The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Impressions

We bust out of prison and swing our sword with a look at the divergent story in this upcoming fantasy RPG.

When The Witcher was released in 2007, critics and fans alike applauded its use of rich storytelling; intelligent, mature choice and consequence systems; and the creation of a detailed, living world. Three years on, Polish developer CD Projekt Red is back for another tour, bringing with it a sequel that builds on each of its precursor's core strengths.

Since giving it a fresh lick of paint wouldn't fly with the game's dedicated audience, the dev team has completely overhauled the project, and the proof is in the numbers. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings will feature three different game openings, 16 endings, more than 150 minutes of cutscene video, and a total rework of the streaming technology. The latter means that where the previous title included 700 load screens, the follow-up features just four. Our demo included an extensive look at the branching narrative and choices available to players and their ability to make the experience a personalised one by either relishing in it or avoiding conflict.

Skipping straight into the action we were reintroduced to monster-hunting mercenary Geralt, who had found himself in a bit of a predicament in a mission called Escape from Valette Castle. Suspended in the air by his wrists and covered in fresh-looking lash marks on his back and chest, we scrolled around the environment to take in our setting. Cobblestone walls met our gaze everywhere we looked, while not too far away, on the other side of some thick, steel bars, two guards sat chatting. Unbeknownst to them, we already had the key for our escape in our possession, but as they were clearly not ones to shy away from a fight, we opted to play the social card first. Goading the pair into the cell, we dropped down violently, unleashing fist swings to knock one of the men unconscious. Guard number two fell with little resistance, and once the room had been cleared, we took the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with our sword rather than take on all comers with bare knuckles.

The development team was quick to point out that it is still in the process of tuning difficulty and that for the purpose of skipping through the combat quickly, most enemies required only one or two swipes with the sword to be dispatched. Itemisation has been a key area of focus for the studio, with the character menu screen being divided into all the archetypal inventory slots, such as belts, pants, and gloves. The Witcher 2 will include a significantly raised number of items available to players, while a new crafting system will allow you to add runes to weapons, in our case giving it a faint blue glow and some juicy new stats. Cat potions are just one of the items that have been given a rethink in Witcher 2 and now allow the imbiber to not only see in the dark, but spot targets through walls, not unlike Detective mode in Batman: Arkham Asylum.

It was time for our demo to showcase some of the choices available to players. Rather than simply being provided a set story and being asked to follow the bouncing ball, we were given a firsthand look at how the game will branch as a result of your choices. A two-PC setup had one guide take the combat route to escape the prison, while the other snuck around in the shadows, blowing out fire torches illuminating the corridors and stealthily knocking guards unconscious. The first path led us to a woman being tortured, and after springing to her defense to confront her attackers, we opened up additional dialogue with her, offering optional help from her associates. Path two had us locate the woman's missing son and escape the prison before burning it to the ground. Different choices will determine whether you walk the worn path to the front door, scamper around underground in hidden passages, or accept non-player character assistance to use secret exits.

The final part of our demo showcased a boss fight in an open space with a huge elemental field commander named Draug. The three-phase fight included dodging the flaming arrows of his archer minions, running to safety as tornados destroyed objects on the battlefield, and a meteor shower that charred the earth.

CD Projekt Red isn't mincing its words with this game, telling audience members that they are happy to be put side-by-side with any RPG shipping next year with the belief that The Witcher 2 will be the "best looking RPG of 2011." Easily one of the most visually impressive titles at Gamescom 2010, character models were lifelike and moved naturally, indoor environments were suitably dingy, and the outdoor vistas were beautiful and bathed in warm, natural light. The development team confirmed it is actively exploring options for bringing the game to current-generation consoles, but will not be doing so if the hardware can't give the game the graphical fidelity the studio believes it deserves.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings already looks gorgeous, and the studio still has six months of time up their sleeves to tweak and tune. Keep an eye out for it when it hits the PC in the early part of next year.

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237 comments
rigzzsy
rigzzsy

yay for the witcher 2 on 360!

BravelyRanAway
BravelyRanAway

Looks awesome. Between this and Skyrim my free time for the year is about filled up.

Crazyplayer042
Crazyplayer042

This will either be an amazing addition to my RPG library or a game of undershot expectations. I never played the first, and after DA2, I'm staying skeptic.

kaem79
kaem79

I have pre-ordered because the first Witcher was a amazing game and this one will surely be as good.

letsrock53
letsrock53

I am only worried about the steep system requirements...

