Gwent - Geralt of Rivia's favourite collectable card game - now steers the fate of nations in Witcher spinoff Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales. CD Projekt Red have just released a 37 minute walkthrough of the card-RPG, introducing us to its characters, and the tweaked version of Gwent that the game uses to resolve its conflicts. It's genuinely interesting stuff, with the player's deck-building skills tested in battles that go far beyond the usual formula of the card game. Thronebreaker launches in a little under two weeks on October 23rd. The walkthrough video lurks below.
While set in the same world as the mainline Witcher games, Thronebreaker has players stepping into the shiny golden boots of Queen Meve, a returning monarch seeking to rebuild her forces. This makes the game of Gwent - normally played with cards representing regiments of soldiers and powerful heroes - far more literal, as they represent her army and friends made along the way. The card game itself looks far more lively and animated than before, with detailed backdrops and special effects driving home that there's a proper fight happening under the abstraction.
The most impressive bit of the walkthrough is a boss fight against a Manticore. Represented by two lanes of three cards each, each body part has its own stats and abilities, with its tail and claws used to attack. Most of the battle is spent weathering its assault while giving Sir Eyck - a guest hero and monster-slayer - a chance to get a run-up with his lance and finish the fight in one shot at the monster's head. I'm hoping the full game doesn't skimp on setpiece battles like this - regular Gwent may have its appeal, but these fancy twists on the formula are the most exciting for me.
It all reminds me of a more evolved version of Witcher 3 mod Hearts Of Card, which replaces the combat engine of the hack n' slashy RPG with strategic card battles. Perhaps a little slow when you're just chopping through random encounters, but the fact that it works at all makes me wonder if it was an inspiration for Thronebreaker.
Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales launches on October 23rd, exclusive to GOG, and will cost £23.39/€25.81/$29.99.