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-   -   RPGWatch Feature: Inside The Witcher, Part 1 (https://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2844)

Dhruin October 3rd, 2007 15:18

RPGWatch Feature: Inside The Witcher, Part 1
So, you've read every preview and watched the trailers. Now we have the definitive hands-on preview of The Witcher after 20 hours of play on our own system. In Part 1, we take a look at the setting, exploration, dialogue, quests and the localisation.
Minor spoilers apply, but we've limited them to the scenarios already revealed by CD Projekt at E3. Here's a snip:

In the roughly 20 hours we’ve played so far, we’ve seen a mountain fortress, a small village, crypts, sewers, a swamp and the trade quarter of the city of Vizima - the range of environments looks to be diverse. Physically, The Witcher gameworld is divided into some 45 or so locations (see the nearby screenshot of a local map for an example), which each offer a moderately sized chunk to explore. Internal locations – buildings, caves, sewers – all require loading. The loading times can be annoying but hopefully further optimisation before shipping will see improvements – and at least the stylish, painted loading screens are nice. Given the convincing environments you’ll get to explore, it’s sometimes frustrating to be constrained by a low fence or uneven terrain that requires Geralt stick to the path.
Read it here.
More information.

Dhruin October 3rd, 2007 15:18

Hope you enjoy this feature and thanks to Tom Ohle, CD Projekt and Atari for the access.

As far as I can see, the NDA doesn't preclude discussing my experiences so I'm happy to answer questions where I can and provided it doesn't cross into spoiler territory or outside the scope of my playtime. I won't address combat and character development, however, until Part 2 is up (probably Friday).

p53 October 3rd, 2007 16:29

A tiny corretion (to otherwise very nice prev): The war was between Nilfgaard and Nordilng realms, while Elves supported Nilfgaard army (mostly as guerilla commandos). After Nilfgaard was beaten off, "monk-knights" are attempting to root out guerilla elves remnants.

I hope this game will cause more (hopefuly all 7) "Witcher" books to appear in English. Its really a better read than 90% of fantasy in American/UK bookstores…

woges October 3rd, 2007 16:29

You talk about loading times but are there any other technical questions you can give us? Like what kind of system you used and how was the frame rate?

GhanBuriGhan October 3rd, 2007 16:54

Thanks for a great preview. And happy to report that I still look forward to the game. Even if there is limitations to the choices, I still like the way they treat them, sounds better than most games I played.

Some questions: what is the size (range) of the locations how much exploration do they afford? Does it remind you more of a location in Gothic (enclosed, but with significant exploration, or KOTOR (fairly small, walled in, linear paths)? How does one travel between locations?

josephwatson October 3rd, 2007 17:10

Will definitely buy this one. Thanks for the preview.

Melvil October 3rd, 2007 18:10

Nice that you guys got to do a little beta previewing, nicely written, very informative.

leth October 3rd, 2007 18:12

Thanks for the great preview! And thank you for not breaking the article into many pages :)

Witcher is already on pre-order for me… Though now I think I might have to upgrade the shipping :)

VDweller October 3rd, 2007 19:18

Great preview, Dhruin!

magerette October 3rd, 2007 19:39

Good news about the journal and geographic navigational aids--I don't like having everything spelled out, but hate having no journal or no idea of where to go next. Sounds like they've tried to give the game some customization, both here and elsewhere.

Looking forward to Part 2--and my own copy. :)

Harri October 3rd, 2007 19:42

Question regarding the story
A very interesting preview, Dhruin - my hopes are quite high for this release and I'd also like to ask a simple (though perhaps long-winded) question about your experiences, if I may.

First, a little background about myself. I basically play games for their stories, which means that I mostly care little about fancy graphics, for example - the aspect that most recent RPGs seem to be focused on. I'm sad to say, that, in my opinion, there hasn't been a half-decent mainstream RPG released in the last 5 years or so, except for maybe V:TM Bloodlines. Oblivion? I admired Oblivion for the eyecandy but found the main quest trite and clichéd. NWN2? NWN2 was an utter failure from my point of view, mostly due to the horrible bugs and the general unfinished feel to it. Some of my favourite games are the likes of PS:T and the BG and Fallout series.

So with this in mind I ask you - is there any real depth to The Witcher? Having morally ambiguous choices might not be enough - should having interesting choices with distinct consequences not be a given in any real RPG? Merely having choices does not necessarily a great story make… Are the characters unique and memorable, does the player actually CARE what happens to Geralt and the people surrounding him? Most of the previews so far have been focused on the allegedly revolutionary combat system and the aforementioned choices - however, very little has been said about the actual plot of the game. I do not require spoilers, I merely ask for your personal assessment - how would you rate the story so far? Can it stand up to classics like the old Black Isle games or is The Witcher another hack and slash slugfest?

