Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is officially in the saddle
Geralt of Rivia is back, more battle-scarred, jaded, and STD-ridden (probably) than ever. The Witcher series has collectively won in excess of 200 awards and sold more than 5 million copies worldwide. And now the third installment is looming on the horizon, slated to drop the second quarter of 2014, though one can’t help but wonder how optimistic that is considering developer CD Projekt RED hasn’t actually found a publisher yet. Feels like I’m announcing the success of my next book before I’ve even found a literary agent.
But we’re neck deep in the grit-stone-and-bone fantasy world of The Witcher; we don’t have time for rational solutions in the face of all the grim gory glory being thrown our way. Witcher 3: Wild Hunt features Geralt having regained his long-lost memory and finally found purpose to pick up his sword again: SEX! He remembers his sorceress lover and is intent on finding her. As one can expect when you’re on a quest to save the princess, shit happens in the meantime, most notably involving looking for the land’s rightful king in the Skellige archipelago in order to fend off the impending Nilfgaardian invasion. It’s all very cloak and daggery while your back is turned.
Studio Head Adam Badowski has gone on record as saying that they’re ready for the next step and are choosing to abandon the linear main quest supplemented by numerous side-quests archetype which has gotten them this far. What they’re after is the huge freedom of open-world games. Translation: “We’re making Skyrim 2.”
Rudimentary in-game economy, riding everywhere on horseback, using your own personal boat, crafting your own gear, open-world dynamics, and turning one enemy against another while either taking local quests or skipping them as you move from one grim-grey Northern landscape to the next is gist of what several dozen pages worth of interview material and buzzwords boil down to. But there’s one thing these guys are doing that sounds even remotely different from Skyrim: long-term storage stashes from inns so you don’t have to keep moving your stuff from one house to the next like a bad example of George Carlin’s monologue, “A place for your stuff.”
Am I speaking ill of The Witcher? Not at all. CD Projekt RED has demonstrated an exemplary ability to establish a compelling story and meld it with gameplay that takes a couple hundred hours before it gets old. Aside from the fact that their games always require the sort of top performance machine that costs the average player an arm, leg, and nut to own, Geralt’s saga treading the boards where all the world is his stage is definitely something to be excited about. The problem is that we’re jaded and have come to expect this high level of quality from them. And since Skyrim had the jump on them in terms of open-world adventure, that’s the benchmark they must meet and exceed come Q2 2014.
Sad that it took some of our competitors upwards of a dozen pages to say the same, isn’t it?