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Witcher 3 photo
Witcher 3

The Witcher 3 has dynamic beard growth


Watch that fuzz grow in real time
May 13
// Laura Kate Dale
The Witcher 3 is a sprawling fantasy epic that sees a gruff manly man travel across the world doing all sorts of manly things in a semi realistic world. Perhaps most interesting about The Witcher 3's quest for virtual realism...

Review: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

May 12 // Chris Carter
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PC, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: CD Projekt REDPublisher: Bandai Namco (Europe), WB Games (NA), Spike Chunsoft (Japan)Released: May 19, 2015MSRP: $59.99 From the very start, The Witcher 3 is a return to form in terms of presenting the core Witcher lore from the first game. Unlike the second iteration, where many elements important to the overarching story were teased or merely mentioned in passing, you get to see more events up close. You'll have the chance to experience The Wild Hunt itself even more-so than the original title, which is going to be a huge bonus for fans of the series. You get to delve deeper into the world as a whole, and the more personal take on Geralt makes it even better. Over the course of The Wild Hunt, players will experience Geralt as a teacher, lover, and hero. There are far more opportunities to actually be a Witcher, haggling for goods and demanding gold for your service. These elements were always communicated in past games to some degree, but given the vast scope of this title, you'll actually get to live it on a constant basis here. The script as a whole is also much sharper, with stronger dialog and a funnier general feel. It helps that it hosts the most interesting cast yet, like a funny young creature that loves to poop, a terrifying trio of witches, a dumb goat named Princess, and one very angry ghost baby. The setup this time around involves Ciri, a young woman that Geralt has essentially raised as his own daughter. She's trained with Witchers, but she also hosts a power no one quite understands that has sparked the interest of The Wild Hunt -- a mysterious and powerful group that roams the land and terrifies everyone who comes in contact with them. Geralt kicks off the adventure in search of Ciri, attempting to find her in various locations, learning of her whereabouts through story missions. Occasionally you'll get to control Ciri herself in short standalone sequences, which serve as a window into her point of view and are a welcome brief departure from the Geralt show. [embed]291344:58447:0[/embed] In general, choices feel like they carry more weight in The Wild Hunt, and the characters are more fleshed out as a whole. I felt like the second game had way too many "Would you like to do option A or option B?" black and white choices, but the third iteration brings back some of the ambiguity from the original. There is immediacy to your decisions, but there are lasting consequences in some cases, with individuals that I actually cared about. I like Ciri in particular, and was inspired to press on to find out what happened to her. More importantly, the game is designed as a large collective of little choices compared to a few sweeping options in The Witcher 2. Having a bit of control over nearly every aspect of your personal story is a much more desirable design. A lot of you out there will probably be disappointed to learn that combat is now essentially Assassin's Creed, as most of the nuances like stances from the first game and the slower flow of the second game are now gone. Instead, you'll attack with light and heavy attacks, spicing things up with a few magic abilities, and separate dodge and roll buttons. Geralt still carries his trademark steel sword for humanoid opponents and silver for creatures, but since he automatically takes the appropriate one out most of the time, that bit of strategy is quashed too. It's not enough to make the game "easy" (especially on higher settings) but normal is significantly more hack and slash oriented than The Witcher 2. For all of the streamlined changes though, I actually enjoy this take on combat the most. Your magic abilities run the gamut of everything you'd need, from traps to projectiles to a defensive shield, and the dodge mechanic works better than it ever has, which makes battles feel more action-oriented and less like an outdated pen-and-paper scheme. When you add in the ability to parry and counter, combat gets even more interesting. Ciri's bits are even less expansive, as she can't access an equipment or inventory screen at all, and only has a few unique spells at her disposal. When you're exploring about, the way fast travel is handled is just about perfect. You can technically use it, but players will need to have explored the target area first, and access an actual dedicated fast-travel signpost. It encourages you to see the world without pulling your hair out and losing tons of time manually getting to places you've already been. Roach, your horse, will assist in finding those new locations, and the controls are fairly versatile with walking, running, and galloping options. Sailing is probably my favorite means of travel, and in one instance I was even left stranded on an island after enemies capsized my ship! Questing is also much more satisfying now because The Wild Hunt is less "tunnel" oriented. Thanks to the advancements of newer tech, the open world can be fully explored by climbing, sailing, and horseback riding. The climbing mechanics are a welcome addition, but like a lot of other sandbox titles (I'm looking at you, Bethesda), it comes with its own set of glitches and rough animations. Specifically, ridges and edges are problem areas, and I had Geralt get stuck a few times in the game world or die to very questionable amounts of fall damage. It doesn't help the situation when a few main story quests have bugs in them as well. It should be noted though that there is a very forgiving checkpoint save system, and you can manually save at any time. I suggest doing so often. Once you get your first look at the world and see the new engine up-close, you'll likely forget about those stiff movements and occasional rough patches. The draw distance is wonderful, and the map in general is insanely detailed. While there are three particular areas that are instanced (cut off from the rest of the world), the core area is huge, and would take you hours to fully traverse and explore, even if you didn't stop to actually do anything. For the purposes of this review, I played The Witcher 3 on PS4, which features 1080p visuals, with a 30 frames-per-second cap. Unfortunately that latter figure is noticeable all too often, especially when you're outside, moving the camera about, and fighting multiple enemies. I have to give it to CD Projekt RED for creating a beautiful, vast universe with very little in the way of load times, but the console edition does feel like a compromise. If you have the rig, I highly recommend taking a look at the PC version, though I haven't had a chance to test out its stability just yet. There is something to be aware of in addition to the technical issues. While the combat and overall story have been improved, a lot of quests (particularly the transitions between story missions) involve "Witcher Vision." Yep, Arkham's Detective Vision mechanic is now a part of the Witcher world, and you're going to be spending a lot of time holding down a button, looking at footprints, and following them blindly to the next sequence. At first it's a really cool mechanic, and appropriately represents a Witcher's advanced sensory and tracking capabilities. But once you do it roughly 100 times, it gets a tad old. If you're looking for a lengthy adventure, you'll find pretty much everything you need here. With four difficulty levels (including a super easy mode) there's something for everyone. Alchemy mechanics shine in The Wild Hunt, as there are lots of ingredient nodes all across the world, easily visible on the game's mini-map -- almost like the developers took a page from the newer Far Cry games. There's literally hundreds of quests to complete, secret locations to find, and buried treasure to search for. The core story will last you a good while. It took me roughly 50 hours to complete the game. Hilariously enough, there is one point that feels like it's the end, to the point where the game even warns you that you should save and that you cannot turn back after entering the area. After I finished that sequence, it turned out that I had at least another 10 hours to go. Once the story is said and done, a few select sidequests can't be completed, but you're plopped back into the world, ready to explore. I suspect I'll be at it for over 100 hours by the time I'm ready to put the game back on the shelf. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a huge step up from its predecessor, mostly because it manages to tell a more compelling and personal tale. At the same time, that intimate feel is juxtaposed against a gigantic, sprawling open-world adventure that may hit some snags along the way but still comes out on top. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
The Witcher 3 review photo
100% more Witchay Woman
I have an odd history with The Witcher series. I absolutely fell in love with the first game near launch, at the behest of a friend, and adored the way it approached morality. Typically, games of that era would offer up black...

