If you’re already familiar with The Witcher – the vast, open-world action-role-playing game series from CD Projekt RED, you know that options are the name of the game. The series has always blended swords, sorcery, stealth, and sweet-talking, along with a bunch of other activities, to offer a wide-ranging, ever-evolving suite of gameplay. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – newly released on Xbox One this week – takes what the previous titles have done, keeps the great stuff, revamps the good stuff, and adds a whole mess of new stuff that pushes the sense of “there-ness” to just this side of reality.
First and foremost is the new fighting system. Revamped from previous titles, main character Geralt of Rivia maintains the use of his two swords (though he only wields one at a time), but an improved locking-on mechanism and more responsive controls allow for faster-paced fights while maintaining tactical complexity. Geralt uses moves based on actual medieval swordfighting maneuvers, and players can maintain subtle control over the position of his wrists, his footwork, and what kinds of stances he puts himself into. Of course, Geralt can also employ the Witcher universe’s magical signs at the press of a button, blasting enemies with flames or pushing them backward. The environment plays a part in the fighting now, too, with Geralt able to use environmental hazards to harry his foes or even outright kill them.
But environmental hazards aren’t Geralt’s only combat allies in The Witcher 3. New to this series is horseback combat, which allows Geralt to fight from the safety (theoretically) of a trusty steed. Whether armed with a polearm or a sword – again, using moves sourced directly from experts on medieval warfare – Geralt is a terror on his horse, able to lay waste to whole bands of ruffians with relative ease… or make quick hit-and-run attacks on tougher foes.
To help you find (or avoid) those foes, The Witcher 3 also incorporates the new “Witcher Sense” vision mode, which triggers Geralt’s preternatural senses. Witcher Sense is more a tracking assistant than the X-ray vision you get in some games – it shows the trails of Geralt’s foes (or other nearby folks), and allows him to stalk them, stealth kill them, or avoid them as needed. Alongside the game’s robust combat options, Witcher Sense means players have a whole variety of ways to approach challenges.
On top of all this, The Witcher 3 features a fleshed-out traversal system that the developers have likened to parkour: Geralt can move quickly through and over obstacles, climb rapidly, slide under or through gaps, and make a beeline through crowds. He can also swim now, including diving straight down and exploring the depths – something that’s entirely new to The Witcher, and presents new avenues for Geralt to explore his environment. Oh, and the game includes crossbows. Thwack!
It’s clear that the developers at CD Projekt RED spent a ton of time adding tons of great content to the world of The Witcher 3 – but what’s even clearer is how much time they spent on adding new ways to interact with that content. Take a look for yourself by grabbing The Witcher 3 on Xbox One today.