The Witcher 2, Console and Beyond

Back in June we had the pleasure of getting an early look at how The Witcher 2 was shaping up ahead of, not only its own, but also that of the development studio CD Projekt Red’s first console release. If you’re not familiar with the game then the best place to start would be Lorna’s preview from E3 – spoiler alert, she liked it. Fans of the PC version that are currently happily adventuring their way through the Northern Kingdoms will be pleased to know that the highly anticipated patch 2.0 is set to launch on September 29th , and will bring along with it a whole raft of changes, which look set to improve the Witcher experience for everyone, be they veterans or new blood.

The brand new tutorial system will help players, especially those new to the series, from the very beginning as its guiding hand watches over their combat and gameplay mechanics. A smooth and gradual immersed experience is what the team at ‘Red are hoping for, and with what was shown they may well just accomplish it. If the game was known for anything it was its rather steep learning curve, which, at times, could be more than punishing, especially with players who perhaps weren’t as experienced in the genre.

For those seeking a new Witcher challenge, the Dark setting adds a layer of difficulty that will likely leave even the most experienced player clenching their fists in frustration. Risk doesn’t come without reward and, as such, the Dark setting offers a brand new set of items, all revolving around the theme of darkness and, of course, all with some of the highest stats obtainable within the game.  It’s another reason to pick the game up after completion, as it adds an extra layer of depth to it, and while the added difficulty might not be everyone’s cup of tea it’s always there, ready and waiting for toes to be dipped precariously into its dark and murky waters.

Arena mode completes the trio of major new features and, with what seems to be a growing standard in games, there is a system that has you competing against wave after wave of progressively more difficult enemies. Going up against every sort of monster, in addition to the brand new Werewolf, the Arena mode is the perfect place to hone your combat skills and techniques. You don’t have to face the Arena by yourself, as you will have the ability to select from three new characters: the Mage, Knight and Dwarven Fighter to assist and serve as your allies during the trials and torment that lay ahead, the choice, surely, to bring a rather strategic element to the table, as the selection of ally is likely to prove decisive.

The spoils of victory allow you to upgrade abilities, weapons and armour, thus providing and extra option when it comes to gearing up your character as you see fit, but perhaps the greatest reward will be when you submit your high score, toppling that of your friends’. If nostalgia has taught us anything it’s that high score tables have the ability to inject an extra level of life into a game, as friendships crumble and rivalries are ignited. It’ll be interesting to see how the high scores work out, although not much information was given except that it would feature Facebook integration as well as tying into the official Witcher forums.

A fight breaks out over 'that' Glee song on the jukebox

Perhaps the biggest leap forward for the game is the impending port to the Xbox 360, although that’s not doing the development team any justice as it has been iterated numerous times that this won’t just be your bog standard port from one format to another, but instead will be a full game adaption with absolutely no compromises for the console release. The game you play on the Xbox 360 will be identical to the PC release, with the same mature, deep gameplay experience, but perfectly adapted for the new hardware.  Following on from the company philosophy of providing a whole host of post-game content for the exceptionally reasonable price of free, it was also confirmed that once the Xbox 360 version ships it will be as close to the PC version as possible, meaning patch 2.0, along with any future updates that are released between now and then, will also be included on the disk.

The live gameplay demonstration featured the game’s main protagonist Geralt as he made his way through woodland, accompanied by a foul-mouthed Dwarf. The graphics are looking absolutely stunning and it’s easy to see  how the developers can claim it’ll be one of the best looking 360 games at its release – they are probably right. The controller offers very little hindrance, as the character and user interface are controlled and managed impeccably. It’s clear now that it wasn’t just PR blabber about the game being just another console port, as it’s more than evident that it has all the polish that you would want.

The case still remains that The Witcher 2 is one of the most well-rounded role playing experiences available to date and, while many will be looking all starry-eyed towards the impending release of Skyrim, those wanting a mature, non-linear, narrative driven experience are already being serviced. With the upcoming patch 2.0, along with a console release on the not so distant horizon, the future is looking bright for fans of the role playing genre, and it’s not entirely impossible that in a few years’ time we’ll be looking back upon The Witcher 2 with the same level of nostalgia that is imposed on the likes of Baldur’s Gate et al.

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  1. Lorna Lorna says:

    Looking forward to actually finding the time to settle down with Witcher 2 for PC. Not so fussed about the console, as I can probably play the PC version with a pad and the graphics will look better. Think I may play the first game before I do, however.

  2. Mark mark_S says:

    I bought the collectors edition of the witcher 2 on the PC only to find out it pretty much made mince meat out of my graphics card. Loved the story though and the combat. I will be picking this up on the xbox when its out, for the new features alone. Arena mode sounds purty cool.

  3. Edward Edward says:

    It’ll be interesting to see how this turns out, as I’ve had a couple people recommend me the game despite my inability to play it on PC. Good article, man. Glad to see companies aren’t going to skimp on the console side even if it’s technically inferior.

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