Wednesday, 5 April 2017

First Impressions: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition

After completing Half-Life a couple of days ago and my thirst for a quick shooter quenched, I set my sights on the final obstacle before being able to play The Witcher 3 - it's predecessor. I'd already enjoyed The Witcher 1 (mostly) and had heard great things about its sequel. And after around 3 hours (and the prologue finished), I'm inclined to agree with them.

Some spoilers about The Witcher 1 and 2 ahead:

The Witcher 2 takes place sometime after the events of The Witcher 1, with Geralt, after stopping an assassination of King Foltest at the end of the first game, has become his personal bodyguard and is a bit bored of it. After a pretty good tutorial (even if I couldn't remember many of the controls, such were their number and the fact that some of my rebound 'lefty' controls didn't show up in the help either), which introduced alchemy, inventories, fighting, dialogue and The Witcher's own brand of humour, the game started. 

Then it started again. Then again. And I'm not talking about bugs no, but three separate timelines running at the same time - a dream state, present time Geralt being interrogated and the days preceding the interrogation, as told by Geralt. Confused? I was, but then again this is The Witcher, so after reading the journal and getting to grips with the characters I was soon engrossed. One thing I really liked was the ability to import your save from The Witcher into its sequel, carrying over any legendary weapons you have (I had 3 as well as Raven's armour), a percentage of your Oren total as well as the decisions and relationships you made in the previous game. For example, the journal told me that Shani and Triss fought for Geralt's affections, with Shani prevailing - a choice which could be made in the last game. 

It might just be me, who due to the wonders of Steam, has been playing the first game of a series and then moving on to another one, but this cross-over between games is great, it really gets you engrossed in the story more and the choices you make, so if you were thinking of skipping the first game I'd highly suggest not doing so. Also, having Dandelion as the journalist was a great touch. 

I was really surprised by the graphics and just how good they are (I forgot the game was released in the same year as Skyrim). With the setting's maxed out it looks astonishing and with some light tweaking, I was able to get the frame rate stable enough to play as well (the game auto-detected my settings to low. Low!). One thing which is annoying is that to change your graphics settings and controls you need to exit the game and start again so as to access the menu - no changing controls on the fly. 

The combat seems to be fluid and dynamic, and I've already used more of the signs in this game than the previous one (where I stuck to Aard and Igni). The traps work great as well, although I'm not too sure about the bombs and daggers - further testing is required. I do like how often I've been changing by gear, though (mostly due to the imported save and DLC giving free items), a complaint I had with the original game was that for an RPG, you didn't change your gear a lot. 

I was really enjoying the game, saving frequently (even though my difficulty is on Hard, the third highest difficulty, I died a lot), enjoying the story and improved cutscenes and then the game dropped a bombshell on me. Stealth. Now, the idea of taking the lights away with magic and quieting the prisoners etc. was all well and good but the cover-based stealth system was just not as reactive as it needed to be. I found myself constantly running into walls or getting caught in doors, trying to get into a hiding spot but to no avail. While I eventually did make it through, it annoyed me more than it needed too. Hopefully, the next stealth section will fair better.

I've now started Chapter 1 and hearing that the game is open world, unlike its predecessor excites me, if only for the fact that I don't need to cautiously progress in the game for fear of missing a quest! Overall, I've been thoroughly impressed by this game so far, and can't wait to play more.

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

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