|Developer||CD Projekt Red|
|Platform||XB1, PS4, PC|
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Videogame players know Western European fantasy tropes like the back of their hands, which is why CD Projekt Red’s Witcher RPG series has been so refreshing in recent years. The tale—based on a series of novels and short stories by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski—plays out somewhat like a Slavic Game of Thrones, with several shades of gray and a plethora of curses afflicting various villages. After the second game, it turns out humans aren’t the true threat to the world of our reluctant protagonist, Geralt of Rivia. No, the titular Wild Hunt—vile specters who chase down humans for sport—threaten to destroy everything. Amazingly, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt features a world 35 times that seen in the previous game.
I enjoyed The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, but I loathed its cumbersome, unnecessarily complicated inventory system and menus. Anytime I’d get some momentum exploring the world, it seemed I’d need to pause the game to switch swords, change clothes, drop an item, mix a potion, or cast a spell. As the Poles would say: absurdalny! And while I was mesmerized by the intricate 45-minute demo of Wild Hunt I saw at E3, I had to track down the scoop from the CD Projekt Red development team themselves. Had they heard the complaints? Would we see more streamlined menus and inventory this time around?
I didn’t even get to finish my sentence, as they knew what was coming. Yes, they assured me, everything’s getting streamlined this time around, and the complex political intrigue—an element I actually really enjoyed—is also getting toned down slightly from the previous game to make the experience more accessible for newcomers, seeing as this is the series’ debut on PlayStation hardware.
That was all I needed to hear, and after an utterly breathtaking E3 showing, The Witcher 3 now stands among my most anticipated games of 2014.