The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Preview

Article Index

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Namco Bandai
Developer:CD Projekt RED
Release Date:2011-05-17
Genre:
  • Action,Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
Firing up The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings was like jumping into a long-awaited entry to a favorite book series for me, and having spent a good 15+ hours with the prologue and first act, I'm happy to report that CD Projekt RED has defied the odds and actually outdone themselves with this second installment. So how did I come to that conclusion? Let me tell you.

The Visuals

Before I get into the more intricate details, I can't help but spend a little time on just how amazing the game looks. With the settings cranked up to "High" (the "Ultra" settings had some instability issues in the early build I played), the characters, buildings, and environments all look spectacular. The amount of painstaking detail that went into crafting the early battle landscapes, the La Valette Castle courtyard, the town of Flotsam and its wilderness, and other such areas is simply staggering. With the addition of even more realistic day/night transitions and weather effects (blurred vision during torrential rain, anyone?) than we saw in the first game, The Witcher 2 is easily the best-looking RPG I've ever played. And I say that without any hesitation.

Beyond the actual eye candy, it's also worth pointing out the diversity in the game's locations. Each of the game's villages and settlements is comprised of numerous residences, which Geralt can enter in search of NPCs (for conversation, trading, mini game, or crafting purposes) or any valuables that aren't nailed down. The game's residences and shops were clearly designed by hand, as most if not all of them possess different floor plans, a variety of different furniture, and decor that matches their functionality (I wouldn't normally mention all that but, hey, we're living in a post-Dragon Age II world). You won't ever get a sense of repetition when adventuring elsewhere in the game, either. For example, each one of the gnarled trees in the Flotsam wilderness looks dissimilar from the next and even a side area of Flotsam where a notable NPC named Loredo lives has a completely different feel than the rest of the town.

The team has stepped up their presentation efforts in the sequel, as well. The artistic style is similar to that of their debut effort, but the UI is much slicker (a categorized inventory, much-needed item comparison windows, and four groups of neatly organized skill trees) and the dialogue sessions don't possess any of the bizarre gestures and head-scratching translations that plagued early versions of the first game. And if CD Projekt RED intends to bring The Witcher 2 to consoles, you'd never know it from the UI, text arrangements, or keyboard/mouse control system - everything feels right at home on the PC.

Character Progression

Geralt's primary form of advancement is done through four separate talent trees (Training, Magic, Alchemy, and Swordsmanship) that house a total of 51 talents, each of which can have up to 2 points allocated to it. However, there are a few other lesser known progression options, including abilities (important skills like intimidation, persuasion, and haggling that are increased in level through use), knowledge (useful information gleaned from books, battles, and other means that grant combat bonuses and the like), and a slew of derived statistics (the in-game character sheet lists 37 different numeric scores) such as resistances and regeneration rates that you'll be watching closely to maximize your effectiveness.

Since you'll be spending the most time with Geralt's talents, though, I'll go into a bit more detail on those. The Training tree contains a half dozen basic proficiency talents such as "Dagger Throwing" and "Arrow Redirection" that you're required to take in order to expand Geralt's capabilities in the early game. Only after you've allocated several points into the Training tree will the Magic, Alchemy, and Swordsmanship trees unlock, therefore expanding your options considerably.
New World Update 1.2.2 Live
New World Update 1.2.2 Live

The year's first update for Amazon Game Studios' MMORPG New World is


Activision Blizzard Purchased by Microsoft
Activision Blizzard Purchased by Microsoft

To show everyone they mean business with this whole expansion into gaming


Tactical Adventures' Emile Zhang Interview - Matt Chat
Tactical Adventures' Emile Zhang Interview - Matt Chat

After spending some time with Solasta: Crown of the Magister, Matt Barton


Expeditions: Rome Developer Diary - Sieges
Expeditions: Rome Developer Diary - Sieges

With Expeditions: Rome launching in a few days, on January 20, 2022


World of Warcraft - News and Development Updates
World of Warcraft - News and Development Updates

If you're interested in a quick update on what's currently going on


Fallout 76 - Invaders From Beyond Update Overview
Fallout 76 - Invaders From Beyond Update Overview

The team behind Fallout 76 is currently working on Invaders from Beyond,


Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord Update - Battle Terrain System, Order of Battle and Siege
Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord Update - Battle Terrain System, Order of Battle and Siege

Having recently released a new major early access update for their sandbox


Black Geyser: Couriers of Darkness - Improved Bug Reporting and New Fixes
Black Geyser: Couriers of Darkness - Improved Bug Reporting and New Fixes

The latest early access update for GrapeOcean Technologies' Black Geyser: Couriers of


Mechajammer Patch v1.06 Now Live
Mechajammer Patch v1.06 Now Live

The big v1.06 patch for Whalenought Studios' cyberpunk RPG Mechajammer is here,


Neverwinter: Dragonbone Vale - Dragon+ Deal
Neverwinter: Dragonbone Vale - Dragon+ Deal

Following the recent launch of the Dragonbone Vale module for Cryptic Studios'


Elden Ring Lore Overview
Elden Ring Lore Overview

If one of the selling points of FromSoftware games for you is


Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate - Daemonhunters The Grey Knights Spotlights
Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate - Daemonhunters The Grey Knights Spotlights

After a bit of a break, we get a couple of new


Horizon Forbidden West Story Tidbits
Horizon Forbidden West Story Tidbits

Guerrilla Games will be taking the character of Aloy, the protagonist of


Solasta: Crown of the Magister Developer Stream Recap
Solasta: Crown of the Magister Developer Stream Recap

Tactical Adventures, the team behind Solasta: Crown of the Magister, recently held


Expeditions: Rome Companion Trailers - Bestia, Syneros, and Deianeira
Expeditions: Rome Companion Trailers - Bestia, Syneros, and Deianeira

A few days ago, we had a chance to watch a couple