Agent-M
Agent-M

The first Witcher was a great game. CD Projekt Red is a very talented group who have a great deal of love for their fans, so I am more than positive that they won't let us gamers down. The Witcher 2 will be fantastic, regardless of whether your playing it on pc or console.

irishkd
irishkd

What about people who haven't play the first one ?

mystical_fan
mystical_fan

The Witcher, my favourite game of all time. Can't wait for W2.

killerj25
killerj25

i haven't even finished playing the first one yet lol and i had it since 2007....

lilynipper
lilynipper

@ vojtass and @oflow ok close your eyes....... take a deep breath.......and count to 10, think gentle thoughts andddddd exhale. This has been a lilynipper chilling session.

philljen
philljen

I'll definitaly play this game

313striker
313striker

@oflow yea people play stalker cuz its awesome. Your list its mainly the worlds best known games, the best published ones so really there's nothing to argue about. There is alot of great games for alot of different people

Damariel
Damariel

@Vojtass "you see the stars reflected on a surface of the lake" :D... I love this sentence ;).... I total agree with you ;)

Vojtass
Vojtass

@oflow: This is your opinion about these games, not the only one holy TRUTH. Gamespot, IGN, PC Gamer are not oracles too. Maybe these games are not awesome / fantastic / revolutionary, but they are good. They are not as hyped up as Modern Warfare 2. Good games are not equal hyped games - in many cases. You are wrong, because you see the stars reflected on a surface of the lake. For you most of these games don't exist, because they are, as you called, indie (which is not true) and you don't even play it. And who's a fanboy here? BTW - I live in Poland, my native language is Polish and I know what devs have said in interviews for Polish gaming websites. Eurogamer news is false - there was no official statement about consoles. I repeat: devs want to port TW2, but they don't do it right now. Do you know that journalists are humans and they make mistakes?

oflow
oflow

Look at the highest rated PC games listed on this site. Only one in the top 10 isnt also on consoles.

oflow
oflow

@Vojtass LOL @ that list. I already said DoW2 and the rest of those games besides Total War are mediocre at best. Arma2 (LOL), STALKER (LOLx2 people play that?), Order of War (LOLx5 maybe you shoulda said Men of War I woulda given you some cred) and again all you named are mediocre indie RTS games/sims. I said GOOD games. Maybe you dont know what a good game is lol. For example, a good console game is something like God of War 3, Halo Reach, Little Big Planet 2, Red Dead Redemption, Gran Turismo 5, Fable 3, Vanquish. As far as the Witcher 2 being pc exclusive again you are wrong again: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/the-witcher-2-is-heading-to-consoles Gimme a break pc fanboi.

Vojtass
Vojtass

@oflow No problem. I'll give you even more *good* exclusive PC titles. Napoleon: Total War, Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising, The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom, ArmA 2, Anno 1404: Dawn of Discovery, Torchlight, King's Bounty: Armored Princess, Drakensang: River of Time, Mount & Blade: Warband, Black Mirror II, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat, Alien Swarm, Wings of Prey, Order of War, Hearts of Iron III, King Arthur, Machinarium, Alter Ego and so on... I was right - you don't know much about PC gaming market. The Witcher 2 is PC exclusive at the moment. Look at my previous posts.

texasjgc
texasjgc

@ Vojtass Yea I like that game a lot. The only PC game I got! I sure hope to see the upcoming sequel on ps3! But yea that game rocks! one of the best turn based rpg I ever played. :)

oflow
oflow

@Vojtass: You think wrong. I pretty much play every major pc and console title that comes out. I have a highend quadcore gaming rig I also have a PS3 and a Wii with a lot of disposable income for my gaming hobby. You sound like a person that doesnt play console games. In the past year, the only really decent pc exclusive game thats come out is SC2. And the witcher 2 will not be pc only you are wrong. Like I said, besides WoW and a few other RTS games like DOW2, SC2, Elemental etc theres nothing totally exclusive to pcs now. If I'm wrong, prove it: Name five *good* pc exclusive games that came out in the last year....Not Mass Effect, not MW2, not BFBC2, not Bioshock 2, not L4D2, not Assassins Creed 2, not Dragon Age...Only things really on the horizon are Diablo 3, GW2 and SW:TOR, maybe Tera. Again all MMOs or RTS. And like I said FFXIV and DC Universe Online will both be on consoles.

