The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is so close you can almost taste the poor quality grog of your local tavern and smell the scent of its denizens of questionable moral fiber. The series has always been a staple for PC gamers, but now the monster slaying mutant Geralt of Rivia will be available on all platforms for the first time. This means big changes for the series. It will have to evolve into something hardcore fans want to play and something newcomers can relate to all at the same time. In at least the following ways, it looks like CD Project Red has risen to this challenge. When playing the game next week, make sure to visit the Official Witcher Wiki for all your game-related questions. Now, let's get started.
The adventures in the past two Witcher games brought players through many different and diverse settings. The world felt huge, in the sense that you knew Geralt was only a small part of what made it tick. To actually put boots to the ground and adventure would leave trailblazers and sightseers wanting though, as the maps themselves weren't incredibly large. The Witcher 3 changes all of that, as CD Project RED has tackled the challenge of keeping a focused narrative in an expansive world head on. Fans of Bethesda's behemoth Skyrim will be able to scour a massive world and free it from its secrets by their own accord.
As previous Witcher titles didn't have much in the way of exploration, there wasn't much need for climbing and jumping. With the new open world focus, these are now almost requirements for that real sense of exploration. Tall cliffs and wide gaps are no longer an issue for Geralt. His trusty horse, Roach, is also summon-able at all times, so travelling large distances isn't so daunting.
If there is one gripe that is universally agreed apon in the Witcher series, it's the combat. Between the first and second entries the combat changed dramatically, but what hasn't changed is the weird sense of detachment players feel from the actual act of hitting people with your sword. The first game was more strategic style management than active, but the second game was a fully interactive system of block and counter that never really felt right. There was no clear indicator that your strikes were going to have a predictable outcome; sometimes it does scores of damage to a creature or solider, sometimes it does little to nothing. The Witcher 3 hopes to change all that, borrowing a bit from other popular third person action titles like the Arkham games, melee's should feel more responsive, parries and counters more active and reliable, kills crunchier and more satisfying.
Leapfrogging off of the melee combat, the magical aspect of witchers were always a huge part of their allure. They use combat ready spells, or "signs", to give them the edge. These signs were much different from one another in purpose, but never really changed in function, no matter how many skill points you threw in them. This has changed as well. Now, signs can take new forms as you power them up, turning them from minor tricks to major game changers. Igni goes from a spark from your finger tips to a torrent of fire from your hands.
The Witcher 3 takes sometimes subtle steps towards making the game easier to swallow for people not already indoctrinated by the series. Its story is heavily bound by the complex political machinations of fictional places, and can be daunting to follow. None of this changes, really, but the game provides you with a bulky subset of sidequests and distractions that seem properly placed within the world to keep aspiring witchers motivated. Most of the time, it's because these quests involve doing what witchers do best: hunting monsters. There's a refined focus on this simple yet nuanced relationship with the witcher's profession and the many ways the game lets you actually do it, no politics necessary.
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