The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Previews

Several more E3-based previews of CD Projekt RED's ambitious The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt have surfaced on the web over the past few days, so it only seems fitting to round up another batch.

The landscape, which in this case is the Skellige islands, is a sight to behold. We've witnessed medieval landscapes before (see: Skyrim), but never before have they been as vibrant, teeming top to bottom with life. Every cloud in the sky, every blade of grass on the ground, is beautifully crafted and stunningly visualized.

Nothing demonstrated the technical prowess of the game more than when Geralt went to meditate on a cliff side. As time is sped up, we see the sun go up, then down, stars appearing on a clear night sky, then storm clouds gathering during the day, bringing with them stormy conditions. And it's all about as photorealistic as you can get.

In addition, the weather affects not only when monsters appear (hunting werewolves during a full moon is a bad idea), but also Geralt's travel.

For example: during our pre-alpha build demo a single sail three-meter boat allows sea travel, but an eye must be kept on the weather as a storm can easily wreck the vessel, and the cold sea finishes Geralt quickly.

To be honest, our demonstrator wasn't the most admirable Geralt (sometimes at pains to point out just how dark, down right Game of Thrones-y The Witcher can get) choosing to side with the leader of the younger folk, who salivates at the thought of an elder being in cahoots with the monster. When Geralt uses his new (Witcher sense) (Batman's detective mode, basically) to identify the unknowing victim, a young woman in the village, he doesn't really go out of his way to explain that they just have to move out of town for him to kill the Leshen. He just skips off merrily to murder the heck out of the beast.

It's a rather involved procedure, involving a bunch of Witcher sense shenanigans to find out where the beast's fetishes lie in the local woodland, setting them on fire, and then dealing with the creature. The Leshen turns out to be twice the height of Geralt and made out of wood and bone, and can teleport about and fire deadly crows pretty much endlessly.

Game Rant:
Keeping focused on the story of Geralt and the Wild Hunt may be a priority, but the developers have gone even farther in creating a world teeming with life and chances for gameplay around every corner. Geralt is a monster-hunter, after all, and will be given plenty of chances to take a break from his primary quest, and make his fortunes testing himself against the strangest beasts the wild can throw at him.

Ranging from werewolves to bloodthirsty forest spirits, the Witcher's prey will all command a hefty price, and require some homework on the part of the player. Thanks to Geralt's handy journal of monster knowledge, the player is provided with information on the enemy's weaknesses, strengths, and when and where they are most dangerous; finishing the job is up to them.

No Man's Land, for example, is said to be a sparsely populated, war-ravaged territory, and largely based on Slavic mythology. The land is full of murky swamps and dark primeval forests, with monsters that (lurk from behind every tree.) Its fields were stripped bare by passing armies, driving No Man's Land to become a place of anarchy, and described as a place where (might makes right and gold buys life.)

Skellige, on the other hand, is a wind-swept and rugged archipelago, based mainly on Nordic and Celtic legends, sagas, and culture. Made up of a number of isles, this land is populated by a proud and noble people, which include monster-hunting and fame-seeking warriors, druids who guard nature's secrets, and bards who sing of legends. The Skelligers are described as stubbornly independent, ready for war against the Nilfgaard invasion with their longboats, spears, and fierce fighting spirit.

And 411mania:
The demo showcased massive environments and areas you can traverse through. Luckily you can access a quick travel map to quickly get back to certain areas, otherwise you could be traversing the oceans and land forever. This open world game will also have no load times while you travel. The developers clearly put a lot of work into the engine and physics of the world. The weather and changes in temperature even affects how people in villages might dress. The forests are teaming with wildlife. Early in the demo, Geralt visits an old friend who asks him to investigate some claims about the Wild Hunt.

Another sequence showcased Geralt going on a monster hunt in a small village and the game's combat system. This particular village is under siege by a goat-skulled demon. The demon has infected one of the villagers, who happens to be the lover of the village leader that summoned Geralt to hunt the Leshen. Geralt then goes into the forest, and the developers showed how you can utilize the "Witcher Sense." This basically works a lot like Detective Mode from the Arkham games. Geralt can use the Witcher Sense in order to track his pray. You can use your magic attacks to burn the signs and markings the Leshen has made in the forest in order to weaken the creature. Then Geralt goes into combat with the Leshen. The Leshen uses wolves as its servants to attack you, so you must kill them as well. After the fight, Geralt goes back to the village to collect his fee. The villagers however have killed the woman. Depending on your choices in these sequences, it looks like Geralt may or may not get involved and perhaps prevent the death of the hapless victim of the Leshen.