The Witcher series has been one of the most popular PC franchises over the last few years, and has been one of the few titles that PlayStation gamers have been wanting to try out but have never had the chance — that is, until now. As CD Projekt RED’s third part of The Wither trilogy, The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt is set to release on February 24, 2015 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
While at E3 2014, CD Projekt RED gave us a hands-off demonstration of how the game is coming along and what we should expect from this highly anticipated fantasy action-RPG. Fans of the previous series will instantly recognize Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher who was mutated and trained from birth to find and kill monsters. Moving from location to location, Geralt must walk a fine line between what is right and what is for the greater good, as each decision will have ramifications down the line.
One of the aspects that was highlighted during the presentation was the need to make decisions and own up to what will happen after a path is chosen. This was was shown as Geralt confronted an evil tree spirit that says it is the only one who can rescue a group of orphans that have disappeared, but it is up to you whether or not you allow the spirit to live. The choice was made to not trust the spirit as too many people had pointed it out as a source of evil, which ultimately ended in Geralt completing his quests but also the loss of the towns orphans and what that means for the rest of the story will have to be found out in time.
This method of moral choices being neither black or white, is something that is not new to fans of the series, but is something that players need to understand to know what makes The Witcher so powerful. Very rarely is the world simple, and with the games industry constantly trying to beat into us that good people do good things and bad people do bad things, most of us end up with a story that feels tailored to us following a color scheme than what we actually feel to be right or wrong.
Keeping in line with the franchises need to have PC gamers constantly upgrading their rigs to max out the game’s visuals, The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt was gorgeous from the beginning to the end of the demo. Sadly, as the video was being shown through a projector, it was difficult to tell if some of the visual issues seen were an issue of the display or the game itself. But, from a visual standpoint, watching Geralt run around a city filled with life, or make his way through a thick forest to meet up with a Godling, everything was textured and designed with enough attention to detail that gamers looking for a true next-gen experience will not be left wanting.
One of the aspects that stood out the most about the presentation was the range of emotions characters could emote with just their eyes. When we asked why so much attention went into each characters eyes, it was said that a specific amount of attention went into development strictly into giving characters such a wide breath of emotions and it looked like the time was well spent.
Combat looked fantastic, as Geralt was able to switch between swordplay and magic without the need to slowdown the pacing of the fight, which is a problem that many action-RPGs fall into. Also shown off was the ability to utilize the environment to your advantage, such as igniting gas with a fire spell or even destroying bee hives to distract enemies. All in all, with the number of fantasy games coming out over the next year, they have their work cut out for them with CD Projekt RED’s latest game.
Although, as this was a hands-off demonstration, we will have to wait till the full review early next year to find out how well all of these features play out. But, after having seen the game being played for the first time, I can honestly say that this is going to be one of my most anticipated games of 2015 even though I haven’t played the first two — which won’t be an issue, as was assured to me by the development team.