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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt


Captain Kelsten
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Everytime I turn the PS4 on in bed, I end up falling asleep with the pad in my hand, a terrible consequence of working nights and then spending several hours tiring my dog out.

I did it again today despite being determined to play it longer! Hopefully at the weekend I can drill some hours into it properly.

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Playing Fallout 4 reminds me again that I was so surprised that after finishing the main quest after about 80-90 hours I truly never wanted to play this game again. That while I can happily replay Oblivion or any other Bethesda game (though I never got on that much with Skyrim, strangely) for ever and ever. The thing is, Bethesda makes games in a shoddy excuse for an engine where they stretch their ambitions to a breaking point, but their games are so much fun. Take the cities, as you guys discussed above. Novigrad and any other city in Witcher 3 are more beautiful and believable, but the people there are mostly window dressing. The people in Bethesda's games are more marionettes, but just the fact that they punish you when you get seen in their private quarters turns every house into a mini-game, usually with some interesting little details sprinkled around the house. Their games are basically dungeon crawlers where you constantly are discovering something. A new item, some spells, some interesting gear, some environmental storytelling. It's interesting, it's fun, constantly engrossing.

But that's not the case with this game. Caves are hardly interesting to explore (not that there aren't any, but not all that many) and it all ends up with combat. And the combat is frankly not that great in the end. There is something wrong if the hardest difficulty is still a cakewalk. The levelling system is quite strict, which I like, but it also limits your options. Bethesda games, in contrast, make you a master of everything but that also means that your toolbox only get bigger and bigger. I loved the combat at the beginning of this game, but I'm just sick of it now. The whole system seems to fit far more with the more guided style of Witcher 2 and I think CD Projekt didn't succeed in everything mechanics wise.

And of course we're dealing with a different type of RPG than Bethesda's games. And it's so beautiful. And so fun for at least the first 50 hours. And Gwent is worth the price of the game alone. And it is so damn well written. And it pisses on Ubisoft's games from a great, great height. But it is often seen as a sort of perfect game and an example of how (especially) Bethesda should handle things. I think that people are blinded a bit by the quality of the first tens of hours of this game and don't see how boring the game tends to get nearing the end.

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I have personally never said that Bethesda should be making games more like W3 or the other way around. I have said they are making different games, which can only allow for some comparisons to be made. Your post, though, seems to argue against its point, since you are essentially judging W3 for not being more like a Bethesda game and not on its own merits.

Your comments about houses being mini dungeons is way exaggerated for me, since the AI can barely cope with any convincing way to the players' approach. You say that open ended character progression gives you more tools, which is true, but you don't ask if these tools are actually needed. Bethesda games are designed to empower the players to God like levels but they never throw challenges at them to test these abilities. They are only presented as another way of doing things against a helpless AI. This kind of depth I have always found superficial, which is why I easily get bored of walking around to another meaningless dungeon or another random encounter that offers nothing except a cheap way of keeping me in the world.

I like the games as much as the next guy but in my RPGs I want to be transferred to another place that feels coherent, lived in and is full of interesting characters, good quests and a good -if not great- combat system.

W3 needs improvements, no doubt, but they have nothing to do with the Bethesda way of doing things. If anything it's Bethesda who should be taking inspiration by some of W3's achievements imo.

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I wasn't really reacting to you in particular, the discussion above was more coincidental. I focused more on the Bethesda/Witcher 3 comparison as a reaction to the general talk about this game and to make sense of my personal experience with The Witcher 3. I was incredibly bored by the end and very surprised about that.

I think that ultimately this game would've benefitted from a more guided, Zelda-like (or Witcher 2-like) structure. Less meaningless monster nests, less treasure maps and a more consistent progression. Or a better open wold, in which case I do think they could learn something from Bethesda, even though this game is theoretically so much better than their work.

And of course people have different tastes, I am just less impressed/gripped by world building here than a lot of other people.

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I loved TW3. If I was to have any minor gripes, it would be that although the world was huge it was far too easy to fast travel so its hugeness was partially wasted. A less huge world that made fast travelling less accessible could have made things tighter whilst encouraging more exploration. It didn't need the question marks dotted all over the map either and maybe the destination for quests should have been made a bit more obscure by making the map over view more vague, a la fallout so that destinations became a compass bearing with the exact distance to get there being more of a mystery.

I think TW3's story/stories and mix of fantastic characters has set the bar supremely high for future rpg's and as for the size, scale and richness of Novigrad - just brilliant. I remember the first time that I waltzed into Novigrad and thought that it just had to be all window dressing but, jumping forward to the finish having completed a billion quests, I felt I'd seen it all and might well have entered all 2000 of its doors :)

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I wasn't really reacting to you in particular, the discussion above was more coincidental. I focused more on the Bethesda/Witcher 3 comparison as a reaction to the general talk about this game and to make sense of my personal experience with The Witcher 3. I was incredibly bored by the end and very surprised about that.