Vojtass
Vojtass

@oflow I think you don't know much about PC gaming.

Vojtass
Vojtass

@drivinggod2005 Devs want to port it on consoles, but for now The Witcher 2 is PC exclusive. Don't look at Gamespot's specifications - this is misinformation. There was no official consoles announcement. I think devs will go for consoles, if PC version would sell well. It's quite logical, isn't it? Must remember that CD Projekt Red is a small studio, not multiplatform giant like EA.

drivinggod2005
drivinggod2005

@Arther-la-Blunt It's coming out on PS3 and X360 as well, you know.

IceCold_83
IceCold_83

@oflow Call me old-fashioned, but I'll pick a PC over a console anytime.

Arther-la-Blunt
Arther-la-Blunt

@rossguyy94 The Witcher:Enhanced Edition is the way to go. It's on Steam for $20. Def worth it

rossguyy94
rossguyy94

Can someone please message me back ! I was thinking about buying The Witcher but I don't know if it is any good or not. This one looks amazing!

oflow
oflow

I play both PC and console games and the line is getting blurred. PCs dont necessarily even dominate the RTS category anymore. The only thing PCs still do somewhat better are MMOs, but DC Universe Online and FFXIV are both coming out on consoles. You can use a usb keyboard on a console. I have a highend gaming rig and a PS3, IMHO the actual thing that seperates them is the social climate that exists. Consoles games can have a room full of people entertained, while to do the same thing on a PC you'd have to goto a lan.

esayan
esayan

if gerald has the same "power" with girls, visuality does not frustrate me..just fine..

tyrosxps
tyrosxps

anybody else doesn't like that they made Geralt look totally different in this game? I'm worrying that the new Geralt won't be the same as the old one, I liked the old one's personality and look. Let's hope they use the same voice actor in the English version, he was great in Witcher 1

Demesan
Demesan

Look. I consider PC gaming better just because my favorite genres are RPGs, RTSs and such. Console gaming is better in that you buy the console and you're OK for some years, while PCs need various upgrades every 2 years or so. E.g. my PC was one of the best 3-4 years ago. Played every game on high resolution and such. Now, however, I'm unsure if all the new RPGs coming this year (Dragon Age 2, Gothic 4, New Vegas etc. etc.) are going to run even in the lowest available settings...

corkyhookahking
corkyhookahking

well let me start with I will play a game I really want to on either PC or console but I have to give that RTS games are better on the PC but as for RPGs it depends on the RPG and I prefer FPS games on console but I played Doom 3 on the PC just because it looked better.

PCsama
PCsama

2011 hmmm... can we make the new year now... ican't waite that much

Sarxass
Sarxass

Well, everyone is entitled for their opinion; and I respect that. But, I personally believe that PC Gaming and Console Gaming are 2 different things; although many games can be, and should be, multi-platform. Very Much like AceBalls; I prefer playing adventure, strategy, RPG, (FPS to some extent) and such games on a PC while I believe consoles might be better for some FPS, Action, Racing, Fighting, Sports and such games. I don't see myself playing Civilization V on any console as I believe mouse and keyboard are a must for Strategy games... And everybody... Please, please do not mix "the best" with "my favorite"; as they are 2 totally different things!! What you like the best does not necessarily mean the best; or what you hate does not mean "the worst". You may like a game while others hate it (for example I hate most of the FPS games) and vice versa...

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

@Vojtass I was going to mention Drakensang, but didn't think anyone would know it! I was also going to mention Space Rangers 2, Boiling Point, Sacred1 and 2, Spellforce, Divine Divinity 1 and 2, Silverfall and Arx Fatalis, but thought I didn't need to, as i had proved my point with the titles i did list! :)

Vojtass
Vojtass

@Humorguy_basic Don't forget Drakensang series from Germany. It's really good!

