The Witcher 2: PC Update and Xbox 360 Preview

The Witcher 2 studio CD Projekt Red is busy prepping a bumper PC update and an X360 version of its lauded role-playing game.

by

CD Projekt Red is so pumped about the update it's preparing for acclaimed role-playing game The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings that it gives this PC "version 2.0" top billing in its Gamescom presentation, ahead even of the upcoming Xbox 360 version, due early next year. The bumper updated PC version, free to those who've already bought the game, is available from September 29. It contains a new tutorial system, an arcade-style arena mode, and the "dark" difficulty mode and items, plus the DLC packs and a host of technical fixes (the 100 made to date and 20 new ones).

The "extensive" tutorial system has been added to even out the game's alarmingly steep early difficulty curve, while dark mode addresses those players who like their games tough but just couldn't complete Witcher 2's insane difficulty mode. Insane, the hardest of the original four modes, wasn't just punishing but also didn't let you save. Dark mode is "as hard if not harder than insane," says executive producer John Mamais. But, crucially, it allows saving and introduces new "dark" items: swords and clothes with the highest stats in the game.

Where the new tutorial system will be a better welcome for Witcher 2 first-timers, dark mode is there to encourage replays; the trailer shown at Gamescom promises a prize to the first player to complete it. And if competition is what you're after, prepare yourself also for CD Projekt Red's arena mode, in which you take on wave upon wave of enemies from the game (and one or two new monsters, says Mamais) to collect experience points, money, and gear.

When we see the mode in action, Geralt is taking on the mob in a ruined fortress courtyard, overlooking a forested mountainside. Between waves, he drops by an armoury to purchase and change gear. The intention of arena mode is twofold, says Mamais: "to train your character and try out different character builds, and to become a leader on the leaderboards." Because you play until you die, as is custom in Horde-style modes, and then enjoy your new high spot on the arena leaderboards and optionally post your score on Facebook or the game's user forums.

When CD Projekt Red's presentation moves on to the don't-call-it-a-port 360 version, we're told the eventual 360 "adaptation" will include all the content found in the updated PC version. We're shown a 360 demo of Geralt getting his witcher on in a forest level, crowded with detailed textures and models. Though it is a carefully managed demo, it looks good, and we're maintaining cautiously high hopes for the 360 visuals.

Iorveth: elven headscarf fan and human hater.

As Mamais notes, there are plenty of gamers who can't afford the high-end PCs that would show off The Witcher 2 at its best; naturally, CD Projekt Red says it's out to give them as close to that PC performance as possible. "[With] ports normally, you scale everything down to get it running on the consoles, we're not taking that route," he says. "We're going away to optimise the art, so it still looks as good… so it can perform well on the console. There's a big optimisation phase going on at the studio now, to get everything to this scalable level so it can perform on the 360."

Away from the visuals, there are controls, camera issues, and combat mechanics to think about; Mamais tells us the user interface and targeting system are being reworked. The difficulty levels will also be "tweaked a bit," though it will still be a "really tough" RPG: "We're not going to make it easier necessarily, but maybe [give it] a smoother learning curve."

The point, according to CD Projekt Red, is to produce a game that feels technically and mechanically at home on the Xbox 360, while still being a "unique" offering for that platform, says Mamais: "I don't think there are too many mature, complex, story-driven RPGs on the console, so we think we're adding that to the market, and we're hoping there's a place for us there."

Discussion

25 comments
dblock137
dblock137

I have no problem with ports of PC titles, but I would like that when developers take a long time to port a game the gamers are treated to extra content as well. The worst problem we gamers have is playing the same game we saw our friends playboy their gaming PC with no added goodies.

jjadziadax
jjadziadax

@all the folks wondering about ps3, if you follow the developer on fb http://www.facebook.com/thewitcher they are really good about providing updates. they are a small shop and are working on xbox first and then (provided it goes well i imagine) they will start working on the ps3 port. probably around a year wait (my guess not theirs) but you guys should get it.

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

Free DLC, free 2.0 for previous owners. patches every few days to fix problems. Why are we not seeing other companies following this customer service? And notice I haven't talked about the fantastic game itself!

Yams1980
Yams1980

its good its getting fixed up finally. I still haven't played this game for more than a few minutes... it ran choppy so i been waiting for fixes. maybe in a month i'll try i again and give it a go.

edubb85
edubb85

Mwahaha... I feel all good inside whenever good game designers show PC gamers some extra luv. PC gaming will always be the best. We just need more luv from these sometimes money hungry game designers.

simon1812
simon1812

any info on the PS3 version? and whether there will be a demo version for those of us who know nothing of this game but the name?

sultros
sultros

This is such a great game and I agree with Joe, what an awesome studio. Everyone I told about this game has called me freaking out excited. I always hear the same thing. They cant believe how polished every aspect of this game feels. The story, the combat, they got everything right and created a believable fantasy world that didnt feel like the same rehashed Tolkien rip off.

joelgomez1975
joelgomez1975

Take note "major studios and publishers", THIS is what is called customer service and how you build customer loyalty. NOT by putting out Day One DLC's and charging for every little small weapon, gadget or half-baked add-on mission. Also those hostage pre-order bonuses (I am talking to you Deus EX:HR) who removes an entire side mission, and character (cough-cough SHALE of DA:O). Shame on you. CDProjekt had me long ago when they released the Witcher 1 enhanced edition patches as a FREE download to existing customers (even after a year I bought the game). When TW2 came out, it was a guaranteed pre-order for me. And here they go again, putting the customer first, what a wild concept eh?

weizegger8
weizegger8

Is a nice game indeed. Only if you follow only the main Q the story is a bit short. You have 3 chapters. All tho i play the game now for the 2nd time in hope to get another ending.

isshiah
isshiah

mass effect 3 and witcher 2 around the same time? *insert crude phrase to show posters joy*

jedl87
jedl87

I really hope they are considering to take this amazing game to the PS3, like someone said, PS3 users (I am one of them) will regret not having this one.

Scouten9
Scouten9

hope we get better Draw distance am i the only one who found it amazingly too small? even at the max setting

nyran125
nyran125

this game was really REALLY good. One of the best RPG's ive played for a very long time. Lol nice choice of words, we are not going to dumb down the difficulty for consoles just make it a "Smoother learning curve" lol...a politican couldnt of said it any better.

NeonNinja
NeonNinja

@Gelugon_baat Oh crap. It was like in the first paragraph. :P

kennythomas26
kennythomas26

I'm looking forward to this game when it finally comes out for the 360.

voldo25
voldo25

I wonder how good the graphics are going to be for the 360 compared to the PC version. lol Probably not that good.

ThexSilentxOne
ThexSilentxOne

Really looking foward to this adaption along with Deus Ex HR and Skyrim!

sohaibiftikhar
sohaibiftikhar

The "Version 2.0" thing stands out... Love it, and finally will be able to try out different character builds now thanks to the arena though i hope we can continue our building up from the single player campaign.. That'd be cool for a replay into the "Dark mode"...

topsemag55
topsemag55

I'm really looking forward to version 2.0.:)

electronic_eye
electronic_eye

Oh there is DEFINITELY a place for you on my 360. ;)

NeonNinja
NeonNinja

Wait, so is this update free or is it paid?

01_855403
01_855403

I never regretted any game that is on PC or X360 but never on PS3, but for this one i am.