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Some spoilage for the first 20 or so minutes of The Witcher 3, but…I mean, it’s the first 20 minutes

Butch:

I’ll have you know that last night I chose NOT to play as to not get TOO far ahead of you (and forget my brilliance). I drank bourbon instead. So start playing while my liver still works, m’kay?

Feminina:

I played the first 20 minutes. Happy now? Ha.

I got through the intro sequence/training tutorial that turns out to be a dream, woke up, talked to that other witcher dude whose name starts with a V, killed some ghouls, picked some flowers, did a hard save, and quit.

My only observations so far:

  • Geralt’s growly ‘Christian Bale as Batman’ voice is kind of over the top
  • This feels a lot like Skyrim!

Now I’m perfectly prepared to find that in terms of narrative and character development it’s a lot deeper than Skyrim, but seriously, just the vast-map/pickable-flowers/alchemical ingredients thing suggests Skyrim. Or Skyrim suggested The Witcher 2, I don’t know. Anyway, I didn’t hate Skyrim the way some of us did, so that’s not a bad thing, but I will find it interesting to see how we respond to potion-brewing-type tasks here, as opposed to in…other games.

So we can now discuss anything that happened in the first 20 minutes. And go!

Butch:

OK, I’m happier. Happier.

Ah, good. You met Vessimir. He’s the mentor guy.

You leave out the fact you talked to Yennifer. Wowser.

That’s it for thoughts?

First, it’s Christian Bale’s “Batman as Geralt” voice. It can be a bit over the top, but it works. It wouldn’t work if Geralt weren’t a well written character, but he is, so it works.

It does feel a hell of a lot more like Skyrim than TW2 did, that’s for sure, and completely not a surprise (especially as CDPR said about a trillion times that TW3 would be influenced by Skyrim). We knew after Skyrim was so successful that DA and TW were going to have a lot of flowers to pick. As for the alchemy, TW2 did have many a white myrtle petal, and lordy does this one (my alchemy tab is already a botanist’s dream) BUUUUUUT they’ve streamlined it (Helpful tip incoming!).

You’ll get formulae. These are good to have. Very good to have.

You’ll make a potion for the first time.

Then, after you’ve made it once, every time you meditate (provided you have alcoholic beverages or alcohest on you, and you likely will cuz those things are everywhere), it automatically restocks every potion you know how to make. And no real worries on which one you want, because UNLIKE Skyrim, you don’t need that ONE ingredient for like 27 different potions.

It’s FAR less daunting than I feared it would be at first.

As for development, I’m not really all that much farther ahead of you re main plot (you’ll get to a village called White Orchard pretty soon, then there’ll be some tutorial directed inn chatting, then we’ll be at the same place re plot), but I’ve done three side quests and taken the first monster contract, and, so far, four out of four in terms of feeling weighty, feeling like they’re contributing to the story, and feeling like I care. So is there “Hey, an exclamation point over there, let’s see?” Sure. But so far those have more oomph than Skyrim. We’ll talk. Later.

But on that, two things it doesn’t do well: First, it doesn’t point out message boards very well. They’ll be on the map. Read them. Often. Go back once you have, cuz there’ll be more notices. Notices are good.

Second: you’ll get into this groove of following the main quest until White Orchard, and there’ll be a temptation to keep doing so. Don’t. After the inn, stop and explore. A lot. Do everything in White Orchard. We’ll talk later about why that was a good idea.

Feminina:

Well, Yennefer was implied in the “intro sequence/training tutorial that turned out to be a dream,” but yes, she was interesting. I was honestly a little disconcerted by her naked butt when we first see her, because for some reason (my screen?) the shadows under there looked really RED, so I was like–wait, is she supposed to be bleeding? Is she on her period? Or just, like, rubbed raw from passion? That’s…a different route for a game…

But I think it was just pinkish shadows. Or she really was rubbed raw from passion, I don’t know, you do keep saying this game is heavy on the sex.

So, yeah, the nudity was kind of distracting, but perhaps not in the way one might expect nudity to be distracting. (Apologies if that just destroyed your fond memories of that scene.)

I also noted Geralt’s serious scars, which make sense for a guy who fights a lot of monsters. We usually get around the lack of scarring by assuming that magical healing takes care of it, but it would also be quite reasonable to say that magic might heal you faster, but that just means you get the scar faster. Anyway, it certainly adds to his battle-worn air.

I did greatly enjoy extinguishing all the flames in the room before I left. It’s warm daylight outside! A waste of wood and candles to keep these burning!

Good point, it would be Christian Bale’s “Geralt as Batman.” Credit where it’s due! Now I’m enjoying the thought of Geralt playing Batman in some sort of weird crossover…

Butch:

I did not notice that with the nudity. I think it’s your screen. Did you adjust the gamma like it told you to? Mr. O’ probably did. My shadows complimented things nicely.

Still tasteful.

So you see about accents. Cuz she’s British. But Geralt’s not. All over the map.

