March has been kind for Witcher fans as it brought a wealth of new information about the highly anticipated title from various sources. Below are some of the more interesting bits.
Journalists of the German magazine Gamestar.de, who had the opportunity to test the game for 12 hours, claim that the game map is bigger than Skyrim's. Novigrad and No Man's Land are connected, forming a single map. Loading screens will only be present when traveling between the mainland and the isles of Skellige, the other big part of the game. The two biggest cities in the Witcher 3 will be Novigrad and Oxenfurt, both very lively. Players will also be able to explore around 25 smaller towns, some of which are the size of Flotsam, scattered across Novigrad and No Man's Land. The cities show CDPR's painstaking attention to detail – they have a realistic ecosystem where craftsmen live in the suburbs, just like in medieval times. The world itself is described to be very realistic and organic, and more importantly, it doesn't feel empty – the trappings of many a modern open world game. Traveling, they claim, never gets boring as there's always something new to discover along the way to your current objective.
The Witcher 3 will offer 4 difficulty settings to choose from – Easy, Medium, Hard, and Dark. While enemy hit points will remain the same across difficulty levels, their behavior and attack patters will differ. Preparing the right set and amount of potions will be crucial before entering battle, especially on higher difficulty levels. Potions will have different quality levels, which can be improved to strengthen their effects via an extensive crafting system. Not only will Geralt be able to craft potions and bombs, but also bigger saddle bags to increase the inventory limitations of his trusty steed. What's more, the best equipment in the game will only be obtainable through crafting. Another interesting thing to note is that Geralt's beard will grow longer with the passing of time. Players will have the option of going to a barber to keep it from growing too long. Additionally, every equipped item will be visible on Geralt's in-game model.
Players will also have to opportunity to take part in horse races. They are said to be similar to the ones found in Rockstar's Red Ded Redemption. In order to win, players will have to focus on managing their steed's stamina.
The game will offer a fully customizable HUD. In order to increase immersion, players will also be able to turn off icons and quest markers. Locating new events will be possible by following audiovisual hints, e.g. people screaming for help.
We've also learned a little more about Ciri's part in the game. Her sections will be much more action oriented, resembling a linear action-adventure game rather than an RPG. Player can expect to spend 5 to 10 hours in her shoes. Unlike Geralt, Ciri won't have access to an inventory or a skill tree, instead her abilities will be dependent on the scene.
Gamestar's journalists were also very impressed by the story branching in ways that aren't always transparent or immediately visible. For example, one quest featured six different paths that could lead to completely different outcomes. Correcting the “wrong choice” won't always be possible due to the complexity of the branching story. What's more, unlike Bioware games, there won't be any indicator marking a dialog option as “good” or “evil.” Every answer will make some sort of sense, and only quest relevant options will be marked to distinguish them from chatter and non-quest related topics.
The Witcher 3 has also received praise from the journalists for its graphical quality. The ultra settings show off the game's graphical prowess, especially in the case of rich vegetation and character models. The game's lighting system also leaves a powerful impression with fields of flowers being bathed in the evening light. The game is said to run fluidly on a GTX980 with everything set to maximum and NVIDIA HairWorks turned on.
Finally, thanks to Guru3D member doktor1 we have a glimpse at the game map and some new screenshots to fast your eyes on. The map can be viewed below while the pictures can be seen in our gallery.