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 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Next Gen Consoles and PC (not) in 2014

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SimianWonder
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PostSubject: Re: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Next Gen Consoles and PC (not) in 2014   Sun Feb 05, 2017 10:13 am

Beat the main story of Hearts of Stone, and enjoyed it tremendously.

There's so much variety in the questing it asks you to do...

Spoiler:
 


It's a hefty quest, took me around ten hours all in, though had I paid the £7.99 asking price I'd still have considered it value for money. To get it as part of the GoTY edition was just a wonderful bonus.
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Neo
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PostSubject: Re: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Next Gen Consoles and PC (not) in 2014   Mon Feb 06, 2017 7:26 am

Remember meeting O'Dimm at the very start of the vanilla game?

Blood and Wine is incredible, far better than most entire games by itself, I hope you enjoy it.
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SimianWonder
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PostSubject: Re: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Next Gen Consoles and PC (not) in 2014   Wed Feb 08, 2017 10:05 pm

Neo wrote:
Remember meeting O'Dimm at the very start of the vanilla game?

Vaguely, yes. I remember having a conversation with someone, but not much more than that. Given the encounter lasts a matter of seconds though, I had to google exactly which part O'Dimm played in Wild Hunt. It was also neat to discover he was visible in the background of most scenes in HoS as well, he's just so generic he blends right in. I never noticed him at all.

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Blood and Wine is incredible, far better than most entire games by itself, I hope you enjoy it.

Very much enjoying it so far, though not too far in to the story, just beat the beast of Beauclair in the first encounter. Spent far too much time gathering all the new Skellige faction cards for Gwent.
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SimianWonder
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PostSubject: Re: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Next Gen Consoles and PC (not) in 2014   Sun Feb 12, 2017 4:42 pm

I've reached a point in Blood and Wine which the game basically tells me is the point of no return, so I stopped and went back to tidying up some secondary quests. That really is no chore, because as mentioned previously the secondary quests in Witcher 3 are often just as good as the main story.

Initially, I opted for clearing some of the Witcher Contracts but they're very low level at this point (anything between level 14-30) and a level 49 Geralt makes even the boss monsters an absolute joke. One of the quests involved a group of level fifteen bandits, maybe seven strong in number, attempting to overwhelm you with sheer numbers but a single use of Aard (with the B&W freezing augmentation and various upgrades) killed them all instantly. At the end of it, I was 'rewarded' with 12 exp and 250 crowns. Meh. Fun, but of absolutely no benefit at this stage in the game. I'll not bother with a few of those, I suspect.

What else is fun? Horse racing.

Fun mostly, at least, as Roach still has the occasional habit of getting stuck on a tiny piece of scenery at full charge, which instantly stops her dead in her tracks. With the bonuses from having Corvo Bianco fully upgraded, amongst others, Roach gains a 100% stamina increase, which basically means all the horse racing is a doddle as you never need to pace yourself, you can go full speed off the starting line and maintain it for the duration of every race I've seen thus far. It also makes traversing the world a little quicker for areas without a fast travel point.

I've also signed up for the Gwent tournament, and have agreed to use the new Skellige deck as well. I've been practising by trying to hoover up any missing cards in Skellige itself, as I've learned that your Gwent deck - dishearteningly - does not carry over in NG+, so I'll need to try and wrap up the Collect 'em all quest in this run. Skellige's an odd deck; there are a couple of different types of muster cards, a few very powerful Tight Bond cards, some new transformation style cards, but no spies or medics, which are the bread and butter of my preferred Northern Realms deck. It's taken a few games to adapt, but I think I've gotten the hang of it.

I'm coming to the end of my first run through the game, clocking in and some 120 hours last I checked and I do worry that it may have ruined gaming for me to a degree. Bear with me here, but how is any thing going to stand up to the complete Witcher 3 experience? It's an open world without tedious fetch quests, a world where no action is without reason, a world where nearly every quest has a decision to be made, even if the effects of that decision are minor and may take another thirty or so hours to be seen. The quality of the quests, the story, the characters, the excellent voice acting, even the direction during the cut scenes is all top drawer. It's basically ruined any Ubisoft title for me, it makes even Skyrim feel somewhat empty and lacking in character and I only hope Bioware have been taking notes for Mass Effect: Andromeda.

I'll do a final summary once I've finished B&W, but I think this may - may - be the best game I've ever played.

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SimianWonder
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PostSubject: Re: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Next Gen Consoles and PC (not) in 2014   Sun Feb 19, 2017 6:38 pm

The Gwent tournament in B&W was a bit of a bastard. Yes, I'd gotten relatively competent with the Skellige deck but to do four games in a row with no opportunity to save between took some doing. Well, actually I did it second time around, but it could have been a lot worse given the RNG nature of the inital draw. Also, I didn't draw the Cerys card (Skellige's strongest card by a country mile) in any of those four games, so was very much reliant on the muster cards to draw out the opponent's Scorch before suing tight bond units to crank up the score. Skellige is a reasonable deck, but I still think that the decks are quite unbalanced overall, with Northern Realms and Nilfgaard having a decent advantage over Skellige, and Scoia'tel and Monster decks (the latter in particular) bringing up the rear.

I feel qualified to say that as, while it took a while, I finally got the Collect 'em all quest (collect all Gwent cards in the vanilla game) done. It took a while, mainly because I had to retread a lot of old ground to identify what few cards I'd missed, though as it turned out I needn't have bothered for the most part; I'd missed a few merchants in Novigrad who were happy to play for the last few cards I needed.

