I spent about an hour today in a closed gameplay preview of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and I left with my socks blown off. I was one of the many gamers that was disappointed when the game was delayed until 2015, but rest assured that your patience hasn’t been for nothing. My only complaint leaving the presentation was that my time with it was over.
The presentation starts off immediately after the griffin hunt that took place during Microsoft E3 conference. Geralt delivers the griffin’s head to one of his contacts in exchange for information regarding the “she” referenced in the Sword of Destiny trailer released before E3. The information Geralt gets places the woman in a far away village, though how far isn’t made evident until the developer opens up the map and shows us. In the interest of time, we fast-travelled as close as we could get to the quest marker, while the developer explained that in a straight line at full gallop on a horse, the distance would take 15 minutes or so to travel. It was clear that this world is going to be bigger than most games.
We pick up in a swamp and travel to where the waypoint is set. One thing leads to another and in typical RPG fashion, Geralt has to do small quests for different people to get the information we need. Here is where the presentation got really interesting. While travelling from quest to quest, Geralt came across enemies and side objectives that he could either ignore or engage with. The transition is seamless as well; the side encounters can be done without having a pop up get in the way of playing the game.
A certain quest we received had Geralt travel into the woods to confront an evil spirit. Now once he actually meets up with the entity, a choice is given to the player to either release it or follow through with his original quest to kill it. The consequences of each decision appear to have long reaching implications for the game, and this isn’t the only one that will. It seems pretty obvious that the player will have to make multiple choices that boil down to picking the lesser of two evils.
The entire presentation, while still based on an alpha build of the game, looked phenomenal. The visuals and aesthetics of Geralt’s magical attacks’ are markedly improved over The Witcher 2. Though it looked good in The Witcher 2, you could see tiny details that seemed a bit rough, that you know CD Projekt Red has marked for polishing. If this is how great the alpha looks, I’m beyond excited to see what the final game looks like.
The wait for 2015 is going be hard after spending this time with the game. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt releases on PC, Xbox One, and PS4 on February 24th.