The lights are on
Despite the fact that my E3 demo for The Witcher III: Wild Hunt did not start the demo with the team saying, “hey guys, Wich this trailer!”, I still think CD Projeckt Red’s new RPG could be my game of the show.
My demo started with Geralt returning to the town of Novigrad after killing the Gryphon seen during The Witcher III’s demo at Microsoft’s press conference earlier in the week. Geralt is on the hunt of a mysterious girl with ashen hair and a scar on her cheek. Thankfully, now that Geralt has just killed the Gryphon for a mob boss named Dijkstra, this kingpin now owes us a favor, and we’re going to cash it in for information.
Novigrad is the biggest city in The Witcher III, and it looks like one of the bigger cities I’ve seen in gaming period. While wandering its lively street, I got the sense that I was being transported to an actual medieval city.
Filled with several thousand inhabitants, special artisans, banks, markets, inns, and the largest seaport in the north, players could spend a massive amount of time in Novigrad without venturing out of the city. Thugs, beggars, and lords inhabit the city’s four districts, so there is no shortage of quest givers. However, if players pick one quest, another might vanish, because none of the actions that a player makes leave the world unchanged.
We passed a fish market and for the right prices were able to haggle for select armor and special contraband that Geralt can use for his potions. But we can’t waste anymore time; we’ve slain a gryphon, and it’s time we talked to our contact Dijkstra.
Dijkstra gives us the info we’re looking for. Our ashen haired lass has been seen in Velen, living in the woods, so we walk over to a sign post and use it to fast travel across the world to Velen – a trip that normally would have taken over 20 minutes traveling at a fast clip on horseback.
Velen was once a nice place, but, this boggy swampland has become a no man’s land and our chances of running into danger here are much higher. It’s not long before Geralt runs into a boy named Johny – a small godling creature with big eyes and blue skin. Johny can’t talk, because someone seems to have stolen his voice, but through pantomime he ushers us over to a nearby cliff face and urges us to go up top to collect something from a band of circling harpies.
In The Witcher III: Wild Hunt there are multiple ways to get anywhere you want. We used Geralt’s advanced senses – which highlight dangers – to survey the world around him and find a good path that allows us to climb to the top and attack the harpies from behind. It’s always a good idea to explore the Witcher’s open world and find unique hidden treasures.
Combat in The Witcher III: Wild Hunt seems pretty deep, and Geralt kicked off his battle with the harpies with a quick blast of his new crossbow. Geralt has a suite of nice magic powers that allow him to set down magic traps, create a temporary shield, set enemies on fire, charm his enemies, and fire off a powerful blast of air that knocks his foes back.
Geralt can also defect weapon bolts back at his enemies, and charge up an attacks that cleaves enemies in two, so he’s no slouch with his swords either. Using all the tools at his disposal, he quickly makes work of the harpies – and Geralt work is murder. Deep inside the harpies nest is a golden bottle. We bring this back to Johny, so he can uncork it and regain his voice. Now that he can speak, Johny tells us that a woman at the orphanage will give him better info about where our ashen-haired lady might have gone.
I saw a lot more of The Witcher III, but it was still only a small fraction of everything that the game has to offer. CD Projeckt Red has crafted an incredibly rich world that could compete with the depth of titles like Skyrim. Even for a guy like me who plays games for a living, I’m not sure I’ll have enough time to play everything it has to offer on my free time, which is why I might need to quit my job when the game comes out on February 24.
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