I think that ultimately this game would've benefitted from a more guided, Zelda-like (or Witcher 2-like) structure. Less meaningless monster nests, less treasure maps and a more consistent progression. Or a better open wold, in which case I do think they could learn something from Bethesda, even though this game is theoretically so much better than their work.

And of course people have different tastes, I am just less impressed/gripped by world building here than a lot of other people.

To each his own, of course. But what do you think they could take from open world design since they are not, thankfully, aiming for a sandbox but a focused, story led experience?
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You can turn off the question marks. The game doesn't need them and is a LOT better without them, so I turned them off.

For me, Witcher 3 does a better job of making the cities and settlements feel more authentic. Both games have problems in the that regard (nature of the open world beast?); but ultimately Novigrad is a massive step up compared to anything in Skyrim with regard to a sense of scale and making it feel more like a believable and 'lived in' city. I think during my time with Skyrim I preferred exploring the wilderness a bit more than I have done in WItcher 3, in a 'build your own adventure' type mindset; but overall I've preferred the questing in Witcher 3 due to the better writing and characterisation.

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https://i.ytimg.com/vi/xx8kQ4s5hCY/maxresdefault.jpg

http://media.gamerevolution.com/images/galleries/1193/EDG235.p_skyrim.069197958679727171360.jpg

I can't even believe we are still having this discussion. I know a lot of people got really personally invested in Skyrim, but the reality is Witcher 3 owns it.

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https://i.ytimg.com/vi/xx8kQ4s5hCY/maxresdefault.jpg

http://media.gamerevolution.com/images/galleries/1193/EDG235.p_skyrim.069197958679727171360.jpg

I can't even believe we are still having this discussion. I know a lot of people got really personally invested in Skyrim, but the reality is Witcher 3 owns it.

Different games, it's ok to love both of them.

I don't really know why we're talking about Skyrim in this thread though.

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Skyrim was great, but the main problem with it for me was consistency in reaction to my character. I could be dragon born slayer of dragons, the first for a thousand years or whatever it was, I could be the ruler of mages. I could be the king of thieves, I could reign over the feared Dark Brotherhood. I could be the most powerful person on the continent.

Yet if I didn't join the fighter guild until late in the game, then they would be like "Hah! look at you, you fucking noob. Wash my codpiece you maggot" The game had no recognition of your progression; every guild assumes you are level 0.

I had gone through too much to be spoken to like that. And mighty was my rage, and violent was the smiting.

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Witcher 3 vs Skyrim is perhaps not an entirely fair comparison. Obviously, Skyrim had to work on a PS3/360 and Witcher 3 doesn't. And in Witcher, it's a different approach (as has been said) - you're roleplaying as Geralt rather than a blank slate, and your suite of skills and approaches is much narrower as a result. No magery or stealth for you here. No lockpicking, archery and illusions.

Having said that, I think it's largely Bethesda who should be looking to learn lessons from CDPR, rather than the other way round. The sense of life in Witcher 3 is so much greater as you move around the world. The writing and characterisation is much rounder. The consequence of your actions carries through much more strongly.

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Skyrim was great, but the main problem with it for me was consistency in reaction to my character. I could be dragon born slayer of dragons, the first for a thousand years or whatever it was, I could be the ruler of mages. I could be the king of thieves, I could reign over the feared Dark Brotherhood. I could be the most powerful person on the continent.

Yet if I didn't join the fighter guild until late in the game, then they would be like "Hah! look at you, you fucking noob. Wash my codpiece you maggot" The game had no recognition of your progression; every guild assumes you are level 0.

I had gone through too much to be spoken to like that. And mighty was my rage, and violent was the smiting.

In Witcher 3 you get things like where you find a trapdoor and Geralt says "A trapdoor. Damn, its locked". You then find a key and Geralt says "A key! There must be a trapdoor around here somewhere."

Its dumb. But you kind of accept they cant do everything. Stuff like this can be fixed with some bit-flags and some extra dialogue but its a lot of work to keep track of everything.

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In Witcher 3 you get things like where you find a trapdoor and Geralt says "A trapdoor. Damn, its locked". You then find a key and Geralt says "A key! There must be a trapdoor around here somewhere."

Its dumb. But you kind of accept they cant do everything. Stuff like this can be fixed with some bit-flags and some extra dialogue but its a lot of work to keep track of everything.

Of course. But someone mentioning a key I had already found was considerably less irritating than some drunken idiot mugging me off because I new to a guild when basically, I was an indestructible God.