I enjoy Gwent as a mini-game, but fair to say if I do decide to tackle NG+ (which isn't a given, at least not straight away) I probably won't bother with the Gwent quests. It takes a lot of time invested to be competitive for the latter quests and the thought of losing my entire set and having to start over fills me with dread.
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Talking Sock
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PostSubject: Re: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Next Gen Consoles and PC (not) in 2014   Mon Feb 20, 2017 3:21 am

It was funny when the Collect 'Em All quest wasn't finishable for a while. That card near the tree in the starting area of Velen never popped up back in the day, and everyone had to wait for a patch to fix it.

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SimianWonder
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PostSubject: Re: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Next Gen Consoles and PC (not) in 2014   Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:06 pm

In some ways, I'm glad I waited to pick the game up. Not only because - and I don't want to harp on about it, but it bears repeating - I paid twenty quid for the Game of the Year edition, but also because I played the whole game with all latest patches, bug fixes and updates to UI already in place. I experienced no crashes, no bugs of any kind, the whole thing was pretty much faultless.

I've taken a little break before I finish up B&W, then I'll leave it a few days to get my head around the game as a whole package and write a summary of what I liked, what I thought the game did well, and what I thought left room for improvement.
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SimianWonder
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PostSubject: Re: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Next Gen Consoles and PC (not) in 2014   Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:19 pm

So, taken as a whole package, Witcher 3 was truly exceptional.  

That said, it isn't perfect and if I'm going to critique it I might as well do it properly.  Firstly, I was playing a digital copy on the Xbox One S and even fully installed the loading times were simply way too long, a minute on occasions.  It feels even longer if you've died during a boss fight and are simply trying to respawn.

I'm also aware that on many occasions I simply avoided going into the inventory, even when it would have been hugely benficial to drink a couple of potions, check out those new armour pieces or even flick through the bestiary.  Why?  Well, again, I'm guessing it was a loading or memory issue but it was impossible to quickly flick between menus - there was a few second delay to any input and it made the whole process feel needlessly tedious, especially if you knew the item you wanted was several menus deep.  So the UI - even though I hear it was improved in Blood and Wine - was, frankly, a bit shit.

For the most parts the quests themselves were extremely varied, but there did seem an over reliance on some minor quests to activate your Witcher senses and follow a glowing red trail to the next marker, rinse and repeat.  Thankfully the game did a pretty good job of disguising this, but after the fiftieth time the repetition was noticeable.

Most of the time, the game felt the right side of challenging.  Geralt could take down most monsters pretty easily if he was prepared to do his homework first of all, learn their weaknesses and patterns.  It was challenging, but you always felt like it was fair. Sadly, one of the very last things you do in the GotY package is fight a boss who none of that really applies to.  Yes, the final boss in Blood & Wine was capable of two-shotting Geralt, even at level 53, and Geralt's defensive spells were rendered useless.  Also, there was very little preparation you were able to make for the fight, having to do little more than tick damage during the appropriate phases and wear him down.  For the climactic battle, it felt a little flat.  Cinematic, maybe, but it was an unwelcome difficulty spike and an extremely frustrating encounter to end my time with The Witcher 3.

Lastly, whilst the voice acting itself was excellent, the voice actress for B&Ws Anna Henrietta sounded a little like she was too close to the microphone when she read her lines.  The was a slight distortion every time she spoke, and it was bugging the hell out of me by the end of the game.

That's pretty much it though.  The base game was terrific, Hearts of Stone - whilst it felt more akin to a particularly good main quest rather than a full fat expansion - was a terrifying way to show that there's always something bigger and badder than Geralt, and Blood and Wine was simply the best piece of DLC I think I've ever experienced.  

Also, I loved Geralt breaking the fourth wall at the end of B&W.  It was only a look, only for a second, but it was perfect.

In terms of my favourite games ever, The Witcher 3 definitely has a place.  That scene in the Isle of Mists as part of the main story will be with me forever, and whilst the rest of the characters, landscapes and stories were all really, really well done, I don't think it had quite the same number of extreme highs as something like Mass Effect 2 or 3 did, even if it was consistently better over far longer periods of play.  Without doubt though, it has set a very high bar for all open world RPGs to measure up to and is bound to be remembered as something very, very special indeed.
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SimianWonder
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PostSubject: Re: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Next Gen Consoles and PC (not) in 2014   Sat Dec 23, 2017 11:31 am

Now, I realise I'm very likely to be the only person here who cares about this, but the Xbox One X patch has landed for The Witcher 3, and it's a beauty.  Firstly, it adds HDR compatability, and, as seems to be the case in a lot of titles, there are two visual modes offered, a 4K mode targeting UHD resolution and capped at 30FPS, and a Performance mode, which offers lower resolution but runs up to 60fps.

Now, neither are totally successful. Apparently the 4K mode has a dynamic resolution that does drop to 1800p when running the usual bottlenecks of Novigrad and Crookback Bog, it does so to maintain the 30fps lock.  The Performance mode has both dynamic resolution and frame rate, but the resolution actually fluctuates from a base of 1080p up to around 1300p, and whilst the frame rate will typically stay between 50-60fps, it does drop to the 30-40 range during... you guessed it... trips to Novigrad to Crookback Bog.  So, no, neither is totally successful, but both are still a massive, massive improvement over the base hardware running the game at 900p

The added smoothness of Performance mode is nice when it can maintain the upper band of that 60fps target, but I feel the 4K mode is the way to go.  You get much, much sharper visuals (including additional effects as well) and as the frame rate never wavers from the target 30fps it actually ends up feeling more consistent and gets closer to achieving its goal.

It's a great patch, and Toussaint in particular looks gob-smacking in 4K with HDR.

Also, one additional perk to running on One X is that loading times are much faster than they were on the One S, twice as quick in some instances, and the inventory loads up pretty much instantly. Given how much I loathed having to access the inventory during my initial play through, that can only be a very good thing!
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