It seems that CD Projekt Red has been keeping an ear to the ground for what gamers want out of their fantasy RPGs. The world of the Witcher 3 is reportedly 30 times larger than the Witcher 2 (or roughly 20% larger than Skyrim). It is focused on giving the game a more open feel, as opposed to the Witcher 2, which many fans believe was too restrictive. Trailers of the game showing Geralt riding a horse as well as sailing a small boat to reach destinations and the cities and towns are no longer blocked off from the wilderness outside by gates and a loading screen, adding to an already highly immersive experience. Creatures both mundane and magical freely roam the wilderness, as well as soldiers patrolling the roads and ships cruising the freezing oceans.
In previous titles the world of the Witcher has been dark, brutal and even confronting. This is no story about aspiring heroes, noble knights, honorable kings or happy villagers. Instead the Witcher distances itself from most fantasy tropes by being more mature and taking notes from the history books. The game is notable for its complex characters, most of who inhabit moral grey areas and have no clear motives and loyalties. With Geralt having cleared his name of being the Kingslayer after the events of the Witcher 2, his quest will now have less to do with political intrigue and more to do with finding his lost love and discovering the reasons behind the Wild Hunt, but this likely will not stop CD Projekt Red from giving the Witcher 3 a stellar cast of new characters, as well as the return of old friends and enemies such as Triss Merigold the sorceress, Dandelion the bard and Zoltan the Dwarf.
The gameplay is also seeing an update; Geralt will have substantially more combat animations than in the Witcher 2 and will take different stances depending on how he is faring in a fight. The QTEs that were nearly constant throughout the previous title will be gone from the Witcher 3, making events such as fistfights more proactive for the player. Geralt will also no longer roll everywhere to dodge attacks, instead pirouetting out of harm’s way. The number of magical signs has also increased, with old favorites such as Ignii having more than one use in combat with them accessible through the skills tree. Other new features include Geralt’s “Witcher’s Sense”, an ability that helps Geralt hunt monsters and look for clues to lifting curses or to further a mission, combat skills that change Geralt’s fighting style and a more user-friendly controller scheme for the console versions. Alchemy will make a return, although Geralt can now down a potion during combat, and crafting and upgrading equipment will also come back to devour our time with lists of stats and effects. CD Projekt Red says that the Witcher 3 will be more accessible for new players while still retaining the hardcore RPG elements that longtime fans know and love. With the additions of an extra, extremely hard difficulty in the Enhanced Edition of the Witcher 2, it is likely that we’ll see more forms of difficulties in the Witcher 3, similar to the Story mode in Mass Effect 3.
It is unclear how the events at the end of the Witcher 2 and the divergent storylines will affect the Witcher 3’s story. Iorveth and Roche’s paths completely changed how the second and third chapters of the Witcher 2 panned out and gave the player different insights in the epilogue. If and how players who have played the Witcher 2 on their console will have their decisions carry over to the final installment is still unknown at this time, but rest assured that CD Projekt Red will have something up their sleeves to make sure that everything about the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a brilliant and deeply immersive RPG experience for both old fans of the series and new takers alike.
(For more on The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, check out Ben Sheene’s E3 Impressions and Gaming Illustrated’s Interview with Wild Hunt’s Game Director Konrad Tomaszkiewicz).