The Witcher 2 – First Impressions

Posted by in Game Review

After my first 10 hours with The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, here are my first thoughts & opinions on the story, combat and user interface in the game.

I don’t know if there is an RPG game I have ever actually completed, always stopping playing for one reason or another. Dark Souls was too hard, I had an insta-death save in Fallout 3, got distracted by modding in Skyrim, you get the get the idea. Still, when the Witcher 2 was on sale I thought I should give it a go. Currently I have played around ten hours and am a little way passed the first chapter. Perhaps I might even finish this one, but for now here are my first impressions.

Story

The Witcher 2 First Impressions Dialogue

Dialogue in The Witcher 2

One of the first aspects of The Witcher 2 I took note of was how rich the lore was. The characters’ roles in the world and their relationships with each other (even those that I have not yet seen) is described wonderfully within the game. Also, despite having not played the previous instalment, I never felt particularly lost once I had settled in.
This rich lore is shown wonderfully through such intricate storytelling too. Each conversation has meaning that helps explain more of the complex going-ons in the world. The choices that each present give slightly different results, though they can feel rather arbitrary unless representing a large branching path decisions (which seem rare).
All these statements are very true for the main storyline, however they are not for the side quests. Not only do they lack detail, but they are also very far and few between. This really reduces the amount of world building that can be achieved. Whether or not this was a conscious choice I’m not sure, but it really does reduce my immersion significantly. Perhaps this will improve as my playtime increases.

Combat System & UI

The Witcher 2 First Impressions Combat

Combat in The Witcher 2

Unfortunately, after being wowed by the story, I was hugely disappointed by the combat. Seemingly randomly veering between too hard and too easy, every piece of combat feels decidedly clumsy. The majority of this seems to come down from the terribly poor targeting mechanic, but also extends to the animations and use of items.
These items are made even more annoying by how awful the user interface is. Potions can’t be taken at a whim, menus are overly complex in both understand-ability and control, and moving from menu to menu is much more time-consuming than it should be.
Despite these flaws in what is, in essence, the main gameplay, I am still having some fun in playing The Witcher 2 and can’t exactly pin-point what it is. Hopefully it isn’t just because of the low number of AAA videogames I have been playing recently.

Wrap-Up

In my time so far with The Witcher 2 I have been enjoying myself. This is mainly due to the fantastic story-driven aspects of the game though, and less to do with the gameplay itself. Perhaps this will change over time. Perhaps I may even end up finishing the game and, if I do, keep an eye out of a possible full review by following me on Twitter.
Thanks for reading!