The Witcher 2 Preview - E310
E3 2010: We get to see the first playable build of the upcoming action RPG
The Witcher 2 is an upcoming sequel to Witcher, an RPG set in an alternate fantasy world based on European folklore setting. The original game was released in 2007 and won many awards, selling over 1.5 million copies worldwide. Taking fan and critical feedback into consideration, the team released the game’s Enhanced Edition a few months later. Much like the original, Witcher 2 is a dark fantasy, set in a world where player choices have significant consequences, and there are no good or bad decisions. The developers took what they’ve learned from the first title, and implemented their ideas into a whole new engine for the sequel. We had a chance to come by and check out a walkthrough of the game at this year’s E3.
The demo being shown was set to demonstrate the various core gameplay innovations that the team has brought to the new engine in the sequel. First up we had a chance to see Geralt and his teammates in a conversation. It was noted that the dialogue and voice acting is much better in the sequel, and thanks to the new engine, there can be more characters involved in conversations than before. After the conversation ends in a rather unnerving manner, Geralt and his companions are ambushed. Trish, Geralt’s friend and a magician, used her powers to protect the party from a barrage of incoming arrows. However, having drained her energy, she must now be carried by Vernon while Geralt takes on enemies in physical combat. This was an escort type mission – as your friend carried Trish through the forest, she only had enough strength to create a barrier around the party. Geralt had to stay inside this protective barrier and take on enemies as they entered the attack range.
One of the first things to note about the gameplay is that the controls have changed. Though running on PC, the demo was being played with an Xbox 360 controller, which likely means the mechanics of the game no longer require much menu navigation or complex battle systems. Not much was revealed about the controls, though it could be seen that there were heavy and light attack buttons, as well as blocking – making Witcher 2 play almost like an action game. After defeating the rogue elves, we finally made it to the city. It was revealed at this point that Witcher 2 will have an open world system – so no more loading screens between areas, or when entering or exiting buildings.
After making it to the city, it was suggested that the player check out the marketplace, where an execution is about to take place. In Witcher 2, Geralt is able to talk with any NPC, who could reveal potentially useful information and provide hints for the current quests. At the execution, we find that Dandelion, a friend of ours, is about to hand for crimes he did not commit. Of course, we want to save our friend by stopping the execution, and so we entered a conversation with the punisher. After he explained why these people are about to be hanged, a dialogue options window appeared, giving the player a chance to select how they wish to proceed. For the purpose of the game, conversation choices aren’t time limited, because the developers want the players to think about their decisions – it may not look like an important choice, but later on things can come back to change the story and outcome of some scenarios.
In this particular case, Geralt could either attempt to resolve things peacefully, or begin an attack on the guards. For the sake of the demo, the peaceful option was selected. Geralt demanded that evidence was shown to the crowd, which confirmed the guilt of the people about to hang. When the guards hesitated, the crowd became restless and demanded that the process be stopped. Seeing as Geralt was the cause of the unrest, the guards attacked the player. In Witcher 2, the player can choose not to kill his enemies, so we took down the guards with a fist fight rather than our sword. If certain characters aren’t killed by the player, they may appear later on and change the story once again. Having stopped the execution, the demo ended and we were fast forwarded to the end of Act 1 in the story.
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