For those of you who fall into this category, here is a little guide to help you along.
Warning: there is a big decision at the end of Chapter 1 which impacts how the entirety of Chapter 2 and some aspects of Chapter 3 will play out.
There isn't any good way to effectively get around mentioning the names that have been associated with these paths for a year now, so if you really don't want to know anything about these decisions whatsoever, only read this guide Chapter by Chapter as you complete the game.
Images are for general illustrative purposes only, and are not necessarily indicative of the described parts of the guide.
After you gain control of Geralt in a conversation, you can choose where to start recounting what happened. It doesn't really matter where you start and you won't miss out on anything whatever you choose, but for the sake of chronology just start with the top option and make your way down from there.
Quest: Melitele's Heart
Continues in: Chapter 1
When offered a choice at the very start of the game, start by going through the events of the morning, before the assault and the monastery. After exiting your tent, run straight down and talk to the group of soldiers on the right hand side. One of these groups will start a conversation, giving you the option to tell the soldiers what to do with a magical amulet. Agree to help them, then tell the soldiers it won't offer any protection and to give it to you.
This will start a quest line that will take you a fair amount of time to complete in Chapter 1. The amulet also gives you -10% armor until you complete the quest, but it's probably not going to kill you. Not too often. If the quest seems complete at some point, don't worry since you can continue it regardless in Chapter 1.
Quest: At the Fore!
During the assault, you'll make your way up a tower to reason with a guy. You can choose to fight him and his men (hard), just fight him (not so hard), or talk him into surrendering. Depending on whether you kill him or not, you will either encounter a man or a half-naked woman in the dungeons at some point. It's up to you which you want to meet. Kill him for boobs.
Quest: Woe to the Vanquished
This quest can be easy to miss if you're rushing forward in the third event of the Prologue. Once you enter a town area, some civilians can be rescued from pillaging soldiers. You need to complete two instances of civ-saving, and one of these includes a conversation you can fail. Save before you start exploring the town and don't jump down the well until you've finished the quest, and you should have no problems.
When given the choice to demand a reward for your services, you can refuse payment. This will lead to a delayed bonus reward in the form of an ok armor jacket in Chapter 1.
Quest: The Dungeons of the La Valettes
There are two paths you can take and two people you can meet, depending on whether you killed someone during "At the Fore!" or not. If you take the stealthy and direct approach, you can take a pretty straight path through the dungeons without killing any guards. Another option is to get to the point where a prisoner will call for a guard, dispatch the guard, go back the way you came and to look for a set of stairs you didn't climb yet. One of the guards upstairs will have a key on him, which unlocks a locked door downstairs that leads to a trapdoor. Progress from there and you'll get to see either a man or a woman being tortured. If you take the shorter route, you'll encounter either of these characters after their torture.
Chapter 1 is very long, and this is really the first test of your skills. Save often, experiment with your magic (remember that casting Quen will stop all Vigor regeneration), and run away from groups of enemies if you find yourself dying too often. Start out by doing a few quests that are mostly centered on town life if you need to earn some easy early XP.
If you end up in a dangerous situation and you haven't saved in a while, you can always run circles around the enemies to slowly regenerate some health, cast Quen to protect yourself from accidental damage, jump in for a few quick strikes, and repeat the process.
From Chapter 1 onwards, each town will have opportunities to play poker dice or arm wrestling mini-games. There are always dice and arm wrestling quests associated with these mini-games, so keep an eye out for opportunities to ask NPCs who you should play against.
Quest: The Kayran
There are different quests attached to this, and until you have completed the main "The Kayran" quest, there is no way to progress the story. The related sidequests are not necessary to slay the beast, but they will make the boss fight a lot easier. Ideally, you'll want to complete all of Chapter 1's sidequests you can complete before saying you are ready to start the fight.
