Introducing The Witcher 3: Wild HuntIn part one of this three part series, GameSpot's Danny O'Dwyer investigates the history of this beloved RPG franchise and details how Wild Hunt's prologue area attempts to introduce newcomers.
Hi there. Good morning and welcome to Warsaw her in Poland, home of CD projekt red, the team behind the Witcher, a gaming franchise based around the short stories and novels of Mr. Andrzej Sapkowski, and now one of the most anticipated games of 2015. [MUSIC] If you like video games, you've heard of The Witcher, but it's a series that's intimidated a lot of the gaming audience. Since it first appeared in 2007, the game has often been associated with complex RPG mechanics, deep lore, and hardcore combat. So despite its notoriety, there's probably a good chance you've not played a Witcher [MUSIC] Before. Well, I can tell you now, that's all about to change with Wild Hunt. So, why am I here. Well, Gamespot was given the opportunity to gain unprecedented access to a near complete version of the game. So we booked a flight, packed up the cameras, and then spent the past couple of days playing the game and talking to development team Behind it's open world, Witcher. And this week we're going to share everything we learned with you. So using exclusive new game play of this impressive open world RPG. Candid interviews from the lead producers on the project, and our own Impressions after a combined twelve hours playing Wild Hunt. This week we're going to tell you everything we've learned. The scale of it's world. The types of quests you'll undertake. It's dynamic story. How it plays on PC. How it looks on consoles. And how Wild Hunt is said to be one of the biggest hits of 2015. Go, go. But, before we travel to the vast and varied world of The Witcher 3, we must first go to an equally bizarre place. This story starts in 80's Warsaw, in a Polish town shrouded by the cloud of Soviet communism. [MUSIC] The year is 1988. Gamers in the United States are enjoying the fruits of the Nintendo Entertainment System. It's the year Super Mario Brothers II and Zelda II: The Adventures of Link reached North American shelves. And in Japan, the Megadrive, or Genesis, is being launched. However, to the east of Germany, things are a lot different. The Republic of Poland had been decimated during World War II, and in the years following, Poland limped on. Swallowed up by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, it was operated for decades by a communist party in this Moscow. The palace of culture, a Soviets gift to the Poles, stood like a combine citadel over Warsaw citizens. This was a state where trade was practically nonexistent. Every aspect of life was run by a centralized government. And so while very real walls blocked some from the outer world, the lack of trade from the outside world Created cultural war that covered an area the size of a continent. Tear down the wall! But this didn't mean that people didn't find a way to get a hold of Western media. Music, films and even games were brought across the border from neighboring countries. They were copied, traded, replicated and spread across cities and regions. People would go to computer exchanges and swap copies of games freely. And it wasn't even technically illegal. But it's not as if piracy was just accepted here in Poland. It was actually legal. There is no such thing as copyright law in communist states. So while all the kids in Europe were copying their Commodore 64 games by hitting play and record on tape decks Here in Poland radio stations were literally broadcasting them over the airway. So you could just sit at home tune in to your favorite radio station and report C64 games Right there and then. Games were so free here in Poland that they were literally flying through the air. But when the Berlin Wall down in 1989 communism fell to its knees. And capitalism flooded into Poland from across its Western German border. More media than ever before sold by a brand new generation of entrepreneurs. Open air markets became the place to buy these goods. And as trade increased, the importing scene grew and grew. And as [UNKNOWN] Marcin Iwinski reminisces this is where [UNKNOWN] project was born. [UNKNOWN] The co-founder [UNKNOWN] back in high school and our passion was to play games. So we were skipping school, playing games. So we were on the local forums and the international forums And at a certain point through this conflict, they realized that there is a new thing, called CD ROMs. Right now, I think you can make the sophisticated guess of our company name, CD [INAUDIBLE] Probably the first people in Poland to import games in CD-ROMs. Initially, we didn't really want for business. But we wanted to play these games. After a while we thought, hey, maybe there is some business. We could do so let's try. I was importing one or two units per title. Mm. And you know, selling them on the local computer exchange. [MUSIC] There was a crave for that. You know, before people were idolized and then suddenly wow, you can get your hands on exciting stuff. The biggest change was from 94 and onwards. Initializing in 94 one, when the software started selling, a lot of people, a lot of consumers, were like hey, [UNKNOWN] buy something original, you know? I can have a We were educating people that buying games makes sense and has value. Initially you have to really serve them this value in a very physical, like, touchable. Yeah. I still, I still think it's important because if you look at the boxes of our Witcher title there's a lot of [INAUDIBLE]. Yeah. Especially in Eastern Europe, especially in Poland people just, they don't know, why on earth. They should buy software. It's free. you get it from a friend>>So why are we talking about the Polish piracy scene? Well, because the seeds of this consumer-centric culture of game sales is bearing fruit today, a culture where serving the consumer value was an important aspect of trade, and this value-centric mentality is no more apparent than when you look at how CD Projekt is going to handle DLC for Wild Hunt. Tell me about the DLC plan on this, what's the? It's an interesting sort of tactic. It's free. It's, it's just like that? Yeah, I mean what we, I really think the word DLC's devaluated. There are some DLCs which are like good old expansions. And so, then I'll probably prefer to call them expansion. Yeah, mm. If it's a DLC, if it's hairstyle weapon, armor, horse armor, maybe. [LAUGH] This should be, this should be for free really, and this is our way of saying thank you to the gamers- Mm. For buying our game. Also we want to encourage them, show them, hey guys We have something in store for you. [UNKNOWN] when you buy our game. Consider buying it. That, that's it. That, that, that's always their choice. You know. It seems like you're doing