E3 2007: The Witcher Hands On


Earlier in the conference I covered my impressions of the upcoming fantasy RPG from Atari called The Witcher. I didn’t get any hands on time originally but the game was playable on the show floor at the Barker Hanger. I took the opportunity to grab the mouse and slice though a few foes while facing the first few minutes of the game’s prologue tutorial.

After spending about an hour discussing the game further with Atari staff I found the title a bit overwhelming to control. The Witcher uses a timed attack model that centers around clicking in time with your character’s animation and choosing the correct stance or fighting mode to effectively dispatch your opponent. This was only a minor obstacle to my play and the game offered multiple control schemes and views. I tried them all to find what worked best for me and in the end realized sometimes the old over-the-shoulder camera and the mouse driven click movement like Neverwinter Nights worked best. I got a feel for the combat timing but never mastered it which bodes poorly.

The game performed well but it looked different than the build I’d seen during my Atari booth appointment. The game left me with the feeling that the race to October, or maybe even a fall 2007 release might just be a hard sprint for CDProjekt.  I’m still excited by the potential of the game and its mature adult oriented themes, I just hope it doesn’t all fall apart because of badly executed controls or gameplay that is not simple and approachable for players to pick up, forcing them to concentrate on getting Geralt to do their bidding rather than being absorbed by the games setting.

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