Topics I've Started
02.09.2013 @ 21:35Costin brought this up in another thread and it's something that's been weighing on my mind a bit. It's the matter of what we can *actually* expect of CDPR when it comes to reflecting previous choices in The Witcher 3. Now, the minimal impact of Witcher 1's events on Witcher 2 was largely excusable, since Geralt's actions were on a comparatively smaller scale (although I think a cameo from Yaevinn was a missed opportunity). Also, Geralt, whoever he sides with, ends Witcher 1 on a relatively similar note however you play - Leo is avenged, Aldersberg defeated, and he's temporarily employed with Foltest. Whether he's neutral, Elf-friend, or Knight of the Order, the conflict is resolved and tensions simmer down.
Witcher 2 on the other hand, has so much impact because of the dramatic effect Geralt can have on the entire Witcher world. I guess what I'm saying is, I don't expect a similar amount of political intrigue in The Witcher 3 - they've made it clear that that's not the focus. But the politicking of Witcher 2 really deserves to be acknowledged on a significantly larger scale than it was in the transition from TW1 to TW2.
For instance, look at just how different the gamestates can be in The Witcher 2.
-key founder of a new nation espousing freedom and tolerance under a liberated Dragon Queen
-Henselt and Radovid left to divide up Temeria as they see fit in the little time left to them before Nilfgaard's invasion
-Loredo and Stennis, despicable as they may be, spared to survive and do what they will
-a loyal elf buddy at his side as he walks away merciful, his enemies Sile and Letho spared
or another Geralt:
-bailing out of Loc Muinne not giving a shit about anything but the woman he loves
-his pal Roche on the run
-Radovid the (brief) victor in the North by default, since every single other fucking major monarch is dead: Demavend and Foltest by Letho's hand, Stennis consumed by the mist, Henselt shanked by Roche, Saskia stabbed by Geralt in Dragon form...
-Geralt's enemies dead before him: Loredo, Shilard, Sile, Letho, corpses all.
These are just two examples and they're drastically different for the Northern Kingdoms. Unlike the first game, where there are more constants in the ending than variables (Foltest shows up. Asses are kicked. Chaos is quelled. The Order is tamed. Geralt works for Foltest now) the only constant in The Witcher 2's ending is that "Shit goes down at Loc Muinne. Geralt walks out of Loc Muinne with Triss, and Letho is out of the picture one way or another." Make no mistake, this is supposed to be praise - it's incredible that CDPR managed to have such a variable ending.
However, if the weight of choice and consequence in The Witcher world is to keep its resonance, there's a lot more riding on the reflection of these TW2 choices in TW3. It would be one thing if Witcher 3 was deep in Nilfgaard, far from the events and characters of the first two games, but it's set in a nearby corner of the North - Novigrad, Skellige, and the No Man's Land in-between. I cannot expect them to account for every little tiny detail of the choices we made in the previous games. And it's obviously nobody's business but CDPR's to make the final artistic decision about what to include, and what to leave out. Better to focus on making complex, powerful and layered choices in The Witcher 3 than to sacrifice too much time trying to acknowledge all the little things in the first two games. Look at Mass Effect 3 - 90% of the game wraps up stuff from the first two games, and then they fumble the ball with the "ending."
So I figured it would be good to try and brainstorm the things that would mean the most to have be reflected in The Witcher 3, and that we could realistically hope for from CDPR.
Things we SHOULD NOT expect:
-Our "Bros" as primary characters: Roche, Iorveth, Siegfried, Yaevinn are not glued to Geralt. No reason to expect them to be around for half the gameplay.
-Secondary/Tertiary characters to appear: people whose roles were primarily grounded in the plot of The Witcher 2, like Cynthia or the dwarves of Vergen, or Zyvik - these are fun characters, but if they don't show up in TW3, it's understandable.
-Characters with a strong probability of death in TW2 to make major appearances: Loredo, Dethmold, Shilard - these fellows perish in 50% or more of games. Wouldn't be surprised if they ride off into the sunset without being seen again. Letho counts too, since it's basically 50/50 whether you kill him or not, and if you don't, Geralt expressly tells him to GTFO.
