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EB Expo 2014 – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Preview
After spending an entire day at this year’s EB Expo, I have some promising words for fan’s of CD Projekt’s The Witcher series – The Witcher 3 might be the series’ final installment but it’s shaping up to be far and away its best. I saw two sections of the game in action and came away all the more excited to finally get my hands on the game when it comes out in February next year.
It goes without saying that the visual fidelity in the demo was incredible from the get-go and it only took a few minutes before just how big of an affair The Witcher 3 is began to sink in. The world looks to be as enormous as it is detailed and it looks like it’ll be the first game in a long time to really give Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series a run for its money when it comes to the open world fantasy crown.
The first section of the demo saw Geralt hunt a griffin through a region of the game called No-Man’s Land and the developer on-hand was quick to prove that combat is just as fun this time around. Swordplay looked like it worked more or less the same as it does in Assassins of Kings but CD Projekt have thrown impressive new visual effects into combat – such as blood spatters and even brutal finishing moves that saw Geralt hacking the limbs and torsos of his foes apart. The demo also showed off how CD Projekt are streamlining deeper elements of the combat like bombs, potions and signs, as well as things like inventory management.
This part of the demo did a great job of demonstrating the great balance between scale and detail that The Witcher 3’s open world will strike but also the interesting new ways that CD Projekt are incorporating Geralt’s superhuman senses into the quest design. After first encountering and wounding the Griffin, Geralt’s enhanced vision allowed him to track the creature’s trail and later the developer used Geralt’s exceptional hearing to intercept a group of bandits terrorizing a local peasant.
The last part of the demo saw Geralt (post-Griffin-slaying) make his way back through the city of Novigrad. Most of the trailers thus far have focused on the big outdoor environments but Geralt’s victory lap here did an exceptional job of illustrating that just as much care has gone into the urban centres of The Witcher’s world. Novigrad looked and felt lived in and the experience of watching the developer walk us through the city reminded me a lot of exploring my first major city in World of Warcraft. The developer explained that the city was broken into different sections and each had their own players, stories and struggles upon which Geralt can interact.
Though I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t spend any hands-on time with the game, The Witcher 3 is shaping up to be both the series’ most polished installment and its most ambitious. Geralt’s story may be coming to an end but it’s going out with a bang.