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Some Witcher 3 spoilers: minimal plot, but one gameplay detail

Butch:

Ok, so that happened. What happened you ask? Well, after one little question mark distraction (which got me a new quest that I had the discipline not to do right then…..and it was level 18) off to the baron! Got to the castle, saw a merchant which meant GWENT because that’s what merchants are for, then to talk to the baron which led to that bit that you managed not to spoil. Nice job. Now I’m standing in the baron’s wife’s room looking for clues.

That was cool. Very cool. I knew from reading about stuff that there would be parts that you played as Ciri, but I didn’t think one would come this soon. This’ll open a whole can of worms re women in this game, won’t it?

But here’s some initial takes (Note, I think we’ll have a lot more to say once you get into the witch bit):

1) Really good way to tell her backstory. SOOOO much better than a long winded talky bit you’d forget half of.

2) (And here is the seeds of about four or five months of occasionally if not frequently talking about women in this game): It was a very strange mix of feeling powerless and superpowered, which, considering the whole woman thing was interesting. I’ll ‘splain.

The powerlessness came from a nice ‘gamey’ touch. I kept doing things that made Geralt do things that didn’t work. Tried to cast signs, say, or tried to find herbs with witcher senses. I mean, after 19 hours, it was reflexive, and when it didn’t work, that was a bit of a “Oh SHIT I really AM lost in the woods. Fuck.”

But then there was the superpowers, and, again, gamey. This happened twice. First, the werewolf. It think it was intentional that we were given the quest about the hunter that led to that (very fucking hard to kill) werewolf BEFORE this bit. That werewolf….um….sucked. So when I figured that Ciri was gonna fight a werewolf without signs, without bombs, I thought “Shit. This going to take all night.” And then…..it didn’t. GERALT had to turn down the difficulty. Ciri whacked that thing down like it was a randit. On blood and broken bones.

The second time was the first time I hit circle. Did you hit circle? I was fighting, something, and was trying to do that whole “dodge backward to avoid it and rest” trick. So imagine my surprise when the button that Geralt pushes to BACK AWAY made Ciri do…..whatever THAT was. That wasn’t backing away. And I think I actually said out loud “Holy shit she can do THAT?”

Neat.

And extra neat that the game let you figure all that out on your own. There was no tutorial popping up on screen that said “Hey, no witcher senses, but if you hit circle some shit happens.” No. Which is why I was so surprised. This game pops tutorials all over. So when it let me discover shit over the course of play, it REALLY was a sense of discovering weaknesses and strengths, which, considering this was Ciri, was REALLY effective.

And here’s another seed to plant that I’m sure we’ll be touching on for many a month: What we make of the fact that she is, very intentionally, very similar in looks to Geralt. White hair, striking eyes, scar, etc. No accident. This will mean things.

So what did you do?

Feminina:

I know, I didn’t spoil Ciri! It was tough, but I kept quiet. All the better for us both to spoil it for everyone right now! Hahahahaha! Everyone: you were warned.

I agree, it was interesting to kind of wander through playing her, figuring out what she can and can’t do. And she can REALLY dodge! That ‘zoom away’ trick is pretty nifty. I also had recently faced–and left without killing–the other werewolf, so I agree, you think “oh man, this is going to be a nightmare…” but no! It emphasizes the fact that Ciri is a badass in her own right: she can take care of business very well, thank you.

Also noticed her pronounced physical resemblance to Geralt…that’ll mean something.

Butch:

I think that a reason I was VERY surprised that this was a Ciri bit was that I knew you played it and didn’t let on.

Zoom away? I zoomed….towards? Through? I couldn’t figure it out. But it was cool. I tried to dodge and went all transistor.

Speaking of Ciri=badass, there was a bit of her dialog that stood out:

“See this on my back? (indicates sword) Wolves fear it. So do kings.” Emphasis added.

Odd thing to say, apropos of nothing. Rather threatening.

Could it be that the reason the good emperor wants to find Ciri is not to hug his daughter but because said daughter is coming for him? For some reason?

Feminina:

I can keep a secret. I usually choose not to, but I CAN, if I want. Ha.

The king-fear line wasn’t totally apropos of nothing…I mean, Gretka was afraid of the Wolf King, so saying wolves AND kings fear Ciri’s sword covers both bases there. But I agree, it’s an interesting line. To be feared by kings suggests she’s a threat to the established order. But as a usurper who wants to take over, or a revolutionary who wants to overthrow the whole system? Hm.

