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SDCC2014: The Witcher 3 Panel

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Gran is a servant to owners of the land, “The Ladies,” and refuses to assist Geralt at first. She eventually takes him into one of the cabins where she speaks to him in front of an intricate tapestry which features an attractive and topless interpretation of her masters. Gran details the goals Geralt must accomplish to meet with The Ladies. She sends him on a quest to kill a woodland beast that “feeds on hatred and disdain” and then collect payment from a man of the woods once the former task is completed.

Geralt travels to another wooded area where he finds the ground littered with the carcasses of men. Realizing he’s up against a werewolf, he uses his in-game ability to speed up time. This allows him to bring night on and his target to transform into the creature. After disposing of the creature with his sword, he travels to another enclosed cave-like area that he must swim to part of the way. In there, he finds the evil spirit. It is bound to the tree and protected by its branches.

At this point, Geralt is presented with a choice. He must decide whether or not he believes the spirit’s claims that it can save the children. The audience collectively decided he should attack the spirit. A boss battle ensues in which some minions appear and the spirit is dispatched with fire and sword. After killing the enemy, he locates the man of the woods to collect payment. The man uses a dagger to remove his own ear and presents it to Geralt.

Upon his return to The Ladies’ cabin, Geralt gives the ear to Gran, who passes it on to one of her masters. The Ladies are, needless to say, not nearly as attractive as in the tapestry from earlier. They would look right at home in any horror film. Cronish and repulsive in appearance, one of The Ladies places the ear on her necklace of other less fresh ears.

The ladies, while stingy with the details, do provide Geralt with the information he needs as to the direction of the ashen-haired maiden. As he leaves the area those in the audience who paid attention noticed that the children were nowhere to be found. A short trailer for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt played and with that the demo ended.

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During the Q&A the developers said that the difficulty spikes found in previous games has been addressed in this one. They brought in testers who had not had played The Witcher series before to help determine points in the game where the challenge might be spiking too quickly and felt that fans would find the difficulty curving upward much more evenly this time.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an incredibly good-looking game. The environments are very detailed visually and in the soundscape, right down to birds chirping as they fly past you. Day and night cycles exist. The choices you make in-game affect the other characters and world around you, adding another layer of depth. According to the developer, the combat system has been fully revamped. Battle is fast and bloody.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is ESRB rated M and will release to the Xbox One, PS4 and PC on February 24, 2015. For more information, visit the official website.

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