The scarring is a nice touch. It’s also more consistent than the Bioware approach, which is to let you pile on facial scars in character creation, yet giving you a pristine complexion in the sexy bits. What, magic healing only works from the neck down? You only got cut really bad on your face?

Geralt does suffer from that odd, difficult to pull off cliche: the scar that goes from one side of an eye to the other. How’d that…..how’d he….. hmm.

In the very funny Phineas and Ferb movie, the other evil guy has a scar that goes over his eye patch. He even gets called on it: “You know, your scar…..it goes over….your patch…” “So? What’s so weird about that?”

Have you gotten the hang of combat yet? There can be a lot going on.

Geralt could kick Batman’s ass.

Feminina:

I didn’t adjust anything, nor notice a message telling me to. Mr. O’ may have done it, in which case it should apply across the board, right? I mean, it’s the same game…you don’t even have the option of selecting “your” saved game, you just have to be sure to remember which of the saves is yours (this will be interesting for us, running two games simultaneously–we did it with Skyrim and other Bethesda games, but at least those would have the character name attached so you could tell whose was whose).

Ha! So true about the magical healing only from the neck down. Well, you know…your face is always OUT THERE, getting attacked and windburned and stuff…or maybe it’s just that people tend to move their faces a lot what with talking and making manly scowls and all, so the healing doesn’t quite ‘set’ as well there. Plausible explanation! Right?

Also true that the over-the-eye scar would probably usually take the eye with it…but hey, you know…witcher eye-protecting powers! Extending through the Confluence of Spheres to all worlds everywhere! OK, I got nothin.’

I’ve only had the training combat and the initial ghoul fight, which was pretty easy. Minor wounds, haven’t bothered to heal them yet. I’m still kind of fumbly on the buttons–haven’t yet memorized which one does what, and for some reason keep hitting the wrong trigger trying to use magic. But it’ll work out.

What difficulty are you on? I followed the advice of that ‘Tips’ piece you forwarded me, and picked “blood and broken bones,” but if it gets too tough I’ll put it back to the “normal” equivalent. I’m not ashamed to back off the difficulty!

Well, maybe a little ashamed. But I’ll totally still do it rather than get bogged down in some impossible fight.

Butch:

Well, if the colors are a little off, you can always go into options and monkey. We PCers LOVE to monkey with graphics. I did turn the gamma a bit darker than it suggested, cuz completed map markers go from white to grey and I was having trouble telling the difference.

That and….I did it cuz I could. Was a like a fling with the ex.

We’ll go with that explanation for over-eye scars. Best we can do.

Whither Iron Bull. Iron Bull, eyeless, with a gravelly voice that isn’t quite as cool. Sitting in his tavern, watching Dorian play TW3, secretly seething.

Square is your friend. That’s light attack. Square’s gonna wear out. Light attack. Buff up that stat, too.

I’ve been on the default, sword and story, mosly cuz TW2 started out SO FUCKING HARD. (I had to aspire to normal, remember?) I found that was ok until I did a bunch of stuff and found a bunch of places of power (FIND THOSE) and got gear, and now I might bump up the difficulty. You start underpowered some, but if you follow my advice and do the hell out of White Orchard, you get buff quick.

I do like knowing there’s a notch down. If I know there’s two notches down, I’ll sleep well.

Feminina:

Yeah, I vividly remember your frustration trying to get to ‘normal’ in TW2, which made me hesitate about going with the third level here, but heck, we can always back down. And having two levels to back down if needed is a nice buffer. I can fight feeble ghouls on medium-hard and then ease off to medium when the dragons attack!

Square, yeah. I kept trying to hit X because it’s so often the basic attack, but no worries, I’ll get it straightened out. I have about 100 hours to practice, after all.

Butch:

HA! I’m doing that, too! And it sucks cuz that’s the big dodge!

***gravel voice*** “C’mere! I’m SO going to…..ROLL BACKWARDS LIKE NINE TIMES! HA!”

And that shit depletes stamina, so you look like a doofus then can’t use signs for a while.

Square. And signs/bombs are all in the right trigger/bumpers. Pretty intuitive.

By the way, that whole “meditate and get stuff without thinking about it” works with the bomb stash, too. Handy!

You don’t have bombs yet, but soon. Soon. (And that’s not a spoiler, cuz you practiced with bombs in the tutorial.)

Feminina:

Exactly. “I’ll show you!” [Roll]

Really freaks out the monsters, that move does. “Ahhhhh, why is he rolling away, I thought we were fighting, I’m so confused!!!!”

Then when they’re staggering around in befuddlement, sneak up and…[roll]. Damn it.

We did practice with bombs, and I thought maybe I was doing it wrong because the little target dummy didn’t explode into a million pieces, but it gave me a passing grade, so I think they must just be really tough dummies. As they’d have to be, to stand up against all that witcher training. Annoying to have to keep reordering the damn things.

“I am so tired of spending 30% of our annual budget on practice dummies! And the rest on eye-protecting magic that facilitates cool scars.”

It’s tough being the witcher school accountant.

Butch:

This gets even funnier when you parry too soon. I do this a lot.