AceBalls
AceBalls

I love both PC and console. I play RPG, RTS and FPS games for my PC because it just kicks ass beyond anything and for consoles, I play action adventures, platformers, racers and fighting games! Both mediums are awesome one way or another and I'm happy to patiently wait for any of the games to be cross platformed if needs be :)

Barighm
Barighm

I really wish PC gamers would stop acting like their greatest games are god's gift to mankind. I've played some of the best PC only games out there, and while they're good, they're hardly so great they put all console games to shame. One platform uses a controller, the other uses a mouse and keyboard. Other than that major difference, the level of quality between the two is roughly the same. The fact that one game is "PC centric" and the other "console centric" has never made a difference, and boy, I've played a lot of games, across all platforms, these 25 years. Of course the PC fanboys will thumb me down for this post, but hey, they wanna prove their inferiority by showing how hateful they are, by all means, prove me right. Anywho, I'm not holding my breath for this game on the 360. Betting on PC elitism is often a safe bet, and if the guy says he doesn't believe consoles will do the game justice, he really means it. He's just being polite by suggesting they may or may not find a way to put it on the 360. I get so tired of hearing devs say they don't believe a certain game will work for this market or that platform. Sony didn't believe Demon's Souls would work in NA because it's too hard, so Atlus published it and whaddya know, it's a Greatest Hits. Katamari Damacy was also supposedly too weird for us. Guess what? It became a megahit.

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

...Oh and to all the people saying it should or they hope it will be on console and talking about technology, remember, you have to make an upfront payment to Microsoft or Sony for the 'privilege' or releasing a game on their machines, and then you pay a royalty for each sale. This is prohibitive for anyone but the giant publishers and the giant publishers like it that way because it keeps the industry just them and a long way further down the indie market. This financial thing is probably the main reason that it may not come to console. But as a PC gamer, I have to say to console gamers, now you know how we feel when we don't get a PC version, or have to wait 6 months for it, or how we have to put up with so many PC games dumbed down for the console market! Maybe the odd 'coming out on PC first or only' 5% of the time could be allowed by the console crowd for us PC gamers?!

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

This will be the best cRPG in 2011, as practically no cRPG's are made any more. other than Fallout 3 (and New Vegas later this year) we haven't had a real cRPG from a major North American publisher since Oblivion. Mass Effect only had the action and conversation systems but no avatar stats and no sandbox - meaning more linear. Dragon Age had no sandbox meaning more linear and Borderlands and Bioshock were both shooters, We only get real cRPG's from Europe nowadays, with this game, Two Worlds II and Gothic IV all due in the next 6 months. The likes of Bioware and Blizzard and Valve and 2K and EA and every other major North American publisher are going nowhere near real cRPG's any more. In fact many say Mass Effect was more action based than the first one, so even non cRPG's that are actually Action-Adventures are becoming even more closer to being just plain shooters! Thank god for Europe then, that's the only place to get intelligent, deep, non hand-holding, non console-diluted PC games any more! I wonder if we are going to get a pc ONLY title from any of the giant North American publishers after this year!

101_Ben_101
101_Ben_101

Those graphics look great and sharp. I never played the first one, but I'll definetely try this. Hope this is on the PS3 :D

Rickiej
Rickiej

Those graphic's are gorgeous! Never really liked the combat system in the first Witcher, but I saw their video walkthrough and they said they are overhauling it. So I think Dragon age has a fair contender here :)

Gober_B
Gober_B

Is it just me or does he look like a young Christopher Lambert? (Think Raiden from the MK movie, but younger)

brunorr
brunorr

@Thrasher10 I usually don't respond but I don't agree with you at all. Movie? Who said that? The problem with combat in the first one is that it felt like a minigame where you had to click at the right moment and care for nothing else. Sometimes I didn't even need to look at the screen, just got used to click by the sound of the weapon swing . If it worked for you, good. I thought it was gamebreaking. As I said, if they change this I'll probably buy it but if not I'm sticking with Dragon Age, Fallout, or any other rpg with a deeper combat system.

snow_yellow
snow_yellow

Always loved the 1st one. Just hope they invest more into the game than into the marketing of the game.

rasputin177
rasputin177

You know what I would love to play this game and my only option is the ps3. IF they were going to make the same exact game they expected to make for the PC then ported it for the ps3 then they should do it. Honestly, I think about half you just want it on the PC out of spite so us loser "console" users can't enjoy this amazing game. Trust me, I don't want you to have an inferior product but at least half of you wouldn't want this game to come out on the ps3 even if it meant no change to your PC version. Get a life or get laid, and its not my fault if you can't so let me please this amazing game on the only system I can afford at the moment.