As a gamer who feels more at home with consoles than a PC, and who tends to favour the Playstation brand, you can understand why it was easy for me to miss the first two entries in the Witcher series. Despite owning multiple copies of The Witcher 2 (one through developer CD Projekt’s own GoG.com, and another thanks to Microsoft’s Games With Gold program), I never got around to playing it.
However, after recently sitting down with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, it’s pretty clear I’ll be getting stuck into these copies to tide me over until its successor is released.
The first thing you’ll notice about The Witcher 3 is just how damn beautiful it is. The opening FMV so seamlessly transitioned into in-game graphics that it took me a moment to realise the change had even occurred. During my few hours with the game, my mouth was left agape on numerous occasions: The way water dripped off your character Geralt’s body as he lay soaking in the tub, the trees bending in the wind and the food that littered the tables during a feast later in the game.
But the graphics, as lovely as they were, were not the only thing that impressed. I was concerned that getting involved in the series so late would leave me completely lost. Thankfully, the game isn’t bogged down in lore and I had no trouble getting involved in the game’s world, which seems to have a great personality and some interesting side characters. Take Mislav, a character you encounter only briefly; he has an very interesting back story that only becomes clear if you choose to broach it with him.
Another aspect of the game I was impressed with was the recap feature. The Witcher 3 presents you with a “Previously on…” TV-style rundown of the story so far; it a system similar to 2003’s Driv3r, only in a much better game. This is a godsend for gamers like myself who juggle playing five or six games concurrently.
Mention must also be made of the audio. While the voice acting was good, the soundtrack was what really blew me away. It was suitably epic, as you would expect from this type of sword and sorcery RPG, but what really set it apart were the vocal tracks and the clear Eastern European influence from the Polish CD Projekt RED.
I’m not sure I could say many things bad about The Witcher 3, besides a few technical problems. I did experience some screen tearing and a few clipping issues, but these minor niggles should be fixed before the game’s release. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt looks and plays fantastically, and I’m really excited for the game’s release on May 19th.