Things that would appropriately honor the choices of the previous games:
-The "Bro(s)" we allied ourselves with having at least one full sidequest, or a role in the main quest. In a 100 hour game, it's hardly too much to expect another Siegfried (or Yaevinn) cameo, or 2-3 hours of gameplay related to Roche or Iorveth. The BIG CHOICE of The Witcher 2 was Who's Your Bro, this is a key one that really needs to feel like it mattered. Even better, if you betrayed your Bro in Chapter 3 to save Triss, perhaps that Bro-time would be replaced with extra Triss content. Essentially, that Big Choice in Chapter 1, and subsequently the renewal of loyalty (or not) in Chapter 3, is the final shot of The Witcher 2: who you stride out of Loc Muinne with.
-The Nation we supported in The Witcher 2 to *matter*. As KOP has chronicled in master-thesis on the politics of TW2, the nations are a big f'ing deal. Some key moment in the main quest should reflect who ended up on top due to our actions. Even if Geralt stays neutral, someone comes out on top. Who will get his back - or need his aid again - in TW3? Radovid & Adda, in control of Redania and Temeria with Anais in their custody? Henselt, having consumed Lormark and chunks of Temeria? Saskia, Queen of the Free Pontar? King Stennis I of the rejuvenated Aedirn?
-Geralt's Mercy: Geralt has a lot of choices when it comes to the fates of main characters in TW2. The bodycount can be incredibly high or marvellously low. Even if it's just a cameo, a message via a courier, whatever, it'd be great to see consequences for things like: sparing a dangerous sorceress, Sile; refraining from giving Saskia the coup de grace; talking Aryan down during the siege; etc. These choices were powerful and weighty in TW2, and merit acknowledgement.
-Nilfgaard's Plot: Emhyr is behind everything in TW2. The whole political array of violent shenanigans leading up through Loc Muinne are driven by his plan. Geralt's key choice in Chapter 3 is a binary: either go with his respective Bro to strengthen a key Northern nation (Redania, Temeria, or the Free Pontar) and let Nilfgaard's plot succeed, or abandon his Northern allegiances to save Triss, and in doing so, massacre Shilard and Renuald, thereby forestalling Emhyr's plan utterly and allowing the Council and Conclave to come into being. Charles Dance plays Emhyr in TW3, and it would be freaking awesome if our first encounter with him has very, very different tones, depending on whether Geralt let Shilard kickstart the witch-hunt Emhyr so desires, or if Geralt slaughtered the Nilfgaardian delegation. In my mind, it would be extremely cool if there were a bonus line of pissed-off dialogue from Charles Dance if Geralt expressly fucked up ALL of Emhyr's operatives in The Witcher 2 (side with Iorveth and thus kill Vanhemar, Cynthia and Adalbert, then kidnap Shilard, slaughter Renuald, execute Letho).
-State of the Union: The sum total of Geralt's actions can make for an extremely strong North. Radovid can rule all of Temeria and Redania, with Henselt victorious over Lormark as well. Or they can split Temeria while Saskia's Free Pontar (or Stennis' Aedirn) is empowered. Or Geralt can leave everything in chaos, with all the monarchs dead besides Radovid. Geralt's stance at the end of TW2 is a key one: he tells Letho that crisis will unite the North. Geralt is largely done with politics at the end of TW2, but it'd be wonderful to see the North in TW3 suffering more or surviving better based on the state he leaves it in TW2.
-Random encounters: This was one thing TW2 did well - having unexpected moments where someone with a grievance from TW1 would show up angrily to reprimand - or attack Geralt for his past actions. Given that this is an open world game, it'd be very cool to see random troops of soldiers who can be hostile, neutral, or friendly to Geralt based on his past actions. Imagine encountering a troop of Scoia'tael in the forest - if you sided with Roche, they attack you, if you abandoned Iorveth for Triss in Chapter 3, they're ambivalent, if you saved Saskia, they salute you.
-The two factions: The Scoia'tael and the Order of the Flaming Rose are two constants in TW1 and TW2 that persist regardless of your actions, and it's key that they play a role in the final legend of Geralt - whether or not you can influence one to finally be victorious/successful, or not, is up to CDPR. But each group represents an interesting thematic opposition: idealistic terrorists sowing discord from the shadows vs. privatized mercenaries working (violently) forestall chaos from monsters and dissidents alike.
