Hands-Off Preview: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Savage Beauty

The Witcher 3 is easily one of the most anticipated games of next year. I’ve never played any of the games in the series but as a fan of dark fantasy and games that actually understand what an M rating means, I’ve always had this one in my sights. I went into this presentation expecting a lot and I was not disappointed in the least. You want “next-gen” gaming? The Witcher 3 has it, my friends.

I’m not even going to beat around the bush here, this game is GORGEOUS. This is easily one of the most visually impressive games I have ever seen. You know a game looks good when you’re left slack jawed by the graphics. “Purdy game…” is all my mind could really register as the stuff I saw on the screen made its way from my retinas and into my brain. CD Projekt RED wants to make the most detailed game world out there and just from this short demo I can see that they’re about to pull it off.

What makes this game look so great is the attention to detail. From the different types of grass that liters the ground, the clouds in the sky and the mountains off in the distance. The character’s facial animations have a lot of subtlety to them as well and you could practically feel what they were thinking even if they didn’t verbalize it. Even the creatures of the wild behaved realistically, including small gestures that made them feel like real animals. The world is also brimming with a wide array of colors, which serves to make the visual experience that much richer.

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The demo we saw in the presentation booth was an extended version of the trailer that was shown during the Xbox event. Protagonist Geralt is tasked with hunting down and killing a nasty griffon. This task would seem like a great challenge to any normal man but Geralt is a Witcher and is more than capable of defeating this monster.

Almost as soon as Geralt enters the forest he can hear the griffon off in the distance. He activates his “Witcher Sense” to find his prey more easily. This effect highlights specific things in the world, in this case, the beast’s footprints. Once the monster is spotted, Geralt pops it with a few shots from his crossbow. The griffon flies off in obvious pain but now it’s actually easier to track since it’s bleeding everywhere.

While tracking down the griffon, Geralt faces off against some random bad guys that are in his way. This is where I got to see combat for the first time and I absolutely loved it. Geralt set dudes on fire with magic attacks and fought them with his sword. He not only sliced limbs off but even cut one dude clean in half with a vertical slice. The area was a bloody mess and there was even blood on Geralt’s sword. These types of encounters are typical, and ensures that gamers stay on their toes for any possible danger that can spring up randomly.

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Geralt eventually finds the griffon, which is still reeling from being shot by arrows, and he shoots it with even more arrows. The monster gets angry and begins its attack. Here, we see Geralt being nimble and avoiding attacks with ease. He used fireball type spells when the griffon was in the air and melee when it was on the ground. For such a big monster, it was taken out pretty fast though. Like the trailer from the Xbox event, we don’t actually get to see the final blow and instead, the screen fades to black.

The next part of the video had Geralt (with the griffon’s head dangling from his horse’s side) riding to the town of Novigrad. Here, we get to see the vastness of the world and how lush it is. Everything seemed alive and we were told that all NPCs have their own lives to live, which are independent of what is going on with Geralt. Merchants sell their wares, bars serve drinks and domesticated animals scurry along the streets.

It took a while for Geralt to reach the city from the countryside and this let us take in more of the beauty of the game. The city will act as a hub world and will be the place where you receive many of the game’s sidequests. The game world is enormous and there is a fast travel mechanic to make getting around it less time consuming. Personally speaking, I’ll try to use this option as few times as possible because I want to travel from place to place and see it all myself.

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I want to add that the love that CD Projekt RED has for this game radiated from their presentation. These guys have worked for years on this franchise and you can tell that they have poured their hearts and souls into making it exceptional. I told one of the developers how impressed I was with what was shown and he told me that comments like mine — as well as the thunderous applause that the audience gave them — help put things into perspective for them. When working on this game, all they know is what is in front of them and what their colleagues think. Getting independent feedback from gamers, and having it be so positive, lets them know that they truly are creating something special.

Although I’m sad that I won’t get to play the game this year, I know that the extra development time will be used to make it that much better. This preview can only convey a small part of what it felt like to see this game in motion. I can only imagine what it will feel like to actually have a controller in my hand and be free to explore this gigantic and beautiful world. As far as I’m concerned, The Witcher 3 could be the first truly “next-gen” title; a game that demonstrates the power of the current-gen systems and a benchmark for developers of what to strive for. If this game isn’t on your radar now then it should be.

