If there’s one thing that video games are still infamous for, it’s churning out sequel after sequel on an almost annual basis these days. When done right, it adds to the franchise, but when done wrong, it waters the core experience down. The Witcher though, has managed to produce a sequel that outshone the original. With a third and final game on the way though, CC Projekt Red may have just produced their masterpiece in that trilogy.
Taking place after the events of The Witcher 2, the world has been left in chaos. With humanity tearing itself apart, the world has taken a darker turn, but it’s the emergence of The Hunt, a supernatural force bent solely on death and destruction that is about to force Geralt to make some hard decisions.
At a closed session, I got the chance to see the game in action. Taking place a little further on in the story, we watched as Geralt put his Witcher skills to use, using them to strike bargains, engage in a random encounter and most importantly, hunt.
But first off, the game itself. What I saw was that of a pre-alpha build, but it looked simply beautiful. Clearly, a ton of work has gone into the game so far, and the world around Geralt looks truly next-gen. And it’s a massive world to boot.
In fact, it’s 35 times larger than the world that was created for the Witcher 2, with CDPR telling us that the open world environment we see would be rendered with no loading screens whatsoever. But the biggest change here is in how CDPR has created a world that feels alive, instead of a gigantic arena that is a flat panel of random encounters and side quests between main missions.
The new visual direction helps quite a bit with this effort, but it’s the little touches that really help sell the game. Fast travelling to a small fishing village, Geralt finds himself staring down the ocean, while a raiding party rows off into the distance. This is where CDPR surprised us again, as they told us that we could take a boat and sail off as well. Doing just that, we sailed past the longboat, which was populated by Viking-influenced warriors singing a sea shanty as they rowed off to sea.
Showing us more of the environment, CDPR then explained that a new weather system would also influecnce the game. In fact, with a storm on the way, they decided to ditch the boat and head to shore. According to CDPR, rain and other bad weather will affect the game, from navigation through to combat, although they’re still working on implementing that feature properly right now.
We then got treated to some combat in a random encounter. Combat now looks faster, sleeker and better paced, while still holding true to the principals of fighting smart and being prepared. The new visuals helped drive this fact home, and Geralt moved like a veteran with grace, quickly dispatching of the rogues around him, before he then decided to show off some magic by attacking a hulking Fiend.
There’s a ton more still to talk about, but mark my words: The Witcher 3 might just be one of the best games that E3 had to offer this year.