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Some very minor Witcher 3 spoilers, from early in the game

Butch:

So yesterday. Talked to everyone at the palace. Emperor’s gotta get a more impressive study. Bowed. Smooched Yen. Love the outfit. Played that dude in gwent three times before I beat him (it was oddly satisfying beating a guy with a vastly superior deck. I need that morale card). Read a bunch of books I will forget to sell. Went to Velen, killed the dogs you killed, went to a little town and read a message board and got a side quest to find some hunter dude’s wife, wondered why there wasn’t more in the town, found a secret basement will all SORTS of good shit (enhanced cat!), stopped wondering, decided to go off the beaten path to investigate question marks, found a bandit camp, got killed by bandits about nine times, gave up, found a hidden treasure, got killed from afar from whatever was guarding it about nine times, gave up, found some monster so much more powerful than me it had a red skull over it and the game popped a tutorial saying “red skulls mean they’re MUCH more powerful than you and you should run,” so I ran, decided maybe the game was trying to tell me something re “go to the main quest,” so I started that way, found some priest who wanted me to burn body pits (what it with burning body pits in these games?) so I said ok, mostly cuz I felt guilty that I never DID finish burning body pits in the Exalted Plains, burned a body pit, called it a day. I’ll burn the other two tonight.

Phew.

Shit, Geralt, could you have fast traveled to a slightly more useful place?

So I’ll make the conclusion you didn’t want to make: Yup, this is where you learn it’s big. First, LOOK at the map! Big. Second, there’s no better way to gauge a game than how much stronger the monsters are than you. I mean, I got killed about 18 times by bandits and missile wielding distant treasure guards, and those DIDN’T have red skulls. So the game is saying “not only will you be powerful enough to beat these bandits someday, but that red skull thing, too! But…..that someday is a ways away….a long ways.”

Feminina:

I meant to bow, but then panicked under the pressure of the ticking clock and clicked the wrong option and refused. Nobody did anything to me except mutter that I was still a barbarian, but the steward guy chided me later that “nothing happened to YOU–I will be punished!” so I felt bad about that.

You’re ahead of me again now–I didn’t play last night, so I’m still at the post-wild-dog stage. Will explore the village when I get a chance, though.

Butch:

Awwww, you got the weird dude in trouble! Did you at least beat the gwent guy?

Whoo hoo! Back ahead! Sorry for the spoilers. They aren’t really spoilers. I didn’t do much.

But as for the bigness, I’m totally convinced White Orchard was a preliminary bit. There wasn’t anything in white orchard that was all that much more powerful than you. Here…..there’s stuff. I don’t even know what some of it is. That guarded treasure? I galloped on ol’ Roach towards a question mark. It popped “guarded treasure” and a few bad guy dots on the minimap, far off. “Oh, I said, I’ll just get off and….” and then I hear a thwack and 90% of my health is gone. I say “What the….” and I’m dead. So I reloaded and tried to at least get a glimpse of what was killing me. Nope. Didn’t even see it.

And THAT wasn’t even the red skull baddie.

There’s stuff around we are not yet meant to see.

Feminina:

Nah, it turns out I’m pretty bad at gwent. I played him once, saw he had really powerful cards, and was like “screw that, I’m out of here.”

But if you can go back to White Orchard, maybe I’ll hop back there while I’m still near the signpost and look for that hag. Give you a chance to get farther ahead. Toy with you a bit before I play for 6 hours this weekend and wind up…somewhere else on this enormous map. Ha. I glanced at the map online, and yeah, Velen is big. We’ll be here for a while.

Butch:

I stuck with it in gwent. David vs. Goliath. I’m getting good.

Velen is big, but, at least for me right now, rather question mark free. I think that changes as things progress.

I just read the blog and I notice that our long paragraphs about what we did the night before use the word “died” a hell of a lot. Also, I noticed I talked about my style of going towards the quests like a good little sheep cuz that’s the way that’s probably easiest and makes the most sense, which is pretty much the complete opposite of what I did last night.

And what did I do last night? Died.

There ya go.

Feminina:

Yeah, I’m sure we’ll hear about things as we prowl around. But as your experience suggests, perhaps prowling around in the general area of the quest marker, rather than striking out into open territory, is the best approach at first. I’ll keep that in mind!

And then probably get distracted and magpie off somewhere to get killed a lot. Which is annoying, because the load time after you die is kind of long. It’s not too bad moving from cut scenes to action, or from one area to another, but if you die and have to reload? Over and over? Groan. Adds a small but real bite to game death, and makes it a consequence I definitely want to avoid and don’t take lightly.

So I will probably be inclined to avoid things that are obviously going to kill me repeatedly.

Butch:

Yeah. I mean, the notice board gave me a quest that was generally towards the main quest, the road to the main quest had a quest on it that didn’t kill me (yet) and took me off the path (some), so there ya go.

It does take a long time to load post death! I’m glad that’s not just me.

There’s things that’ll kill you. That there are.

Feminina:

I will keep this in mind, and not feel bad about following the quest lead like a good little player. Hey, they planned it to work well that way, we should appreciate and take advantage of their careful level design.

And then occasionally go haring off into the wilderness for no reason. Because we’re players.

Butch:

Or maybe I just suck. Or I shouldn’t have upped the difficulty. You still on Blood and Broken bones?

By the way, re Quen: Quen lasts a while, and you can cast it before you get into combat, then have your stamina shoot right back up. Nice trick.

Feminina:

I need to get into the habit of using quen. I forget about it. Igni’s my main spell! Obviously. I just like to set things on fire, you know me. But there are others that are also cool, and I know I shouldn’t neglect them.

I am still doing Blood and Broken Bones. It’s been working OK so far. I die enough to keep it real, but haven’t gotten to a point that I had to turn it down. But that option is on the table should it become necessary.

Butch:

Aard’s nice. I like Aard. It’s especially nice against dudes with shields.

I still have to give yrden another chance. It was SO bad in 2. You never knew quite where it was, and there was this BIG boss that you needed to use it. MAN I hated that boss. So nice it gives you a little purple ring now. I still have issues from the past, man.

Thattagirl. We will smite on a harder than normal difficulty! This is a victorious day.

Feminina:

I really haven’t fought many guys with shields yet. That deserter captain, mainly. I forgot about aard at the time, and it WAS pretty tough chopping him down without it…I’ll try to remember it for the next shield-dude.

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