The Witcher photo
The Witcher

One million people have pre-ordered The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt


Are you one of them?
May 12
// Vikki Blake
Over a million people have pre-ordered The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. And even though it's yet to be released -- the game goes on sale May 19 -- the hotly anticipated RPG has already scooped up a bunch of awards ("over 200" accord...
Witcher 3 on Xbox One photo
Witcher 3 on Xbox One

The Witcher 3 looks decent enough on Xbox One


Our review goes up tomorrow morning
May 11
// Jordan Devore
On Xbox One, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt runs at 900p and 30 frames per second. On PlayStation 4, 1080p and 30 frames per second. On PC, uh... how much disposable income do you have? This official footage of the Xbox One versio...
Deals photo
Deals

All the Witcher 3 pre-order deals available at up to 28% off


Witchin' deals
May 08
// Dealzon
Update: Title was previously "up to 35% off" but that was in error given the GMG deal has been long gone. Sorry for the goof. There's a mini pre-order price war of sorts going on with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and unsurp...
The Witcher photo
The Witcher

New to The Witcher? Get the first two on the cheap before trying The Wild Hunt


Less than $4.50 combined
May 07
// Brett Makedonski
The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt is one of the most highly anticipated games of 2015, and it's now less than two weeks from launch. That's great news for Witcher fans; it's daunting news for anyone who wants to check out the...
CD Projekt Red photo
CD Projekt Red

Green Man Gaming and CD Projekt Red are having a bit of a tiff


It's all a bit he-said, she-said
May 07
// Joe Parlock
Well ain’t this a clusterfuck? GameSpot has reported that CD Projekt Red struck out against game selling site Green Man Gaming, claiming that the codes of The Witcher 3 they’re supplying didn’t come from&nbs...
GOG Galaxy photo
GOG Galaxy

GOG.com's gaming platform Galaxy now in beta


It's entirely optional
May 05
// Jordan Devore
GOG.com has launched Galaxy, its DRM-free gaming platform, in beta for Windows and Mac (with Linux support on the way). It's comparable to Steam, at least on the surface -- there's online chat, achievements, matchmaking, stat...

Weekend deals: Witcher III, Project Cars & other May releases

May 03 // Dealzon
Top Deals Witcher Deals The Witcher III: Wild Hunt — $35.99  <-aka Triss Merigold Wonderland The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Ed. (Steam) — $2.99 The Witcher: Enhanced Edition (Steam) — $1.49 More Top Deals Bloodborne (PS4) — $49.99  <- $39.99 if GCU Project Cars (Steam) — $36.99  (list price $50) Toren (Steam) — $6.75  (list price $10) <- Mmm... not Ico Star Wars Blaster Bundle (DRM-Free) — $38.93  (list price $62) Star Wars Saber Bundle (DRM-Free) — $22.44  (list price $98) Alien: Isolation (Steam) — $12.49  (list price $50) Just Cause 3 (Steam) — $40.50  (list price $60) Console Deals Xbox One Halo Master Chief Bundle + Choice of 1 Game — $349 Sony PlayStation 4 (Refurbished) — $299.99 Wii U + Super Mario 3D World + Nintendo Land — $259.99 Recent Releases 04/28: WWE 2K15 (Steam) — $37.50  (list price $50) 04/28: Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown (Steam) — $22.50 04/24: Dungeons 2 (Steam) — $30.79  (list price $40) 04/14: Grand Theft Auto V — $45  (list price $60) PC Game Deals Watch Dogs (Uplay) — $14.70  (list price $40) Spiders RPG Pack (Steam) — $12.49  (list price $50) Ryse: Son of Rome (Steam) — $10.20  (list price $40) Tomb Raider GOTY Edition (Steam) — $8.92  (list price $30) Sleeping Dogs (Steam) — $5.95  (list price $20) Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Director's Cut (Steam) — $5.95 Hitman: Absolution (Steam) — $5.95  (list price $20) Mass Effect (Origin) — $4.99  (list price $20) Torchlight 2 (Steam) — $3.99  (list price $20) Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered (Steam) — $3.75  (list price $10) SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition (Steam) — $3.75  (list price $20) Deus Ex: GOTY Edition (Steam) — $2.08  (list price $7) Console Game Deals Disney Infinity: Marvel S. Heroes 2.0 Collector's Ed. (PS4, PS3) — $89.99 Battleborn (PS4, Xbox One) — $52.99  (list price $60) Mario Party 10 (Wii U) — $40.99  (list price $50) Saints Row IV Re-elected and Gat Out Of Hell (PS4, Xbox One) — $29.99 Destiny (Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4) — $29.99  (list price $50) La Computadora Deals Laptops 13.3" Lenovo LaVie Z, i7-5500U, 8GB, 256GB SSD, 1440p — $1,409 15.6" Asus ROG, i7-4710HQ, GTX 860M, 1080p, 16GB — $849.99 11.6" Apple MacBook Air, i5-5250U, 128GB SSD — $749.99 14" Lenovo Y40-80, i5-5200U, Radeon R9 M275, 8GB — $639 Desktops Alienware Alpha, i7-4765T, GTX 860M, 8GB, 2TB HDD — $699.99 Lenovo Erazer X315 AMD A8-7600, R9 255, 8GB — $549.99 Alienware Alpha, i5-4590T, GTX 860M, 8GB, 1TB HDD — $508.79 Accessories & Hardware Deals Sapphire Tri-X OC Radeon R9 290X Video Card — $269.99 Seagate Expansion 4TB External Hard Drive — $99.99  (list price $179) WD Elements 1.5TB External Hard Drive — $69.99  (list price $130) Power A DualShock 4 Controller Charging Station — $15.99
Weekend deals photo
Games for Summer
Nothing to do in the summer? How about hours and hours of Witcher? Though the game was delayed several months from its original late 2014 scheduled release, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt will release later this month on PC,...

