The more I think about it, the more I talk about it, and the more I dream about it, the more I think Witcher 3 is going to be an absolutely great game of epic, world-rending proportions. I mean, this is going to be as awesome as that one thing that happened that one time in that one place. Yeah, it will definitely be as awesome as that.
Why, though, is the third installment of the Witcher franchise, based on the series of novels and short stories written by Andrej Sapkowski , going to be awesome? Is it because its graphics are so absolutely stellar that we can’t live without them? Probably not, though that was something very impressive about the second game. Still, I love cake, but it’s not because it’s fluffy and visually attractive. No, my love for cake is a matter of taste, and cake tastes great. The story, then, must be what brings people to the game, but that’s not really what I’m getting at either. As much as I love the Witcher’s storyline, I don’t think that’s the ultimate presentation of the awesomeness that is the Witcher franchise. Geralt is a monster character and kind of flat, especially for the first game. I mean, I guess it’s not unexpected for a person to be a bummer at parties when he’s lost his memory and has to be reminded of his name, but Geralt’s one of those characters that really took the transition from story character to game character hard.
Sapkowski flattened him out and the choices Geralt makes often feel forced. In some ways, I was even turned off from the games by that. The game developers had, when they made the Witcher games, a fully functioning character, complete with a history, personal thoughts, and individualistic tendencies. In order to give the player choices, they had to take all that away and leave an empty vessel for you to fill. For those of us who love Geralt for Geralt, that was very disappointing. The void character strikes again, unfortunately.
No, it’s not the graphics or the story that really give Witcher its strength of tone and lasting impression. The greatest quality of CD Projekt RED’s big roleplaying franchise is what really sold it in the first Witcher, when glitches abounded, the graphics weren’t all that great, and CD Projekt Red wasn’t really known for much: the abundantly rich world of Sapkowski. Let me give you a general idea of what the first game is like. As you walk around each area, you come across a landscape ripe with myth. It’s like an episode of Xena Warrior Princess minus the scant clothing, poorly written lines, and random injections of Hercules.
They’re not exactly myths, either. They’re like myths that got kidnapped by writers in the middle of the night, driven halfway across the country, and dropped off in a place they don’t know. To say the least, the myths are recognizable, but interestingly and uniquely changed by the experience. In the first Witcher, I came across the Hound of Baskerville, Little Red Riding Hood, Cthulu, the Lady In the Lake, vampires, werewolves, and several other myths that, for all I know, were completely made up. The point is that Sapkowski and the game developers both make a universe that I, quite frankly, want to play in. Myths are interesting. They are relatable, and whether or not we realize it, they’re a large part of how we learn about our world and how it’s shaped. So it feels natural to learn about a new world by its myth. Besides, with epic-style games like Mass Effect dominating the field, I think it’s a good idea to develop a game that mythologizes not only its main character, but puts you as a player in direct contact with said mythological forces. You become a witness to history and a participant in myth. How sick is that?
It’s arguable to say that Witcher 2 slacked off in the myth department. It was more about story, but it was an exceptional story, rife with political intrigue and magical curses. The choices presented to Geralt were more natural and fluid, too. They left you feeling reasonable and not forced one way or the other. Ultimately, though, Witcher 3 is going to be awesome because it’s going to put us back at the front line of a myth-ridden world that we’ve been seeing pieces of all along. It’s an open world that is supposed to be even bigger than Skyrim. If CD Projekt RED can deliver on the same quality of universe building that I’ve come to expect from Sapkowski and the game developers of the Witcher franchise, then I’m excited to finally see that quality ramped up to maximum and blown up for me to ride around and see what I can find. Count this guy as an excited gamer.