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The Witcher 2 gameplay preview

Hands-on: Prepare a change of underwear...

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Those choices will also be made more interesting for us Anglophiles by the mere fact our language is being used as the primary language in the game. While it might rightly annoy Polish speakers to see a game from their country made in English, the consolation for us is that we won't be getting the substandard translation the original Witcher suffered from on release (and was corrected in the Enhanced Edition).

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CHOP CHOP
The Witcher was also famous for its combat, in both good and bad ways. A pause-able real-time affair, you could build up combos using timed mouse clicks, while set into three different stances depending on the type of enemy you were facing.

When it worked, it was a wonderful system, allowing for smooth, graceful combat moves to be pulled off and some incredible finishers to be implemented, such as jumping on the shoulders of an enemy and driving a sword deep into the top of its skull. However, when it didn't work, combos kept breaking down too easily and it could get a little repetitive. This is an area CD Projekt are scrutinising with a big old microscope, making sure they get it right this time.

One thing that is definitely remaining is the distinctive stances - fast, group and heavy. In The Witcher 2, they won't be as separate as before. CD Projekt are aiming to allow for players to mix them together to produce a better flow to the combat.

Potion creation will be made less fiddly this time - more a matter of just making sure you have the right ingredients without having to go through the whole meditation and bubbling cauldron thing. In fact, the whole issue of character inventory and progression has been addressed. While not a major issue last time, your inventory could get cluttered up easily, so there are moves afoot to make sure this doesn't happen so much.

As for levelling up, it'll be interesting to see how CD Projekt deal with the beginning of the game. They can't go for the easy amnesiac route used in the first game, so will new players start out as a hardcore killer or a guy who doesn't know which end of the sword to hold? Ignoring that for the time being, what there definitely will be are fewer different categories to level up in.

SKILLED DOWN
In the first game, there were a host of different magic powers, plus others related to combat, physique, mental strength and things like that. This time, the skills tree has been squished down into only a few branches, but these have been extended substantially to allow for more options than before.

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There's one final point left to deal with and that's the fact a console version of the game is being produced. Usually, the very mention of a cross-platform release is enough to chill the hearts of all but the hardiest souls, but this time, it might not be so bad. In fact, CD Projekt have been quoted as saying "We've not spent a lot of time on the design interface for the console," which surely gladdens the hearts and minds of all right-thinking PC owners.

A lot more information will come flooding out of eastern Europe over the coming months as the PR campaign begins in earnest, but for now we know a few encouraging things to keep us going. The combat is going to be more fluid, the inventory system will be streamlined, as will character levelling. And the choices the player makes will have more of a significant difference to the world, which in itself, promises to be substantially larger.

Most importantly, you'll still be able to get your end away with plenty of women in a much more mature fashion. Whatever will Julie Peasgood think of that?

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