The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Preview and Gameplay Demo

Impressions of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt's Gamescom showing are starting to surface, like this "eyes on" preview from Rock, Paper, Shotgun's Adam Smith, who is impressed by the game's visual fidelity but worries the open world isn't dynamic enough and too focused on quest content (which wouldn't necessarily be a complaint I'd have, but different strokes for different folks):

There are alternate routes to find, I've seen that with my own eyes, but the destination has always been a verbose quest-giver or an angry monster. There's no single moment, outside the city walls, that makes the extravagant world seem like more than a backdrop for a series of encounters. The order they occur in will vary as players explore as they see fit rather than being pushed in a specific direction but despite the beauty of the place, it may not contain as much surprise, improvisation and mystery as the most convincing fictional spaces.

For one moment, as Geralt traipsed through a swamp, ominous stomping flooded out of CD Projekt's meaty bass system. Local wildlife, large, we were told. It sounded bloody enormous and didn't appear to be related to any current quest. And apparently it wasn't because instead of encountering the source of the sound, or even turning around to look at it, we were plunged into another dialogue-heavy cutscene, at which point the mystery interloper apparently ceased to exist.

Maybe that's the moment that made me so grumpy. It's understandable that a live demonstration shows certain highlights and hits the right beats, but when so much of the conversation around the game is about freedom, it's disappointing to have the one moment when something unexpected threatens to emerge onto the prescribed path be cut short for the sake of another cutscene.

I'm judging the presentation rather than the game because that's all I can judge at the moment. It left me with the suspicion that the wonders of the world might be window-dressing for a series of fights and fetch quests rather than a thing to be enjoyed in its own right. If that's the case, it will at least be the best window-dressing that a window ever wore, but it would have been reassuring to see something other than running, jumping and killing.

Meanwhile, IGN has a 20-minute gameplay demo with narration provided by senior level designer Peter Gelencser: