Fans of developer CD Projekt Red don’t need any more reasons to be excited for The Witcher 3, but the latest batch of screenshots aren’t just meant to give a sense of what gamers can expect from the sprawling open-world RPG – they’re meant to stun. Highlighting the massive game world and the monsters that will be inhabiting it, these screenshots prove the the studio isn’t letting the momentum gained from The Witcher 2 go to waste.
A majority of the images are pulled from the demo playthrough we saw at E3 2013, but that doesn’t make them any less impressive. Still images don’t quite do justice to the sprawling environments and fine-tuned animations, but they get the point across: The Witcher 3 is not of this generation.
Existing fans of the franchise won’t be surprised to see the creatures and environments contained in the images, since the developers have kept much of the art style and…inventive monster design of the previous game intact. What these images do – much like the E3 demonstration – is clarify the many ways that players will be able to spend their time in-game.
The Polish development studio has made no secret of their desire to outdo fellow fantasy RPG franchises Dragon Age and Elder Scrolls, and from a technical standpoint they seem to be off to a strong start. With a game world over thirty times that of The Witcher 2, the processing power of the studio’s REDEngine 3 is already changing what’s possible in a series best known for its graphical prowess. Of course, if anyone’s worried about the visuals, the latest screenshots should take care of that.
The amount of time that’s been spent crafting new monsters is evident from these images alone, and it signals a shift in the core gameplay of the series. One of the most highly-discussed features of The Witcher 3 was the desire to simulate the life of a real monster-hunter. Since the titular Witcher, Geralt of Rivia is best known for slaying the world’s deadliest mystical creatures (for a price), the designers are letting players spend endless hours taking on contracts and honing their skills, if they so choose.
In terms of gameplay, that means players looking to take a brief respite from the central story (surrounding the titular Wild Hunt) can simply pick a direction, and start exploring. The screenshots show just how detailed even the background areas of the game will apparently be, with each small hamlet or village another chance to take on a contract. As the images also show, not every job makes life better for those who enlist Geralt’s services (cost of doing business, we suppose).
Since highly-tailored demos are all that’s been shown, how densely populated The Witcher 3 turns out to be isn’t clear. It’s worth remembering, however, that it isn’t the emergent gameplay of The Witcher 2 that won it acclaim; it was the story. With more variations this time around, it doesn’t look like the increased size or scope of the game comes at a price. Or, one that can be seen at this point.
Where does The Witcher 3 rank among your anticipated next-gen titles? Do you like the idea of The Witcher 2‘s combat and story being joined with a Skyrim-like world, or would you have picked a different direction for the series? Sound off in the comments.
The Witcher 3 will be released on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in late 2014.
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