Stefano’s E3 2014 Report Part 1: The Witcher 3

Hey, everybody!

I just got back from my first day at E3, and I had a great time! I saw a lot, played a lot, and wore down the soles on my shoes! I can’t say that this is a comprehensive E3 2014 report, as I focused on the stuff that interests me. Below is Part 1 of my summary of the stuff I saw. I’ll be uploading my photo gallery as well a little later. So, read on to find out what I thought of E3 2014!

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First up is The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. I actually hadn’t planned on seeing The Witcher 3 so early, not because I wasn’t interested, but because I just didn’t know where to start. Fortunately for me, they were demoing the game at 11:40 as I was entering the convention center, so I waited the 15 minutes, and, as luck would have it managed to be one of the last people allowed in for that showing. If I hadn’t been squeezed in, I’d have had to wait another hour for the next show!

But on to the game. The demo we saw had two parts. The first part focused on our badass Witcher, Geralt of Rivia, taking on a quest to hunt a Griffin that’s been causing all sorts of trouble across the countryside. Before the hunt begins, Geralt equipped himself with a few useful items; health potion, mutagen potion (which wasn’t shown in the demonstration that follows, but they apparently improve Geralt’s combat abilities, making him quite the beast in battle. Using a mutagen comes at a cost, however, as each time one is used, it raises Geralt’s toxicity level, which, when high enough, will cause all sorts of nasty status effects), two swords; one for humans, one for beasts, and a crossbow, because, well, Griffins can fly after all.

Once Geralt was equipped for battle, he used his latest new ability, Witcher Sight, to track the beast. This was translated on the screen as a wibbly wobbly visual affect that blurred the edges of the screen, while highlighting blood red tracks in the ground that marked where the Griffin had been, and where it was going. Witcher Sight also seemed to highlight things of interest, like wild animals. The demoer used this ability, and found the Griffin feasting on some poor horse just up the hill. The Griffin hadn’t caught Geralt’s scent, so like any skilled hunter, he fired off a crossbow bolt into the Griffin’s hide, which startled it into taking flight.

Our hero wasn’t fazed, and continued forward, chasing the Griffin across beautiful, lush green hills and roaring streams. Along the way, however, Geralt is distracted by what appears to be some bandits harassing a man near a small shack. This is where the demoer gets to show off Geralt’s fancy combat skills, and The Witcher 3’s new, gnarly dismemberment finishers. Using a combination of spells that set enemies on fire, force push them away, and mind control them into submission, Geralt makes short, and bloody work of the bandits, but too late to save the poor man. His now widow comes out of hiding, and Geralt exchanges a few words with her before continuing on his hunt. This diversion is completely up to the player to engage in, as there is no obligation to help the person in trouble.

Geralt once again uses his Witcher Sight, and tracks the Griffin to the top of a mountain, where the demoer pans the camera around to give us a glorious view of the massive world that is completely open for the player to explore. After this impressive moment, he engages the Griffin, and a tense battle ensues, with Geralt using his crossbow, sword, and magic to take the Griffin down. We don’t get to see the killing blow, as the demo ends with a cutscene, but needless to say, Geralt won, as the next shot shows Geralt riding into town, with the severed Griffin’s head tied to his horse.

The demo then moved on to a non-combat section, as Geralt travels into a massive city to turn in the Griffin’s head for a reward. Instead of doing that, the demoer rides his horse slowly through town, letting us all take in the sights and sounds and scale instead. It was all very lush, detailed, and atmospheric. After the walkthrough of the town, Geralt rides out to a bridge, and hops off his horse, once again panning the camera around to give us a view of just how huge the city really is, and the demo comes to a close.

Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with what I saw. The graphics were stunningly detailed, from the blades of grass, to the scales in Geralt’s armor. The framerate seemed very solid, despite a few moments of dropped frames here and there, and the combat looked smooth and fun, and a marked improvement over The Witcher 2. I left the demonstration looking forward to the February 24th release date more than I was when I went in. I did get a cool T-Shirt for my troubles as well, which is always nice! But my E3 adventures did not end there.

 

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