I mean all they had to do was look at what level you are and modify dialogue accordingly. It would only need like three different levels or something

0-10 "Worthless scum"

10-30 "you're no better than us"

40+ "messiah!"

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If people remember a certain conversation with Yenn and how she responded to a player picked line when she thought that Geralt wasn't caring enough, it is pretty clear how unprecedented the writing is with is and how big the effort of CD to up their game. Which is what surprised me most of all. How big of a leap this is compared to W2, while on the same time F4 is almost the same game as the previous entries, with the same problems and the same technical issues on release.

I guess the technical issues in F4 are forgiven and certain people who crucified CD for bugs don't feel the need to do so for Bethesda (probably because it is a... sandbox, which make it all acceptable for some strange reason).

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Witcher 3 vs Skyrim is perhaps not an entirely fair comparison. Obviously, Skyrim had to work on a PS3/360 and Witcher 3 doesn't. And in Witcher, it's a different approach (as has been said) - you're roleplaying as Geralt rather than a blank slate, and your suite of skills and approaches is much narrower as a result. No magery or stealth for you here. No lockpicking, archery and illusions.

Having said that, I think it's largely Bethesda who should be looking to learn lessons from CDPR, rather than the other way round. The sense of life in Witcher 3 is so much greater as you move around the world. The writing and characterisation is much rounder. The consequence of your actions carries through much more strongly.

One of the big things for me is that, for years, people excused Bethesda's shit writing as just something that comes with the territory. The price we pay for open world games; other aspects suffer. Witcher 3 shows that this is not some cast-iron rule of development. Writing aside, the quest design in Witcher 3 sets a very high standard - the way each quest develops, interlinks, is affected by other quests, can be started at multiple points in the 'sequence' of the quest, organically leads into new quests and switchbacks around on itself. Most quests in Bethesda's games go nowhere near any of this.

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Finally finished this game!

As for my ending.

Ciri survived and becomes a witcher.

It took me a lot longer to complete because I got sidetracked by Final Fantasy XIV but now I'm just finishing up some trophies. Most probably my game of the year (since it's my only game of the year.)

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Blood and Broken is a good way to experience the game at its most complete, let's say, where you need to prepare and find enemy weaknesses, mind your defences, dodges and rolls. The system is quite tactical especially when facing groups of enemies. Blood and Broken will maybe feel a bit too difficult at first but stick with it. W3's system also allows defeating enemies who are some levels higher than you, if you know what you are doing.

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If you've never played a Witcher before, then stick it on easy before bumping up to normal, and just enjoy the story.

The combat doesn't justify playing on harder difficulties, it's there for the die-hards.

I tried it on casual when I first started but everything was far too easy. I could kill monsters that were many levels higher than myself too easily. So I bumped it up to normal and the difference is substantial. But in the end I settled on the penultimate difficulty because max difficulty was too much.

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If you've never played a Witcher before, then stick it on easy before bumping up to normal, and just enjoy the story.

The combat doesn't justify playing on harder difficulties, it's there for the die-hards.

I think it's better to go the other way around, really. You can change the difficulty whenever so why not start higher and go down if necessary? Just don't do Death March.
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Yeah, I started on Blood and Bones, and it was fine, but then it started getting annoyingly testing, in that health doesn't regen on Meditation, and I was getting hurt too often. A quick switch down to Normal (or whatever it's called) made all the difference to me, but it may be you'd be different. Normal is easy enough that I can't imagine needing Easy.

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Skyrim was great, but the main problem with it for me was consistency in reaction to my character. I could be dragon born slayer of dragons, the first for a thousand years or whatever it was, I could be the ruler of mages. I could be the king of thieves, I could reign over the feared Dark Brotherhood. I could be the most powerful person on the continent.

Yet if I didn't join the fighter guild until late in the game, then they would be like "Hah! look at you, you fucking noob. Wash my codpiece you maggot" The game had no recognition of your progression; every guild assumes you are level 0.

I had gone through too much to be spoken to like that. And mighty was my rage, and violent was the smiting.

Ha! This was me... I'd walk into an inn where a bard would be singing about the legend of the Dragon Born. I'd let people listen for a bit and then burst out a sweet Fus Roh Dah and prove to all that the Dragon Born Am Come...

... and everyone would just run and attack me.

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Is it worth starting on the hardest mode or will it annoy me too much and affect the experience?

Basically how difficult is this game?

If you're reasonably patient and have the time to spare hardest mode is fine. There are no really nasty difficulty spikes in this (disclaimer - I haven't played the DLC yet) and it I think hardest difficulty really encourages you to make full use of all the available tools - signs, oils and crafting. It's not just a bullet sponge / limited ammo situation, which personally I have no time for at all. I found that at the start of a new session I would likely die a couple of times at the hands of any mob but as I "warmed up", things got easier.

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