In summary, I feel like the Big Picture elements that would really honor the complexity of TW1 and TW2 by being reflected in TW3 are The Bros, The Nations, Mercy, Nilfgaard's Plot, The status of the North, Past Grievances, and the two ideological Factions. And these things can really be handled in under 10% of Witcher 3's content, without sidetracking the story to retread old ground - especially since CDPR doesn't want to excessively confuse new players.
What else do you guys think could realistically be done in TW3 to strengthen its connection with TW1 and TW2?
29.08.2013 @ 06:40For anyone who has seen/played The World's End and/or Mass Effect 3. Some spoilerish stuff for both. I threw this together because it was just too damn perfect.
18.08.2013 @ 18:45Voice acting is one of the most critical parts of a video game to me - if it's poorly done, I just can't get into the world the same way. However, another issue is when voice actors change over the course of a series - it can really be immersion breaking. One of the reasons I'm not keen to preorder Arkham Origins (after adoring the first 2 games) is that Batman and the Joker have different - and notably inferior - voices. There was a huge outcry when Hitman almost recast their lead role, and an even larger one with the upcoming switch in lead voice actors for the Metal Gear series.
In any case, as excited as I am for the awesome game that Witcher 3 is going to be, part of me is a bit worried about voice actor consistency. From TW1 to TW2, everyone besides Geralt got a new VA. This is a bit more understandable, as almost *everything* changed from TW1 to TW2 - the gameplay, the art style, the setting, the tone, etc. Thus, the VA changes bothered me a lot less. But TW2's more dramatic story and richer characters really got me attached to the lineup of voice actors, and I worry that some of these iconic roles will be recast. For instance:
-Letho may not return. But if he does, Letho *is* Mark Lewis Jones. His slow, methodical, but quietly brilliant cadence is crucial to the character.
-Philippa, Sile, Cynthia, Triss - sorceresses are essential to the plot of TW2, and with the advent of Yennefer in TW3, it doesn't look like they're going to be any less noteworthy. The voice actresses for these magical ladies did superb jobs at carving out unique identities for each of their characters. I think Triss and Philippa in particular really need to stay the same.
-Iorveth and Roche, obviously, as they are the two characters you spend the entire game with.
-I suppose someone else could maybe do a Henselt, but Radovid's voice actor is just so good, and the character is so essential to the North, that I would be deeply saddened if he were recast.
How do you guys feel about voice actor consistency? Obviously it's not a dealbreaker - I'd preorder Witcher 3 even if *all* the VAs were different - but as someone who is really hoping for TW3 to be that epic 11/10 game that blows open the genre, I really hope for VA consistency.
30.07.2013 @ 20:39Updated 8/16/13
Who else is a fan of the Humble Bundles? I've bought many of them since it's been active, and the latest one is very surprising.
For $1 -
Steam AND Origin individual keys for everything besides DS3
Dead Space 1
Dead Space 3
Medal of Honor
For ~$4.50 (it fluctuates) -
All of the above plus Origin keys for Battlefield 3 and Sims 3.
HUMBLE ORIGIN BUNDLE
Personally, I grabbed the $1 pack since I don't care about BF3 or the Sims.
We now have the controversial Humble Origin Bundle up for sale. I'm no Origin fan, but I've played Dead Space 1 and 2 and there's no way I'm turning down Dead Space 3 for $1.
18.06.2013 @ 22:23The 'your favorite kingdoms' topic inspired me to consider what exactly are Geralt's practical options for taking sides. Geralt in The Witcher 1, even when siding with the Order or the Squirrels, is primarily neutral of allegiance to any country. In the Witcher 2's politically charged climate, Geralt can make key decisions that empower or destroy entire nations. Many players, especially on their first playthroughs, cannot see the complex web woven by the TW2 writers - indeed, to fully understand the diplomatic interplay of The Witcher, you need to read KOP's 6-part discourse on the The Politics of The Witcher 2.
The question that interests me here is one of mapping out the choices Geralt can take in The Witcher 2 which stray from his classic neutrality and serve the interests of the various kingdoms of the Witcher World. I've used my scheme for the Major Choices of The Witcher 2 as a guide. Let me know what you think, what faction your Geralt favors and why, and if your decisions differ from the ones I've mapped out. This is also intended as a guide for players who like a certain faction or factions and want to support them, but are uncertain about which choices to make (or even players who want to do the opposite). I've noted any relevant decisions from TW1 when they matter.
