The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has been in the wild (pun not intended) for a few weeks now. In Analog Addiction’s review we said, “Wild Hunt is the best role-playing game at the moment”, alongside giving it a perfect review score. With that said a review can only go so far, and only include one opinion.
In this two part post-mortem series two Analog Addiction editors will be expressing their in-depth summaries of The Witcher 3 in an array of topics. The two editors will be Vlad Pintea, the original reviewer of The Witcher 3 and PlayStation editor Jamie Briggs. Together each will pick apart the good, the bad and more to give you the best summary of The Witcher 3 possible.
In part two of this series AA’s finest will be looking at a range of topics, which include combat, the scope of Witcher 3 and technical issues, alongside discussing if The Witcher 3 lived up to the hype. You can read part one here.
The Witcher 3 is the first entry in the franchise to come to consoles at launch, and the first to come to PlayStation platforms. Do you think it is easy for players to hop into The Witcher 3 and understand the universe, or do you recommend they find a way to play the original entries first?
Vlad Pintea: PlayStation gamers – and even Xbox ones, when it comes to playing the first game – don’t need to concern themselves, in any way, with the first two games, simply because Wild Hunt includes everything important to know about Geralt. The original Witcher and Assassins of Kings are more like standalone chapters for our favorite Witcher. Take it this way: Wild Hunt includes some characters and references from the books, so why shouldn’t newcomers treat characters from past games like those from the books? In short, if you really want to full experience, you’d need to play both previous titles and read the books. Just mind the first game’s combat.
Jamie Briggs: I think players will find it takes a good ten hours of so to truly understand the world if they are starting their Witcher journey from Wild Hunt. Of course throughout the adventure Geralt meets an array of characters he has met from previous games, as you would expect from a long running franchise. Though it may be a little confusing at first, I do think new players will be able to understand the basic premise and still find a lot of enjoyment from the adventure. Playing the first two games is preferred, simply because you will know previous characters and understand a lot more of The Witcher lore, but it’s certainly not a prerequisite.
Geralt spends most of his days slicing down vicious monsters, which means combat is an integral aspect of The Witcher 3. Has combat improved over the past iterations in the series?
Vlad Pintea: A lot. To this day, I can’t stand the original Witcher’s combat. It feels very stiff, just standing there and mechanically clicking the mouse button. When I started playing Assassins of King’s combat, I immediately felt “at home,” although I still had to adjust to it. Wild Hunt’s combat feels like an improved version of the second game’s, meaning it’s based on rhythm, as you can’t just spam the attacks. Once you learn how close you should get before striking, in addition to dodging and rolling after one or two attacks and a blast from Igni, for example, Wild Hunt’s combat feels more like an elegant dance. No wonder one of its moves is called a pirouette. In short, it’s amazing, perfectly complemented by the Signs.
Jamie Briggs: I’d have to agree on Vlad, the original Witcher’s combat was more of a chore that needed to be completed to get to the story. Witcher 2 provided a huge improvement, but it certainly wasn’t the easiest to master. Wild Hunt on the other hand provides a streamlined version of Witcher 2’s combat system, with attention to detail in the combat animation department and a more polished experience overall. Hand to hand combat is extremely satisfying, not only due to the excellent audio that accompanies violent sword clashes, but also because of the gruesome finishers Geralt can perform when you time your attacks just right. Couple the excellent swordplay with the selection of Signs and Geralt is a lethal force, one that is at your most polished control.
For a game with the scope and size of The Witcher 3, there are bound to be technical issues. Have you encountered anything significant throughout your adventure?
Vlad Pintea: Nope. I think I’m one of the very few people who has barely encountered any technical difficulties. There was this one time were the game completely froze on me, forcing a restart, and there were also a few times in which the character models wouldn’t move and just sort-of glide, instead of walking. Even so, there wasn’t anything which would distract from the overall enjoyment of the game.
Jamie Briggs: The Witcher 3 isn’t free from glitches, far from it. I’ve had times where I’ve had to reload due to my character freezing at a door, or had to meditate in order to make him move once again, or simply characters haven’t been able to be interacted with right away. But overall the state of The Witcher 3 is impressive, the game is beyond huge and it continues to impress me how this gorgeous beast can run without almost any frame rate drops as I gallop through the countryside, or how an entire city cannot suffer from any pop in elements as I explore. A lot of games these days and many open world adventures of the past (Fallout: New Vegas) have been released in shambles, almost unplayable and game breaking problems throughout. The Witcher 3 may not be perfect, but almost each issue is so miniscule in the grand design that I’m thoroughly impressed CD Projekt Red were able to develop such a polished product.
Many are still speculating a reboot of the Witcher franchise, in which players take on the role of Ciri. Any thoughts?
Vlad Pintea: Sure, I’d love a Witcher title featuring Ciri. Even better, CDPR wouldn’t even have to be bothered to make it a prequel or complicate itself with past stories from the books, since one of The Witcher 3’s endings sees her taking the path of a Witcher, the studio can simply invent new adventures from her. Maybe even add a cameo from Geralt. In any event, yes, playing Ciri would be a refreshing change, simply because we’d get to play a more emotionally-involved protagonist. Don’t get me wrong; I love Geralt’s dark humor and sarcasm, but even from those brief moments where we’d take on Ciri in Wild Hunt, I noticed a remarkable difference in how she’d treat others. Case in point, she stops one character from detailing a gruesome scene, because there was a little girl accompanying her. In short, she’s just as ruthless as Geralt, but a lot more loveable.
Jamie Briggs: Now even though Ciri’s sections are my least favourite of The Witcher 3, I wouldn’t mind this evolution. The main reason I dislike Ciri’s sections is due to the lack of Witcher-like qualities, if they were able to create a Witcher-like experience around Ciri I would be excited. As I said I do like Ciri as a character, the problem is I just don’t feel I’ve been given enough time to truly invest in her motives and personality. If CD Projekt Red were able to expand her presence within her own adventure, with the vast improvements The Witcher 3 has achievedthen I’d be interested in seeing how it turns out.
Overall, do you believe The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt lived up to the high expectations that many expected? And do you think it is the best entry in the franchise thus far?
Vlad Pintea: Yes, and yes. And it’s still surprising to me how an independent studio has managed to create such a huge world, fill it with unique quests, a giant list of things to explore, all encompassed by one of the most beautiful graphics engines. The best entry in the franchise? Even better: the best RPG I have ever played, thus far.
Jamie Briggs: I definitely believe it lived up to the hype and the perfect score from Analog Addiction’s review is proof that I’m not alone in that thought process. The Witcher 3 has delivered an outstanding experience, one that after dozens of hours I still feel like I’m barely scratched the surface of the extensive content available. The Witcher 3 is also a testament on how to create a sequel that evolves on previous features and mechanics to create a truly wonderful finished product. This is the pinnacle of the series and having the pleasure to experience these changes as the series has evolved is amazing.
We hope you’ve enjoyed part one of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt postmortem series. But we’d like to know what you thought of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Are there any discussions you agree or disagree with? Or anything else you’d to share regarding your time in The Witcher 3? Let us know in the comments below.