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Default The Witcher - Retrospective @ Kotaku

August 20th, 2014, 16:36
GB Buford of Kotaku has posted a new article about The Witcher, and writes about how the games fourth act takes RPGs to the next Level. Here is a small sample of the article.

If you've played a role-playing game in the last several years, be it Mass Effect or The Elder Scrolls, chances are that most of the game involved people asking you to go places, bop things on the head, and return with items for a reward. Unless you've played The Witcher.

As The Witcher 3 starts catching more eyes, friends who haven't played the series inevitably end up asking me "should I play the first two games in the series?" Many people will recommend playing The Witcher 2, a great game with solid controls and a unique twist that effectively gives the player two games in one. While I'd agree with that, I'd also add that everyone should play the first game, because it is one of the best role-playing games of all time, maybe even better than The Witcher 2. It's a true RPG, one that focuses on choice and consequence, rather than character-builds or parties, and to that end, it's one of the finest examples of the genre… but there's a caveat.

In just about every conversation I've had regarding The Witcher, someone always admits to quitting, usually during the game's extensive opening swamp section. It's hard to blame them. That's where I originally quit, too.

The more I played, however, the more I found myself sucked in. Originally, I'd intended to ignore most of the side quests, but I soon found myself shopping by proxy for elves, brewing potions for bakers, giving gifts to people, making peace between races, and, yes, busting a few monster heads along the way.

The Witcher shows that there can be more to RPGs than just fighting people. When the third game comes out early next year, I'll be there, day one, all thanks to Act IV.
More information.
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August 20th, 2014, 16:36
Yeah, I quit on the swamp area the first time through. Then I quit on the swamp area reprisal the second time through. There's nothing like generic monster respawns to kill off a game's enjoyment factor. :-P
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August 21st, 2014, 01:39
Originally Posted by rjshae View Post
Yeah, I quit on the swamp area the first time through. Then I quit on the swamp area reprisal the second time through. There's nothing like generic monster respawns to kill off a game's enjoyment factor. :-P
Yeah chapter 2 is tough to get through. The game gets much better at chapter 3.

The biggest problem with witcher 1 is pacing.
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August 21st, 2014, 10:12
Biggest problem with The Witcher is the archaic fetch-quest obsession.

With a more flexible travel and movement system, it would have been so much more pleasant.
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August 21st, 2014, 10:54
There was only one thing I didn't like about the Witcher - the insane boss fight with that beast ghost-wolf at the end of chapter one. Had to replay large sections of chapter one to get better potions to get past that. And watch the pre-fight videos a hundred times… Of the rest of the game I have the best of memories. They did the same stupid thing again with the Kraken in Witcher 2 - although that wasn't quite as tough after watching some spoilers. What will it be in Witcher 3 ?
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August 21st, 2014, 11:26
I consider The Witcher a classic. The story and writing are fantastic and so is the soundtrack. It does have too many fetch quests though.
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August 21st, 2014, 13:21
rjshae, most endless respawn mobs (drowners usually) will disappear if you just run past them. If it wasn't like that, I'd hate the game. But as you know, I love the game. Adore in fact. So a grindhater, Aurorahater and NWNhater, loves TW1. How's that even possible?

GBG, I didn't have to replay it more than once nor watch anything, I just reloaded, used pots I had = easy peasy.
I'll agree on Kraken in the second game, but it's not just Kraken, it's generally just too much of consoleQTE on PC.

Toka Koka
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August 21st, 2014, 13:47
First of all, it's a Kayran, not a Kraken. And yes, that particular encounter was frustratingly designed.

Secondly, agreed with JDR - the first game is a classic.
However, I have to disagree with the thrust of the article's waxing lyrical on Chapter IV as I much preferred the narrative and quests in Chapter II. Peeling back the layers of clues surrounding one of your main antagonists, exploring and meeting most of the main characters and discovering the lore of Vizima and the various power players was a real pleasure to me.

Complaining about fetch quests to me isn't particularly insightful considering that many RPGs (including "modern" games) are laden with such quests. It's a common "problem" not exclusive to this game. Furthermore, The Witcher's focus upon choice and consequence and its beautiful pastoral and slavic folk atmosphere at least for me, overshadows its quest structures.

Diddledy high,
Diddledy low,
Come brave blood sheep,
You've a goodly way to go.
- Brilhasti Ap Tarj
Last edited by Pessimeister; August 21st, 2014 at 14:22.
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August 21st, 2014, 13:53
Complaining about fetch quests to me isn't particularly insightful considering that many RPGs (including "modern" games) are laden with such quests. It's a common problem not exclusive to this game. Furthermore, The Witcher's focus upon choice and consequence and its pastoral slavic folk atmosphere for me, overshadows its quest structures.
What?

Are you saying that because other games have fetch quests, it's not a valid complaint? Makes no sense at all.

If I was to comment on another game with similar issues, I would mention them in that thread as well.

The problem isn't just that it suffers from what other games suffer from, though. It's the amount of these quests - and the nature of how you have to movie through rigid paths - and you have to wait until the right time of day, coupled with limited options for resting.

Beyond that, there's a lot of quests that don't resolve upon returning to the quest giver. They send you off to do some trivial task again, and then you have to return at the right time - which often means going somewhere to rest, again, and then you finally get your reward and you can move on.

