A Witcher 3 Diary, Day 5: Stream

Continuing a (mostly) in-character diary of my adventures in The Witcher 3. No spoilers in this one.

It’s in the trees. It’s coming. I’m coming. A grizzled thunderbolt, sprinting fury and hunger, a destination in mind but a supreme willingness to be distracted by anything en route. Snatch flowers, hurdle fences, charge and charge, looking for trouble, hoping for trouble.

With eerie focus the world distorts, the sound of animals or men as ripples in the near-distance. Targets. Battle. Reward. Explode through trees, to face a pack of men. One is half-naked. Another has a shield. They are Bandits, therefore they are enemy. I briefly think “how do we know we hate each other?” but there’s no time. Swords up, magic fire, so much death. They nick my flesh but they can’t win; they are split asunder, bloody chunks, gleaming, exposed livers and sparkling loot. Does this make me a hero? Were they my enemy? I know they were my reward and that’s all that matters.

Back to the run, to the endless hunt. I have a destination in mind but I don’t know what I’m searching for. I want distraction, I want to fight for fighting’s sake, I want to believe that it means something. Briefly my mind pulls back and out of the screen, to me here and now, to a worry about why I’m doing this, why I keep running and fighting on that screen instead of doing anything else at all with my consciousness, but the itching adrenaline nag of it takes me back in before the thought can coalesce.

I run. I could be on horseback instead, the option is always there but it feels like an interruption, something too considered and clumsy and in the way of that rush of boots on the ground, hoping for trouble, able to respond to it instantly. The horse is faster but it slows me down: I spurn the beast, I want every step to be mine not something else’s.

What happens next? Drowners, blue mermen with evil painted on their faces, asking nothing of my conscience. I give them fire and silver as they swipe at me. They take me close to death but momentum brings me through again. To lose now would be the deepest cut; I care not for the loss, but all I want to do is move. Don’t make me stop.

What happens next? A field and then a town, people, a change of rhythm, simultaneous annoyance that no-one will speak to me and relief that this leaves me free to pinball around its scant shops, impatiently checking for better, ridding myself of worse, seeking minute improvements to maintain my murderous momentum once I’m back out there, in the trees, in the fields, on the shores, dancing grimly because it feels like purpose.

A question mark. I sprint towards it blindly, not caring what I find, not caring if it’s deadly, just needing the fix the high the momentum of whatever is there to keep my blood pumping, to keep me thinking I’m a hero, I’m something more than a vacuum clean for map markings. Sometimes there’s a conversation. I try to pay attention; they look sad or they’re almost openly lying to me, and either way I know it means a fight, and I’m impatient to get to it. I’m impatient to be running to it. What are these? Ghouls? Do I need do more than swing a sword, throw some fire, quaff some healing distillation in an instant? No? Good. Done.

But I do pause when the fight is done. Most every body leaves something behind, and I must have it, be it sword or be it brain matter. I stuff my pockets with the most gruesome tokens and the most worthless metal because all of it, somehow, will go into the great pot of disposable wealth whose only purpose is to further enable me, to keep me able to fight and to run to ever more fights.

I run and I fight and I run. Not ceaselessly, though I wish I could. I do check my map with a whip of the head, needing to know if this direction will take me somewhere or if I’m about to retread my own bloody footsteps. And to ensure I’m not running into something which will try to dictate how I spend my time. I want to stop awhile and listen only when I’m ready, and that is not often. I want the great and endless forest and the great and endless plains, to propel myself through it living a life of violent ease. Feeling like something. Feeling like I’m doing something. Feeling hero.

28 Comments

  1. BobbyDylan says:

    Uh… Ok.

  2. jezcentral says:

    “I want to stop awhile and listen only when I’m ready”.

    You mean press the pause button?

  3. Sarfrin says:

    Time for a break methinks. Naked bear wrestling has clearly unhinged the man.

  4. Enzo says:

    I also like Kate Bush a lot.

  5. Zenicetus says:

    I enjoy the detective side of the game more, but I can relate to getting into this groove once in a while.

    Oh, and if you’re avoiding the horse, you’re missing a hilariously effective way to take out bandit camps. Cut two men in half with one sword swing? No problem. Works well for nekkers out in the open too. Try it before CDPR nerfs mounted combat.

    • Rumpelstilskin says:

      Also, there’s a nekker warrior decoction recipe that makes the horse completely immune to fear, increases your mounted damage by 50%, and lasts half an hour. Which basically means that all outdoor enemies are fvcked.

      • Mrice says:

        As an aside. I was super cagey about making those at the start of the game and now im just desperately trying to make as many as possible to get rid of all these GOD DAMN JUNK MUTAGENS I DONT EVEN WANT AND AREN’T WORTH ANYTHING.

        • Rumpelstilskin says:

          Can’t you dismantle a named mutagen into a generic coloured one, which can then be combined into greater mutagens? Not sure myself; will have to check.

