Cue the dramatic, angry music.
I would like to begin by saying this is far from the worst game I have ever played. It looks very good as far as graphics goes, and the storywriting and -telling is alright. Plus, I quite like how the quests are set up, though I have mixed feelings about the blatant handholding going on with the minimap and outlining important objects and lootables respectively with red and yellow auras. Nevertheless, I have had an enjoyable fucking experience playing this game… for the most part.
I would like to issue a note advising the reader’s discretion. There will be few positive remarks made aside from the preface you are now reading. Any fanboys pissed off reading this will not receive a single flying fuck from me. That having been said, let’s get on with it.
I suppose it’s worth also worth mentioning I have never played a Witcher game before, and it’s probably for the best. The previous games were apparently not open world games. If you’re like me, you like open world games. To me, open world games give a feeling of freedom and will to explore. Games such as “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” and “Just Cause 2” are games that come to mind whenever I hear the words “open world game”, and I, seeing how it was marketed as such, was hoping “The Witcher III: Wild Hunt” was going to be another game to add to that list. Unfortunately, it appears that it was, but only because I keep remembering its being marketed as one, not necessarily because find it to be “open world” in the sense I find the two previously mentioned games to be. I’ll try to cover this later, but, for fuck’s sake, let’s just get to the point, already!
“Can I do this again?”
I would tell how I started the game, but I won’t. All there is to say is I sucked and still suck at the game. Instead, I will complain about the lack of respawning. The first question popping up in my mind whenever there is an open world aspect to a game is: “Can I do this again?” The answer to this particular question in this particular game is: “It fucking depends.” Some stuff respawns while other stuff doesn’t. Some things can be done again while other things can’t.
So what respawns? Most common enemies, perhaps referred to as “trash mobs” by inferior elitist gamerfags; harvestables, which is a fucking pain in the ass when you’ve got OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) and ULS (uncontrollable looting syndrome); and nothing else, really. That’s about it.
I occasionally hear people like Ross Scott complaining about respawning enemies and how they don’t make sense. In some cases, this makes sense, such as major enemies and bosses which really shouldn’t respawn. However, regular enemies not ever respawning makes little to no sense, and it leaves the game feeling dead to me. The same applies to loot: If you steal a loaf of bread from someone’s house, shouldn’t that loaf of bread eventually “respawn”? If not, shouldn’t the container eventually be filled with something at all? How does that not make sense? In “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim”, which I will out of laziness hereafter refer to as “Skyrim”, has respawning enemies and lootables. Now, I’m not saying “omg fil ur containrs up afetr liek 2 minuets so i cna paly mroe easy cus fuk gramur adn spelign,” but rather “respawn realistically.”
“This place is dead as FUCK!”
One of my greatest pet peeves in this game is that it feels dead. Well, technically, all games are “dead” in the sense that they are all just graphical representations of lifelike worlds with living beings in them, that they are all just a bunch of electrons zooming around or whatever, but hear me out plz: pseudo-random encounters. This is a gameplay element which has been in every game running in the Gamebryo engine I have ever played (new vegas, skyrim and fallout 3 lololol and oblivion kinda). Don’t leave just yet, because I have an argument to support this. It utilizes a rhetorical device called “appealing to logic”, or logos. It goes like so: “Wouldn’t it be cool if the world felt a little more alive?” Again, I will mention that there are indeed enemies scattered around the game’s world and that said enemies respawn, but the fact that they always respawn in the same location after a few in-game days feels too synthetic and out-of-place. Really, pseudo-random encounters would at least help with concealing this surreal feeling of solitude and instead help with the conservation of players’ suspension of disbelief.
Let’s picture an example: You’re wandering around White Orchard looking for stuff to do when suddenly, out of nowhere, a griffin attacks. No, not a royal griffin; a regular and not overpowered griffin attacks. A griffin which can be fought. Why the griffin attacked is up to the player to decide. Again, not everything has to be explicitly stated unlike most of the fucking quests in this game I have done so far, but that’s a different topic altogether. My point is that the game could have used a little more engagement from the environmental side.
There’s a whole world full of beasts and other asorted dangers. Why the hell would you not utilize some of that to create a world where safety is a luxury only to be experienced by a lucky few? As far as I’m concerned, no villagers ever die from wolves unless I deliberately lure some into the village. Well, there was that one freak case where some wolves came a little too close to the burnt-down village in White Orchard and killed everybody they came across until I killed them. That has yet to happen again, and I’m sure it happened that one time because some dumbass wolf decided it would be a great idea to have the whole pack track a rabbit down into town and consequently have itself and the pack killed in the process. There was also the time I killed the cows in White Orchard. Unbeknownst to me, that would summon an infinitely spawning giant mutant cow or goat or whatever it was. At first I thought this was a pseudo-random event, but no! It was just a scripted event to stop people from exploiting the prices of cowhides to earn money. That might sound like a good idea at first, but it’s really just a stupid way to program something into a game when you could just reduce the respawn rate of cows or, I don’t know, put in a bounty system? You know, like that one game? Really, just anything but random infinitely respawning bullshit. “Bovine Defence Force Initiative”? Fuck off with that garbage!
“What the hell was that? That’s horseshit!”
After the incident with the cows, I was a little annoyed, especially considering the fact that they never despawn. So I reloaded a previous save and continued playing, doing various missions… quests until I thought enough was enough and decided to fight the griffin. So I did, and I was fucking angry after fighting the bastard for ten minutes. There’s a fine line between an actual challenge and an artificially fabricated challenge designed to make a game look more difficult than it may seem at first glance all the while really just being a complete cockshit excuse of a difficulty “enhancer” to up the feeling of accomplishment or whatever. This can have two main effects: It can either leave the player excited, knowing that he/she beat the shit out of that one boss, or it can leave the player pissed the fuck off. I was affected by the latter.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with difficulty, but when there is piss-poor game design and programming to blame for the utter nonsense that is the absolutely horrendous hitboxes and hogwash targeting, I conclude that whoever made the decision to push this shit out did not pay any kind of attention to what was going on. I am not kidding when I say the very first “boss battle” with the griffin in White Orchard nearly pushed me into quitting the game and uninstalling, because if that fight was any indication as to how future fights were going to go on, I saw no point in torturing myself any further, seeing how I had yet to be given any reason to think myself a masochist.
The combat in this game is… I want to say “great in some scenarios,” but then I’d feel like a moron with multiple personality disorder while simultaneously hating the combat in other scenarios. In short, I like the combat when fighting lesser enemies. Fighting enemies such as drowners, ghouls, wraiths and, to some extent, humans is a joy when there’s no bullshit involved. However, boss battles are an entirely different matter. I hate boss battles in this game. They feel far too drawn out and repetitive to be at all enjoyable. Case in point, the royal griffin fight at White Orchard. Or, shit, the Shrieker by Crow’s Perch for that matter. That thing was just a reskin of the griffin with a slightly smaller health bar! It had the exact same attack patterns, the exact same hitbox bullshit and the exact same boring, repetitive backstory. “Oh, boo hoo! You guys are so tired of that thing? Well, why don’t you go cry in a fucking corner and give me a break?” I was still angry at the griffin and was worried the Shrieker was going to be equally as bad, so I had to force myself to fight it a few dozen hours into the game after levelling up a bit. I think I made the right choice.
“That’s really funny, people…”
The bugs are really not that funny. In fact, for a game which is supposed to be taken rather seriously, it’s really annoying. I probably won’t be playing this game for a while regardless. I would add more to this, but there’s no reason to. Nobody really cares aside from the angry fanbois who would spam this post with nonsensical shit like “o ur jst bad” and “lol u suk therfor u r mad”.