This smacks of ancient clunky game design from the late 80s and early 90s. Some of us were there, watching as design evolved beyond pointless frustration because someone hadn't thought of how to do it better yet.

I have trouble naming a single modern RPG with such an obtuse quest design. Again, I have to go way back in time to find one.

It's fine to ignore this aspect of the game and pretend it's the norm, but to claim that those of us who prefer a relationship with reality over this fantasy are lacking insight is not particularly insightful.

The subjective part is how big a problem this represents, and obviously you didn't mind this quest design.

I liked the story and the atmosphere - but found the dialogue to be all over the place.

The C&C is pretty strong, though - but it doesn't overshadow the massive flaws to me.
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August 21st, 2014, 14:11
To each his own.

I wasn't that bothered by the fetch quests, and just about every modern crpg has too many. The only difference is that most of them have fast travel to make it less tedious.

Massive flaws? If you say so.
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August 21st, 2014, 14:13
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
To each his own.

I wasn't that bothered by the fetch quests, and just about every modern crpg has too many. The only difference is that most of them have fast travel to make it less tedious.

Massive flaws? If you say so.
That fast travel difference would seem to be very significant

But maybe you can mention another game from 2007+ that requires you to deliver quests at a specific time of day - and where you can't rest except at a few specific places - AND where your quest often won't resolve upon delivery?

Yes, to me it was a massive flaw - as was the abysmal combat system.

What they were to other people is hardly relevant when I'm expressing my opinion.
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August 21st, 2014, 14:16
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
That fast travel difference would seem to be very significant
To you.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
What they were to other people is hardly relevant when I'm expressing my opinion.
Your opinion is duly noted.
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August 21st, 2014, 14:17
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
What?
Are you saying that because other games have fetch quests, it's not a valid complaint? Makes no sense at all.
Err, no I'm not saying that. I have no idea why you'd make such an exaggerated conclusion.

Your complaint is perfectly valid; I'm simply making the point that it's a very common complaint and not especially interesting to me. It's a surface level observation, everyone makes them. Take from that what you will.

It's fine to ignore this aspect of the game and pretend it's the norm, but to claim that those of us who prefer a relationship with reality over this fantasy are lacking insight is not particularly insightful.
I'm talking about the observation itself not the observer. So there's no need to take what I said personally. Also, I'm not pretending anything's the norm. I simply made the additional observation that modern games have fetch quests too. Again, it's a design point not exclusive to the Witcher.

Perhaps I am simply more tolerant of such quest design "flaws" or limitations given the nature of the games' virtues that I mentioned in my previous post.

I also think generally that fetch quests conceptually fit rather easily and rather well within the overarching goal of witching (i.e Monster hunting) and being a Witcher, and so in that light it's much more easily forgiven and understandable in this context.

Diddledy high,
Diddledy low,
Come brave blood sheep,
You've a goodly way to go.
- Brilhasti Ap Tarj
Last edited by Pessimeister; August 21st, 2014 at 19:24.
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August 21st, 2014, 14:30
Originally Posted by Pessimeister View Post
Err, no I'm not saying that. I have no idea why you'd make such an exaggerated conclusion.

Your complaint is perfectly valid; I'm simply making the point that it's a very common complaint and not especially interesting to me. It's a surface level observation. Take from that what you will.
Even if I wanted to, I couldn't take much from such a biased comment that has such a shaky connection with reality

"Surface level observation"

Haha, that's a good one!

I'm talking about the observation itself not the observer. So there's no need to take what I said personally. Also, I'm not pretending anything's the norm. I simply made the additional observation that modern games have fetch quests too. Again, it's an design point not exclusive to the Witcher.
Since I'm the observer making the observation that you called lacking in insight, it's hard not to feel relevant to it.

What I'm doing, however, isn't so much taking it personally - but pointing out why it's such a flawed statement.

Take from that what you will

Perhaps I am simply more tolerant of such quest deign "flaws" or limitations given the nature of the games' virtues that I mentioned in my previous post.
That would seem to be the case, yes. It's all good
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August 21st, 2014, 14:34
Originally Posted by joxer View Post
GBG, I didn't have to replay it more than once nor watch anything, I just reloaded, used pots I had = easy peasy.
I'll agree on Kraken in the second game, but it's not just Kraken, it's generally just too much of consoleQTE on PC.
With the right potion it was indeed easy-peasy, without it, damn near impossible (at least for me), iirc.
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August 21st, 2014, 14:37
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
To you.
Could you come up with another game, as requested? Or is this just another captain obvious quest where my opinion has to be pointed out as my opinion?

It might make sense if you didn't add that exclusively to my opinion when it conflicts with your own.

It might be fun if you added "to the two of us" when we agree? Wouldn't that be fair?
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August 21st, 2014, 14:38
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Could you come up with another game, as requested? Or is this just another captain obvious quest where my opinion has to be pointed out as my opinion?
Nah, I'm confident everyone knows it's just your opinion.
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August 21st, 2014, 14:39
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
Nah, I'm confident everyone knows it's just your opinion.
What a surprise
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August 21st, 2014, 14:45
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
What a surprise
Yeah, make sure you get that last word in. I wouldn't want you to lose any sleep tonight.
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August 21st, 2014, 14:45
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
Yeah, make sure you get that last word in. I wouldn't want you to lose any sleep tonight.
Bad day?
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