Witcher 3 photo
Witcher 3

Witcher 3's newest TV ad takes an already-rare bird that much closer to extinction


Jay-Z got nothin' on this O.G. R.O.C.
Apr 24
// Brett Makedonski
Rocs are giant birds of prey in The Witcher's universe, and in a way, they can be likened to the Giant Squid in our universe. According to the game's wiki, it's extremely rare to actually see one alive, as they usually only ...
The Witcher 3 photo
The Witcher 3

Plough yourself, mutant: This Witcher 3 quest cracks me up


I don't know about this guy
Apr 22
// Jordan Devore
In this PC footage of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt brought to you by Xbox (check the YouTube account), we're shown around nine minutes of a sidequest involving a merchant and his lost cargo. The quest description sets the scene:...
Witcher 3 photo
Witcher 3

The Witcher 3 map revealed, and it's pretty huge


Goodness that's a big world
Apr 22
// Laura Kate Dale
We already knew The Witcher 3 was going to big, I don't think anyone out there has been doubting that with all the talk of game completion times recently. The question that has however lingered, just HOW big is The Witcher 3?...
Witcher 3 photo
Witcher 3

New Witcher Xbox One bundles coming soon to Europe


No limited edition console, though
Apr 15
// Vikki Blake
Microsoft has confirmed the release of two all-new The Witcher 3 Xbox One bundles for selected EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) territories. The bundles include a standard Xbox One console, a digital code for The Witcher...
Witcher in 4K photo
Witcher in 4K

Look away from these 4K screens of The Witcher 3


Unless you're wealthy or something
Apr 13
// Jordan Devore
If an image or video is tagged as 4K, yeah, I'm more than likely gonna click on it. Even if it's media showing a game at a level of graphical fidelity I can't possibly attain with my computer. Misery loves company, so please ...
Witcher 3 photo
Witcher 3

The Witcher 3 DLC gets priced, including a Season Pass


Get both expansions for 20
Apr 13
// Laura Kate Dale
Are you eagerly awaiting the launch of The Witcher 3 next month? Want to purchase a huge chunk of extra content before the game has even released? Well, if you do then we now know how much doing so will set you back. Accordin...
The Witcher 3 photo
The Witcher 3

This Witcher 3 overview trailer is cut well, also funny


Looks like a hell of a game
Apr 10
// Jordan Devore
In this overview for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, protagonist Geralt and a woman sit on a unicorn in just their underwear and she uses "breathtaking magic" to dissolve her bra (quick, cut away!). It was at that point I shed som...
Witcher 3 photo
Witcher 3

A Witcher 3 playtester needed 25 hours to speedrun the game


The Internet can probably do it quicker
Apr 09
// Brett Makedonski
Everyone knew that The Witcher 3:Wild Hunt would be a massive game. CD Projekt Red's been touting that since early development, and, frankly, it was just kind of assumed anyway. Sure, there will be plenty of non-integral...
Witcher 3 DLC photo
Witcher 3 DLC

