CD Projekt’s latest looks to be the best in The Witcher series, but while we wait for its February release, let’s take a trip back to the first two games to see what Wild Hunt can improve on.
“The cumbersome aspect to the combat was fixed for the sequel. With The Witcher 2, the developers took a page out of the action genre and added fast-paced combat.”
I love The Witcher and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. It should be no surprise then that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt one of my most anticipated games in years.
But just because I am a huge fan, it doesn’t mean I can’t see past some of the flaws in the original Witcher or its sequel. Nor does this mean I cannot hope for the third outing to be a mesh between the two previous entries. Here then, is what I hope will be included and excluded in what CD Projekt RED states will be Geralt’s last hurrah in The Witcher game franchise.
Killing in the name of
In the first game the combat is a little clunky. Granted, combat in real life is neither fast nor fluid and you sure as hell aren’t as nimble as a Cirque du Soleil acrobat. In a sense, it was rather authentic as Geralt’s sword swings and blocks seemed to take effort.
While your skills progressed as the game wore on, I did find it to be a bit of a click-fest as I constantly clicked on enemies to perform a specified set of attacks, and then clicked some more until I’d performed all manner of moves. It wasn’t as mundane as many would have you believe, so while it felt labored at times, it was far from boring. Combat made you think tactically: Which stance will I use? What type of blade will kill this monster? What oil should I put on the blade? What about magic? There were many ways in which to build Geralt into a lean, mean monster-killing machine.
The cumbersome aspect to the combat, however, was fixed in the second outing. With The Witcher 2, the developers took a page out of the action genre and added a fast-paced, fluid, and melee-oriented style of combat to Geralt’s moves. This was not only refreshing, but the addition of bombs and traps where as well. In the first Witcher game you were limited to swords, axes, maces and all manner of steel or silver weaponry. The Witcher 2 made sure you had your wits about you when it came to defeating a monster, and Geralt was much more mobile this time around. The only thing he couldn’t do any longer was block and parry in the same capacity. Sure, he could roll around on the ground, but using that as a defensive move got old for me really fast.
What I would like to see incorporated into The Witcher 3 is a combination of the two combat styles: keep it fast and fluid; bring back stances that matter; allow Geralt to parry and block properly with swords; and allow stats to play a larger role in how we battle our enemies. Don’t take away the tactical aspect, but still give us various options in which to approach a battle.
Quests, quests, quests
Both Witcher games have moral consequences regarding decisions made when accepting a quest. For me, decisions I made or quests I took in the first game seemed to matter more, especially when it came to side-questing. When any decision was made, large or small, the consequences of your actions were made known along with the ability to see what would have happened had you chosen a different path. This was not the case in the sequel. Yes, your decisions mattered to the world as a whole, but not when it came to the little things. In The Witcher, someone you decide not to kill could lend you aid further into the game, while in the sequel, the NPCs wouldn’t play as large a role. Basically, quests in the first game seemed to all tie together somehow, but in The Witcher 2 they didn’t.
“Decisions I made or quests I took in the first game seemed to matter more, especially when it came to side-questing.”
I’m not saying the path you took in The Witcher 2 didn’t matter, I just felt there were more decisions to be made for good or ill in the first game. It felt slightly linear but at the same time it provided you with more replay value.
In short, I would like to see quests – great and small – in Wild Hunt extend over into the main game, to cause a ripple effect. The bug you decide to squash in Quest A may mean that come Quest Y a little girl won’t help sneak you into the castle because you killed her pet bug. This would cause you to have to go clear across the game map to find someone who may or may not sneak you in, and if not, you will just have to run in with sword in hand and slaughter the entire place. Which will also have major consequences.
I would also like quests in The Witcher 3 to be more similar to The Witcher than Assassins of Kings. In the first game, it took much longer to get to your objective than in the second. With Witcher 2, when given a quest, it was never far away. And if there was a chain involved? You just went around the next corner.
I want to be able to travel further than ‘up the road a ways’ for quests again. Not all need to incorporate traversing the entire map, but it would be nice to go off the beaten path once more and have many dangers present themselves along the way – without all the constant respawning. I don’t want to have to kill every monster in my path through a forest, get to my quest objective, only to have to go back through the forest and fight the exact same monsters again. Take a page out of Skyrim’s book: once an area is cleared, it’s cleared – but only for so long.
This leads me to my next point, and which may be the reason why quests didn’t seem as dynamic in the second outing.
On to size, length, and a bloody good drink…