The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt E3 Previews and Interviews

In case you're looking for some more The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt coverage after the brief tastes of gameplay footage we got, look no further, as we've rounded up some previews and interviews that have popped up during E3 that you might be interested in.

PC Gamer:

"We wanted to make the combat more responsive, so we raised the number of combat animations like five times," said Michal Gilewski, CD Projekt's Head of Marketing. "It was around 20 something in The Witcher 2 and now we have over 90 different sequences of actions and dodges, so it makes the fight more fluid, but it looks amazing."

I talked to Gilewski along with The Witcher 3's lead programmer, Grzegorz Mocarski, after the demo. Mocarski added that Geralt now has two different dodge moves. "We're still working on it, but right now you can already is the dodge move, the other is the pirouette," he said. "This time you're having many possibilities for the fights as well. You've got signs, swords, crossbows, bombs, different moves you can use. Not all features will work in all situations. We wanted to give a little more control to the player and make the fight a little more tactical."

One of Geralt's new toys, a small crossbow, kicked time into slow motion when he pulled it out and aimed. Combat looked as challenging as it did in the first half of The Witcher 2, with enemies quickly racking up damage on Geralt unless he dodged constantly and made liberal use of his magic powers. Mocarski said that enemies actually had lower health for the sake of our time-constrained demo.


The hands-off demonstration I watched featured protagonist Geralt of Rivia (the titular "witcher") returning from having killed a gryphon. He rides into town with the beast's head strapped to the haunch of his steed, though this town is unlike most you'll find in any roleplaying game. Instead of existing purely as a location for players to visit, the town has its own schedule, which it follows whether you're present or not. Fishermen return from the sea, nets full of scaly bounty, while merchants haggle in the streets and prostitutes attempt to entice customers with pitiable shrieks more befitting the harpies Geralt regularly dispatches.

As impressively detailed as the town was, it doesn't compare to the sheer scope of this virtual realm. According to CD Projekt RED's developers, it would take hours to explore just that single city, so instead, Geralt rides out of town, to one of the signposts that serves as a fast travel destination. Our next stop on this tour is a decrepit swamp, and while the fast travel system allows Geralt to immediately leap to this new area, the developers claim that, were he to ride there on horseback at a full gallop, it would take 20 minutes of real-time travel.

Once we reach the swamp, the developers begin to demonstrate the tactical uses for their aforementioned attention to detail. In one battle, Geralt slices a nearby beehive in half, causing a swarm of angry airborne bugs to attack everything nearby - in this case, a trio of swamp women who melt into the muck, only to spring up from the soggy ground, claws aimed at Geralt's face. During another encounter, Geralt uses his magical IGNI sigil to throw a gout of flame, only instead of burning his foes directly, this incendiary bolt ignites a floating pocket of green gas, blowing Geralt's enemies into bloody chunks.


Indeed, Geralt has been equipped with new exploration-focused abilities, opening new avenues for players to experience the world of (The Witcher 3.) Climbing, mantling, and exploring vertically are encouraged; we saw Geralt climb to the top of a sheer cliff to retrieve an object for an NPC. Swimming and diving are now available, too, with Geralt discovering a hidden path by traversing an underground stream in the demo. It's clear that this is an open-world game, with an emphasis on open.

Of course, exploration isn't the only thing players will be doing. We also saw plenty of combat, which seems fluid, fast-paced, and extremely dynamic. Geralt switched effortlessly from his swords -- he's got two, one made of steel for humans, and one made of silver for monsters -- to his magic, to dodging and blocking in easy, single motions. The radial menu from (The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings) is realigned and streamlined for (The Witcher 3,) but most of the familiar functionality is back. Included are all the familiar magic signs: Igni, Aard, Axii, Quen, and Yrden were all shown in the demo. Additionally, Geralt's ability to meditate outside of combat returns as a critical piece of the puzzle before a fight: When you expect a fight is coming, you can meditate to give yourself a variety of advantages. You use meditation to rest, brew potions, infuse your DNA with mutagens (which can make you preternaturally powerful, but also leave you with major negative mutations), and even just to pass time. Our guide emphasized that time plays a critical role in the game, as the day/night cycle we saw can change monster attributes, alter which monsters the player will even see, and affect quest availability. Players will need to take time into account very carefully as they play, just as they take into account where they are and what equipment they're using. Yes, crafting is also back in (The Witcher 3,) and not just for potions. Players can gather materials and make powerful armor and accessories at blacksmiths, giving Geralt important advantages in combat.

