What Does an Open World Mean for The Witcher 3?

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will feature an expansive open world. But is that necessarily a good thing?

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"35 times the size of The Witcher 2."

My jaw dropped when CD Projekt Red told me just how much bigger The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is when compared to its direct predecessor. The upcoming role-playing game will take place across seven islands, each of which is far bigger than the entire world of the Witcher 2. That's a lot of space. But does a lot of space make for a better game?

Not necessarily. But developer CD Projekt Red makes a convincing argument that The Witcher 3's open world will be stuffed with a lot of great stuff to do, quests to pursue, and nooks to explore. More importantly, the developer insists that none of these elements will detract from the game's story, which, based on the demo I saw, will hinge on the choices you make and the factions you align with. The open world makes for a broader web of decisions, with the fates of individuals, families, and even entire cities hanging in the balance. And just like before, the traditional notions of good and bad don't apply. A seemingly upright story path could result in death or destruction, and the ultimate consequences of your actions may not be clear until long after you have performed them.

And so the open world allows for broader content, but CD Projekt Red doesn't want the usual "chase the waypoint' quest structure to be the primary draw to head into the mountains and forests. Rather, they want to dot the landscape with sights so irresistible that you can't help but run (or gallop, if you are on horseback) toward them. The crumbling ruins and beauteous relics you discover harbor secrets, monsters, and side quests, which will in turn prod you to explore new regions and seek out even deeper mysteries.

The demo showed numerous examples of the open world's possibilities in action, and some of them will take advantage of protagonist Geralt's role as a monster hunter. For instance, a monster might appear during your investigations, gunning for the Witcher himself and forcing you to stop and deal with him. The encounter I saw in action featured one of the most fearsome creatures I've seen in a game: a cumbersome cross of reindeer and minotaur, with a head of horns so gnarled I cringed when he charged toward Geralt. The monster's special attack reinforced the reindeer theme: every so often, the monstrosity would cause the region to be engulfed in darkness, and you would have to identify it by its glowing snout.

You deal with these monsters using combat mechanics that look very similar to those in The Witcher 2, and I specifically asked about the swordplay, wanting to know how the team plans to address the overbearing initial hours and the lacking sense of combat progression that characterized The Witcher 2. The team is well aware of these drawbacks, and promises more control over your moves (dodges, sidesteps, parries), and deeper role-playing elements with enhanced signs and unlockable attacks.

Another optional excursion lures you into a village's dispute in which elders and youngers disagree on how best to handle the forest spirit rampaging across the land. This is where I saw video game decision-making at its most emotionally disturbing. Rather than give away the exact circumstances and spoil the possibilities (I presume this quest line will appear in the final game), I will simply say that choosing to sacrifice innocence for the sake of the greater good led to unforeseen circumstances that crushed my soul when I saw them play out onscreen. Also crushing was the monster that attacked during this mission, a creature called a leshen that was every bit as weird, ferocious, and surreal as the reindeer-minotaur I had seen a few moments before.

Such moments arise from your exploration of the lands that house The Witcher 3's main story and are a strong argument for making the trilogy’s finale an open-world tour de force. The game looks every bit as beautiful--actually, more so--than its predecessor, yet no longer do the mountains and glades that surround you hem you in. Instead, they inspire you to explore them--on horseback, in boats, and on foot. The changing weather might force you to take shelter, or to abandon your vessel lest you sink into the sea. I can't wait to return to the Northern Kingdoms, and to confront the roving bands of monsters known as the Wild Hunt that threaten to ravage them.

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Discussion

644 comments
tgwenz
tgwenz

Why is everyone trying  to make Skyrim 2.0, I hated that game, mainly because its open world and everything was pointless coz it seemed to trivialise the main story (for me).

nordafrost
nordafrost

i hate writing like this: "That's a lot of space. But does a lot of space make for a better game?" all this dude has talked about is space and he's already willing to offer up an opinion on it? this whole creating false drama epidemic in journalism is a joke. game looks great.

JimmyJumpy
JimmyJumpy

Second most anticipated game on E3 2013 for yours truly.

Max_160
Max_160

But are there fish AI that moves out of the way when you ride your boat.

SmAsHtheHuman
SmAsHtheHuman

he is all like "PCCCC" thats where its meant to be played

DrToma
DrToma

Please no more nude scene that's all I need

Gasakon
Gasakon

Gonna need one hell of a rig to run this smooth

darkassassin911
darkassassin911

There are boats? BOATS!?!?!?! That's all I need.  Im so buying this thing.  Are there giant insects/spiders?

Trickymaster
Trickymaster

Are you kidding me? What kind of GPU do you need to handle this? How can anything handle this?

eugenebi
eugenebi

They did not say a word about Yennefer. I think she must be in the game.

Steakface
Steakface

"...dodges, sidesteps, parries..."

Just what we need - more dancing, diving, and rolling around the battlefield. Another idiotic trend in gaming.

Steakface
Steakface

Staring slack-jawed at pretty graphics apparently counts as playing video games these days. It makes it so easy for developers - create a gigantic world, randomly sprinkle some story checkpoints around, fill remaining with side quests. I have yet to see open world done well. 

benelori
benelori

Witcher 2 is 6 dollars on GoG today...

RSG003
RSG003

I pray they don't make it to "Open World" like Skyrim...don't get me wrong Skyrim is a good game playing through the DLC and the main story...but beyond that it is a little boring and repetitive.

xfanrpgx
xfanrpgx

The witcher series offer the unique good mix of medieval nude cutscenes that is not in the Elder Scrolls and the boss fight stategy like Dark Soul . M rating RPG should be some more sexuality than blood and gore for all we're men.

