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I’m 7.5 hours into Witcher 3 and have some Opinions about it

Content of the article: "I’m 7.5 hours into Witcher 3 and have some Opinions about it"

Obviously this game was near-universally regarded as incredible, with many people saying top 10 of the decade. I haven't played enough to form any really educated opinions on it, but I've got some… qualms with that rating.

At its core, the game makes me want to keep playing. That's a good thing, no doubt; it's a nice feeling (nothing like the 2 am Skyrim "one more dwemer ruin" feeling). The game doesn't tire me out like other open-world games; exploring makes me feel like an actual adventurer, not a checklist-checker. The storytelling (writing, voice acting, diegetic worldbuilding) is giving me the first truly great game narrative since I played Mass Effect a couple years ago.

The fact that I like the game is what's making me want to bitch so passionately about it. It has so many great elements that I want the rest to be that great too.

In a comment on the weekly thread, I referred to the gameplay as "ass". I'd revise that statement: I think it's functional in the same way a Metroid Prime controls are functional. It's… fine, once you get used to it, but the the learning curve for someone used to modern games is a brick wall. Visually, the game seems to want you to play it as a hack-and-slash, giving you wacky spinny swordplay and two different dodges (why the hell, by the way?). In practice, it seems to be designed around playing much more cautiously and putting much more prep into every encounter. What's frustrating about this is that many encounters are spontaneous, meaning there's no feasible way to prep for them. You get dropped into a boss fight without having the opportunity to even learn the alchemy system first.

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I'm just past the Botchling fight, which pissed me off for a different reason. It took me four tries on easy (my fault entirely; it was hard in a good way). Because of that, I tried taking a couple different dialogue paths to see if I could avoid the fight altogether. You can't. RPG my fucking ass. It felt like I was being actively insulted; the game goes "Hey, we have two options, either kill this thing or cure its curse" and then makes you do a bossfight and kill it because "hey we gotta have a climax to this arc somefuckinghow right?" You know what's more satisfying to me than a bossfight with a mediocre combat system? Figuring out how to avoid one. This is more of a salt thing from me since I'm strongly opposed to the idea of bossfights in any form. That aside even, I was promised agency in this plotline and I didn't get any.

Additionally, the game gives you guidance in what I feel like are all the wrong places. I've gotten almost NO tutorials about alchemy, which is A: kind of confusing and B: the most compelling part of the game for me. However, I got basically an entire fight teaching me how to use the crossbow, which amounted to "point and shoot to induce effect". Feels like tutorial effort is misplaced.

The first area you're in is level 1 (wow no shit). The second is level 5. After doing everything I could do in that area, I was level 3. Was I just supposed to run in circles killing wolves and Drowners until I hit level 5? What's up with the progression?

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Actually, that's a lie. I didn't do everything there. There were two quests I picked up from a noticeboard, intending to do them once I cleared the main story part of the region that just AUTO-FAILED when I finished the main mission. There was no indication this would happen ANYWHERE, no suggestion that they were on a timer, no suggestion that the main story would lock me out of anything, nothing. I could still go back to the region afterwards, but I couldn't do the missions anymore. Now I've missed out on content for no justifiable reason. I'd get it if I'd actually DONE something like passed by a dying NPC or picked a wrong dialogue option or ignored a clue or a timer or something, but nope. Nothing.

Again, I do really like the game and I'm probably going to finish it and both the DLCs, but there are just some things about it that really get on my nerves and make it frustrating to play more than a couple hours.


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