Quest: The Nekker Contract
(Heads up: there is an achievement for destroying all monster nests in the game. Choosing a side at the end of Chapter 1 means you can miss out on the chance to destroy some nests in Chapter 2. Missing these nests from "the other side" in Chapter 2 will still give you the achievement as long as you finish all monster nest quests in one playthrough)
Accept this quest as early as possible from the notice board outside the inn. You need to have at least 4 Grapeshot Bombs to destroy the nests. Either buy these bombs or buy the recipe from Cedric in Lobinden. Knowledge about Nekkers can be gained by buying a book from a dwarf (in the house opposite the dwarf blacksmith), or by simply killing Nekkers. You'll kill plenty of Nekkers in this chapter before you find all the nests which you need to destroy with the bombs, so the book is not a necessary expense.
If you get annoyed with trying to find the nests, focus on the area around the stream that leads to the waterfall, south of Flotsam's eastern entrance on the map.
Quest: In the Claws of Madness
You'll encounter wraiths in a haunted asylum during this quest, which can be troublesome until you've gotten the hang of combat. At the end of the quest, you'll be offered a choice. If you choose to just kill some civilians who were basically asking for it, one of the corpses will give you a crafting diagram for a Robust Witcher's Silver Sword. Since Chapter 1 makes you fight a lot of monsters, this will help you a lot in combat.
Quest: Hung Over
This quest is easily missed if you don't explore every building in Flotsam. Go to the Blue Stripes temporary headquarters, the building with the small set of stairs attached to it, to the left of the inn. The quest becomes inaccessible later in the Chapter, so just do it before you finish the Kayran quest.
Quest: The Scent of Incense & Little Shop of Dreams
The "Little Shop of Dreams" quest allows you to close down a shop. Before you do that, make sure you bought what you needed from the merchant. You can also make him give you a false recipe, which can be used in "The Scent of Incense."
There are multiple paths in "The Scent of Incense" to experiment with, but playing along with the shady person you meet, and agreeing when it seems like an unwise choice, may result in the quest's rather unsatisfactory completion. Don't play along, and you'll end up with a fight at some point and some more information on what was going on.
You'll find this quest by approaching a group of arguing people in Lobinden (the group of crappy houses just outside Flotsam). It will take you through some tough combat encounters with groups of Nekkers, so don't jump into this quest unless you have leveled Geralt a bit. Being honest in conversations will net you a fair bit more XP than when you lie.
Quest: Mystic River & Indecent Proposal
Continues in: Chapter 2, Chapter 3
"Mystic River" leads to one of the best armors in the entire game, and it's very easy to miss a part of this quest if you're not careful. In Chapter 1, make sure to pick up everything in the shipwreck near where you are told to go find the Kayran's mucus sample. Go to your inventory and read all the documents.
Take the documents to Louis Merse in Flotsam, who will have a mail box on a table right up the stairs in his home. If you can't find his home, it's the big building to the right of the eastern entrance to the forest, with a door somewhat hidden away behind two shop stalls in the central marketplace.
If you drop a document in the mail box, then persuade Louis Merse to let you peek inside of it, a troublesome situation can occur. I dropped off the mail and took a peek inside the box, and only later read through the documents I had picked up. This made the Mystic River quest tell me to find a Royal Mail box again. The box on Merse's table can become inaccessible this way, meaning you have to find another Royal Mail box.
If this happens, there is another Royal Mail box in Loredo's mansion. To this end, save the quest "Indecent Proposal" for later, which will put you inside Loredo's mansion where you can interact with his mailbox. The reason for this is that depending on your decision near the end of Chapter 1, you may not have access to Loredo's Royal Mail box ever again. If the quest description tells you that you should keep an eye out for other shipwrecks, the quest is completed for the time being.
Quest: Melitele's Heart & Troll Trouble
Continued from: Prologue
Go to one of the northern huts in Lobinden. Talk to the herbalist woman there, and the rest of the quest should be straightforward. You can buy three of the four items you need from Cedric, but they are expensive. If you want to play as the good guy, get the Troll Tongue by doing the "Troll Trouble" quest and winning a game of poker dice against a craftsman in one of the houses in Lobinden. You should have found the other ingredients by the time you fight the Arachas. Make sure to save before the final event in the quest, as the fight is quite hard. If the quest bugs when you're done with the fight, return to the NPC you were with after some hours of meditation -- it will be back in its house regardless of the quest marker.
