The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt preview: it could define 2015 for role-playing gamers

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC; £49.85; released on 19 May, 2015

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The Independent Tech

As I wade through the grass to obtain a vantage point on a Griffin I must take down, my mind barely notices the landscape that surrounds me. Acres and acres of land with tiny, Polish-style medieval villages poking their head out, yet I remain focused on the task at hand; this open-world fantasy has me hooked after just a few hours of play. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, could define 2015 for role-playing gamers.

As the third and final instalment based on the novels of Andrzej Sapkowski, it follows the story witcher Geralt of Rivia, with the main protagonist embarking on a personal mission. The release date will mark four years since many fell in love with the Witcher 2, a critically acclaimed thriller with nearly no negatives to point out. Pressure then? Not a chance. CD Projekt Red have now developed a game more than 30 times bigger, drawing you in for over 100 hours of action, with several new elements to discover.

Witcher sense is introduced right from the off, allowing you to find otherwise hidden items on the map. Monster-hunters can now fight on horseback, swim under water, and of course use the effective crossbow when tackling griffins, all the while dodging attacks. Trust me, the latter will come in handy.

 

In all honesty, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first sat down to play. Dragon Age was never my thing, while Skyrim had never really appealed to me. My quest for a story is larger than my quest for loot. But this is what makes the Witcher so unique. Every decision you make – there are several different answers to each question, and different routes you can go down when antogonising/checking up on others – sees the game change its course. That is obvious to me even from the beginning, as soldiers and peasants in the North tutt at me as I walk past. These guys remember me from my unpleasant demeanour in the pub earlier. Side quests are available on notice boards, or you can plough through the main story (thought to take around 50 hours) as fast as you wish. It’s entirely up to you.

 

The combat is easy to get used to - quick jabs with the sword can be mixed up with powerful strikes, and be sure to check your Sign metre to check what abilities can be used when in battle.

With it being four months until the game is officially released, of course there are some bugs. My horse getting stuck on top of a roof, for one, while the combat on your trusty steed also needs some work. But with a game so big it shouldn’t be a surprise, nor should it be something that dissuades buyers. There’s free DLC to be had, come on people!

I can see myself spending more than 100 hours on this game.

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