Join the Discussion

  • Jeff Maxwell

    just gotta hope some new GPU’s come out from NVidia and AMD so I can play this at maximum setting with as high framerate as possible, might actually play it on the big screen with an xbox controller or something. cant wait see the northern lights in it, one thing ive always wanted see but guess seeing it in game will have to do

  • Delsin Rowe

    can’t wait for it. next year will be a bloodbath between bloodborne and witcher 😀
    There is also fable but that game can’t compete with those two 😀

  • qqq

    “The Witcher 3 is easily one of the most anticipated games of next year. I’ve never played any of the games in the series”

    Then why is it the most anticipated game ? One better actually – why are you writing about this game if you have no idea what’s going on with it? Because it looks good ? Fan of dark fantasy and you’re looking forward to Witcher 3 which has more colours than a rainbow? Witcher 1 owns both sequels in atmosphere and estetics, that game gets dark fantasy and violent worlds.

    • deutrino

      You can’t anticipate for a game if you haven’t played its prequel? What about new games? What about people who like what they’re seeing?

      • qqq

        its like THE MOST anticipated game for me would be would be Dark Souls 5, but i have no clue about the entire series. I could be intrigued i guess, but most anticipated ?

        • They Call Me Senpai

          It’s entirely possible for a game you don’t know much about to be one of your most anticipated games. If you don’t think so, then that’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it.

    • FalloutWanderer2077

      While I agree Witcher 1 did atmosphere the best. Witcher 3 has differing/dynamic weather. Every gameplay demo has only shown daytime footage and clear weather.

      If you are referring to aesthetics then I’d wait until the game releases before making a final judgement. I am hoping too that it returns to former glories of the first game.

      I love games with color as well but I do get what you are talking about. Witcher 1 EE has this special…Magical aura to it. It is not blind nostalgia either because I didn’t finish the first game until a few years ago. It also boasts one of the greatest soundtracks I’ve ever heard for a video game. Hell,that includes movies too.

  • They Call Me Senpai

    I’ve never played any of the previous games, but I’ve had my eye on this one for a while now – which isn’t surprising considering my love for RPG’s. The backstory sounds like it’s right up my alley and the world itself is one of the most beautifully detailed I’ve ever seen.

    I can’t wait until February, I’ll be getting my taxes, picking up a PS4 and getting this and my Collector’s Edition of The Order: 1886 (which I should start paying off now). I just hope it’s not riddled with annoying side missions like GTA V or I’ll be very disappointed.

    • AAA

      wut are you talking about…?
      GTA V had the best side missions (IMO)
      it wasn’t boring
      it was Funny
      it was Fun
      and most important….it wasn’t repetitive 😛
      (When i say side missions i mean the Question marks on the map :P)

      • They Call Me Senpai

        They were very repetitive and boring, which is why I still haven’t bothered to beat the game yet. If you think differently, I can respect that, but I hated them with a passion.

        • AAA

          never played two that were alike…
          also finished the game twice…the second was 100% 😛

        • Why So Serious?

          Side missions have the ability to make a good game great but when boring and repetitive like Second Son’s it just makes it a shame.

    • Nicholas

      I’m looking forward to it too despite not playing the previous two games (don’t have a good pc or 360 so I cant), though I have started reading the first book they’re based on to get some back story, so far so good

      • FalloutWanderer2077

        The books are great! reading ‘the last wish’ correct? I love that book. It will certainly give you some back story and proper context to characters and story. Here is a link to the next chronological book to read, The Sword Of Destiny. It has not been translated to English [ will not be either ] – https://ia800902.us.archive.org/31/items/TheSwordOfDestiny/AndrzejSapkowski-TheSwordOfDestiny.pdf

        Here is the chronological book order:

        1. The Last Wish
        2. Sword of Destiny
        3. Blood of Elves
        4. Times of Contempt
        5. Baptism of Fire
        6. The Tower of the Swallow
        7. The Lady of the Lake

        8. The Witcher
        9. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
        [Games take place after the novels]

        The 5th book in the saga, Baptism of Fire in English just released last week, here is a link for those awaiting the latest official translation – http://www.amazon.com/Baptism-Fire-Witcher-Andrzej-Sapkowski/dp/0316219185/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404565491&sr=1-1&keywords=baptism+by+fire

        • Nicholas

          Ye, I’m maybe half way through the last wish, its really good. Thanks for the list, I’ll check more of them out when I finished the one I’m on

          • FalloutWanderer2077

            No problem pal. Just trying to be helpful. I gave that Sword of Destiny fan translation link because that is the only way to read it unless you are fluent in another language besides English.