“Monsters!” ***draws sword and parries****
*****stands there waiting for monsters to notice*****
*****wonders if they’re going to notice*****
*****comes a little closer and parries*****
******waits some more******
“They’ve noticed!” *****rolls away*****
“Damn.”

Nah, it’s just cuz “bomb” must be one of those things that gets lost in translation. I learned this with TW2. You think “bomb” you think “blows shit into a million pieces” but no, that’s not really how they work. Many don’t do any damage at all. They’re like powerful one use area effect spells. I only have one right now (you gotta find the formulae, just like potions) and it basically stuns and blinds dudes, which is handy for sure, but not exactly the exploding into a million pieces bombs promise.

And later on, there’s all sorts of combos you can pull off, like a bomb that makes a cloud of dust that you can ignite with the fire sign, that sort of thing. Don’t have that yet.

You did it right.

Ain’t it a tough job, witcher accountant? And those contracts, is that income or 1099? Is the loot capital gains?

Gotta say, in that tutorial, when Geralt finds the real person in the dummy, I was kinda shocked. Nice.

Feminina:

Yes, that was a nice moment. A good shift from “everything’s normal, nice, happy sunny day” to something eerie. And then it starts snowing, or maybe that’s ash falling, and everything goes gray…a nicely done transition. And I must say, this was not a bad way to do the initial combat tutorial, plus it was nice that they gave you the option to skip the training.

Ah…so bombs are more like AC smoke bombs, than like modern hand grenades. OK, got it. Better for the surrounding countryside, anyway.

And why won’t you monsters notice my pre-emptive parry?! Come on!!!!

We’ll get it. Give us 50 hours and it’ll be second nature.

Butch:

It was well done. Right from the “run the walls” bit. Nice tutorial level (see Buttons? We notice good tutorials). There’s a bit more tutorially stuff to come in your next fifteen minutes or so. We’ll talk on how that was done later.

And I liked that they managed to introduce some main characters in such a way that they didn’t have to rush them into the overall narrative. “Here’s Yen! Here’s Vessimir! Here’s Ciri!” Often, games, especially sequels, will throw all that into the story proper too soon. (Note: I usually am not into dream sequences as a device, but it worked here).

Ironically, every single time I’m actually IN combat, I forget to parry. And I don’t think I’ve ever dodged on purpose.

Geralt, during pointless parrying, has actually yelled “Come on! Come closer!” Seriously.

Feminina:

Oh man, that’s awesome. That’s worth some pointless parrying right there. Love a game that recognizes when you’re making your character be a doofus, and goes with it.

I agree, this did feel like a good introduction to characters I’ve never met, but now will recognize when they show up later. And casting the dream some years into the past emphasizes that these people are a long-term part of Geralt’s life–gives a sense of the history we don’t actually see. Then his discussion of it with Vesemir provides extra details…Yennefer was never at the school, Ciri is older now, etc.

I also appreciated that “run the walls” wasn’t an actual race, because I kept trying to use AC button-skills to climb and stuff, and Ciri would so have beaten me if she’d actually been trying…and if I’d had to keep trying until I beat her, it could have become annoying and a distraction from the forward momentum. Whereas as it was, it was a kind of forgiving, “all right, THIS is the climb button here” kind of discovery process that let me move on even though I was actually pretty awful at the task as presented.

Butch:

Geralt’s old, and tired, and recognizes that you are, too.

Yeah, that whole “Yen was never there” was a nice touch. A lot of exposition. Which is nice, cuz often tutorial and exposition are more separate. There’s some story, then a whole bunch of “ok, we’ll stop while you walk, and open that door, etc.” This felt organic. Nicely done. (See? Told you this game was good. Get over the flowers, m’kay?)

Oh God, if I had to repeat the wall-running I would’ve thrown controllers. Shit, I almost died. I couldn’t get the knack of climbing down ladders, and kept taking damage. THAT would’ve been embarrassing. Yes. Forgive. There’s 150 hours to get good.

As an aside, here’s a PSA: CDPR is releasing little tidbits of DLC each week for freebs. There’s four out now. Three are cosmetic (more beards!) but one today is a side quest for later on. Free content! Unlike patches, you have to affirmatively go get them, which you can do from the whole overview/recent activity stuff under the icon on the dashboard. Go get.

Then play a bunch.

Feminina:

Yeah, I saw the warning about taking damage from falls and was like “I’m not going near that ladder!!!!” Then I wandered around for five minutes trying to find a safe way down rather than risk it. So I didn’t take any damage, but Ciri was tapping her foot at the bottom thinking “come ON old man, it’s getting really tough to let you win here!”

Old and tired and cautious, that’s my Geralt.

More beards! Need more beards! Will download ASAP.

Butch:

And an alternate look for Yennefer! (insert inappropriate joke here)

Though quests are worth it. Even if it’s a small one, quests be quests and free be free.

HA! “You run the walls, kid.” I didn’t get that it wasn’t a race, and didn’t want to redo, so I charged blindly on.

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