The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt didn't have a huge presence at E3 last week. Rather than having a full booth for all to see, the developers at CD Projekt Red rented a small room where handfuls of people viewed the game on an hourly basis. That was a wise decision when it came to nailing down the right audience, but it's a shame the company didn't opt for a space on the show floor. Why? Simple – everyone needs to see The Witcher 3.
If you thought The Witcher 2 was impressive for Xbox 360, you have no idea what awaits you with CD Projekt Red's jump to the next generation. Wild Hunt is actually 35 times larger than the previous game, giving lead character Geralt more room to complete missions and side quests. There's no shortage of detail in the world either – everything from a dankly lit dock to a thriving village looks gorgeous.
The Witcher 3's world comes alive depending on the decisions you make throughout the game. That's not to say that every choice comes easy, as there are times you'll need to make a tough call to see how it plays out. Case in point – you get sent away on a mission to find a supernatural beast threatening a nearby village. After successfully defeating it, you return to find the village destroyed and its inhabitants dead.
It goes much deeper than that. Throughout the game, you'll be able to acquire new items through a trade system, such as picking up meat at a farm to keep your health maintained or gathering new weapons. Sometimes you can take the devious route and kill the shopkeeper, only to find that his death affected suppliers in another town suffering from a lack of business. It's this in-depth decision-making that will keep you coming back for more in Wild Hunt.
The Witcher 3's open world will take hours to explore – the developers already stated that you'll spend at least 100 hours covering ground, and that's just an estimate; you'll have hundreds of quests to complete. Whether you choose to take on the nasty Wild Hunt creatures -- the focus of the storyline, where Geralt has to eliminate them from existence to save mankind – or tackle side quests to get to know villagers better, there's something new around each corner; being able to complete everything at your leisure or just goof off and see what comes next is a welcome addition to the series.
The combat system also received an impressive boost. This time around, instead of just 20 action scenarios throughout the game, you'll run into nearly 100 with the quick-time event system removed in favor of more realistic in-game combat. It's refreshing to see Geralt in action, easily making his way through Wild Hunt hordes and other threats with the help of his sword. You'll also be able to improve skills over time. About 20 or so hours into the game, Geralt will transform into a nearly unstoppable warrior.
A new ability that we shouldn't overlook is the Witcher sense. It works in a similar way to Batman's skills in Detective Mode, allowing Geralt to track enemies using a visual trail to give hints where to go next. Though obviously not as high-tech as anything the Dark Knight employs, this “sense” comes in handy for finding and killing enemies.
With a rather modest budget of $15 million and plenty of next-gen tools on hand, CD Projekt Red is pouring every bit of development magic into The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. That makes us excited for what comes next. That said, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will release for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC Spring 2014.