Unfortunately, review copies for The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt did not get handed out until yesterday. As such, we here at TechRaptor have not had an opportunity for a whole review yet, meaning this will be a first impression on about eight hours of the game. Also, this will have a small section on how The Witcher 3 runs on PC.
First, I suppose the specs of the PC I played The Witcher 3 on are relevant:
- AMD Phenom II x4 965
- 8GB Ram
- Geforce GTX 760 2GB
With those specs, The Witcher 3 recommended my PC run at medium settings. It ran fairly smooth as well, as I noticed no significant FPS dips throughout my time. Though, it would regularly dip to maybe 27 or so, usually hovering around 50. Also, the few loading screens I ran into went by quickly. The load times when using fast travel were very fast and never really an issue. Even when loading up a whole new area I never waited that long.
Also, the day one patch must have helped. There were some mentions of bugs, crashes, and other errors in the version that went out to early reviewers, but I ran into nothing like that here. Granted, I have only been playing for a little bit, so there is the possibility I will still run into something.
Considering all of the issues there had been with The Witcher 2 on launch, CD Projekt RED seems to have done a great job on this time. No real complaints at all so far.
Now into the game. The Witcher 3 looks absolutely incredible. With my relatively average machine, on medium settings, I was blown away several times. Specifically, I can't get over just how great the texture and modeling work is for the character's faces. The main characters in particular look great, but even the average person you run across looks better than most games I've seen. So, while I can't speak for the game on its best settings, it looks very good to me on medium, as I am sure the screenshots throughout will show.
Without more variety in scenery so far, there isn't much more I can say other than what I've seen so far has been great.
The whole first area you spend your time in is more or less a tutorial. It gets you familiar with the different things within The Witcher 3 - the contract board, questing, combat, monsters, etc. It is quite expansive and there is a ton to do. Throughout The Witcher 3, there are plenty of things to explore on the map, coming in the form of lost treasures, bandit camps, deserter camps, monster dens/nests, treasure, and many more.
The first area alone had quite a few things to do, and, just to see, I did everything I could find, which took about six of those eight hours. When I got to the second area, I was rather surprised at how much larger it was than the first. It's hard to quantify the map seize, but the much smaller first area felt like it took up a significant chunk of Skyrim's map in terms of area. Considering there are plenty more areas yet to be seen, I wouldn't be surprised for The Witcher 3's total map size to be at minimum twice the size of Skyrim's - most likely more.
But, unlike Skyrim's, The Witcher 3's world isn't one big world. Instead, there are several different areas you can visit, each with their own game world. To compare it to something like Dragon Age: Inquisition would not really be comparable as the individual worlds for The Witcher 3 are much, much larger than Inquisition's.
While it may be hard to definitively say, all should know that there should be more than plenty to do in The Witcher 3 with a lot to explore.
Because I spent so much time just doing a bunch of other stuff, which was fun - some of the side quests were interesting, making me excited for what's to come - I didn't really spend a lot with the main story. Only when I had to end for the night did the main story seem to kick off, and I still don't really know what's going on.
So, sorry, can't say much other than I am intrigued by what little I have seen so far. Most of The Witcher 3's time with writing at first is spent on worldbuilding and setting the stage, which will make you quickly realize that there is a lot more going on in the world around you than what you're mostly concerned with in the main story.
Basically, the Nilfgaardian Empire is slowly taking over the continent, leaving despair and poverty in its wake. There is a lot of contention between recently conquered citizens and the new soldiers in town, which is a driving force for a lot of the early conflict I have seen so far in the game with the various characters you interact with.
There are a lot of allusions to Geralt getting somehow involved with the war in some way. Many characters tell him he should stay out of it, and so far in the story I've seen he has. Though, with all of the references, I wouldn't be surprised to have Geralt being involved in some way play a significant role in the overall story. Will Geralt actually be an assassin of kings this time around? Probably not, but they seem to be foreshadowing Geralt doing something regarding the war.
This short video released a few days ago shows off the design behind The Witcher 3's combat perfectly. I am playing on the difficulty just above the lowest, meaning there is a bit of a challenge, but not nearly as much as there could be. Even so, enemies have posed a significant challenge in almost every encounter.
The Witcher 3's combat relies on preparation and playing smart. Just like in the video, for the bigger monsters you'll likely need to prepare some potions, bombs, and maybe some special bolts for your crossbow (though I have only seen just the plans of those). You may even need to do that for some of the more difficult packs of enemies as well.
This design lends itself to the middle of combat as well. You can try to spam buttons, swinging wildly, but that will only work very rarely. Just like Geralt, enemies can parry, counter, dodge, and roll away. So you have to be very careful with your movements and choices in terms of combat. You could easily get caught mid-swing by a second enemy or have them parry your attack causing you to have to change plans quickly.
At first I was a little annoyed as I saw felt The Witcher 3 was being a bit less responsive. It wasn't until I thought about what the game was doing that I realized it was in fact being responsive, I was just making poor decisions. In standard hack and slash affair, doing just that, hacking and slashing, should seem to work. But here you have to consider enemy movements, attacks, and deliberately choose your attacks. If you are going to do some quick attacks, don't spam it, get at most a few hits in then change up what you're doing.
The combat is much more varied and decidedly more engaging than The Witcher 2. The amount of movement options really opens up the gameplay and lends itself to making each fight seem a lot more tense as enemies force you to escape when they counter or dodge, to have you reengage later. I haven't seen a huge variety of enemies yet, though they have been different enough that I need to reevaluate how I approach them much of the time. Knowing how and which signs (the five "spells" witchers have) to use becomes incredibly important as well, each having its own level of effectiveness depending on the enemy.
Leveling up is an odd process that is a talent system similar to what most people would have seen before. The image above shows the screen you can put ability points in, which is broken into four categories. The Witcher 3 chose to go down the road of passives, rather than having you unlock more abilities as you go along (at least through ability points).
So, instead of working your way towards a certain thing, the variety in creating your own playstyle is choosing which abilities you plan to use most. Will you jump around the battlefield, quickly slashing away to jump out again? Will you rely on bombs, potions, and crossbow?
Also, you will be limited on what you can have equipped at any one time. While you can put points into just about anything, you must have a slot to then put that ability. It gets more complicated, but know how abilities are arranged matters. Instead of going too much into it, just know that the talent system is all about amplifying what Geralt starts out with, rather than doing something new and seems to favor mastering a few things slowly over time rather than spreading the player too thin.
There is a lot more to talk about - like the dialogue (Geralt is a lot funnier than I remember), the music, crafting, gear, traveling, and more - but a lot of that can be left to our official review. To conclude, I have loved everything I have seen so far in my short time with The Witcher 3 and have been thoroughly impressed. If I were to guess, The Witcher 3 seems to be one of those games that will indeed live up to the hype.