the same thing with the, with the boxes before. Like sticking in all this free [CROSSTALK] stuff. Yeah, of course. Of course. Because honestly speaking, [UNKNOWN] cost us to, to make set of armors. Mm-hm. Well, I, I don't know. Several hours. Maybe one, two, three people. And considering the scales of the game, considering the investment, people will be thinking in the game, spending the hours. Hey, let's make it more fun for them, so, I think it's kind of obvious. I would like to get some stuff for free, that's what you are doing. CD project understands sales. They published and distributed games to the polish market in some form or another for over 20 years. But what type of game do you make when you're a company He was founded on this [UNKNOWN] western media, around post socialist Poland. While a cd project decided to flip the script, buying the games rights to one of their literature treasures, and creating a game that they could share with people around the world. Our dream was always to make our own game, but we had this world with all this history with seven books. Right now, it's eight. We wanted to have creative freedom so we bought out the part of the world and we had full creative freedom. I think the fact that we had this freedom created sort of a paranoia because we thought okay, we gave this Eastern European [UNKNOWN] who, who really know every single [UNKNOWN] In the game. The first two games in the series were critical darlings, and incredibly popular with the PC roleplaying crowd because of their challenging combat system and rich fiction. But for all they did well, Witcher 1 and Assassins and Kings were both pretty terrible at introducing newcomers to their complex mechanics and rich lore. But from my time playing Wild Hunt, thankfully this is something CD Project has spent some time trying to fix. After a brief story segment, we won't get into for fear of spoilers, you begin the game in a relatively small open world area. This miniature version of the game's main open world, acts as a playground for the first few hours of the game. Here you'll take on a few story missions, explore, solve side quests, and get used to the games mechanics. So, what of these mechanics? Well, for the uninitiated, you play as Garold of Rydia, a legendary witcher. Witchers are a band of highly trained monster hunters who are mutated at a young age to be experts in their field. As such, Garold carries two swords, silver for killing beasts and steel for human prey. He is gifted in magic and can cast a range of spells, or signs, to both defend and attack. And as an alchemist, he can collect different ingredients around the world and concoct potions. He can't drink too many of these though, because each potion increases Gerald's chance of toxicity. This is a good example of an area in which wild hunters bending in need. E for both newcomers, and it's new open world game play. While previous games required you to prepare for combat by meditating and taking potions beforehand. In Witcher Three you'll be able to prepare potions during mediation, and consume them any time. Entering combat. And while previous games required you to collect specific ingredients to rebuild these functions, in Wild Hunt, every time you meditate the potions you crafted will refill themselves using whatever alcohol reserves you have. Unlike most third person action games, combat in the Witcher 3 isn't just a series of hacks and slashes, it's far more deliberate and engaging. And it plays much like the Witcher, too. Sword strikes must be timed, monster movements must be studied, and certain combinations of potions, signs and weapons make for the best attack. Human enemies can lose stamina just as quickly as [INAUDIBLE] can, and when they do, it allows you to unleash devastating blows. This makes swordplay far more engaging. Swordfighting on horseback allows you to slow down time for brutal attacks. And while this footage makes chopping up mobs look easy, we played around with the game's difficulty settings, and on anything other than easy, Wild Hunt's combat can be as punishing as games like Dark Souls. However, if you don't want to get your sword dirty, conversations are an equally important aspect of completing quests. In the prologue area there are plenty of people to talk to, barmaids, dwarves with side quests. Sometimes, you can talk yourself out of a situation or cast a sign, but it's not always possible. Sometimes, the game pushes you into a corner, and you are forced to fight out of it. This is a game with a lot going on, and it feels far more polished than the previous games in the series in this respect, but it's the way in which these systems work together fluidly that makes it incredibly fun to spend time in this world, walking into villages, chatting to the locals and picking up quests. Using your Witcher skills to track down monsters and solve local mysteries, wondering into other towns across hills and even into buildings seamlessly without loading screens. In my first few hours of the game I slayed some random bear, got in a sword fight in a pub, and wondered into a random cave full of nasty creatures. It's that type of game. Keep in mind, though, this early prologue area is designed to instill this sort of wonder. So it's too early to tell if this proviso will keep you hooked a few dozens of hours in. We'll dive into the type of question missions in another video. But this prologue area does achieve something that the previous games in this series never did. It gives you the tools and time to get the grips with a relatively complex system. CB projects are clearly trying to reach for a larger audience with this Witcher. You only have to look at how the logo has changed to figure that one out. Is this intentional, that this sort of em, when you, I remember looking at the branding for Witcher 3 when it first came out with the trailers and there's a big 3 Now it looks like Wild Hunt the three has become like a scratch in the middle. This is kind of like a, I guess The crown on the white, his mask, yeah At a certain point, you realize that we might be isolating a lot of gamers who come to the story and will say, I haven't played The Witcher. The Witcher Wild Hunt, The Witcher 3, Wild Hunt, it's fully playable on its own. You don't need to know anything [MUSIC] In many ways this is the coming of age of The Witcher. It's the first time several dreams of its creators have even been possible. The first time it's been set in an open world. And the first time it's coming out on both consoles and PCs simultaneously. So Is it any good? Well, tomorrow, here on Gamespot, in part two, we unveil the world of The Witcher 3, its vast open landscape, the beasts that inhabit it, and of course, how an open world fundamentally changes this fantasy roleplay series. See you then. [MUSIC]