The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt E3 Previews

A fistful of new E3-based previews for CD Projekt RED's The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt have emerged this weekend, so it's time to take in yet another round-up of impressions for the RPG follow-up.


The Witcher 3 is a truly unique open world experience. It's vast and detailed. Everything you can see in the distance you can get to. The cities are living, breathing communities, and the choices you make in them will affect how your adventures play out. There's so much going on in cities, so they have a lot to offer. The details that have gone into the world and cities are stunning, as well. Everything is researched and finely detailed the building, their materials, the plants, everything. Environments are varied from swamps to mountain ranges and they're all stunning to look at and explore.

For one of the quests, we had to travel to a swamp quite far away. We used fast travel (which you could do if you've visited that location before to unlock it), but if we didn't fast travel, it would have taken 15 to 20 minutes to get there. That's the scope of the world we're playing in. Also, dynamic weather gives us everything from bright, sunny days to thunderstorms. That and the time of day affect the people and the environment. Time of day will also affect the types of enemies you encounter. Those enemies also range from disgusting to epic. They have created some of the most disturbing character/enemy designs I've seen.


Geralt was now in a swamp and he was accosted by enemies called Drowners (dead bodies that had been dumped in the swamp and sometimes come back to life), but they were easily dispatched by a Witcher. One tactic you can use is to light the green gas coming up from the swamp with an Igni spell which starts an explosive reaction. Combining environmental factors along with the character's innate abilities is one of the best ways to keep a game like this fresh.

Next he used his enhanced senses to pick up the trail of an NPC that would hopefully have some information for him. Of course nothing is free and he was soon given a task by the NPC after finding him. This eventually pitted Geralt against a pack of harpies, which was a great time to show off a new weapon: a small crossbow called Gabriel.


Rob: There is certainly a depth to the writing that few games fully realize. There are great pauses and moments of reflection, with the character's facial expression saying more than a line of cleverly written dialogue can fully convey. We know CD Projekt can create wonderful characters and stories, but what strikes me most about Witcher 3 is how connected the whole world feels. W2 often felt segmented thanks to too many doors, loading screens, or abrupt changes of the weather, whereas 3 feels like a true open world experience. Watching Geralt walk through the city and out the gates to continue a quest without any break in the action adds a great deal to the immersion and "realism" of the world.

Kyle: I love how Geralt just busted through the door to a tavern, no loading screen or awkward animation. It's open and immersive and, I have a feeling, will feel expansive, like you can do anything. Geralt can jump now and climb a bit. He can swim. I wish you could have seen the dynamic weather system they showed last year. Phenomenal immersion.


At this point, due to my knowledge of the books, I realize the woman Geralt is searching for is Ciri, his adopted daughter in the books. She's also kind of a Mary Sue, but that's an entirely different point. The presentation doesn't tell you that the woman is Ciri, however, and the presentation ends after the talk with The Ladies. At this point, the developers pointed out that the children in the village were missing, hinting that the dark power that you had slain previously was actually speaking the truth. I loved this because it meant your choices would actually affect the world around you, and that the choice you made may not necessarily be 100% correct.

A few other minor details were sporadically shown throughout the gameplay demo. My favorite new feature is dismemberment. During fights, Geralt can chop off limbs of enemies through regular combat. It doesn't add much, but dismemberment is always a good feature in games. Swimming is now possible as well, and a new feature called Witcher Sense exists that functions similar to Batman's detective vision in the Arkham games. Previously you could have achieved something similar through the usage of the Cat potion, but now it's just a toggle. The Witcher Sense is designed to let you see bloodstains on the floor or hear things easier to either track monsters or just find your way around if you're lost.