Size matters: The Witcher 3 dev is proud of how big its two add-ons are


'Hearts of Stone' and 'Blood and Wine'
Apr 07
// Brett Makedonski
The customary development cycle for large-scale videogames in 2015 all but necessitates that the conclusion of working on a base title segues into working on downloadable content. That's just how it works now. And, that's wha...
Witcher 3 opening photo
Witcher 3 opening

Watch the bewitchering first 15 minutes of The Witcher 3


Lilac and gooseberries
Apr 06
// Steven Hansen
This is the first 15 minutes of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, without the opening cinematic, but still with a couple minutes of cutscene followed by horse riding and monster smashing. I've yet to catch up on the series ahead of ...
Witcher beard photo
Witcher beard

Geralt will grow a beard while you play The Witcher 3


FUTURE
Mar 23
// Jordan Devore
Some would call beard growth in videogames insignificant -- a waste of time. They would be wrong. As spotted in the NeoGAF recap of German gaming magazine Gamestar.de's factoid-filled coverage of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, pro...
The Witcher 3 photo
The Witcher 3

There was almost ice skating in The Witcher 3


The concept was prototyped
Mar 09
// Jordan Devore
Let's take a moment to imagine Geralt ice skating in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Ahh, sweet bliss. Over the weekend, senior game designer Damien Monnier told a crowd at PAX East about CD Projekt RED's canceled feature. "It was ...
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt photo
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Here's what you'll find in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Xbox One Collector's Edition


The real-life version of Gwent sounds pretty cool
Mar 07
// Brittany Vincent
Hyped for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt? Looking to throw down for the Collector's Edition? If you're not sure whether you want the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One version, this video might help sway you. Major Nelson has posted a vide...
Witcher 3 photo
Witcher 3

Witcher 3 may have 'Insanity' mode, deletes your save upon death


Plus, how to carry over choices from earlier games
Jan 28
// Steven Hansen
I've always been fascinated with permadeath options in games. Witcher 3 might have a doozy. Witcher 3 senior game designer Damien Monnier and level designer Miles Tost recently streamed the game on Twitch and hosted...
Witcher 3 Xbox One 900p photo
Witcher 3 Xbox One 900p

Xbox One may only achieve 900p vs. PS4's 1080p in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt


I can't even tell the difference with my glasses off!
Jan 28
// Jason Faulkner
German-language magazine Gamestar recently visited CD Projekt's HQ in Warsaw, Poland and was invited to play The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The publication reported the game was absolut...
Disclosure photo
Disclosure

I hope this video satisfies your desire for disclosure


It does satisfy my need for NITRO-FUELED MAYHEM
Jan 26
// Bill Zoeker
Here's the full triple-scoop disclosure bottom line. Alessandro and I went to cover this preview event for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt last week. I was late to be added to the list, so we knew going in that we'd have to sh...

My first four hours with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Jan 26 // Alessandro Fillari
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PC [previewed], PlayStation 4, Xbox One)Developer: CD Projekt RedPublisher: CD Projekt / WB GamesRelease Date: May 19, 2015MSRP: $59.99 It's clear from the recent delay, and the numerous CD Projekt Red members present at the event, that they wanted the game to be at its best. Even though it's largely finished, the studio plans to spend the next few months finding and fixing bugs and tweaking the experience. "It's all very exciting," said senior environment artist Jonas Mattsson while reflecting on the development of Wild Hunt. "We're confident in our game, but you know, it's your baby, and we're very curious to see how people will react to it." Set some time after the events of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, we find Geralt of Rivia in dire straights. With the Northern Kingdoms in conflict and a marauding demonic force known as the Wild Hunt leaving destruction in its wake, the world has seen better days. With fellow Witcher and mentor Vesemir by his side, Geralt searches for his long-lost ally Yennefer, who might know the location of Cyri, a young Witcher who may be able to stop the conflict and save the world. Much like its predecessors, The Witcher 3 features a rich, dense plot that is backed by a considerable amount of lore. Referred to as somewhat of a realistic take on medieval fantasy by its developers, the key aspect of its approach to storytelling, which is loved by so many, is the focus on verisimilitude. Throughout his journeys, Geralt will encounter characters from different cultures and walks of life, all the while plotting his next move and earning some coin along the way. Similar to Game of Thrones, there is a clever balance of stoicism and macabre humor, as the people living in such troubling times have to keep a straight face and endure. Geralt embodies the anti-hero archetype, and his devil-may-care personality makes for an interesting foil for his world. "It's been a challenge, but we like a good challenge," Mattsson said of the open-world design. "We wanted to make sure that when we did an open-world game, it would be done our way. Not a generic open world, but a crafted open world with side quests and main quests would blend in seamlessly with natural exploration. It's not in the sense of 'side-quest number five is starting' and 'you got this amount of EXP points,' but it's more like this organic experience. For us, we achieved something quite unique." Without giving too much away, the prologue of Wild Hunt does well to get players up to speed with the gameplay and plot. During an opening tutorial set in Kaer Morhen, you're given a quick refresher on the controls, and reintroduced to returning characters. After about twenty minutes of exposition, you're thrust into the open world on the trail of Yennnefer. This will be appreciated by many, as the previous titles' tutorials were often criticized for being too drawn out. Straight away, the most impressive -- and most obvious -- aspect of Wild Hunt was its sharp, gorgeous visuals. Playing on a fully decked-out PC running the game on maximum settings, I got to see the title at its best. As impressive as the series' visuals are, Wild Hunt is several leagues ahead of what was released back in 2011. Not only was the terrain lush, and the world felt lived-in and active, but the voice work and motion-capture details were also astounding. The characters conveyed an earnest understanding of the situation, while at the same time showing humanity and emotion for the moment. It's some of the best work I've seen in a game in a long time. Being able to explore such a rich world freely and without limits was exciting, and the talent behind this adventure has made good on plans to allow players to do so at their own pace. Though the exact design of an open-world game seems to vary from developer to developer, The Witcher 3 felt bit more focused in quest design, while also offering a massive playground to explore. Instead of large hub areas that connect to each other through load screens, you'll be able to seamlessly travel from one major territory to the next. Though Skyrim is often seen as the standard for open-world gameplay, Wild Hunt feels unique in its approach and visual look, and blends a lot of different environments together. With wildlife to hunt, plants and other roots to collect for your alchemy (which allows you to craft potions and tonics), and many other dangerous foes and creatures populating the swamps, forests, dungeons, and many other locales, the world of Wild Hunt is one that keeps things interesting for players. With fast-travel available -- which can only be done when standing near sign posts -- and along with Geralt's trusty stead Roach, you'll be able to freely explore the bounds of the world with ease. Of course, with the world in chaos, Geralt must always keep himself several steps ahead of foes. Advancing upon the free-form combat from The Witcher 2, Wild Hunt refines the system to make it feel more dynamic and fluid. With his knowledge, combat prowess, and cunning as his greatest