          • FriendlyFire says:

            I’m pretty sure you can, but there are I believe a few recipes that require the named mutagen, so it’s risk vs reward.

            Same as specific monster parts can be turned into generic parts.

          • jacobvandy says:

            I’m not aware of any way to do that. Throughout my 100+ hours so far, I’ve just thought it was a rather disappointing oversight. Lesser reds are so rare that i’ve only found enough to make two greater reds by the time I’m level 30. Meanwhile, I have loads of greater blues and greens, as well as extra named reds that I don’t need and can’t do anything with (wyverns and water hags are plentiful). A blacksmith doesn’t dismantle alchemy reagents, and there’s no option for you to do it yourself that I can see. If I’m missing something, please tell me! :P

    • Cinek says:

      I don’t know… out of 5 attempts I maybe hit anyone once. Maybe. Somehow either I always swing the sword on a wrong side of the horse, or do it too early / too late…

      • Rumpelstilskin says:

        The trick is that when you press the attack key it enters slow-motion mode, and leaves it when you release it. Makes mounted combat way more manageable. More so than foot combat even.

      • Zenicetus says:

        Just keep at it, you’ll get the hang of it soon. I sucked at mounted vs. foot soldier/monster combat at first, but eventually got the feel of when to swing the sword. Make a run at one or two enemies, swing, don’t worry if you miss, just keeping going in that direction. Extend far enough so they’re not chasing you, then turn around and make another pass. Don’t get jammed up in a mob.

        There is a “horse slow mo” effect if you hold down the attack button right before you reach the enemy. It’s supposed to give you a better shot at making the hit. I don’t use it because it doesn’t feel as reliable as just timing an attack as I pass the enemy. Maybe it works better on a controller (I’m using mouse & keyboard).

        • Rumpelstilskin says:

          I think slo-mo is pretty much unconditionally easier to use. You don’t have to initiate it right before the attack – you can start it as early as you like, then approach the enemy and release when you are in a perfect spot.

  6. Robert Post's Child says:

    Dat loop

    • Synesthesia says:

      Indeed. I’ve cleared most of the white markers of novigrad and velen, and haven’t even scratched the first act. I can’t stop!

  7. Monggerel says:

    I also see the appeal of roleplaying as a lawn mower/monster truck hybrid.
    A monster mower.

    Monster Mower, or, the unexpected virtue of attaching swords to your limbs and running through a forest screaming
    A poem
    By me, 14+1/2 years old

    [-finish this part later and publish it on wordpress it’s gonna be super awesome-]

  8. Xyviel says:

    So, hum, is that Wot I Think ever going to come out?

    Cause I bought the game in January… xD

    • Zenicetus says:

      This game is so huge that I wouldn’t trust a Wot I Think that came out too soon after release (and RPS didn’t get advance copies, as far as I know).

      I’m only partway through the game, but I can see there is a big difference in both the playing experience and the speed at which you level up, depending on whether you race through the main storyline and monster contracts, or take more time to explore the world and do minor quest lines. It’s like two different games. So a review that comes out too fast, may not give you the full picture. Not unless you’re also going to race through the main plot.

      • Xyviel says:

        I know, I know. I’m just very much looking forward to it, checking daily if it came up, and it hasn’t so far, and it’s driving me as mad as Alec in this post. :-)

      • Silith321 says:

        That’s why I’m really interested in the RPS Wot I think – it seems to me that Richard (Richard is doing the review yes? Or Alec? I’m confused) is taking a lot more time than most other reviewers out there who rushed out their reviews to meet the end of the embargo before release.

  9. Horg says:

    In Witcher 3 related news, the AMD 15.5 beta drivers were officially released on their site today promising up to 10% more better. I have no idea if they actually work.

  10. Zenicetus says:

    Heads up… it looks like there’s a bug that’s awarding no XP for quests under certain conditions (that I don’t understand). Patch due for PC on Monday, console to follow. CDPR’s notice about it here:

    link to forums.cdprojektred.com

    Some online hysteria brewing about it, but I’ll still be playing this weekend. At least until I see quest where I’m not getting XP, which hasn’t happened yet. Anyway, they’re working on it.

    • jonahcutter says:

      Almost wish I could replicate that bug. My main quest lines are greyed out from doing side quests and contracts.

      The contracts are some of the most fun part of the game, making me most immersed as an actual witcher. I’d love a mod that made xp and money mostly come from doing contracts. The storyline and side quests are still there, but your income and experience increase primarily from hunting down the more powerful monsters.

  11. jonahcutter says:

    Cool article. I fell into something of the same thing. I would often abandon Roach (sometimes with a mumbled “catch up later”) and take off to running across the landscapes. Through the forests and swamps. The atmosphere is so good in the game, it gives a sense of being a semi-wild person running through a wild land. It does a not half-bad job of summoning up the feeling of trail-running in real life, which is something I love and do regularly.

    Wait until you get to Skellige. Sliding down mountain slopes is a rather joyful little experience.