The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PC) Review-In-Progress Part 1

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Developer: CD Projekt RED
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Review Context: I have not played The Witcher, but I did playThe Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings for more than 4 hours. I stopped because I felt the game, specifically the combat, was too clunky.
Date of Playthrough: May 2015

PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate
Processor: Intel Core i5-3570K CPU @ 3.40 GHz
RAM: 16 GB
Video Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 760
Resolution: 1920 x 1080, 60Hz

Disclaimer: This review is based off of a review copy provided by Evolve PR.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PC) Review-In-Progress Part 1

Technical:

The game started on high graphics settings but I was losing frames in the opening cutscene, which still looked really good by the way, so once it was over I switched to the medium preset for the tutorial getting around 45 FPS. Afterwards I fiddled with the settings and tried to get the highest settings I could, while still getting at least 30 FPS. The only thing I changed from the high preset was turning the number of background characters from medium to low. I left the post-processing settings where they were, screen space ambient occlusion (SSAO), and the only things turned off were depth of field, light shafts, and chromatic aberration. With unlimited FPS at 1080P the game was holding at 30 to 35 FPS and looking beautiful. The colors of the dusk sky were quite breathtaking. There was also a very peculiar tiling glitch where randomly some terrain texture would shrink dramatically showing weird squares along the ground. They would flicker on and off sometimes, and other times just stay there for a good minute, then go away. I’m not sure what causes it, but it doesn’t seem to be affected by changing the overall graphics level. There might be a specific setting like vignetting or the type of ambient occlusion that will affect it, but I haven’t tried messing with it that much.

TheWitcher3WildHuntScreen01

Gameplay:

The game didn’t let me dive right in, most long RPGs don’t, but the tutorial was effective and quick. There are still things to learn, but the game does a good job of waiting till its relevant to tell you, conveniently giving you a quick rundown the first time you attempt to do something. As the cutscenes played and the dialogue began, I felt for a moment as though I was already tired of waiting but the cutscenes quickly drew me in. I am a notorious dialogue skipper. I usually wont hesitate to read the dialogue at my own pace and then skip the talking when the game lets me, which The Witcher 3 does, thankfully. So far one of the game’s biggest strengths is the ‘production value’ of the cutscenes and dialogue interactions. Great voice acting, good writing, and top of the line character models and animation make for an engaging watch. Some people might find it to be too much exposition to start, but I was more than happy to listen to the opening story, which still does a good job of not dragging on.

I’m 8 hours in and totally enthralled. The first few quests start the game off really strong. A good taste of things to come. I have yet to do a simple fetch quest. The few side quests I’ve done didn’t really feel like a side quest, getting the same level of treatment as the main quests, but they just didn’t directly advance the plot. I don’t have enough to really get into character building, I’m only level 4, or large scale crafting, but getting enough to start learning how it works. I want there to be more combat to do immediately because I want to start leveling my character, but I’m not feeling like it’s missing. The story is still taking off and I’m stilling learning about the world, so its not a problem, and I’m sure it will ramp up quickly once I find myself in more hostile territory.

The only serious complaint, aside from the graphical glitch anyway, is that while the combat is definitely less clunky than it was in The Witcher 2, moving indoors and in tight spaces is like trying to control a tank stuck in 5th gear. The walk speed is a little too slow to not be annoying and the next possible speed is a quick jog. I often find myself either slowly inching towards the chest I want to open or accidentally running right past it. There needs to be a fast walk speed in between the walk and run speeds, which is only determined by how far you push the joystick forward. Also, in order to keep the movement looking more realistic I assume, Geralt can only turn in little circles or turn immediately around. This makes trying to position yourself to open a cabinet really hard. It reminds me of the original Silent Hill, which is scary for all the wrong reasons. For the overall controls. while the game provides full control customization for mouse and keyboard, it doesn’t let you change anything on the gamepad, which is what I’m using. Just let me invert axis, adjust sensitivity, and flip the accept and decline buttons.

Besides the limitations in controls, my other complaint is about the NPCs populating the world. The first town I was plopped into felt really alive at first, but upon running from one side to the other for the fourth time, I realized that all the NPCs are always in the same spot doing the same thing, even repeating the exact same conversation. One singing child in particular got very annoying very quick. I had only been playing the game for an hour and I noticed it. They eventually changed positions as the timeline progressed, but not before I was forced to hear the same beginning of the same conversation six times.

So far, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is shaping up to be a grand adventure, one I can’t wait to continue.

Click Here for Review-in-Progress Part 2

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