The Witcher 3 – Making You Wish You’d Played 1 & 2

Stay Classy
Stay Classy

I remember when Newegg was handing out copies of The Witcher with GPUs back in 2007-2008 as a way of trying to convince you to go through with the sale.  Many gamers that tried to adopt The Witcher were often left annoyed with glitches and uneven gameplay as it seemed to be a game with potential – but only just.  Others just let this game fall by the wayside because it was a PC title relegated to the loud minority of hipster PC gamers that most others try to avoid (Hey, PC gamers!  Elitism doesn’t help your cause!).

When The Witcher 2 came out I took some notice as I actually had a PC that could play the title without worrying much about performance issues.  Then again, they were also trying to get whoever they could to play the game before the juggernaut that was (and remains) Skyrim came out 6-months later in 2011.

Now that we are finally entering into the first real batch of next-gen titles and there is no Skyrim, Fallout or anything else to worry about – The Witcher 3 might be in a position to convert many of us to share our playtime with whichever title Bethesda releases next.  Here is my initial reaction to the game after about 2 hours of gameplay on the hardest difficulty (Death March).

It is a combination of many games –

Dragon Age in terms of third person control schemes (which could use a bit of refining in certain aspects).

Skyrim/GTA5/Red Dead Redemption in terms of sheer immensity and scale.  The mini-map reminds me more of a GTA feel than anything (maybe Watch Dogs).  The size of the world is similar to both titles as it essentially wants to swallow your soul and make you a part of the Witcher universe. Couple that with a trusty horse named ‘Roach’ and similar controls to Red Dead and you have a fair comparison.

Bloodborne… Oh, we meet again.  Well, kind of anyway.  I lost my first battle against a group of ghouls over 15 times before learning the mechanics a bit more each time around.  If you give yourself the proper time to actually learn the controls (which become close to intuitive – minus the ironically clunky ‘quick selection’ menu (L1 on PS4) you will find that this game is as challenging as Bloodborne, but it is quite a bit more enjoyable for those of us that actually like to feel like we are playing through a story instead of jumping into some sort of world without stories or meaning.

This game has a lot of potential from the get-go simply because there is a story to be had.  There is no multiplayer functionality and that is a good thing.  In my experience as a casual gamer that actually has a full time job and other priorities in life (you know, family, exercise and living in-general) this game feels like it could last for at least 90-100 hours of gameplay without me even thinking I am bored with it.  There is too much to see, do and discover in this game for me to give it a true ‘here is everything review’.  I can say that selling Bloodborne and playing this is a breath of fresh air that makes me want to learn the lore of The Witcher in order to follow some unknown storylines.  Oh… and by the way – you don’t have to feel like you are missing out on the storyline of past games as they fill you in and even include a compendium in the initial games to bring you up to speed.

Did I forget to mention they include a full map of the world, a soundtrack and even an all-too-classy ‘Thank You’ note to we the gamers with the announcement that they will release free DLC throughout the life of the game.  This doesn’t mean that larger expansions are free, but for them to acknowledge any of this is above and beyond what other companies do.  So, props to CDProjektRed – good on you.

In short and to answer your questions about this game here are a few responses.

Is it buggy? – Well, yes.  There are some issues with glitchy video sequencing and some clunky controls on occasion, but those are all fixable in early patches and don’t hinder the game experience.

Is The Witcher 3 hard? – Oy!  Well, I would have screamed ‘yes’ during my first hour or so of getting my ass kicked by ghouls.  But then something started to click and it suddenly made sense in the same way that Bloodborne and Assassin’s Creed made sense as far as dodging and countering and trying to actually be tactical in your fighting.  Stay disciplined and you will love this game.  Get sloppy and it will punish you.

Should I get this game? – If you are looking for an open-world title and you aren’t obsessed with GTA, Bloodborne or Dragon Age… ABSOLUTELY! This isn’t going to cure you from a Skyrim addiction so much… and that is okay!  I am still playing the hell out of Skyrim and plan on it until the next Elder Scrolls game comes out.  The Witcher is the first game (in my opinion) that is friendly to open world fantasy realm people on next-gen consoles.  I have never felt that way about Dragon Age… it was always too waypoint oriented in my mind and if I am in an open world – I want to explore.  That is The Witcher 3 and that is why you should buy this game.

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