Yeah, I zoomed everywhere, really. Away, towards, through, around. Good for avoiding and then attacking from behind, that’s for sure.

I finally finished up with the baron’s Family Matters quest, so next stop is finding the witch. I also found a barber. Got a nice ‘mustache and soul patch’ look going on. I laugh every time I see myself, so I probably won’t do it again, but I like to try new things. Also I had made, and subsequently sold, three more pairs of fancy assassin trousers, so my plan to increase revenue with a little side business in tailoring is going well.

Which is good, because I lost again at gwent. Everyone has way better cards than I do–I can’t compete with them. This guy was putting 5 extra cards onto the field at a time! You run the gwent side of things, I’ll sell pants.

Butch:

I will change my whole estimation of your spoilerificness. It’s all a choice. I get it.

Yup. I mean, she could have said “wolves are afraid of it” and left it at that. Or “wolves and monsters.” Saying “kings fear my sword” is a weird way to comfort a child afraid of wolves. I mean, if your kid has a nightmare, you’re not going to say “Don’t worry, I’ll protect you from the monsters, and, by the way, my liberal politics will eventually stick it to the man.”

By the way, I accidentally inspected something when a banter line about following the treats happened and I missed said line. Did you get that sending the kid into the woods was her dad trying to kill her? Or was there some demon? Or am I not supposed to know yet?

Yeah, that zooming trick rocked! Where’d that COME from? Nice trick. Teach Geralt, Ciri.

Also nice about the tailor business. Stick with expensive pants. That’s the road to riches, that.

Mustache and soul patch? What is Geralt, a 70s porn star?

I’m getting the sense that this baron storyline bit is kinda long. I mean, that all that I did yesterday took me a good hour, and I get the sense I’m not even close to done. I mean, I JUST made the deal to find his wife and kid.

Ooo, yeah, the cards that let you take all like cards FROM YOUR DECK and not just your hand and play them all at once. The monster deck has a lot of that. Ghouls look all wimpy, only 2 points, but then the dude hits with five of them.

Counter with weather cards. Sorts that shit right out.

I still haven’t lost since the palace. I don’t know what your problem is.

Next time you come over, we’re so playing poker.

Feminina:

No gwent. No poker. How about a nice board game?

Yes, the baron storyline is pretty long. Settle in there. It’s got several different parts, so there’s a lot going on. Regarding Ciri, I definitely got the sense that Gretka’s dad was trying to get her killed (echos of Hansel and Gretel, right? Abandoning the kid in the woods because there’s not enough food?), although it wasn’t totally clear to me either, partly I think because Gretka’s a kid telling us her incomplete kid understanding of it. There was something sinister going on, though, that’s for sure.

Maybe you’d mention your politics if your kid’s nightmare involved, I dunno, a soulless corporation or something.

“I’m scared we’ll wind up trapped in a zombie-fested Wal-mart!”
“Don’t worry son, it so happens I have a zombie-killing machete with a zoning ordinance engraved on its blade that prohibits big box stores within city limits.”

You’ve got to tailor your comfort to the moment, man. Ciri’s just being sensitive to the nuance’s of the child’s true fear: non-representative government. Shudder.

Don’t mock the soul patch. There are times when Geralt would be happy to be a 1970s porn star. Beats fighting hordes of nekkers, anyway.

I ran into a couple of hordes of nekkers last night, and you know what? I just went around them. It’s not even worth it to get into random fights (unless you need some component of that creature–ingredients are definitely a thing). We’re used to games that reward you for pretty much fighting everything you see, and this game does not really do that, so I find I’m making an interesting shift in approach.

Here, unless you’ve got a contract for something, or there’s a question mark near it so you know it’s got treasure, you’re probably going to expend as many resources (potions, food) killing it as you get back in loot (wolf liver, ghoul’s blood, drowner brain). I’ve decided I’m over that. If it doesn’t attack me or get in my way, I’m leaving it alone.

This is a nice mechanic, really: the game gently promoting the witcher-code idea of “don’t work for free.” I mean, you can fight wandering monsters all day long if you want, but you’re not going to get rich and powerful that way.

From a professional standpoint, you can’t clear the whole damn world of monsters singlehandedly, so just focus on the things people point out as being problems. Big enough problems that they’ll call a professional, that is. I mean, drowners are a problem, but apparently they’re very common, so presumably in the normal course of things people just avoid them. Fine: I’ll avoid them too. If people want them dead, they can pay me.

