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 Feature Overview
New World Feature Overview

Last summer, Amazon Game Studios delayed their upcoming age of exploration MMORPG


Gamedec Lore Highlight - Pain and Senses
Gamedec Lore Highlight - Pain and Senses

Virtual worlds are an integral part of Anshar Studios’ cyberpunk detective RPG


Monster Hunter: Rise Previews
Monster Hunter: Rise Previews

Earlier this month, Capcom launched a limited-time demo for Monster Hunter: Rise,


Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood Welcome to the Pack Dev Diary
Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood Welcome to the Pack Dev Diary

In a couple of weeks, Cyanide Studio will be releasing their World


Wasteland 3 - Fantasy Costumes Incoming
Wasteland 3 - Fantasy Costumes Incoming

The upcoming v1.3.0 patch for Wasteland 3 is expected to go live


Ni-Oh 2: Complete Edition PC Features Trailer
Ni-Oh 2: Complete Edition PC Features Trailer

The Complete Edition of Ni-Oh 2 will be arriving to Steam in


Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption Nintendo Switch Release Date Revealed
Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption Nintendo Switch Release Date Revealed

Transolar Games’ adventure/RPG hybrid Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is poised to make


Path of Exile: Echoes of the Atlas Expansion Released
Path of Exile: Echoes of the Atlas Expansion Released

The Echoes of the Atlas expansion, and its accompanying Ritual challenge league,


Dungeons & Dragons: Candlekeep Mysteries Anthology Book Announced
Dungeons & Dragons: Candlekeep Mysteries Anthology Book Announced

What’s better than a new Dungeons & Dragons adventure? Seventeen of them,


Titan Quest: Legendary Edition Announced for Mobile Devices
Titan Quest: Legendary Edition Announced for Mobile Devices

As I have suspected, HandyGames is working on a special Legendary Edition


Solasta: Crown of the Magister January 2021 Patch Notes
Solasta: Crown of the Magister January 2021 Patch Notes

Tactical Adventures, the team behind Solasta: Crown of the Magister, has put


Torchlight III Available on Xbox Game Pass
Torchlight III Available on Xbox Game Pass

Echtra Games’ colorful action-RPG Torchlight III is now available to those of


Guild Wars 2: The Icebrood Saga - Champions Chapter 2 Trailer
Guild Wars 2: The Icebrood Saga - Champions Chapter 2 Trailer

Power, the next chapter of Guild Wars 2’s episodic Icebrood Saga, is


The Waylanders - Immersive Update Live
The Waylanders - Immersive Update Live

Gato Studio’s party-based CRPG The Waylanders has received a new early access


Cyberpunk 2077 - CD Projekt’s Commitment to Quality
Cyberpunk 2077 - CD Projekt’s Commitment to Quality

Cyberpunk 2077 launched in a less than ideal state and didn’t meet