MINOR SPOILER!!!:

    There’s an actual quest in the game, which requires you to punch a bear to death while in your underwear.

    • Jockie says:

      Actually it’s probably just topless, which is obviously about eleventy percent less manly than Alec’s feat.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Yeah, and later on you’re going to do the same with a rock troll!

  12. Premium User Badge

    teije says:

    All that tumbling made me dizzy. Would have been way more manly if he stood there and took out the bruin toe to toe instead of dancing around.

  13. Kaine says:

    Dressed with just the bear necessities.

  14. therighttoarmbears says:

    Having a now-15-day-old son, I doubt I shall ever get the chance to play this game. I have loved vicariously riding your coat tails on this one, and this entry made my night. Thanks!

  15. Deathshadow says:

    Glad Im not the only one who is bored with this game… 1/2 this game is a cutscene! Its not drawing me in… Sorry

  16. Delora says:

    That’s what you call a fruitful morning training. Even though it was a close call, everything looked perfectly normal and manly. ;)

  17. Shiloh says:

    Goddamn, that *was* a manly piece of ursine-slash-human combat. I’m actually in my underwear at the moment, I might have to go into the garden and punch one of the guinea pigs or something (not a euphemism) to prove *my* manliness now.

    Keep your eye on YouTube.

  18. jonasjonas says:

    Well I got a 1-month old and the time to play this game is after him and his mom has gone to bed; 10pm-midnight is Witcher time :-)

  19. Sian says:

    “Bears are the only non-boss monster who have presented any kind of excitement: they’re big, they’re angry, they take a whole lot of killing rather than collapsing into sticky parts after a couple of stabs, and they’re more than capable of mauling me to death within a few swipes. When dreaming up a way to make me feel alive again, our ill-tempered ursine friends were my first port of call.”

    But… bears are among the easiest enemies of the game. They’re slow, predictable and it’s almost always a fight one-on-one. You probably could’ve won that fight without ever taking damage, though admittedly I haven’t tried it without the reach of a weapon.

    If you want excitement, fight against groups of enemies. Sure, they usually die faster, but you’ll be flanked often and really have to watch your back. I suggest fighting a group of wraiths naked. Or, heck, a large enough pack of wolves would be sufficient too.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      The biggest wolfpack i found had more or less a dozen of the fuckers and a couple wargs, i never spammed more bombs in the rest of the game than in that occasion.

  20. DThor says:

    The combat is mostly about dodging and (potion/spell) strategy, which is as it should be. First time I fought a noonwraith I accidentally clicked through the little hint they give you at the start about which spell is critical and spent some wasted time hammering at it to little avail. I really love this sort of stuff, my biggest complaint about the witcher combat in general was that I always felt a little disconnected from the fight. Seems to be significantly less odious in this version.