Monday, June 1, 2015

Coming next time in The Witcher 3

I want to talk about The Witcher 3 but I am keenly aware that I am playing it at the same time as the rest of the world and it is difficult to react to it without spoiling things. For as large as the world is, nothing is random. Nothing just happens. This does mean that every little quest is voice acted and feels important but it does make the game feel more secure than it should. Nothing is going to jump me in the middle of nowhere and kill me. That is reserved for story locations or the wonderfully tempting question marks scattered about the landscape.

Wild Hunt is not really an open world RPG. It is a series of connected episodes that the player walks between. This is not a bad thing but it should not be confused with the likes of Skyrim or Fallout 3 where the environment itself can provide the adventure. I would describe these two games as much more organic. There are story missions, and there are side missions, and then they are the crazy random things than just happen.

Not having the random sense of danger does mean that Wild Hunt is much better paced than actual open world games. The player is free to jump between several concurrently running plot lines, level permitting, and it even makes subtle suggestions when to do so by where objectives are placed on the map. It is possible to take one and run with it to its conclusipn but if you look at the map and tackle things like a man riding a horse would, in logical, physical order, the game becomes a high budget HBO mini-series.

This is a good thing because competing with the Elder Scrolls games on their own turf is a fools errand. Wild Hunt has a story or two to tell, and it will do a good job telling them if you can get around the average combat and terrible inventory screens. For example, how many games can use drunken spousal abuse and a miscarriage as a major plot point and do it in a sensitive, respective manner? There was no spectacle, just tragedy and regret. It was all sad and it all made sense, assuming that you can accept the terrible monster that is 'the botchling.'

If you are looking for usual pithy caption, it's not coming. Miscarriages are not funny and the game never tries to make it anything more than a tragedy. Even Garelt, bad ass witcher, expresses sympathy.

Well done.

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