"Why I'm waiting for The Witcher 3" - CD-Action online article
01.03.2013 @ 08:43 #1
The few hour long visit I made to CD Projekt Red, where I picked up as much information about The Witcher 3 as I could carry, revealed many impressive plans from the developers. They are serious enough that it's easy to get somewhat worried about ther final realisation, but if it works...
I was mostly interested in the relationship between the open world and the plot. Both Witchers gained a lot thanks to the exquisite story, which allowed to ignore some irritating technical issues. They were, however, games of a relatively closed structure, with a world divided into segments. Skyrim on the other hand distracted the player from the main quest at each step, with sidequests and places to discover. How do the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt developers try to tackle this problem?
The world will feature three diverse regions. The cloak-and-dagger Novigrad, the norse Skellige* and the black-magic filled no-mans land. In each region has a serious main problem, connected to the backbone of the entire story. The numerous sidequests then are connected to these local main issues. This way, a scheme emerges, in the shape of a pyramid, or umbrella, or whatever you choose to describe it as - in any case, you will often get reminded about the main plot.
To paraphrase a famous quote - the sword of the sandbox has two edges. First of all, a large number of sidequests soaked with story can lead to oversaturation - after all, temporarily getting away from the story to catch a "breather" is still an important thing for players in a sandbox game. Also, quests are one thing, the world is another. The terrain is supposed to be huge, so it needs to be filled in a thoughtful way. This is a challenge in itself, since there's supposed to be very little automatically generated content. How not to overload the world with quests, and how not to trivialise them with an off-handed "oh woe is me, I'm being opressed by Nilfgaard" - these are incredybly difficult questions, that trouble even optimistic fans.
The next thing is the return to the roots of the saga. The Witcher 3 begins with Nilfgaard's offensive into the north and Geralt's solitude after having lost many allies. A large number of fans rate the short stories higher than the saga "proper", preferring road adventure and shunning the White Wolf's pompous mission. It seems they are the target of The Witcher 3. The atmosphere of the witcher's trail and the adventures encontered are something for enthusiats of early Sapkowski.
At the same time, the Reds are trying to make the game better entry point, both in terms of difficulty and story. The Witcher greeted us with, uncousciousness, amnesia, a keep and the Salamandra. The Witcher 2 quickly threw us into bed with Triss, then to battle alongside Foltest. Many players complained about the huge amount of information to digest on a short notice, so "Three" will be more gentle. And thus the sword of sandbox swings again, because the atmosphere tends towards long-time fans, while the structure of the gameplay on a time axis - to those less knowledgeable. Another challenge for the developers, though personally I'm not worried, since I prefer the short stories and I won't have trouble getting immersed into the world.
I'm not sure about the idea with the witcher knowledge. In short - knowledge gained in various ways (books, conversations etc.) about the weak points of monsters is supposed to give us an edge in battle. Let's say, a drowner has a sensitive spot between his shoulders, so we spend special focus points for a precise strike to it's back. More powerful tricks will consume more points, and to keep things dynamic the attacks can be mapped to keys to perform them quicker.
Maybe there's a conceptual sense to the fact that we won't be able to use the points without the knowledge, but it's easy to lose track of logic. Wait, so if I don't know a kick in the nuts will hurt someone, it won't hurt him if I do kick him there? Alas, it's not known whether Geralt can also gain knowledge during combat, but I think that would be the most sensible solution and I hope it gets implemented.
I'm grumbling a lot, but I'm grumbling out of care, because in many ways The Witcher 3 has potential to be a really solid game. Almost 100 hours of gameplay in a consistently designed world, free exploration of the entire worldspace, a decent camera in a fluid combat system are factors that do not leave one indifferent. They didn't leave me indifferent either, as I sat comfortably, watching a short gameplay presentation by the Reds.
Said gameplay fragment also showed that The Witcher 3 cares about its looks. The animations, the scenery, the effects... all that looks great and is probably going to get even better, since it's still going to be a while before release. The lifting is not limited just to technology however, but also the art style. In contrast to the realistic predecessor, important characters will be slightly exaggerated, and their attitude will show in both their looks and their behaviour. We can count on characters making an instant impression, and we won't forget the most important ones for a long, long, long time. If you don't like this direction, then try to imagine Vernon Roche as a civillian. The time of the everyman is over.
The crafting system deserves a few words - if it works, it has a chance to find its way into my private "ideal RPG" table, next to the class system from Kingdoms of Amalur which I praised a while ago. Its beauty lies in simplicity, specifically in flexible item schematics. We don't have to worry about a copper tooth, silver tooth and gold tooth separately. The schematics only require classes of needed components, rather than specific components. In other words, we can make an armour from a wolf's skin, but it won't be particularily resistant. We can also kill a legendary monster with skin as hard as steel and put that into the slot without the need for other components to be of similar quality. As you make your bed, so you must lie in it, Gwynbleidd.
I'm waiting for The Witcher 3 to convince me I'm wrong in my scepticism - and I really do wish to be wrong. I'm not waiting for more announced features since they're unlikely to break much, and knowing CD Projekt RED they won't disappoint in presentation and mechanics. It's impossible not to get excited about Wild Hunt - just no stupid bugs and sudden endings this time, please. Though I'm not worried about those either, since the three epilogues are supposed to be entirely separate, one or two-hour portions of gameplay.
Oh, wait! One more thing - during the presentation, the words "Kaer Morhen" were dropped."
"Good night", said the Devil.
PS. For a more "tratitional" preview, check out Monk and Enkor's article in the upcoming issue of CDA
*the snow is supposed to be justified story-wise, but when asked about Ithlinne's prophecy, the gentlemen from CDPR seemed to pretend they didn't hear the question.
01.03.2013 @ 09:48 #3
01.03.2013 @ 21:45 #10
How the hell are they going to make that possible? that place is on the other side of the world.
maaybe it will be the tutorial. or show up as a flashback.
04.03.2013 @ 16:48 #14
maaybe it will be the tutorial. or show up as a flashback. ›››
I hope the tutorial will take place at Kaer Morhen and basicaly take us through the trials of grases, making Geralt go throw the mutation proces, learning the signs, how to hunt(investigation mode) and so on line in any RPG where Geralt is A NOOB and becomes a Witcher during the tutorial
04.03.2013 @ 18:11 #16
This sounds exciting to me.
05.03.2013 @ 11:24 #17
not sure what to think about this, i really loved all the designs in the witcher 2, especially the one of roche. everything had an incredibly realistic medieval, almost historically accurate feel to it. i hope they don't fuck this up, because this was one of the main reasons why i loved the witcher 2 so much
08.03.2013 @ 09:57 #19
thanks for the translation! you're awesome.
I wonder if Ithlinne's prophecy will be treated like that IFF in ME2. You can do all the sidequests you want before you advance this plot point kind of thing.
I hope it isn't I find those pretty shallow and weird for immersion. I hated doing sidequests for Chapter 3 because everyone made me feel like the talks are right now and they're all just waiting for me. It would've been better if Triss stayed in the inn and didn't say anything about the talks happening soon so I could fill that blank in my head that it's happening tommorow. I was better in W1 where I we had some breathing room and nobody was rushing us.
same here. Roche's and all the other character designs were exaggerated enough in TW2. It'd be cool to see Roche without his hat thing though.
Maybe they mean they'll have unique animations for each character or something.