Thursday, January 7, 2016

Witcher III (Playstation 4, 2015)

Covering something a bit more recent here for the new year. This game is excellent, and deserves a gigantic mega-post for the ages. Spoilers will abound, but only for the first couple hours of the game.

If you're not familiar with this game, it's about a Witcher named Geralt. What's a Witcher, you ask? A male wizard, more or less, but they can also fight well with melee weapons. In essence, he's a battlemage. That's my favorite type of class, so this works.

This world is a bit reminiscent of Game of Thrones. It's cold and harsh. It's also full of sexy people, so it isn't all bad.

Holy shit! It's Doomsday from Dawn of Justice!

::insert lengthy commentary about how it's too early for Doomsday and major foes should be saved for later like Marvel did::

Well, whatever, there's still Darkseid to be their Thanos I guess.

Geralt is the guy on the left. He's looking a bit long in the tooth these days. I played Witcher II a while back (sadly, I missed the original) and while I wasn't that into it, it was an interesting game with interesting characters. I "wasn't into it" due to it being far more linear and far less good-looking than this sequel. It felt like I was playing an inferior version of something else that I could have been playing. Well, I'm finally moved onto the new one.

Our first ingame shot of Geralt is this not-at-all subtle image. He might as well be going "HELLO, LADIES."

Speaking of which, he has a houseguest nearby. She's reading a book and wondering why he's taking so long in the bath since they have to get going.

...well, HE has to get going. She'll be over here combing. Who is this?

It's... Yennefer, his lover from earlier in the series. He hasn't seen her in years, so it's surprising to see them reunited so early in this game.

Like a lot of modern RPGs, you've got dialogue options aplenty in this game. Not TOO many, though, which can sometimes be a bad thing. In this case, I go with "let's be unreasonable", hoping for some hanky-panky (as the kids say).

 Unfortunately, she shoo's him on his way, since he's supposed to practice fighting with some girl named Ciri. Not sure who that is yet, but every time I see that name I'm going to think of Siri the iPhone Skynet thing.

Fun Fact: Siri is a Norse term for "beautiful woman who leads us to victory". Given that this game has some pretty strong Norse elements already, I wonder if Ciri's name is similar to this on purpose.

Yennefer needs time to "put her face on" before they have sex, which Geralt finds odd. She calls him on the "all the women I've known" line, asking if he has known many. Well, what else was he supposed to do without her around? We men have needs.

He replies with a smooth retort that he only thought of Yennefer. You know, while he was banging all those other women. I'm sure they'd love to hear about that.

 Regardless, I could spend all day talking about Yennefer, but I need to move on. Suffice to say, she's a sorceress and always smells like lilac and gooseberries.

They're apparently living in some kind of mountain castle. This seems like a pretty dreamy existence. It's like Elysium, or Valhalla.

Geralt meets up with Vesemir, a fellow Witcher. Or as most of the accented people in this world pronounce it, "Witch-ah"

Here's Ciri. She's just a kid, but she seems to be a ridiculous badass. Not as much so as Geralt, but she's in a different league from most of the warriors in this world. Interested to see what she'll bring to the table later on in the game when she's older and even more powerful (and playable).

Right now she's super rambunctious, skipping out on textbook lessons to go outside and practice fighting.

Next thing we know, a huge ship OF EVIL appears overhead, accompanied by snowfall. Didn't this happen in Lord of the Rings? I vaguely recall one of the hobbits dreaming about a flying ship attacking The Shire.

Whoa, it's a Nazgul.

Geralt wakes up, and it turns out that entire intro was just a dream. He hasn't actually found Yennefer yet, nor do we know if she'd really be so...happy to see him. That wishful thinking aside, the search continues.

Vesemir is here, at least, so it's time for a Witchah buddy cop movie. Geralt received a letter from Yennefer and that's the only thing they have to go on.

He reads it and wonders what exactly she means by "I still have the unicorn".

Apparently she and Geralt used to do their thing while sitting on a stuffed unicorn.

I don't even know where to start with this in the metaphor department.

They're following Yennefer's tracks, I believe. They're a couple days old. It helps that she has massive feet.

Well, I made that last part up, but these guys are professionals. It even says so on the back of the box. Regardless, we get introduced to horseback riding here, and it's a lot of fun. Handles well and you can sprint at high speeds.

The first major foe of the game is this griffin; much to the chagrin of the local peasants, it has been carrying off lifestock like the Chupacabra.

If someone needs help with something, our heroes are willing to take time out of their busy schedule of following Yennefer's scent. In other words, this game has sidequests...lots and lots of sidequests. I'm not really a sidequest guy, but I'll do some of these just because the game looks so damn good.

