Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is coming out May 19th on PC, PS4 and Xbox One and is available for pre-ordering on Steam and GOG.com, along with the entire trilogy and an expansion pass. Should you pre-order any of these, and if you do, which one(s)? Here are the facts minus the hype so you can decide for yourself.
The PC is by far the best platform for Witcher 3, thanks to its inherent flexibility and moddability. Out of the two consoles, the PS4 is slightly superior, since it will run the game in native 1080p, while the Xbox One will have to make do with 900p turned into quasi-1080p via “dynamic scaling,” However, the Xbox One version will use Kinect voice recognition for casting spells. On both consoles, the game will run in 30 FPS.
The biggest advantage of Witcher 3 is that it creates a fantasy world without being yet another Tolkien cliche-fest. Though the story in the Witcher franchise gets too abstract and political at times, in Witcher 3 it’s possible to roam the open world and experience around 1,000 hours of gameplay by doing sidequests alone.
Speaking of story, the developers have confirmed that Witcher 3 will be the last game in the series that will feature Geralt of Rivia. This means we will finally get conclusive answers to everything that was left unanswered in the previous two games.
The combat in Witcher 3 can definitely feel arcade-y, with a lot of pirouettes, rolls and exaggerated sword swings. However, it is extremely challenging and the game absolutely does not hold your hand. You can take on a monster ten levels higher than you, but get ready to be stomped again and again until you find a way to outsmart it. Even getting swarmed by several weak enemies can mean a swift death, unless you have catlike reflexes. Higher difficulties require that you read the lore to learn the weaknesses of monsters and prepare before the combat by drinking potions and casting enchantments, which adds to the feeling of vulnerability and immersion.
The expansion pass will feature two new adventures with around 30 hours of gameplay combined, scheduled for release in October 2015 and summer 2016. There is no need to rush and buy the expansion pass right now, especially since you don’t achieve any savings whatsoever by doing so.
While I am against pre-ordering games, I’ve seen enough positive things from CD Projekt Red that make me think it’s worth the risk to pre-order Witcher 3, or at least buy it at launch. If you haven’t played any of the Witcher games, you might consider getting the Witcher trilogy, since you get enhanced editions of previous two games. The problem comes down to the lack of RPG games in the market. If Witcher 3 is the best we can get, I’ll take it.