For the "Troll Trouble" quest, it's worth knowing that there is an achievement for killing or sparing all trolls in the game. You can still complete "Troll Trouble" as a good guy and give the troll the head for an extra reward (note that you will always need to "defeat" the troll in combat after the first conversation). Once the quest is indicated as complete, go to the troll in question and kill him. Loot him for the tongue ingredient for good measure. Then go to Louis Merse to collect a reward for killing the troll. This will maximize your rewards without any penalty! You will be a bit of a dick for doing this, though. C'est la vie.
Quest: At the Crossroads & The Assassins of Kings
Continues in: the rest of the game
After finishing the Kayran quest, you end up going with Zoltan to a place where you fight an Arachas -- a big spider. When given the choice to proceed or stay and join later, choose to stay and loot everything in the area. You'll find the useful Sword of Kaer Morhen among the loot. Also go back to Lobinden and use the Arachas eyes ingredients you looted to complete "Melitele's Heart."
Once you decide to join up again and continue the quest, you have to start making decisions. Before you continue, make up your mind about whether you think humans or non-humans will be more fun to be around in the future. Decide accordingly until the Chapter is over, and you will end up on one of two possible sides of a conflict in Chapter 2.
Warning: choosing "humans" will lead to a choice near the very end of the game, which unlocks an achievement and associated description. This achievement description significantly spoils the true nature behind something that you do not learn anything about unless you pick the "non-humans" path. Whichever path you choose, some events in the final chapter won't make a lot of sense when characters appear out of thin air as if you were supposed to know them.
If you want to find out everything about the story for yourself, you may want to pick the "non-humans" path first so the achievement description won't spoil things for you. Or, you know, just don't look at the unlocked achievement description.
You can also use a savegame before the "At the Crossroads" quest to continue on a different path in a second playthrough, without having to play through the first 10 hours again.
By now you have been warned, and you've chosen either Roche's Path or Iorveth's Path.
Quest: With Flickering Heart
Before you embark on this quest, make sure you buy Surgical Tools at the Vergen vendor in the main square, because you'll need them. There will be a choice between having sex and killing what you could have sex with. The kill option rewards you with some loot, but this is nothing you can't live without.
Quest: Mystic River
Continued from: Chapter 1
Continues in: Chapter 3
You'll find a shipwreck next to a troll. It's impossible to miss but make sure you search it.
Quest: Hunting Magic, The Harpy Contract & The Queen Harpy Contract
Accept the "Harpy Contract" and "Queen Harpy Contract" quests from the notice board. You'll need to craft at least seven Harpy Traps, preferably a bit more (10 will do the trick). Harpy nests can be found in the quarry area, and placing a Harpy Trap will make a Harpy pick up the explosive and fly it over to their nest. Don't place multiple traps near a nest, because it will only be a waste of traps. Three of these nests are in a locked-off area that you will access during the "Hunting Magic" quest.
The Queen Harpy is hard to miss once you get to a place with crystals. Use all of these crystals to unlock and progress quests.
Quest: From A Bygone Era
Continues in: Chapter 3
At one point you'll have the chance to cross the mist for a quest. Once you reach the other side, you can explore some of the surrounding area you would normally only have access to if you sided with Roche at the end of Chapter 1. Go west, follow the stream from the camp, and enter the labyrinthine ravines. Find a beach with a hut on top of a small cliff. This area is part of the "Little Sisters" quest for Roche's path, but you can still access it this way.
