Content of the article: "First Fist Fight in Hearts of Stone"
I just completed Blood and Wine from a fresh start on Death March. There were a few moments that were too difficult to be fun (Extreme Cosplay) but then that's what you get for choosing Death March I suppose. For the most part I thought the battles, especially the boss battles, were perfectly balanced – hard, but doable with the right strategy. In the end, I think I beat Detlaff without taking any damage other than having my Quen shield broken. It took a ton of tries, but I always saw there was a way. I just had to get my timing right and not screw up.
That got me up to Level 50 and I thought I'd treat myself by taking on Hearts of Stone not from a fresh start but with all my well-earned demi-god Level 50 powers intact. I figured this would be, if anything, way too easy. So, I get to that first fist fight against one of Olgierd's men and… it was really difficult. I got him in the end by reloading and trying again and being extremely cautious in my moves, but man… how the hell does that make sense? He's just some dude, for one thing, and he only shows up as level 30, for another. But somehow he can deck a Level 50 witcher in 3 punches, can break a string of attacks at any moment, can break my guard, can counterattack faster and more effectively than any other opponent I've taken on. Now this moment isn't going to be a gamebreaker of course because you just get to continue on even if you lose but it's another one of those moments that make me think, "All those hours, all that leveling up, all those careful considerations of where to spend ability points… all of it is meaningless. Any random dude can floor the witcher at any moment, at any level." I guess this guy is so tough because you're supposed to lose to him, for plot reasons or something.
I think I've loved this game more than any other I've ever played. (Geralt's smile at the end of Blood and Wine… well, you know what I mean). But the leveling madness drives me spare. If I try to take on an enemy twenty levels above me, I will lose. I'm not sure it's even mathematically possible to win in such a scenario. But a Level 30 dimwit swings his fists at Level 50 Geralt… game over for the witcher. It seems to undermine a pretty fundamental premise of the game. To be fair, this is the first RPG I've ever played so… so I'm sure a bunch of people are going to tell me why I'm wrong because I don't understand RPGs. I don't know, it just doesn't make much sense to me. And I wanted to vent. (This only bothers me so much because the game is SO. BLOODY. GOOD. in general).
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