Gamescom 2013: Eyes-on with The Witcher 3

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I didn’t get to see The Witcher 3 at E3 this year, but Darryn – whose experience with the franchise is a limited to staring at pictures of digital boobs – did. He just could not shut up about the game afterwards; it even winning our completely meaningless Best of E3 award. As the WRPG guy, I made damned sure that I’d see it at Gamescom. And I’m glad I did. Because eyeballgasms.

The Witcher 3 is the final video-game tale of everyone’s favourite white-haired monster-slaying bad-ass, Geralt of Rivia – and he’s out to find and vanquish the Wild Hunt, a supernatural spectral group of demonic huntsmen that are being rather naughty in the world of men.

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While we didn’t get to play the thing, we were treated to some live, pre-alpha gameplay footage. We knew it was both live, and pre-alpha because it crashed twice and on one load, was playing at twice the speed it should. Technical issues like that can be easily forgiven though, because once it was up and running, it was really quite breath-taking.

When it finally worked, we found ourselves looking upon Geralt, on horseback. his quest – for now – is to solicit information on the latest attack perpetuated by the Wild Hunt from the local Jarl. Once there, he’s pointed in the direction of a small village  to the South– and already the game’s massive expanse is made evident; Geralt can get there any way he pleases; by foot, by boat, on horseback, swimming (if you have that sort of patience) or through fast travel. According to CD Projekt Red, the physical land size of this game is a whopping 35 times the size of the Witcher 2.

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Did you play the Witcher 2? That game was huge! 35 times that and you pretty much have an entire country. And despite all that vastness, you’ll likely never get bored; there are a number of random encounters outside of the actual game. You’ll come across, for example, a group of bandits attacking a farmhouse while you’re tottering up the road. You could just ride on past them, ignoring the farmer’s pleas or perhaps, being the hero you are, you’ll go up, slay the bandits and free the peasant.

Thing is; either could have further implications and ramifications in the game. Those bandits you just killed could be henchmen for some powerful warlord – and you’ve probably just pissed him off, only to be in his sights later in the game. Or perhaps you’ll run in t a great big, terribly difficult to kill beasty that uses its hypnotic magic, at the cusp of defeat, to get away – but also wants revenge later on. Now, in a much more open-ended game, Geralt has to actually be a Witcher; tracking down and hunting said anima; half-stag, half bear, all terrifying.

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Even at the village, following the main quest line, the game offers up surprise. after getting the information he needed from a villager, another rushes in, announcing that yet another villager has been attacked by some evil being; a monster from the woods – opening up a wholly optional side quest; but one that’s intertwined with the main narrative, effectively blurring the line between them.

Conversation reveals that the village is fractured; the elders want to placate the beast through worship, while the younger villagers are out for blood; and it’s up to you to decide which path to take. In this instance; Geralt tracked the monster down using a new focus mechanic that helps him locate monsters; you’ll have to look up info in his big book of monsters to now what you should be looking for. At the end of it all after a double cross, some politics and a lengthy boss fight, it was revealed that because of your actions, the village was eventually thrown in to constant battle with its neighbours, and eventually succumbed to them. Probably should have made other choices then. And this was from a side quest. CD Projekt promises that quests like these, coupled with the main quests will give players over a hundred hours of gameplay – and if it’s anything like this, we could be treated to one of the very best games ever created.

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One thing to note is just how incredibly atmospheric and frankly beautiful the game is. It’s not remarkably different, visually, to the Witcher 2, but the level of detail and the effects that flesh it out make it all breath-taking. In one bit were were shown, Geralt was meditating, time moving faster than usual. The sky rolled from day to night and back again, bringing with it some weather effects; a brewing storm and torrential rain, every blade of grass and leafy tree affected. What made this special is that the weather actually impacts the game; the once calm see was now a turbulent torrent of water – and taking a boat out on that, right now, would be a fool’s errand.

And the detail of it all; the lighting, the audio, the everything left a giant gaping hole in the back of my head after my mind was sufficiently blown.

