A massive GTAV rivalling open world without invisible walls and loading screens, a vivid colourful pallet, a varied countryside, a diverse population and a meticulously detailed urban centre make up just under 40 minutes of this massive 100+ hour undertaking from Polish wonderteam, CD Projekt RED.
The Witcher 3 is positively overflowing with intelligent, emergent content…
A myriad of environmental, industrial, wildlife and social systems interlock generating chance encounters and unexpected objectives, plentiful side quests lock and unlock further adventuring depending on your decisions, and a world spanning epic central narrative takes centre stage.
But at The Witcher 3’s heart lies a robust and compelling combat system that has seen some minor but meaningful upgrades from the already sturdy mechanics of its acclaimed predecessor.
Geralt of Rivia can now trigger his Witcher Senses, unaided by potions or drugs. Essentially this is just detective mode, Witcher style but in conjunction to some beefed up dialogue trees and contextual platforming, it makes a welcome addition.
Geralt has a quintet of magical signs he can deploy in battle to grant him the edge.. Like, in addition to super-fast reflexes and two large pointy swords. Essentially he can cook fools, snare fools, shove fools, trick fools and block fools. These can now be rapidly switched mid-combat and also boast expensive but powerful charge modes.
This magic system is further buffed by the presence of environmental factors which amplify their effects i.e. flammable gas clouds. Geralt now has a crossbow sidearm with custom ammo which triggers bullet time when aimed. Bombs return with their status changing properties intact. Geralt’s martial swordplay seems to mirror its predecessor in that he has two distinct speeds, the slower, harder of which can be charged up for some gory results.
Unfortunately, while a nifty new quick-dodge compliments a combat roll, parry system and contextual disarms, Geralt’s slew of awesome finishing moves seems largely absent. The second Witcher was criticised for implementing finishers as miniature cut-scenes which allegedly shattered immersion. (Which, for the record, is bollox. If anything they sold the notion of Geralt as a badass…)
Either way, I don’t think anyone was suggesting his combat takedowns be removed wholesale from The Witcher’s repertoire.
And so, with the absence of a beefed up defensive game, similar fencing animations and no rewarding finishers, one wonders if the joy of combat won’t wane half way through Wild Hunt’s hercurlean undertaking.
Regardless, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is coming for PS4, Xbox One and PC on February 24th. And a more formidable, nay anticipated experience you won’t find on next gen consoles. And from the looks of this extended demo, we can all understand why.