As you could probably guess, I’m spectacularly excited by the prospect of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — despite its somewhat cumbersome title. I’m excited by the idea of it being an open world game with a landmass a little bigger than that featured in Skyrim, and I’m eagerly awaiting the conclusion to the ongoing story of Geralt’s death, rebirth and amnesia, and why the hell The Wild Hunt keep sticking their bony faces into the White Wolf’s life.
More than anything else in the announcement (and Game Informer’s first look that accompanied it) the thing that made me happiest about the announcement of The Witcher 3 was the fact that it is the final game in the series. The end of the line. The last.
It may sound strange for me to be celebrating the end of a series I genuinely love, but it’s not so much the fact that the series is ending that I’m applauding but rather the reasons for which it is ending. According to their interview, the developers want the series to go out on a high point and on its own terms, rather than continuing for as long as it makes money, slowly becoming more and more diluted and generic with every additional outing.
Whilst this habit of annually exploiting a franchise hasn’t really been seen in the realm of the RPG since the end of the Might and Magic and Wizardry franchises, it’s something we see all too often in nearly every other genre. Business wise it makes a certain short-sighted sense to milk your profitable franchises for all they are worth, as long as you can, so it’s both surprising and gratifying to see a publisher and developer willing to end their highly successful and popular series rather than keep it running.
If the details released in a recent video interview are anything to go by, The Witcher 3 will definitely be the high note that CD Projekt Red want to go out on. The developer has a long track record of listening to their fans and responding with game changes, updates and fixes. The news features to be integrated into The Witcher 3 all seem to have been developed in response to complaints made about the second game.
Players complained about the dearth of side quests in Assassins of Kings, especially in the concluding chapter, so Wild Hunt is set to include far more side quests peppered throughout the game. The combat system was criticised for locking players into combos, so the third game will feature a new combat and animation system that will see each click equal one swing and one animation, enabling players to break combos at any time. A new camera and targeting system will allow players to switch between targets easily and will automatically move to show you attacking targets.
Players who complained about the insane difficulty curve and lack of tutorial and explanation in the opening chapter of The Witcher 2 will be glad to know that an in game tutorial will be integrated into The Witcher 3, but in such a way that it’s simply part of the introductory gameplay and won’t piss off series veterans.
There will be better balance with level so the end game won’t be nearly as easy as it was in The Witcher 2, and the story will go back to being the personal tale of Geralt, rather than a larger, political story in which the White Wolf is only a player. This main story will be much longer than those of previous games. And perhaps most importantly, CD Projekt Red are doing away with the QTE style battles that hurt the second game, replacing them with “intuitive RPG combat” — whatever that means.
Still, it can’t be worse than QTE’s.