...though I very nearly tried to skip this one because of the guy's horrendous bowl cut. This ain't the 90's, dude.

Our heroes arrive at a nearby town. This would be a good time to mention the very useful minimap, which is reminiscent of World of Warcraft. This game also lifts the brilliant idea of using exclamation points (both on the minimap AND over NPC heads) to indicate questgivers.

Another fun "sidequest" one can do: Run past a crowd of geese. Their fleeing animation is hilarious.


In other news, being a bar-wench in a medieval world is basically the worst job ever. People constantly sass you.

Those candles in the middle of the screen look great in action. They flicker and flutter and glow and it's so visually appealing.

This isn't the most user-friendly shopkeeper menu I've ever seen. I prefer a text-based shop menu, personally.

Badass pose in the background of the menu.

Sometimes you can Jedi Mind Trick people into talking. Doesn't seem to ever fail, but I wonder if there's some kind of penalty for doing it too often.

This just in: Yennefer rides fast...and hard.

They're still finding pieces of poor Radobor.

Nope, but I'd love to have that mug/stein that's on the table there. Saw something similar at Yankee Candle a while back and it was on sale for $199. What the hell?

Gwent is, of course, the card game within a game. I've heard good things about it; unfortunately, I don't get it yet. I need to read up on it.

The cards have some pretty hilarious captions. I like "Poor Fucking Infantry".

Lost my first game, not sure why. Well, "lost". Looks like I tied. Had no idea what I was doing. I'm going to figure this out later because by all accounts the card game is very well-done and lots of fun.

Geralt is looking for a woman, and not just any woman. Her scent is wonderful, even though she's apparently a member of the usually-grungy NWO.

Geralt leaves the bar only to run into a trio of ruffians who don't take kindly to his types.

"Nice night for a walk, eh?" they say.

"I think this guy's a couple cans short of a- OOOF"


Back on the horse, let's just take a gander at this sunlit landscape. I could pretty much just take shots of the geography all day.

Stormy-yet-golden background, reminds me a bit of Twilight Princess.

There's the sunset. Time goes by as you play; it isn't real time, though. I'd say a day ingame is about an hour of real time.

During your travels, you can frequently stop and collect herbs off the ground by watching the minimap to see where they spawn. This is fun, and it's yet another good idea from WoW.

This just in: Geralt is a racist! He's no fan of the Black Ones!

...huh, the guy he's talking to is pretty white, as it turns out. He must just mean he isn't down with the Nilfgaard.

Speaking of racism, much dander has been raised about how this game doesn't have any minorities in the cast. ...well, it takes place in a very Northern Europe esque world. I wouldn't expect it to have Asians, Africans, Mexicans, Indians, Australians, or Martians. Cool your jets, people.

I make the mistake of picking up something in the garrison right in front of some soldiers, and they immediately murder me. Oops. That was reminiscent of Fallout 3 in the realism department. Being a thief doesn't pay, but given how much time you spend plundering homes with no repercussions in some RPGs, I got used to it over time.

There are no Tiny Medals in people's dressers here, only DEATH.

The good news is I didn't have to reload. Geralt just Highlanders back up to his feet and pays a fine.

Wow, CM Punk really let himself go. I can't talk though, I look like I aged about five years in the past month.

Here's an example of the exclamation point system for questgivers. This guy says that his merchant cart got overturned and now he can't get anywhere near it because of monsters in the area.

Geralt has his own Eagle Eye type ability that lets him see things no one else can see. Do things no one else can do. With this ability, I'm able to follow various tracks when needed, like the cart tracks going off the road.

Turns out the wrecked cart is surrounded by Drowners, vicious refugees from The X-Files. I don't wanna talk about it.

They quickly gank our hero, and I get treated to this funny loading screen. I like how unserious this game is at the right times, while being very serious during the story and conversations.

Turns out that things aren't what they seem, as the questgiver in this case is actually the villain responsible for overturning the cart and killing the original driver. This leads to a high-speed horse chase while Miami Vice music plays. "CAUSE I GOT A NAME! AND I GOT A NUM-BER! I'MMM COMIN' DOWN HARD ON YOOOOU!"

Later...Geralt gets assaulted by a bunch of loud barking dogs. Man's best friend, MY ASS.

And speaking of...hello der.

This woman looks a bit like Yennefer. She wants Geralt to go to "the bottom of the river, where the channel's widest". Is this how people talk dirty in this world?

...oh, she literally wanted him to do those things. Dammit. Poor Geralt hasn't gotten laid ONCE in this game. Well, let's probe around in this mire for something of interest.

