Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Witcher II Preview

The votes are in! ...and so without further ado,

The Witcher 2 Preview Part 1:

Release date: End of March/beginning of April 2011

Demo: None until after release.

Trailer (definately watch this one!): Official trailer

(^^Beware of brain/nerdgasms when watching that video)

“We will have the best looking RPG ever.” –Tom

He wasn’t kidding. Remember when I said that Gothic IV was the best RPG in terms of graphics I had seen? (At the very least on par with Mass Effect 2) Well, that was before that trailer and these screens.

These guys are doing amazing things, bringing bump-maping and texturing to new levels.

They use a new form of bump mapping in The Witcher II, pay special attention to the armor/swords. 

Leaked video!:  Leaked alpha footage (keep in mind his voice is just a demo version) Also, the day/night cycles and weather are quite impressive. 

The first thing you will notice though, aside from the new graphics, is the motion capturing. Every door opening gesture to scratching of the ass has been fully motion captured for this game, and it shows.

The combat has been smoothed, especially the ‘between’ animations, so every hard strike to finisher is smooth from first strike to last. Epic. I can’t say how impressed I am with the work I’ve seen in this department.  

Hard to believe, but this is an in-engine cutscene.

Truly nonlinear storyline: A great focus was made on the nonlinear storyline, to make the player see the impact of their decisions and still let them feel free to do as their conscious guides them. For every action there is a reaction. Even seemingly small decisions may turn out to start a riot, or lead to a death. The up and downsides of these decisions are especially far reaching.

Real moral choices: It wouldn’t be The Witcher without it. This time choices are evermore ambiguous and really make you think. Just like in the first game, sometimes things can be seen from many angles, and every choice has its proponents and lamenters.

This ‘nonlinear’ feel extends even to the combat.

Gone: Increasing stats, now there is a much more ‘real’ system that will affect gameplay Instead of just ‘+2 to dex’ the player will be able to choose faster strikes, deeper wounds, or doing damage to 2 opponents instead of 1.  Things that really change the way you play, the new goals are involvement and flexability. With this new system its entirely possible to play 2 different characters 2 completely different ways even with the same specializations, and with the same Garret we all know and love :D

Gone is the Aurora engine. Instead, the developers built a new engine they are calling TSOOD. The new engine is specifically designed to prevent some of the bottlenecks in feature expansion that they fought with in the development of The Witcher I. 

New: Magic is now involved INSIDE the combo system, letting you get off wicked combos with both magic and steel.

Yes, the fist fighting in the trailer was real in-game. Visceral huh? They definitely smoothed the edges between each move to the point that it really feels freeform. So, non-lethal combat will always be an option, and possibly will be a major factor in game decisions. Finishers like the boot to the head we saw are chosen automatically instead of a normal attack when the opponent's life is low. 

Same/enchanced: The stylized narrative backgrounds are still there to let you know major choices and tell the story, but the developers have hinted that they listened to player feedback on this, and they will be more involving.

Cutscenes will be done ‘in engine’ with barely any pre-rendered, which with the current technology they are fooling around with will be similar to Mass Effect 2 in terms of an epic feel.

QTEs: Many events are included throughout the game. Battles and conversations especially you have to be on your toes. First pioneered by the Resident Evil series, QTEs are ‘Quick time events’ that allow the character (if they are fast enough) to take advantage of a situation and perform an act to benefit him/her. Remember the blue,red key strokes in Mass Effect 2 that allowed you to perform good/evil actions? Same principle, except good and evil are subjective in the world of The Witcher :D.

Here you can clearly see the new texture mapping, along with some depth of field.
Collectable sex cards: Hehe, not this time fellas :D Although, they will take another approach to this and sex will still be a part of the game. At the end of the day, Geralt is still irresistible to the ladies.

Characters from the books: A lot of our old friends from the first game will be seen, along with many new ones from the books that never made an appearance before. (If you haven’t read the books yet, now is a great time.)

Length: The original Witcher was around 100 hours with all the sidequests completed. While the game has not been finalized, the developers have signaled their goal is to not be shorter than the original.

Here is some extra footage to wet your beaks a bit:

Continued Tuesday in Part 2.