The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Makes Monsters Feel Real

IGN has published a new article on The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt that is entirely dedicated to the monsters that are present in the title and the means Geralt of Rivia, the protagonist, has to fight them. A couple of encounters, one with a Griffin early in the game and one with a more interesting and original foe later on, are described in detail, and the article also includes a video that shows a number of combat encounters, which should also offer some interesting material for players that weren't left satisfied by the combat systems in the previous games. Here's a snippet:

One of the first encounters comes in the game's prologue, and it's with a particularly angry Griffin. For us, the half-lion, half-eagle chimera is a well-known remnant of Greek literature, but for Geralt, it's a terrifying creature and a pest, whose origin can possibly be traced back to the Conjunction, a cataclysmic event in which such unnatural creations where trapped in his reality. Some dispute this, believing Griffins to be indigenous creatures, but I think this idea of the Conjunction in the fiction of The Witcher is such a brilliant one. There's a book in the original game which contains a description of this event:

"A cataclysm which occurred 1,500 years ago, trapping in our dimension many unnatural creatures, including ghouls, graveirs and vampires. These beasts have no ecological niches of their own and are merely relics of bygone times.)

What better conceit to have when building a bestiary? Of course, the lands of Northern Kingdoms are home to plenty of native monsters, but the idea of it being a refuge for beasts without a home is brilliant. I played the game recently for around six or so hours, and the Griffin is the first formidable creature you come up against. It's bothering a local village, the inhabitants of which employ your services to track it down and kill it. As I went about this task, I realised just how much the Griffin felt a part of this world, rather than simply an obstacle within it and an enemy to kill. To refer back to the quote above, the Griffin exists within the ecology of the Northern Lands. When you track down its nest, you realise its mate has been slaughtered and by reading the land, foliage, and rocks around it you make other inferences about its well-being and mental state. And to kill it, you must also take advantage of the nature, harvest a particular aquatic plant that, when plucked, exudes a potent smell that is rather good at attracting Griffins. It's one of those moments that makes you realise how intricate this world could be, with an unseen interdependency between the land and the monsters it plays home to.