weapons, Geralt's arsenal of abilities can be freely used on the fly. For instance, your stamina bar, which controls sprinting outside of combat, allows for Geralt to use magic, such as blasts of fire and telekinetic energy, along with hypnosis and trap magic. He also makes use of bombs and other gadgets to take down foes at a distance. The crossbow in particular is useful for flying foes, and can even be used when fighting creatures underwater. There's a lot of respect and trust given to the players, and the developers were keen on letting them go at their own pace. In the starting territory of White Orchard, Geralt found word that the local garrison commander knew the location of Yennefer, but would only reveal it if Geralt and Vesemir could eliminate a large griffon terrorizing the country side. Of course, this is for the main story. If you choose to stray from the path and mingle with the locals, like I did, you'll discover side-quests and other oddities that could use your attention. As you perform quests and slay monsters, you'll acquire crowns and experience points. Crowns purchase supplies and other tools for Geralt, which he'll need for his adventures. With every level gained, you acquire skill points which can be spent on buffs for the Witcher. Unlike past games, you can allocate points and set skills without the need for Meditation, which is still used to restore health and move the passage of time. With every skill and buff acquired, you can place them in slots that make them become active on Geralt. Though you'll acquire more slots as you level, you cannot have every skill or buff active at once, so you have to build him out to your preferences. Beyond this customization, there's an increased number of weapons and armor types to find. Though previous games largely had you use a small pool of equipment that could be upgraded over time, Wild Hunt takes things further. With well over 100 unique types of gear ranging from swords, crossbows, and pieces of armor, you'll find Geralt quick to change his look. Moreover, there are varying types of gear, such as rare and legendary types that are found from exploration, questing, and advancing the main story. Though you are totally free to venture off to areas unknown, you might find that even Geralt will be unprepared for what he faces. "We have a unique version of the open world in our game," said Mattsson. "We don't want to restrict players to certain areas for the long term, but with that said there are many areas that can be completely deadly, because monsters do not scale. They will not level up with you. If you wander off to the wrong neighborhood, then you're going to get yourself killed. It's open world, completely, but you really have to be careful." There were many distractions and other events to uncover during my session. For instance, you can visit the notice board for side jobs to earn some extra coin, or you can visit the tavern to mingle with the commoners, some of whom will challenge Geralt to a game of Gwent. In this new mini-game, similar to Hearthstone or Magic: The Gathering, players will use a deck of cards to battle the other player in a game of wits and strategy. It's a pretty addictive game, and the developers even plan on releasing a real-life version of Gwent for collector's edition purchasers. While exploring a small village, I came across a man in need of protection for his young daughter. Knowing she had a curse placed upon her by a wraith, he asks you to venture to an abandoned village nearby and exorcise the vengeful spirit. Once at the village, Geralt uses his skills for deduction and tracking to discover the source of the disturbance. I was expecting a simple track-and-kill-the-monster quest, but I ended taking part in a Sherlock-esque investigation with some exploration of the underground caverns underneath the village. It culminated in a battle with a Noonwraith, a spectral demon that summoned multiple phantoms for assistance. This totally caught me by surprise. Not only was this an entirely optional quest, but it was still very early during my session. "There are several points of interest scattered throughout the game," said Mattsson. "Whether they be a tower in the distance, some ruins, or even a house in the woods, there these areas throughout the game you'll see as you're questing or just exploring. If you explore the points of interest, you can be swept up in a unique side-quest. Of course, this is something we don't force upon you, if you're not interested then you can continue on your way. We have a fifty-hour main story, and another fifty hours of side-quests, in addition to time spent exploring the landscape, it's just crazy how much content is there." When I turned in the quest, I was given the choice of taking a reward from the man or allowing him to keep it for his family. Though Witchers are required to take payment of some sort for their services, there are several points where you have to a make a moral choice. Sometimes there will be consequences for taking or refusing a reward, and many decisions will come back to haunt you. After the end of the side-quest, I went back to the main story and followed the trail of the griffon. In order to