Swimming controls are pretty good. The objective here is to find some buckthorn, a reeking plant that griffins can't resist and can smell from miles away.

Later...I help a woman find a pan in her house while she rants and raves. The sidequests can't all be winners.

While on the trail of the griffin, our hero finds the nest...and another griffin is dead here. Turns out that they're mates, and the surviving griffin is the male. He's on a killing spree due to losing his mate.

It wouldn't be a fantasy game without a dwarf popping up somewhere. He's a blacksmith, but unfortunately someone burned down his shop.

This leads to a sidequest that I never got to do, but I like the name. Makes me want to go listen to "Fat of the Land".

The next day, our heroes set a trap for the griffin: A fake sheep surrounded by buckthorn.

This is the first boss fight of the game, and it's a doozy. I had a lot of trouble with it, though I felt like I was doing something wrong.

 For this fight, Vesemir gives Geralt a crossbow. It's a little slow to fire, but it's very accurate. While it does almost no damage, it can bring down your foe if you fire while the bird is charging. This can cause it to fall out of the air...briefly.

Whacking it a few times with your sword once it lands is the way to dish out damage, but the window before it recovers and goes on the attack again is literally about two seconds.

 This fight went on for a WHILE, as I needed to use hit-and-run tactics to survive. The sun even began setting midway through, which was perfect timing to say the least.

 Here it comes. Hope Geralt has both steeled AND girded his loins.

After the "victory", our heroes don't seem all that thrilled with events.

The griffin has mad loot, at least. Wonder if any of these things are valuable/useful. 

As Geralt and Vesemir stop at the inn for some cheese, another fight seems to be brewing. What's with all these brawls?

Side note: Starting this conversation voided all my unfinished sidequests for the area, which is pretty annoying. I figured something like that might happen if I agreed to leave the area, but instead it happened right at the beginning of the conversation, well before I had any choice on whether to leave yet or not. The choice came after they'd already been voided, which means there isn't much point in saying Yes to staying now.

It's a bar fight for the ages, though it's regrettable that I can't chuck anyone through windows.

After all that, Geralt finally learns the location of... Yennefer.

She criticizes our hero a bit while a bunch of armored dudes look on. This isn't really the sex-filled dreamscape that he anticipated.


Well, she does value cleanliness and kemptness. Right now, Geralt is brimming with neither.

Geralt and Vesemir part ways. What are the odds that this guy shows up as a villain later? Hopefully not, but he's nearly on par with Geralt in power and no one else I've encountered is even close.

In other news... Geralt has never wanted to be a horse more in his life.

That concludes the first chapter of the game, so this is a good place to stop.

 Thoughts on this game? Well, it's visually amazing. I wish there were a bit more variety in the areas though. So far everything has pretty much looked the same terrain-wise. It's a realistic-looking world but I'd like to see some variety. Maybe a desert.

The gameplay is good, but surprisingly difficult. Maybe that'll change once I level up some.

All in all it's a fun game and the charismatic main character makes it easy to get invested.


  1. I didn't realize it while playing but Geralt's look in the flashback is the one I went with in my game.

    The horse is fun, but some of the races... man, tearing my hair out.

    Come to think of it, since you're playing this game now they've made a lot of quality of life upgrades to the menus that weren't there at launch. You lucky devil.

    The mind trick working is more a matter of having built that ability up to where it'll work in that situation.

    Yeah, Gwent is great. Pretty remarkable that you double-tied though, not sure I ever did that.


    Just be careful anyplace with guards when it comes to looting. If click on an item with one around you'll get the "someone is watching" message and the guard will usually say something to, so you can back out and not get attacked.

    Ah, the dwarf sidequest. The dwarf sells to people who can buy, and right now the Nilfgaardians are the ones buying. This pissed off a guy in the town who burned his forge down. You find him, engage in a burly fist fight, then bring him to the dwarf who turns him over to the Nilfgaard authorities. Since burning down the forge hurt the war effort, the guy is executed. Well, that's how it played out for me at least.

    I had a lot of trouble with the first boss too... because the game bugged out on me when I fought it. TWICE. Somehow I managed to get the fight to proceed the proper way (there are some event flags which I believe somehow got managed) and got on with the game.

    It seemed like a large area but the starting zone is actually pretty small, which is why you haven't seen much variety yet. Just you wait.

  2. This mega-post was great. It covered so many aspects of the game. I like the aesthetics and the depth of it, and the combination of fighting and civilian environments. The medieval setting is really consistent, too.

    Are the Witchers' eyes red?

    You're right. Being a tavern wench sounds like a terrible job.

    This griffin design was pretty unique. Yennefer is suitably alluring. It's no wonder this game made for one of the best Conan game videos ever.