Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Game Of The Decade Is Here!

The original Witcher was a great game, whereas the sequel was even better, bigger and more beautiful in every aspect. Following on this trend of building upon and improving their achievements, CD PROJEKT RED, the small Polish developer that has humbled gaming behemoths for years, released their best game yet. And what a game THE WITCHER III: WILD HUNT is!

Yes, the world of The Witcher III is huge, far larger than Skyrim. Far more importantly though, it feels more real and it is full of life.
The game throws you in a world of unparalleled beauty with details that keep unfolding the closer you observe it. Every spade of grass and every pebble looks real and obeys the laws of physics as set by the new REDengine. From the night and day and weather cycles to gear that gets damaged and needs to be repaired by blacksmiths and from growing facial hair to NPCs with real lives, the world of The Witcher absorbs you in and never, ever lets you go. The flames of Igni feel absolutely real as do bodies of water. Beasts and humans will do the unexpected whereas the skies sheltering your travels are absolutely mesmerizing. One can easily spend hours in the game simply observing the gorgeous world around him.
There are some concessions to absolute realism one can take advantage off (quick traveling and in-battle repairs for example); however, purists can ignore them and sink in the extra hours to go old school. 
Now, all these come at a price. A couple of weeks ago, I made sure to upgrade to a nVidia 960 (pouring with a brand new 352.86 driver) and 12GB of RAM just for this game (at some point, CD PROJEKT has to ask ASUS for dividends!) and the game runs smoothly at Ultra. 
(Also, no save-files crashes this time around. So far).

Once more, the music is an essential part of both the atmosphere and the gaming experience. The composers are different than those of the previous games and this translates into a novel approach to the world of Geralt of Rivia. You will recognize a number of variations on themes from the previous games and it feels like meeting old friends, matured yet still dear to you; however, I found the music more subtle and effective and not less powerful.

Remember the days form the very first Witcher when you basically finished the game with the same sword and kept saving every last oren to buy the 5,000O leather jacket? Well, Geralt not only yields an extra crossbow but he also enjoys an ever growing choice of armor and weapons. Combine this with a huge library of books and an endless supply of potion and bombs ingredients and you will soon find your hero to be overburdened. And then you realize that there is no storage chest! Not to worry, the game now employes Roach's saddlebag (buy it as soon as possible and enlarged it). This way your storage is always close by. And, take my advice, do not sell anything! From ingredients to older swords, you will need them for crafting. And even find loot is abundant, it always feel great to gather all the ingredients to finally forge a sword or a piece of armor whose schematics you had been carrying for some time.

Some people have been complaining about the PC controls and, up to a point, I can understand why. As with all games, I remap almost everything so that I am able to use only the right end of the keyboard (arrows for movement are default here but I use the Num-keys 1-5 to select my Sign, Num-0 to use it, / for the steel sword, * for the silver one, and so on). The game is enjoyable when set at the highest difficulty one can survive at so having quickly accessible controls are essential. That is why I hope to see a key-rebinding option Menu soon and not have to dive in the input.settings file.

The Expansion Pass will cover the Expansion (as per CD PROJEKT RED's practices, all DLCs are to be free). And if they are known for anything is offering a more than fair value for the released products.