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Page 2 of 3It's the arena, however, which is the centerpiece of the 2.0 update, and manifests as a stand-alone mini-game selected in the main menu. Although arenas are a pretty common trope to see in fantasy games these days (or any type of game, for that matter), the one in The Witcher 2 Patch 2.0 is a surprisingly robust addition to the game. After selecting a difficulty setting, Geralt, at level 1 and possessing only the barest of equipment, must fight increasingly difficult waves of enemies to the death. The game will score you based on your performance - you'll get a base number of points for each wave, as well as a bonus for difficulty level. Furthermore, the speed at which you complete each round in the arena will provide an even bigger bonus, and, once you either choose to retire or end up dying, you can upload your score to online leaderboards.
There's also a fairly decent progression and economy built into the fighting. Killing enemies in the arena provides Orens, which you'll be able to spend it either on purchasing new items, mutagens, and so on, or on one of three companions: a dwarf crossbowman, a sorceress, and a loyal knight. Although things start off easy on the normal difficulty, playing on a higher setting can be extremely challenging even just one or two rounds in, and choosing between new weapons and armor, potions and bombs, or helpers can actually be quite difficult, not to mention key to your success. Despite being a pretty simple game mode overall, I had a lot of fun with the arena mode, and I'm sure competitive players will enjoy coming up with new strategies and ways of getting the most out of their limited equipment.
The amount of care and attention to detail that CD Projekt are known for also shines through throughout both the tutorial and the arena mode - characters are fully voiced with brand-new dialogue, and while there aren't any full-on conversation trees or moral choices to make, the quality of the writing itself is plenty good enough to stand up in the rest of the game. Additionally, the environments have the same hand-crafted feel as what you'll find in the story mode, and while they aren't huge, they are densely detailed and don't feel like bare-bones additions. A lot of time went into this update, even if it is essentially a mini-game, and it shows.
There are, of course, several other key changes to The Witcher 2 Patch 2.0, which spill over into the main story mode as well. The first, and most obvious, is the addition of a new "dark" difficulty mode, which, melodramatic title aside, seems to be at the same level as the insane difficulty mode, but also contains new extra-powerful weapons and armor for Geralt to find throughout the game, linked by a smaller journal quest - however, it also lacks the "no reloading" rule of insane, so players who want to go for an ironman game will have to pass up the new items. Personally, I would have preferred the additions carry over regardless of difficulty. As has been the case with previous patches, all the preorder-exclusive items are available for everyone, and the previous free DLC packs, Troll Trouble and A Sackful of Fluff, come included in the 2.0 update, though these are simple side-quests and aren't nearly as extensive as the bonus modules that came with The Witcher: Enhanced Edition.