Go to the hut, find the makeshift graveyard behind the hut, and read the markers on Malget's grave. Write them down or commit them to memory. Go back to the hut, blow away the barrels with Aard, and enter the hidden trapdoor. Use the markers to solve the puzzle, and pick up the item you find. [Note: On a Dark playthrough on Xbox 360, this trapdoor was locked for some reason. Not sure if it's a bug or a change in the Enhanced Edition]
Now you can sell this item to a sorcerer but don't do that. Keep the item, and save it for Chapter 3 where it will lead you the hardest boss in the game, or an option to respec your entire skill tree. You can still take the item to a sorcerer to ask about what it is; the option to sell it appears after that conversation.
Quest: Baltimore's Nightmare, The Walls Have Ears, Suspect: [CHARACTER] & Royal Blood
There's a way to gain a maximum amount of XP by completing all these quests in the right order, since some quest resolutions will impact the other quests. The only effect is XP, so don't worry if you messed it up at some point. This will be convoluted without using spoilers, so bear with me.
Progress the "Baltimore's Nightmare" quest until the point where you can open a locked door. You have to choose whether to spare or kill a character if you enter, so leave that decision for later. This will allow you to talk to that character during "Royal Blood." Before starting "Royal Blood" at the indicated area on the map, save your game in case you mess up. During this quest, talk to the peasants and a dwarf for the "The Walls Have Ears" subquest.
Proceed with your investigation to receive the "Suspect: [CHARACTER]" quest (you'll know who this character in the quest name is by that point). Go back to "Baltimore's Nightmare" where you left off, enter the locked lair, kill this character when you encounter him, then make sure to loot his body. Now leave that quest again. Use the key you find to open the character's locked chest in his house, and you'll complete both "Suspect: [CHARACTER]" and "The Walls have Ears."
Now complete "Baltimore's Nightmare" and finally go back to "Royal Blood" to wrap up that quest. Choosing between the mob or royal options at the very end will lead to a narrative change later in the game, but it's nothing that will impact Geralt's story or future quest lines in any dramatic fashion. Go with what feels right to you. Pfew!
Quest: The Eternal Battle
Before starting the last phase of this quest (you'll know when), make sure to save and wrap up anything you need to do in Vergen. You won't have a chance to go to shops after completing this quest.
Quest: Little Sisters & From a Bygone Era
Continues in: Chapter 3
One of the soldiers who gets picked on in the camp will give you the "Little Sisters" quest. This quest is pretty straightforward, but you can find an item in the process that will lead to further events in Chapter 3. Do not talk to Dethmold about the item you find until you complete the quest! It might bug the "Little Sisters" quest. I didn't try and see if this is still the case in the Enhanced Edition, but it's better to be safe than sorry.
Follow "Little Sisters" until you reach the beach. Go to the makeshift graveyard behind hut first, and look at the graves. Malget's grave (to the side) has some markers on it you have to write down or remember. Go back to the hut and Aard on the barrels to the side of the hut to unveil a trapdoor. Go down, use the markers from the grave to solve the puzzle, and pick up the item. Talk to the NPC at the beach, and decide what you want to do. Either kill the NPC and end "Little Sisters" with a measly amount of XP, or play along and decide later.
Going back to the soldier gives you more choices: either accuse him or believe him. Accusing him and going back to the beach will start a fight with a large monster, leading to a schematic for a decent sword. Believe him, go to the beach to meet him, and side with him again to gain a 300 XP reward but no schematic. If you have trouble completing this quest if you decide to help the soldier, go to the path that leads to the beach, meditate until 23:00, and meet the NPC along the path. The quest marker will point at the beach, but the NPC won't be on top of the quest marker so ignore it. If you can't find him, try to run back and forth a bit, meditate to 22:00 or 23:00 again, and see if that works. If it doesn't, fulfill another quest and try again.
Now that you've completed "Little Sisters" you can talk to Dethmold about the item you found. He'll tell you about it and offer to buy it off you. Don't sell it. You can save it for Chapter 3 and a chance to fight the hardest boss in the game, or to respec Geralt's skills.