Action Trip:

The good news is that if you are already familiar with the combat from The Witcher 2, combat is roughly the same here. From what I could see, using magic, traps and bombs was far smoother and appeared to be more intuitive than the mechanics were from the last game. Switching to the different magic signs seemed simpler, and selecting which traps or bombs you wanted Geralt to place also appeared to be far easier and more fluid than the last game (That is good news Ed. Vader).

CD Projekt RED repeatedly stated that the world of The Witcher 3 is absolutely huge and that they're making it several times larger than the map of Skyrim, which reportedly leads to 100 hours of gameplay. You can read that and hear that all you want, but it never really clicks until you witness it yourself. With this mission they presented, my jaw hit the floor at the sight of the map. From where Geralt had to travel for this quest alone, the devs had to fast travel to a nearby location because they said riding on a horse down there would take over 20 minutes.

Crave Online:

Combat throughout the E3 quest proved interesting, and the smattering of spells and abilities Geralt is granted access to proved substantial. There are a handful of fire-based elemental spells, some of which can be used to distract and allow for a quick melee aftershock, while other spells can be used to confuse or even temporarily incapacitate particularly nasty foes. The Projekt RED developer playing the demonstration stuck with melee outside of the werewolf encounter (Geralt is (no mage,) as he repeatedly pointed out), but it's clear that the Witcher has a formidable array of tools at his disposal when the going gets tough. If this means a dependence on tough-guy hack n' slashing during the game's early stages in exchange for amped-up arcane abilities down the road, I'd call it a fair trade. Luckily, the quests appear involved enough to sustain interest regardless.

At last year's E3, CD Projekt RED iterated that the most important aspect of any Witcher game is its story. While I don't dispute their claim, I must admit that today's demo contained a handful of moments that induced a chuckle where they ought to have caused something else. Geralt is almost. too stoic. Upon his arrival to a town that had been ravaged by murder and decay, he proclaimed to its leader bluntly, (nice village.) Later, when the same fellow is forced to slice off his own ear as sacrifice, Geralt aptly proclaims in a gruff monotone, (why'd you cut off your own ear?) There's nothing particularly wrong with how these moments unfolded, and a game as long as The Witcher 3 very well ought to have its fair share of comic relief. Still, I just hope those moments are deliberate if and when they do occur.

Save Game Online has an interview with John Mamais:

Tash: Excellent. I'm excited for that. So we've seen the Red Engine 3 in action, just in that demo there, and it looks absolutely fantastic. I loved it. Given that you created that specifically for non linear RPGs, what can you do with it? What freedom does it give you that you can't get with other engines?

John: In terms of combat? Well, there's random combat encounters in the game, out in the open world. So if you go off on a treasure hunt or something, you'll run into things that you're not expecting to run into. You have to use your skills to defeat it. You might not be equipped properly because you actually don't know what you're getting into. So, I think in those terms, it's pretty challenging for players, because they need to be good enough. For instance, there are certain monsters in the game, that if you're not at a certain level, or you're not prepared in a certain way, you just won't be able to beat it.

Tash: So you can wander into an area and get your ass absolutely handed to you.

John: Yeah. The way we designed it, with the world building, is to design points of interest. Like you saw that mass of trees in the middle of the mountains in this demo. If you go there, there's probably something there waiting for you, potentially. So it's to encourage players to explore the map, but it's also a way to upgrade your character. It gives you a chance to find items, or it gives you a chance to encounter monsters that might might drop something for you to upgrade in your arsenal, and so forth. And it's also a way to keep our combat, our game pacing, moving forward. We don't want our player to be bored for more than a few minutes at a time. So we really have to populate it with interesting stuff, and that all plays back to you just becoming a skilled player in combat.

As do RPGamer and GAME, though their own are in video form.

Finally, you might want to check some commentary-less gameplay footage from GameSpot's E3 demo. You can find part 1 at this link (or at this link for the YouTube version) and part 2 at this link (this too is mirrored on YouTube).