Thank you!

JonNik October 3rd, 2007 19:59

Thanks for the great preview Dhruin !

I was particularly pleased that you can configure out some of the handholding

Prime Junta October 3rd, 2007 20:22


Originally Posted by Harri (Post 47823)
NWN2? NWN2 was an utter failure from my point of view, mostly due to the horrible bugs and the general unfinished feel to it. Some of my favourite games are the likes of PS:T and the BG and Fallout series.

Perhaps you should give it another spin. By now, most of the bugs are out, and it has acquired a lot of polish -- in the user interface and usability department at least as much as the graphics. MotB has some pretty damn good writing too, even if epic levels are a bit OTT.

Wulf October 3rd, 2007 20:58

A very informative preview, sounds like the game purposely pulls the player into involvement with dilemma. I can envisage good forum discussions on The Witcher especially regarding the diversity of consequences.

Harri October 3rd, 2007 21:09

Off-topic about NWN2
Thanks for the tip, Prime Junta! I've also read about the points you mentioned and will probably be giving MotB a try. I wasn't overly impressed by NWN1 either, but I enjoyed HotU immensely - perhaps MotB will turn out to be another expansion to redeem the original game for me. :)

p53 October 3rd, 2007 21:26

In a followup to the earlier question of 'woges': what settings (full, med, low etc.) you ran the game on and took all those screenshots? They look somewhat worse than earlier shots and even gameplays…

Crolug October 3rd, 2007 21:50


Originally Posted by p53 (Post 47848)
In a followup to the earlier question of 'woges': what settings (full, med, low etc.) you ran the game on and took all those screenshots? They look somewhat worse than earlier shots and even gameplays…

Yeah, those screens look really like 5-years-old Aurora Engine's in da house. I played The Witcher, the same version even, during GC in August on 2 GB RAM, GeForce 8800GTS, Core2Duo 6400, max detailed and it looked REALLY nice, framerate was nice too. Plus, you have to remember that 0.7 version is from around June I believe and the team was working hard to optimize the code since then…

Dhruin October 3rd, 2007 23:24

Thanks for the comments.

p53: That background was from the background material Atari shipped with the preview. I'll check I didn't misunderstand but thanks for the correction. Screens were taken on high at (mostly) 1024x768, although AF and AA were mostly turned down and even off in some screens (more on performance in part 2).

I don't think it looks remotely like Aurora five years ago but different strokes for different folks.

@woges - more on performance in part 2, although my hardware is modest and it ran very well (although witness a couple of people saying it doesn't look it's best on my hardware).

@GhanBuriGhan, check out the screen of the local map for one location. It's nothing like Gothic in that sense - closer to KotOR but that's too harsh. I'd say the Trade Quarter of Vizima is about the size of Khorinis in Gothic 2 or the scaled 3D equivalent of a BG2 map (that's a very rough sense). They aren't huge locations but they are big enough to wander without feeling *too* restricted. I'd say straight-up exploration is relatively weaker than Gothic: loading, smaller maps, map notations give away important spots and no hidden stuff that I've noticed.

It's not as walled in as KotOR but you can't jump, so you can't get over small barriers like fences or through dense bush and if the terrain is uneven, you sometimes need to stay near the path. I understand you can (eventually) use the world map for travel (in some fashion, anyway) but so far the areas are connected: walk through the gate from the outskirts into the city, go through another gate to the harbour area, talk to the boatman to take a skiff to the swamp islands. Ultimately, it's something like BG2/NWN2 etc.

@Harri, I think the story is very strong - but it's rather early for me to be sure how it lasts. I really like the "realistic" basis and contemporary themes. The outskirts of Vizima ended in a scene with reasonable emotional punch (although you could see it coming) and inside Vizima has been very interesting with some nice twists. Characters are more prominent than most CRPGs - you generally end up (so far) talking to NPCs multiple times and going back to them, so you get to know them a bit and they do develop. In that sense, the NPCs are far more interesting than most CRPGS. It isn't Vampire: Bloodlines - it doesn't have that quality of text (or the dialogue skills) but I'd say (at this very early point) it's the most interesting story from a commerical CRPG since that. It doesn't have Chris Avellone's great writing but the actual plot and characters are much more interesting than NWN2 *so far*.

xSamhainx October 3rd, 2007 23:57

Nice read, Sir Dhruin. Thx for the heads-up

Cormac October 4th, 2007 00:19

Great preview, Dhruin. Looking forward to part 2.

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