Quest: In Cervisia Veritas, The Butcher of Cidaris & Conspiracy Theory
The two quests "In Cervisia Veritas" and "The Butcher of Cidaris" both let you progress "Conspiracy Theory" regardless of which one you finish. Provided you don't talk to Dethmold after finishing either quest, you can do both of them before progressing "Conspiracy Theory" for more XP.
I highly recommend you do "In Cervisia Veritas" because it's a funny quest. Find the drunkard Odrin outside the western exit of the camp and bribe the guard to let you in. Hilarity ensues.
Quest: Ave Henselt!
Another notice board quest. Enter the arena and don't lose a fight. Eventually you get to fight Ves, and you should completely obliterate her (Yrden does the trick). After the fight, talk to her in the Blue Stripes camp outside of the main camp, and you can choose to sex her. Objectively proven to be even better than virtual sex is the achievement you'll unlock for doing this. It is known.
Having sex with Ves will not affect your relationship with Triss. In fact, you can pay whores to have sex with you before and after getting it on with Ves and it won't matter one bit. Sometimes, Geralt's life is fairly uncomplicated.
Quest: The Spear of Destiny & A Sackful of Fluff
"The Spear of Destiny" lets you cross the mist to enter Vergen for a bit. While you are on the other side, there are two things you can easily miss. Continue "The Spear of Destiny" until you receive the spear, then keep playing dice against a certain dwarf to win two special items. One of these, the Dun Banner Cloak, will help you in the "Death Symbolized" quest.
Before you go back through the mist to the Kaedweni camp, find the Harpy infested quarry outside Vergen and enter the hut along the path. A rather odd fellow will give you the "A Sackful of Fluff" quest -- a DLC quest for The Witcher 2 that is hard to miss on Iorveth's Path -- which involves giving him a lot of feathers. Keep in mind that more harpies appear around midnight, and try not to die as they swarm you and drop delicious feathers. The end result of the quest is worth the effort.
Quest: Death Symbolized
There is a conversation which can lead to a peaceful solution and a fight, both of which give you the required quest item. If you talked to Zyvik in the Kaedweni camp about the Battle of Brenna, he'll give you a Beaver Cap. If you won the extra items in a game of dice against a dwarf in Vergen, you'll have the Dun Banner Cloak. The peaceful solution makes you answer a bunch of questions, which are hard to answer if you've been spreeing through the dialogue and haven't paid attention. The items you've collected allow you to give an incorrect answer before a fight ensues.
If you can manage to complete the conversation without starting a fight, you'll receive a bonus sword for your trouble. Fighting the NPC means you won't get the sword.
Quest: The Path to Vision
Another quest that is hard to miss, but make sure you start it so you don't miss out. First, talk to the relic peddler in the big food tent close to the armorers of the Kaedweni camp. Follow the quest, play along with the Visionary and agree with his spiritual demands, and you'll get a fun scene with a ridiculous journal entry.
Quest: Mystic River
Continued from: Chapter 1
Continues in: Chapter 3
You'll find a shipwreck next to a troll very late in the Chapter. It's nearly impossible to miss, but make sure you search it. Roche's path will mean you won't gain access to this area until later, but you will inevitably reach it.
This is the last chapter of The Witcher 2, and many choices can affect the outcome in different ways. While these big choices pop up at various times, their effects are narrative in nature. You do not unlock new quests depending on the choices in the main quest lines (although you may have to choose between quests), nor do you receive any special loot that will severely affect your performance. However, there's a pretty good chance that your choices will affect the world of The Witcher 3, so make a lot of saves if you have room for them.
A few quests are worth pursuing before diving head-first into the finale.
Quest: From a Bygone Era & Mystic River
Continued from: Chapter 2, Chapter 1
Take the magical item you found under the hut near the beach in Chapter 2 to Bras of Ban Ard, located opposite the inn with the notice board. He looks a bit like Dandelion. He will translate the item for you and tell you what to do. The sewer entrance you are looking for is not the one down the path in the marketplace, where a guard and a locked gate will obstruct your process. Instead, go to the big arm wrestling guy -- the Mighty Numa -- and enter a house through a nearby door.
