The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: Seen at E3 2014
by Steven Wong, shacknews.com, Jun 12, 2014 5:00PM PDT
Soon after Geralt successfully slew a griffon at Microsoft's Xbox pre-E3 presentation video, he takes its head to Novigrad, the biggest city in the land. There, he trades the trophy to a mobster spy for information leading to an ashen haired girl. This kicks off the gameplay presentation for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and gives players a first look at the massive world that awaits them in the third and final chapter of Geralt's story.
The Witcher 3 features extremely high graphical fidelity for the characters, creatures, and world. It's stunning to watch Geralt ride his horse through a city alive with activity. All classes of people inhabit Novigrad, ranging from beggars to the wealthy. The city is also full of quests to undertake, however player decisions matter. Taking on a quest might mean that other ones become inaccessible. Geralt walks into a tavern and learns about a child-like creature that goes by the name Johnny and lives in the woods.
If this is Geralt's last adventure, then he's going out in a big way. The world of The Witcher 3 is massive, and players can traverse to just about anywhere the eye can see. A fast travel system will be included, but the entire world can be explored by horseback or foot. Small ledges, perfect for rock climbing, are blended into the environment for vertical movement, and exploration might uncover some secret areas and missions. Judging from the large, dense, forests - it seems likely that players could become completely lost while traveling around. We fast travel to our objective in the woods, which saves us several hours of horseback riding. Geralt emerges in the woods, then checks his inventory to make sure he has his best gear equipped. His signature double swords, one silver for monsters, one steel for plain humans, are on is back. The game will also include a crafting system so that Geralt will be able to piece together some customized gear.
He uses his enhanced senses to search the forest for clues and discovers a set of small footprints. He follows them and soon stumbles upon some hostile creatures to battle. The new combat system appears to work fluidly in combining dodging moves with attacks and quick access to magical abilities (called Signs in the game). Signs includes abilities such as trapping foes, creating a protective shield, stunning enemies, and blasting them with a powerful gust of wind. For the demonstration, but presenters mainly stuck with blasting enemies with fire. Geralt will also be packing a small wrist mounted crossbow named Gabriel in addition to his usual arsenal. It has customizable ammunition and works well when dealing with flying creatures.
Getting things, especially information in The Witcher, is rarely ever simple or straightforward. So it's no surprise that the child-like creature (a godling), with grey skin, gold owl-like eyes, and a small crown made from branches, needs a favor done. Johnny has lost its voice, and wants Geralt to find it and return it to him. After a quick climb up a mountain and a fight with some harpies, Geralt retrieves a bottle along with some other treasure and completes the task. Whether or not giving this obnoxious character's voice back is a good idea is up to the individual's taste.
The godling provides some additional information and leads Geralt to a hut. There, they meet an abrasive woman who turns out to be a conduit for three mystical ladies that reside inside a tapestry. They don't give information freely either. This time, getting what you want has a price in blood. Geralt is tasked with visiting a village in the area of No Man's Land and rescue it from an evil spirit. At the village, the local alderman confirms that life is tough, how the rising number of orphans is related to an ongoing war and famine, and that there is an evil presence in the woods.
After some quick tracking, Geralt finds signs of wolves. So he rests and meditates to prepare for the upcoming battle. Meditation is important for setting the time of day. Certain quests are only available during specific hours, and some creatures gain bonuses or are weakened according to whether it's day or night. Players can also use the preparation screen to equip additional gear and apply potions like mutagens, which will improve Geralt's abilities, but poisons him in doing so.
Daytime comes, and Geralt heads out to face a giant werewolf. A long battle takes place, where wolves appear to rip Geralt apart, and he uses his silver sword, a silver shrapnel bomb, and magical abilities to defeat them. However, they're not the source of evil. Geralt climbs up into a cave and discovers a spirit calling out to him. It's trapped inside a tree, and claims not to be malevolent. In fact, it's the only force that can save the nearby orphaned children from a bad fate headed their way. Like in all Witcher games, players are presented with decisions that will have lasting effects and impacts the world. They could choose to free the spirit, upsetting the three witches of the tapestry, and potentially find out that the spirit was lying. Or they could complete the quest as asked and destroy the spirit. Our presenters decided that trapped spirits aren't trustworthy. After another short battle, Geralt kills the spirit. The town alderman pays you for your work by cutting off his own ear, which you must give to the witches. So, yeah... orphans will continue to disappear, and the alderman maimed himself for your benefit, but at least you got what you wanted.
Geralt presents the offering to the witches, who appear outside the hut in their true physical forms, and they look way better in the tapestry. After some coaxing, they recount their encounter with the ashen haired girl, whose appearance seems to share much with Geralt's. However, more on that will be revealed when the game releases on February 24, 2015 for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One.