            For whatever asinine reason, the publishers decided not to publish SOD. Reasons given – Short story collections are not as marketable nor sell well etc. Tell me that’s not just a bit ironic considering ‘The Last Wish’ is a SHORT STORY collection!! LMAO.

            The Last Wish has been critically acclaimed and sold quite well from my understanding.

            So don’t forget, the only way to read the series in chronological order with sword of destiny included is here – https://ia800902.us.archive.org/31/items/TheSwordOfDestiny/AndrzejSapkowski-TheSwordOfDestiny.pdf

            Just making sure you saw the link. SOD is pretty damn important! it introduces and fleshes out some characters who play a major role in the later novels. many of the events in that collection pave the way for later scenes in “Blood of Elves”

            Fans should sign the petition to get the book translated to English! hey,only takes a minute – http://www.petitiononline.com/GvR066kf/petition.html

          • Nicholas

            I’ve saved that link you gave for SOD on my computer, I’m going to try and read them all in order, so thanks again for the link

          • FalloutWanderer2077

            You’re welcome, Enjoy.

    • xkingxnitemare

      Get ready to be dissapointed then. W3 supposed to have over 100 hours of play. A big chunk is going ti be side quests you can bet. Which is what RPGs usually offer. I loved the first 2 witcher games. Anyone who hasnt played them should and you would be even more excited for the 3rd.PC for witcher is the only way to go tho.

      • FalloutWanderer2077

        @They Call Me Senpai @xkingxnitemare
        50 hrs of MQ and 50 hrs for side quests,give or take a few hrs – depending on play-style. then we have mini-games,random encounters/smaller quests albeit with stories attached to them,monster hunting quests and treasure hunting [rare loot and ingredients for example].

        knowing how I usually play games,open world RPG games in particular, I’ll play over 100 hours easily in Witcher 3. I love to explore every nook and cranny and take in the scenery and art.

        I’m that guy watching let’s plays or their friends & family going ” no! over there,you missed that, why did you by pass that doorway,surely there was something down that way!” lol. It is true to a degree.

        I’ve noticed some players tend to rip through games quickly. What irks me is when these same gamers complain certain games are too short or lacked content.

  • Rower

    More jrpgs please : )

    • Josh Melton


  • yuvdul

    just give me that game .
    its not that hard

  • themugen

    You have taken my money. Now take my girlfriend, job, and social life. I am READY!

    • Josh Melton


    • FalloutWanderer2077

      If we could get a real life Triss Merigold or Yennefer in exchange I would happily give it all up! lol 😛

  • EdwardJamesKenwayACIV

    Witcher 3 reminds me of Dark Souls 😛

    • Josh Melton

      Cute No

  • erMonezza

    Ah, Witcher 3 can’t wait for thee.

    I loved both previous games, and am 100% sure will enjoy the 3rd entry.

    • Josh Melton

      Thank You

  • Иван Мордор

    PC version – the Best version of the best game. can’t wait to taste it)

    • Josh Melton

      Yes, PC Master Race

  • eternal_napalm


  • heitiki

    i really hope they focus on great sidequest. thats what made the first witcher one of my favorite games of all time.

  • Why So Serious?

    I played Witcher 2 back on 360 and went into not knowing a thing. Easily in the top best 3 RPG’s I ever played. The absolute only issue with it was the extremely stiff combat, it certainly was not made with consoles in mind (obviously being a PC title). It appears they have cleaned that up with Witcher 3 and taken this title to a next-gen level. Can’t freaking wait!

  • supersungin

    my pc is ready

  • Optimus Prime

    “I’ve never played any of the games in the series”

    Sorry, I stopped reading there.
    Been playing the witcher before it was cool and now everyone’s jumping on the bandwagon when they should have realized the gem of the series years and years ago.

  • Tauriq Moosa

    I disliked a lot of the previous two games. I think it was mainly how stiff the combat felt and how I had no idea what the spells did. I hope they make it just a little bit easier to understand (not easier to play, just to know what terms mean!).

    I really want to love Witcher 3.