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Author:Geoffrey Tim

I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.
  • RinceThisdripdripdripdripdripd

    Ahh, Geoff, my editing friend :) “by horse, by boat, on horseback,” by the first horse, you mean, under it, as opposed to on its back? trolol! I am loving what I am hearing about this game. It sounds frigging awesome. How long did you spend watching it in all?

    • http://www.twitter.com/WobblyOnion Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

      45 minutes of sexytimes.

      • RinceThisdripdripdripdripdripd

        Nice one. Sounds stunning. Look forward to actually seeing it running when finished.

      • Rock789

        And I now have 45 minutes of jealousy towards you… :-)

        • RinceThisdripdripdripdripdripd

          You and me both!

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      There’s nothing wrong with that. You need to understand that the primary platform for Witcher is PC. We don’t walk. So even when sailing by boat we stay on our horses.

      • RinceThisdripdripdripdripdripd

        Hahah! @OddSockZA:disqus That should have been your reply ;)

      • RinceThisdripdripdripdripdripd

        And that’s HIGH HORSES :P

  • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

    Hey look, it’s the ‘Game that doesn’t get alot of attention because it is not Destiny of TitanFall 3′

    • John of Vault 11

      Oh, that one!

      • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

        Yes that one!not the other one that goes pew pew

    • RinceThisdripdripdripdripdripd

      Oi, you be nice to this game, or I’ll send Brenda after you…

  • Rock789

    This is by far and away the game from Gamescom that gets me the most excited to get my hands on it! I cannot wait to play it and get lost in its awesome virtual world.

    Get over here!!!

  • No Longer SIR Twakkus

    Cannot wait. Have been with the series from the release of the first game. If it is anything like 2, it is a day 1 buy! I still havent explored all the possible choices in W2.

    • Rock789

      Same here – all those choices taken mean some were not! And reading this article makes me wanna go back and start it all again tonight! Hmmm… Late night of Witcher on the cards, me thinks.

      • No Longer SIR Twakkus

        One choice I never seem able to make is choosing the young king over Triss. I mean its Triss, screw the country give me my precious!!
        I also really want to know what they are going to do with the dragon you could have saved in W3.
        Sheesh… now I also want to go back and play it again!

        • Rock789

          Yup… It’s a vicious cycle of ‘Witcher wanting!!

        • Jason

          I ran out of f**ks to give for Temeria, but choosing between Triss and Saskia was the hardest decision I’ve ever made. I’m STILL not sure which game I’m going to import first as “canon”. Argh! I can’t WAIT to buy this game!

  • Admiral Chief Raider of Tombs

    O_O

    That’s it. After Tomb Raider, loading up W2!!!

    I need to get into this

    • matthurstrsa

      You won’t be sorry. I’m playing through it again and loving every second. Forgot how funny it is as well.

    • No Longer SIR Twakkus

      Het jy nog steeds nie dit gejol nie? Lol, sterkte boet! Once you go in you cant turn back!

      • Admiral Chief Raider of Tombs

        First want to finish TR. Not getting enough time :(

    • Mossel

      Started playing Witcher 2 on monday… paid 100 gold coins for a prostitute, I am so ashamed. I probably couldve haggled her down to 80.

      • Admiral Chief Raider of Tombs

        XDXD

    • Rock789

      Oh you are in for a helluva treat! And after Tomb Raider nogal… Following a great game with another great game – how I envy you. :)

    • Jason

      Haha, I’m doing the same. Just finished TR, it was a total blast. I’m loving the new Lara!

      I’m on a new TW2 run-through now. Finished it twice already but that was a while ago. I felt like hanging out with the cast and reliving the story before TW3 comes out :)

  • matthurstrsa

    You know what the Witcher needs? Kinect. It would go perfectly.

    • RinceThisdripdripdripdripdripd

      You shut up!

      • matthurstrsa

        I don’t even know how to pronounce half the signs, so it would fail miserably.

        I wish Kinect was more like Glados, sarcastically congratulating you when you fail.

        • Grant Hancock

          I wish instead of Siri we had GLaDOS !

  • Yateen Dayaram

    Im so amped! But I still need to finish Witcher 1!!!! :O aaargh to many games to catch up with!

  • JasonDK

    hehe…update header image alt text: “Get over here!”

  • ThePolishBeast

    The best game made in Poland ;)

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