Geralt, Friend Of Radovid (Redania)
*TW1: Order, Save Adda.
SPARE ARYAN: LV Castle stays Temerian, and in turn will ease the transition to Redanian hands.
HELP ROCHE: Roche gets another notch on his belt, Flotsam is stable.
CHOOSE ROCHE: Loredo dies, Flotsam stays free of Kaedwen's influence.
KILL HENSELT: Kaedwen is neutralized and cannot threaten Redania.
*Accuse both Maravel and Kimbolt so they don't cause trouble for Radovid.
SAVE ANAIS: Essential to controlling Temeria.
GIVE ANAIS TO RADOVID: Radovid becomes ruler of Temeria, which includes LV Castle and Flotsam based on your choices. Siegfried maintains a strong Order, and Roche works for Radovid.
LET SILE DIE: The Lodge is crippled further.
KILL DRAGON: The Lodge has no weapon, and a major loose end is eliminated.
KILL LETHO: Nilfgaard cannot use him as a tool in the future, and loses its Witcher school.
Geralt, The White Lily (Temeria)
*TW1: Neutral, Kill Adda - weaken Radovid and his potential hold on Temeria
SPARE ARYAN: Temeria must stay strong and united.
HELP ROCHE: Iorveth is a danger to the state.
CHOOSE ROCHE: Roche is Temeria's last hope.
KILL HENSELT: Minimize the threat to Temeria.
*Accuse Kimbolt and Maravel both, get award from Natalis.
SAVE ANAIS: Last hope for Temeria's bloodline.
GIVE ANAIS TO NATALIS: Temeria must not splinter.
SAVE SILE: Dethmold was your enemy, not Sile.
KILL DRAGON: The Dragon opposes Temerian monarchy.
KILL LETHO: Avenge Foltest, your One True King.
Geralt, Defender of the Unicorn (Kaedwen)
*TW1: Squirrels, Kill Adda - to weaken the Order and Redania.
SPARE ARYAN: LV Castle stays out of Nilfgaard's hands.
HELP ROCHE: Flotsam stays stable.
CHOOSE ROCHE: Loredo will die, but it's more important to make sure Vergen falls.
SPARE HENSELT: Duh. Henselt victoriously crushes Vergen.
*Accuse both Kimbolt and Maravel so they don't cause trouble when Henselt annexes half of Temeria.
SAVE TRISS: Nilfgaard is weakened, but Radovid doesn't get Anais.
LET SILE DIE: Henselt hates her.
KILL DRAGON: Kaedwen's most fearsome singular foe is finished.
KILL LETHO: The Kingslayers went after Henselt. A grave mistake.
Geralt, Heir to Seltkirk (Aedirn)
*TW1: Order, Spare Adda - a stronger Radovid means more for Henselt to deal with, so less pressure for Aedirn.
SPARE ARYAN: Another foe against Nilfgaard will help in the coming conflict.
GIVE SWORD: Flotsam in chaos = increased chance for Aedirn to gain influence.
CHOOSE IORVETH: Essential for Demavend's heir to survive.
PURSUE LOREDO: Kaedwen cannot claim Flotsam.
SPARE STENNIS: All hail King Stennis I.
*Kill Cynthia & Adalbert to weaken Nilfgaard.
SAVE TRISS: Nilfgaard is weakened, and Aedirn needs as much damage to Nilfgaard as it can get for the coming war.
LET SILE DIE: A loose end. Her potential to damage Henselt in the future is not worth the risk of keeping her in play.
KILL SASKIA: Vergen is victorious, but none can challenge Stennis' supremacy.
KILL LETHO: He's not going to be helping Aedirn anytime soon, so screw him.
Geralt, The Free Man (Free Pontar)
*TW1: Squirrels, Spare Adda - Geralt helps nonhumans (Striga is a nonhuman lol)
SPARE ARYAN: Saskia likes him.
HELP ROCHE: All nonhumans in Flotsam survive.
CHOOSE IORVETH: Essential to Vergen.
PURSUE LOREDO: A hard choice, but Loredo will persecute Flotsam's nonhumans if he survives.
LYNCH STENNIS: His survival would oppose Saskia's hegemony over the Pontar.
