The Witcher 3 Preview and Interview
- Updated: 28th Jun, 2013
During E3 I spoke to Jonas Mattson, Environmental Designer on The Witcher 3. We talked through the changes to combat, magic, the crafting system and, of course, sex. This wonderful video was edited by Colin Gallacher and once you watch it, you’ll understand why I felt the need to point this out.
The Witcher 3 is set years after the previous adventure. Geralt of Rivia is older and wiser is less of a roving mercenary than before. The game still centres around Geralt but – even though the world is being torn apart by the Wild Hunt and the Nilfgaard invasion – this is a much more personal journey in which Geralt searches for his loved one. Triss Mergold has probably been possessed or kidnapped or some other excuse that means it’s totally fine for Geralt to seduce every other female in the Northern Kingdoms.
The section shown during the demo was mostly in the An Skellige region, an area inspired by Nordic and Celtic legends and landscapes. It’s easy to make comparisons to Skyrim and of course there is a resemblance. Geralt can sail now, so you’ll also see port towns like Novigrad, inspired by Amsterdam.
While The Witcher’s combat has always been fluid, CD Projekt RED have made it even more so for this sequel. The previous game used 20 distinct sequences to animate combat, running, spellcasting and so on. The new one uses “over 96” which, as we all know, is marketing-speak for 97. Since the game is now open-world and Geralt can ride a horse, I’m assuming that a lot of that relates to being mounted, but they’ve also focused on improving combat. You’ll be able to break out of attack chains much earlier than before, making Geralt far more responsive than he’s ever been.
They’ve also dropped the scripted boss battles that were so unpopular in the second game. In fact, boss battles have been removed completely. Instead, you’ll just stumble across the occasional large monster in the wild, like the fiend that we met during the E3 demo.
These large battles are every bit as tactical as boss battles. The fiend had the ability to blind Geralt, reducing your world to a tiny 3-foot radius surrounded by shadow. Fortunately, it was vulnerable to Geralt’s fire spell, which created spots of flame in the dark. The closest comparison to these large encounters is probably Dragon’s Dogma, in that the beasts will just be there, roaming the world. Hopefully they won’t make the same mistake as Dragon’s Dogma, where they are constantly there, leaving you to battle the chimera in that same stretch of forest over and over and over again.
In a remote village, Geralt discovered that people were being killed by a forest spirit. The CD Projekt RED team showed off Geralt’s new tracking skills, hunting through the woods for glowing symbols that would show him what sort of monster he was dealing with. One Geralt has muttered enough clues, you can check his bestiary to see what creature you’ll be facing, including any weaknesses. This will help you decide what sort of potions and tactics you may need for the forthcoming battle.
On learning that the village was plagued by a leshen, Geralt realised that these creatures often tie themselves to an unwitting victim within the community, in this case a young woman. We returned to the village to speak to their leaders and decide what to do with her.
This is where the demo disappointed a little – in classic Witcher style, when a leader learned that it was his own girlfriend who must die, there was no real tragedy on display. No inner turmoil, no emotional reaction. Just a short pause and then, yep, let’s kill her. If you come back to the village some time later, you’ll find out its fate after your actions, which is another hallmark of the series, but true character moments are still thin on the ground.
Potion crafting and gathering are still in the game but have been reworked. They aren’t required but those who do put in the effort to seek out reagants will see greater rewards.
And finally, yes. We will see next-gen boobs in the game. From the interview above, Mattsson told me that “It’s a grown-up world. The world of the Witcher is bloody and dirty and sex is a part of human life. To remove that is to remove something part-human from it.
“We never would force the player to go to a brothel and go ‘Go to a brothel, there’s a quest there. Sleep with 20 prostitutes,’ he continued. We’re handling it in a very mature way.”
The Witcher 3 will be coming to Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Release date not yet announced.