prepare for his battle with the beast, Geralt had to acquire intel from local hunters to find its nest, in addition gathering some bait. Once those tasks were finished, I was ready to take it down. In the meeting spot with Vesemir, we readied our trap to force the griffon to the ground. It was one of the tougher battles during this stage of the story, and I had to utilize my parrying and dodge skills to withstand his massive strikes. Eventually he reacquired use of his wings and flew off. I jumped on my horse and gave chase, using my special sight (which can be used to find clues and collectibles) to keep track of his bloody trail. Keep in mind this was all within the open world, and I rode past several monsters while trying to keep up with the griffon. Soon after, I tracked the beast down and dealt a final blow, severing its head and delivering it for my reward. It was a tense moment, and very satisfying, particularly taken as part of the open world and not in an instanced location that would soon be forgotten. "Bigger doesn't always mean better. For us, bigger meant we had to be more ambitious about [designing the open world]," said the CD Projekt Red artist. "For us, The Wild Hunt made it a natural step for us to scale the world to suit the needs of narrative. If we tried to make it smaller [than its predecessors], then it wouldn't make sense. If we make it too big, it would be too empty. We wanted to give it the space it deserves, and we didn't want to compromise our vision." At this point, the developers let me move ahead several hours in the plot. We then found Geralt on the Skellige Isles to the west, where he is caught up in a murder-mystery plot following the most bizarre assassination attempt I've ever seen in a game. Suffice it to say, you'll never look at bears the same way again. The Skellige Isles were a totally different area compared to White Orchard.  In similar style and geography to the Scottish Highlands, Geralt's adventures took him to an entirely new region with its own culture and rich history. I barely even scratched the surface of White Orchard, and I was already trying to acclimate myself to this locale. And I mean that in the best way. This area felt altogether different from the previous territory, and though I knew I had some unfinished business in White Orchard, the pull of the Skellige Isles was too strong. Though exploring the world of The Witcher 3 was gripping, there were several issues I had with the experience. In my several hours with the title, I could see why the developers wanted to hang on to it further fine tuning. The folks at CD Projekt Red were adamant that we report any issue to them, and this press event also doubled as a QA testing period for those who were largely unattached to the game. I found myself caught in a lot odd bugs, some of which were humorous, like a man floating beside a horse, but others were nasty. Some folk at the event experienced game crashes, and I sometimes got stuck on terrain and had to revert to earlier saves to get out. Moreover, the new swimming gameplay, which was a great addition to the adventure, felt sloppy in execution as the controls were not so accurate and a bit touchy. With that said, I came away largely impressed. From what I played thus far, which was a small portion of a hundred-hour game, Geralt of Rivia has transitioned into the open world beautifully. It truly felt like I was on an adventure in a world that not only had variety, but a sense of a danger and possibility. While I was bummed that I couldn't see what the gameplay for Ciri would be like, I can understand that they'd like to keep that as a surprise. The recently announced PC specs might scare some people off, but with simultaneous releases on multiple platforms, there's plenty of opportunity to experience it in the coming months. And did I mention how massive this game world was? Just one territory seems larger than most games in the open-world genre, and the seamless design here is nothing short of extraordinary. With its release set for May, CD Projekt Red seems to playing it safe here in its last few months, which is smart. As ambitious and massive this game is, it's also the one title you don't want to see these developers screw up. If they manage to fix the major bugs, and hopefully tighten up the controls, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt could go down as one of the boldest and most satisfying titles the genre has seen in a very long time. [Disclosure Notice: The Witcher 3 was demonstrated at an event hosted by CD Projekt Red in San Francisco. The event took place at The Alchemist Bar & Lounge, where they offered us a nice spread of Italian cheeses and meat, along with a swag bag filled with The Witcher 3 apparel. It was a fun event, and was a nice opportunity to mingle with the developers of the game and other members of the press.] 
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt photo
Not all who wander are lost
It's an exciting time to be into role-playing games. With the release of heavy hitters such as Dragon Age: Inquisition, Dark Souls II, Divinity: Original Sin, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and Wasteland 2 in recent years, the ...