*Kill Cynthia and Adalbert, so that they + Vanhemar + Assire var Anihid make Nilfgaard's Northern mages a pile of corpses.
GO WITH PHILIPPA: Saskia must survive and be free.
LET SILE DIE: She knows Saskia's secret.
DISENCHANT SASKIA: Saskia is freed of the spell and resumes her role as Queen of the Free Pontar.
SPARE LETHO: The Kingslayer's exploits against the old monarchies made Saskia's dream possible.
Geralt, Black One (Nilfgaard)
*TW1: Squirrels, Kill Adda - Order and Redania are the weakest this way.
KILL ARYAN: LV Castle becomes Nilfgaardian, surrendered by Mary Louisa.
*Give the two souls to the Nilfgaardian ghost.
GIVE SWORD: Flotsam is weakened by chaos.
CHOOSE ROCHE: A tricky decision, since Iorveth's path means you can ensure Cynthia gets the bioweapon from Loc Muinne. But eliminating Northern monarchs - essentially completing the Kingslayers' work - is more important, and can be best done with Roche.
KILL HENSELT: Kaedwen cannot opposed Nilfgaard's invasion.
*Accuse Kimbolt only, so Maravel stays in play.
SAVE ANAIS: The Nilfgaardian plot to kill the Northern mages succeeds this way.
GIVE ANAIS TO NATALIS: Temeria hangs on, but without LV Castle. A shaky Temeria is less dangerous to Nilfgaard than a sprawling, empowered territory united under the brilliant Radovid - who is Emhyr's only potential equal, politically speaking.
LET SILE DIE: Nilfgaard wants the Lodge dead. Oblige them.
KILL DRAGON: Aedirn and Kaedwen ripe for the taking. Henselt, Stennis and Saskia are all dead.
SPARE LETHO: Nilfgaard will need the School of the Viper.
Geralt, True Neutral (Pure Neutral)
*TW1: Neutral path, romance Triss (more practical for Alvin), save Adda
SPARE ARYAN: Not an executioner. Aryan can be talked into surrender, which means the least upset in the status quo.
HELP ROCHE: Causes the least chaos. Punching Iorveth is an aggressive act, but Iorveth is a violent extremist who revels in killing (more so than Roche). Taking him out of the action is the most neutral thing Geralt can do there.
CHOOSE IORVETH: Appears to be the fastest way to reach Triss. Roche is also concerned first and foremost with attacking and executing Loredo, which isn't relevant to Geralt's quest, and involves judging someone. Iorveth's path means getting on a boat and getting out of Flotsam as fast as possible.
SAVE MOTTLE: Not an executioner. If it was more neutral to kill Loredo, Geralt would have gone with Roche.
SPARE STENNIS: Not an executioner. Stopping the lynch mob means Geralt is not Judge, Jury or Executioner, and leaves that responsibility up to someone else. Stennis is also, at worst, guilty of accessory to attempted murder - which doesn't seem quite worthy of a death sentence.
*Let Cynthia and Adalbert do their thing without killing them.
SAVE TRISS: Friends over politics. Although Geralt is assaulting the Nilfgaardians to do so, he tried to avoid bloodshed by using a hostage. Also, the Nilfgaardians have tried to kill him not long before via Vanhemar. Renuald is the one who turns it into a massacre at the Nilfgaardian Camp in Loc Muinne.
LET SILE DIE: Letho outwitted her, no reason to intervene. Sile doomed herself by getting into a battle of wits with Letho, and the neutral thing to do is act like Geralt was never even there - whether he showed up or not, she still would have exploded in the teleport.
SPARE SASKIA: Witchers don't kill Dragons. Also, he's neutralized it as an immediate threat to his well-being, and it is not burning down Loc Muinne anymore.
SPARE LETHO: Not an executioner. No need to trigger combat needlessly.
Geralt, Madman (Maximum Casualties)
*TW1: Squirrels, kill Adda
KILL ARYAN: And all his retinue too!
GIVE SWORD: Flotsam will burn.
CHOOSE ROCHE: Blood for blood.
KILL HENSELT: Damn the consequences.
*Accuse both Kimbolt and Maravel to damn them both.
SAVE TRISS: Butcher the Black Ones.
LET SILE DIE: For the lulz.
KILL DRAGON: None challenge Geralt and live.
KILL LETHO: See previous entry.