CD Projekt Red brought a bunch of Witcher to Comic-Con this week, showing off half an hour of largely unseen gameplay in a live demo for next year’s The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt.
Damien Monnier, senior gameplay designer, Doug Cockle, who voices Geralt in the games, Dark Horse’s Nick McWhorter, and The Witcher comic writer Paul Tobin were on hand to talk about all things Witcher during the first day as the show.
Cockle, who’s been the voice of Geralt since the first game, thanked the fans for coming out, boasting that the audience would be impressed with what CDP had in store with The Witcher 3.
The demo we saw looked pretty far along, although none of the VO was in the game yet. This section of gameplay is set after the Microsoft presentation with the griffin fight.
We caught up with Geralt outside of Novigrad, the biggest city in the game, which will serve as a quest hub. We saw Geralt roaming the roads and alleys of the Free City, where Monnier explained much of the political intrigue will take place.
After accepting a quest to find a mysterious creature named Johnny, Geralt heads to the outskirts of town as part of a larger quest to find an “ashen-haired girl” at the center of The Wild Hunt‘s story.
The map looks huge, and according to Monnier, the quest location would take 25 minutes to reach by horseback. The map is huge and still carries over the hand-drawn style from previous installments (which was kind of a pain to navigate, even if it is pretty).
In the first combat encounter with a group of swamp creatures, it’s clear that Geralt has gotten more limber in his old age, dashing near and away from enemies with ease. A later fight showed some of his new abilities including a burst of flame out of his hands to immolate single enemies, as well as a confusion attack.
The quest structure isn’t radically different: Geralt takes a hike through the woods and hacks his way through a handful of enemies, chats with an NPC, repeat (with a little swimming thrown in for good measure). The world of The Witcher appears to still be filled with plenty of ancient and odd creatures through gorgeously-realized environments.
Geralt’s now able to scale ledges, meaning no more pesky long walks to find the right spot to access paths and walkways (there’s a little Assassin’s Creed-style traversal). He’s also able to vault over smaller obstacles, making running through the wild more fluid than it’s been in the past.
Monnier talked about CDP creating a reactive ecosystem, where interactions with animals and people change the world. Of course, that’s not really something you can get a sense of in 30-minute demo.
Maybe the most important thing the demo offered was a first look at the young woman at the center of the Wild Hunt story. How she ties everything together, we obviously don’t know – but Geralt learns during the course of this quest that she’s somehow going to change the world.
The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt will be out next February.