Unless they’re near some loot. If loot’s involved, all bets are off.

Butch:

But what was the trail of treats? Who left the treats? If there was no food, where’d the treats come from?

And I think there IS something, not was. Cuz before I heard of that, there were notices on a notice board somewhere urging people NOT to follow treats into the forest, no matter how hungry you are. And there was NPC chatter about having to abandon a kid cuz of lack of food.

Something’s out there. Whether people are giving kids to it or it’s stealing kids remains to be seen.

The witch bit wasn’t endlessly long. I mean, good couple hours, but not TOO involved. Lot of plot, though. And great loot.

Good point, good point about matching your comfort to the fear. “I had that subprime balloon mortgage dream again!”

As for porn stars, wait until you find a brothel. Wowswers.

Avoiding wandering monsters…Not a bad way to be. But guarded treasure and monster nests are worth it (there’s MAD loot in nests. Remember to loot the nest after you blow it up). Abandoned sites are great, too. Last one I did, the herbalist with all sorts of good stuff showed up.

I’ll tell you what has left me TOTALLY cold though: Bandit camps. Those fuckers are hard. I’ve cleared a couple cuz they’ve pissed me off, and I haven’t come across good loot in any of them.

As for minimal loot/XP as a means of encouraging “don’t work for free”… Hmm. I didn’t think of that, but you have a point there.

Though I’m being too nice on the working for free bit.

So often, though, monsters are around a treasure, or a map, or something. Worth it for that.

But random forest? Hardly. Guarded treasure? I’ll go toe to toe with a water hag for that.

Feminina:

Oh yeah, I forgot about that ‘trail of treats’ notice! I did see that. Good point, something must be out there. Something very ominous. I bet later in the game you run into an army of treat-infused demon children stolen from villages. Or a giant pit of child bones. Or something. I’ll keep an eye out.

I know, I’m also tending to be a bit of a soft touch, and likely to just work for free. These poor peasants! That girl’s wedding fund! I can’t take away their only savings! But I think we can have the rule in place that we don’t work for free, but be allowed to bend it from time to time. You know, sliding scale fee, occasional pro bono work, etc. (And don’t forget the witcher tax!) You just don’t want people to ASSUME you work for free. If they think you kill monsters all the time just for the fun of it, they’ll value your services less.

“I saw you kill 15 ghouls as your before-breakfast workout in that abandoned field over there, so I don’t see why it’s that big a deal for you to track down a werewolf now. I’ll give you 10 gold and a sandwich, max.”

That’s the kind of thing you don’t want people thinking. Not that I wouldn’t take it, because contracts and quests are where the XP is, but we have to consider the market.

Butch:

I’m betting something very ominous, hard to kill, and nasty.

But I bet Devil’s Puffball will fuck it up. I really want Devil’s Puffball.

It’s true, it’s true, we need people to value our professional services. (I do feel guilty looking the poor. Especially the houses with old people.)

If they could pay in XP! “I don’t have much except this dried fish, but 250 XP, how ’bout it?”
SOLD!

Don’t knock sandwiches. Couple of those, couple bottles of water, ass will get kicked.

Feminina:

I don’t even have a recipe for Devil’s Puffball! I need recipes so bad. I have so many ingredients, and I keep hanging onto them because I think “surely soon I will find an awesome potion recipe that uses drowner brains!” but it doesn’t happen. Actually I don’t even care if the potion is awesome–I just want to use these brains on something. It could be a potion of violent nausea (which would be called something poetic like “Internal Rebellion”), and I’d make some, just to get rid of brains.

Maybe I can sew decorative brains onto my next pair of fancy trousers.

Butch:

I don’t have Devil’s Puffball either. Otherwise, I’d be fast traveling to the nearest herbalist and saying “Take my money! Take it all! Just give me the ingredients!”

Though that one herbalist, the one from the abandoned site. Got the beast oil recipe. Needed two wolf livers. Dude only had one.

These things….they’re everywhere. He had shit I didn’t even know what it was. But one measly wolf liver? Nope. For fucking real.

There’s no way a potion would be as descriptive as “Internal Rebellion.” Birds, remember? It would be called “Blue footed boobie.”

Feminina:

I need to clear that abandoned site. I don’t think I did it…no beast oil in my collection.

But first I need to find some witches!

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