JamesJoule
JamesJoule

@tgwenz this is the last witcher game .. they are not trying to make a skyrim 2.0 .. they are trying to go all out with the finale 

kalgert123
kalgert123

@tgwenz Skyrim isn't exactly story-based, it's basically an RPG game where you run around killing stuff and explore things (That's what I see the Elder Scrolls as, nothing more)

While the Witcher is more story-based, plus I always wondered if there's MORE to see in the world of The Witcher, and it seems we will be getting plenty of it

Max_160
Max_160

@Gasakon I doubt that 3 SLI titans will run this smooth on max. I think you'll have to throw in at least 4-5k to 60fps it. I mean hell, when witcher 2 came out, no GPU individually can run it above 30, and now there are only a few. 

GarGx1
GarGx1

@Trickymaster For maxing we'll probably be looking at something along the lines of a GTX 770, though it's not due till next year so if it's later in the year then it may need a GTX 870 to max it out.

Wouldn't worry though it'll have scalable graphics and as long as your rig is more powerful than an Xbone then you'll be fine

Spitz6860
Spitz6860

@eugenebi wouldn't be surprised if we get to go to Nilfgaard either, since that's hinted at the end of witcher 2 

baszzer
baszzer

@eugenebi yeah.. considering she's Geralt's sole motivation for pushing onward 

Ghidoran
Ghidoran

@Steakface Yes, how dare games add elements of skill and real world fighting!!! All games should have both the player and the enemy standing still and whacking on each other like Skyrim.

Ghidoran
Ghidoran

@Steakface Spoken like someone who has never played the Witcher 2. That game had and still has some of the best graphics in video games today and yet also has a high level of complexity in both the gameplay and the storytelling. What makes you think TW3 will be any different?

Mankind2pointO
Mankind2pointO

@Steakface Ultima 7.  Graphics aren't pretty but it actually feels like a natural world, not a quest hub, even though there are quests.  Everything you can do in some way relates to the journey at hand. And we haven't been able to meet that standard again.

udubdawgz
udubdawgz

@RSG003  

want to get rid of the repetitiveness and boredom?  create multiple characters with their own STRICT, hardcore rules and never stray from them.  

DiD can also add some serious tension.

elessarGObonzo
elessarGObonzo

@xfanrpgx most of us are. always surprised nowadays to see how many girls and young women comment on certain games in a positive way when we're talking about gaming @ work. ++ all the better. maybe these next generations will never have to hear the "you spend more time playing games than you do talking to me!" speach.

MAY9096
MAY9096

@malificus1 @Max_160 Loooooool .. That was very stupid, and don't forget the dog which I had a headache because of the times they mention it in every show

DrToma
DrToma

@Ricarven @DrToma I know, I played Witcher 2 and enjoyed it so much but I'll enjoy it more without nudity

elessarGObonzo
elessarGObonzo

@Max_160 my 2GB 7870, with FX-8320 @ 4.4GHz, & 8GB 1866 runs Witcher 2 with Ubersampling and everything maxed @ easy 60fps 1080p. my previous 1GB 6870 ran it perfect with Ubersampling off, AA @ 4x, & everything else turned all the way up. game is not that demanding with today's hardware.

games_are_fun71
games_are_fun71

@Spitz6860 @eugenebi  I heard that the locations are the city of Novigrad and 7 islands, so I have a feeling that Nilfgaard might not be a playable location (speculation).

93ChevyNut
93ChevyNut

@Ghidoran @Steakface Steakface, ever play Demon/Dark souls?  Having the ability to do all that "dancing" on the battlefield is a big part of what made those games awesome.  I'm sorry your limited vision has ruined entire gaming genres for you.

kalgert123
kalgert123

@MAY9096 @malificus1 @Max_160 THERE IS A DOG IN GHOSTS NOW! FISH MOVE OUTTA THE WAY NOW!

That's why I dislike Call of Duty stuff, it's always some sort of nonsense...Also if you ask me: The new consoles are a bit stupid in general

kalgert123
kalgert123

@DrToma @Ricarven This is a MAN'S game, no child-minded people allowed

You don't want nudity? Go back to whatever rock you came from, The Witcher isn't for you

games_are_fun71
games_are_fun71

@Spitz6860 @games_are_fun71 @eugenebi I actually got it confirmed, it takes place in the Skellige islands (here's a map https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-R2rhm02MttI/UPxhkaIIgtI/AAAAAAAADlY/zJrJf0MnhzM/s2048/witcher2.png

They should be north west of Cintra, and I was right about the city (Novigrad which you can also find on the map in southwest Redania) as well   Geralt will be stay exclusively in the northern kingdoms. If you are wondering where i got all this info, I got it from this interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmA8fvAlpxU

last thing: it is not one big landmass, Geralt can go on a boat whenever he wants to (although it might not be recommended)

Hope this helps.

games_are_fun71
games_are_fun71

@Spitz6860 @games_are_fun71 @eugenebi  I actually got it confirmed, it takes place in the Skellige islands (here's a map https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-R2rhm02MttI/UPxhkaIIgtI/AAAAAAAADlY/zJrJf0MnhzM/s2048/witcher2.png

They should be north west of Cintra, and I was right about the city (Novigrad which you can also find on the map in southwest Redania) as well   Geralt will be stay exclusively in the northern kingdoms. If you are wondering where i got all this info, I got it from this interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmA8fvAlpxU

last thing: it is not one big landmass, Geralt can go on a boat whenever he wants to (although it might not be recommended)

Hope this helps.

caloc
caloc

@93ChevyNut @Ghidoran @Steakface  lol yea they should just take real time combat  out of games period unless its an fps,cuz in real life people dont flinch when getting hit with a claymore in the gut....lol...i mean go play wow if u dont like real time combat guy,someone give geralt invulnerablilitie to damage for this kid