Witcher 3 recap photo
Witcher 3 recap

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt recap explains what the hell a witcher is


Witcher 2 free on Games for Gold
Jan 15
// Steven Hansen
With the May 19 release date, everything's sort of filler from here on out for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, be it eye-boring crows or a straight half hour of gameplay. This animated video offers a bit of background on magi...
Witcher 3 PC specs photo
Witcher 3 PC specs

Well, crap: Witcher 3 PC requirements released


Console version it is!
Jan 07
// Jordan Devore
For some reason, I assumed I'd be able to play The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on PC and have it look and run alright, but these newly-released system specifications suggest otherwise. Minimum System Requirements Intel CPU Core i5-...
Witcher delayed photo
Witcher delayed

CD Projekt moves The Witcher 3 to May 19, 2015


'[W]e see many details that need to be corrected'
Dec 08
// Jordan Devore
CD Projekt RED already pushed The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt back to 2015, but the studio needs an extra few more months still. The massive action-RPG is now scheduled for May 19, 2015. The delay announcement is refreshing in that ...
Witcher FreeLC photo
Witcher FreeLC

Witcher FreeLC: Wild Hunt has 16 free pieces of DLC


Hehehehe, like '3,' but 'free' and like 'D,' but '3'
Nov 06
// Steven Hansen
I am so stoked for The Witcher 3. Eye-boring crow!  Following up on last year's announcement that Wild Hunt's DLC would be free on PC, CD Projekt Red has confirmed that it will feature 16 pieces of DLC, all given out for...

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