Rejoice, good people, for at long last GameWatcher has PC review code for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, a day before release and only 3-4 weeks after console reviewers got it. Woo. Our review's then understandably a way off, but we didn't want to leave you hanging so here's our first REVIEW-IN-PROGRESS for the game, in a handy Question and Answer format. Without further adieu then...
Can you run it?
Yes, I'm relieved to say I can, and not just-
What's your system specs?
My, you're pushy aren't you? It's an Intel i5-4670 CPU @ 3.40GHz (4 CPUs), 8Gb RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 with 4Gb RAM, Windows 7 64-bit, etc. So, not spectacular, but I'm actually getting a good performance out of it.
So what sort of level of detail are we talking here? "Low" settings with a helping of "Very Low" and a side order of "Buy a new PC, grandad"?
Screw you, young whippersnapper. Mostly Medium settings, with Terrain Detail and Character Detail both set to High, with all Post Processing Effects set to maximum including HBAO+. And it still runs perfectly with no slowdown, so I can bump it up more if I want.
Can you do a stream or a video so we can see it in motion?
Sadly no, unless it's tomorrow. Y'see, some silly European retailers sold the game early so CD Projekt, Twitch and Youtube have been banning anyone who streams or puts up video of The Witcher 3.
Yeah. Have another picture of Geralt to sooth the pain.
So what can you tell us about the game?
I've played a few hours of it, which is an absolute drop in the ocean. At the moment I'm loving it, but by Melitele it's big and there's so much to do in it. I could spend every waking hour for the next few weeks just picking flowers and I still probably wouldn't get out of the opening area.
Ergh, it's not as bad as Dragon Age: Inquisition is it?
Dragon Age: Inquisition is great, but by only having limited (but massive) areas psychologically it makes players want to explore them all, whereas The Witcher 3, like Skyrim, is proper open-world. You have full freedom with what you do and where you go, so there's less compulsion to pick every flower. It's not possible to do it all, so you don't. Weird, I know. But there are loads of quests and there are many '?' symbols on the map to investigate. These could be new quests, or locations, or a hive of ghouls to be blown up, places of power, but always something interesting and worth your time.
Better than Skyrim?
Only a few hours in remember, but from the little I've seen - yes. It seems to have everything Skyrim has but with every improvement it needed, like better characters, better story, better graphics, better map, not being just about following a waypoint marker, combined with all the wonderful moral murkiness The Witcher series is known for. There's no good or evil, everyone has their own point of view and it's up to Geralt (and you) to decide the outcome of every argument. Even without being on full settings every looks gorgeous, there's something interesting to discover around every corner, and even if you just stick to the story you'll have loads of fun. It even loads fast, and you can skip intro videos and cutscenes.
Wow, that all sounds great. Anything bad you can say about it?
It's clearly been made with a joypad in mind. It doesn't matter, but the default keyboard bindings are insane. "Strong Attack" is Shift + Direction + Left Mouse Button? Space to "Roll" and Alt to "Dodge"? I was fiddling about with the key bindings for my first hour of play, and I still can't remember how to change a target while locked on. I think I've got used to it, but I'm strongly considering plugging in my Xbox pad.
Any good quests so far?
Right now I'm on the Griffon Hunt that got advertised everywhere, which is actually something you need to do to progress the story mission. The one that got me most interested was the hunt for "the devil in the well", which is a ghost hunt. A local well is haunted by a hideous apparition and Geralt's been paid to rid the village of the spook, but of course there's a lot more to it than that. The ghost looks great, too. Here's a close up.
If anyone's got any further questions for me, feel free to share them below and I'll answer in the comments or in the next part of this Review-In-Progress. If you would like me to do a stream tomorrow night or shortly after, just say. Right now though... I'm going to finish this Griffon.