Before you enter the sewers, craft a whole bunch of traps -- specifically Freeze Traps. Follow the sewers, solve the puzzles (good luck!) and after the brazier puzzle save the game before you head down. The Operator awaits, and he will break you. Going down and talking to the Operator can allow you to respec Geralt's skills.
(If you care about the skill tree achievements, choose the "how does it work" option and tell the Operator to go ahead. Respec to unlock the second-to-last skill in any tree, back out of the menu, and run around a bit if the achievement doesn't pop instantly. Load the game and repeat the process if you want. If you never used Riposte but want the associated achievement, you can also respec to purchase the skill, attack guards in town, and use Riposte 3 times in a row.)
Ask what the machine does and then refuse the Operator, and you will be kicked out with no way to get back. Don't do that.
A bigger challenge is to either say you are not the Chosen One, or to ask about the machine and then tell the Operator you can handle it yourself. A fight ensues, and it will very likely kick your ass over and over again.
If you have trouble with the fight, a good thing to keep in mind is that the Operator only summons gargoyles after you damage him a bit. If you can survive and kill the gargoyles he summons, just run around to regenerate your health and Vigor while dodging fireballs. If you went for a magic tree build, you can cast Quen and let yourself be hit by the fireballs in order to build up adrenaline, then cast your Heliotrope sign the next time gargoyles appear to slow everyone down. This can be a very tough fight if you are ill-prepared for it.
If you win, you receive the Operator's staff and some other loot. The staff can randomly set enemies on fire or freeze them, and it's fun to use for a bit. However, it's not the best regular weapon in the game so if you are having a really hard time beating him, you can survive without the loot. If you can beat him, however, it is very satisfying.
Quest: An Encrypted Manuscript
During the "The Gargoyle Contract" quest, you'll find an encrypted manuscript. Take it to Bras of Ban Ard (located opposite the inn with the noticeboard) and fulfill his requirements. He will give you a diagram for an epic steel sword, which you will want.
Roche & Iorveth's paths and the Enhanced Edition quests
Many story-related choices await in both Iorveth and Roche's paths. Without spoiling events, let's say you will get the choice to go after an important figure or save an important character. This choice affects who joins you later on, but if you are on your first playthrough, you may want to ignore playing the hero in favor of dealing with problems of a grander nature. Some aspects of the story may make less sense if you don't fight for the greater cause, and you can always go back and do things differently. For that matter, make sure you create a dedicated save after you enter the fortress for the first time in Chapter 3.
Depending on who you sided with in Chapter 1, you'll also get to play one of the two new Enhanced Edition quest lines here. These should be relatively straight-forward.
Roche's Path has a rather nasty puzzle involving a scribe which may give you a headache, but listen to the scribe and he will provide you with hints to solve the puzzle. In case you don't know what the poison is, try burnt lime. You should be able to figure it out from there. During this quest line, you can also choose to accuse two different people. Make sure you do all related sidequests before you make your choice in order to get to the "best" quest ending.
On Iorveth's Path, accept the proposal in the Enhanced Edition quest line to proceed. Declining will lead to a fight and failing the quest. Later on when the quest is nearly over, you can decide to leave, fight both people you met, or try to get a woman to let you try out an artifact. The latter option is more interesting, but also leads to a fight. Make sure to grab all loot and documents in the lab before you leave, read them, and find that woman again in the city square or at the inn. Play your cards right, and it's business time. Poor Triss and Yennefer...
Before embarking on what is pretty clearly indicated as the final part of the Chapter, make another save. There's another opportunity for achievement hunters to unlock a total of four secret achievements in this finale, two each for the two choices you'll be able to make. After that, you should know what to do by the time you reach that point in the game.
Provided you killed enough enemies and completed all the quests that you could've missed, you should also be level 35 for that achievement. Good luck with getting that 1000/1000!
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