The Witcher series is based on a series of Polish books by Andrzej Sapkowski (which I highly recommend reading). The first game in the series sort of came out of nowhere and became quite a hit. The second was an improvement on the first (I preferred the combat in the first). The Witcher 3 has been advertised as an open world. Can it deliver what the previous installments did and be open world?
If you’re here because you liked the other Witcher games or you heard it’s a bit like Skyrim you need not go any further as The Witcher 3 delivers.
After a brief (and optional) tutorial mission you’re fired out into the open world as the main character, Geralt. From this point on you can choose to follow the main quest line or do side quests. You pick quests up from characters in the world or notice boards in towns. Some notice boards also unlock points of interest on your map to check out which usually have treasure or monsters to deal with. Quests range from being very serious and dark to comical. In my experience the majority of the quests have been fun and worthwhile.
Dialogue is a major part of the game and you get multiple choice answers. During the story and events of the game the choices you make will have both small and large implications in the world around you. Driving monsters out of a town will allow people to move back into the town and choices I made during quests lead a man to suicide.
The combat has moments of excellency and frustration. Getting everything right leads to quite a nice ballet of death. On the other hand, enemies that block (hand-to-hand and shield) are frustrating to fight due to the difficulty in actually hitting them which means you spend more time than you’d like killing one guy.
The graphics and audio are both excellent. I didn’t notice a great deal of difference between ultra and low when it came to actually playing the game (I went with low). There is meant to be something like 450,000 words in the script. Crazy. The music in this game is absolutely brilliant.
Controlling the game is as you’d expect with movement keys, the mouse and various hotkeys, etc. I found the character and horse movement slightly irritating until I got used to it, they don’t turn as you’d expect them to.
Travelling around is done by foot or horse and quick travel signs once you’ve unlocked the area. Both Geralt and Roach (your horse) have stamina which limits the distance you can travel at speed; there are potions and other enhancements for both to improve that distance. Mounting Roach is not as seamless as it could be and sometimes it can be quicker to just run to your destination by foot. Going by foot also means you can collect herbs and deal with combat quicker as horseback combat is difficult (couldn’t even hit something!). The world is absolutely huge, it certainly feels bigger than Skyrim.
There was a lot of whining from PC gamers about the graphics begin downgraded for the console version which you can read their response to here, personally I think the reasoning is understandable and I’m not overly concerned about the very high end graphics. I’m more annoyed that the interface sucks. You can’t place in-game interface elements on the edges of the screen and the elements are on the larger size. I found the interface both in-game and on the inventory, map, journal, etc. to generally be very bulky (designed for consoles?).
There are a few annoyances worth mentioning such as the lack of quick load (loading takes ageees) and in dialogue there is a pause between scenes which is somewhat irritating once you notice it (especially during singing dialogue).
The Witcher 3 has some bugs here and there but nothing I couldn’t get past. The game closed twice without any apparent reason, the audio seemed to go a bit choppy after playing for a few hours, sometimes the lighting seems to randomly change between scenes and hair will sometimes appear on characters faces after dialogue has begun.
Between Pillars of Eternity and The Witcher 3 this quarter is an excellent time for people after deep and lengthy role playing games. I highly recommend The Witcher 3.