Review by CyhortI82

Reviewed: 03/22/16

Most Overrated Game of 2015?

I have no idea how this game won so many game of the year awards. Even ignoring all the graphical glitches, like Geralt’s hair blowing in the wind when he’s inside buildings or the little pieces of the character’s costumes that twitch and shudder for no apparent reason, the gameplay is frustrating and not at all fun. Which is pretty much a staple of the Witcher series, but you’d think they would have ironed it out by the third fu*king game.

Not so.

The stupid jump-spin animation that randomly happens when you try a fast attack–a fast attack, mind–makes it impossible to time attacks because you never know when you’re going to have a one second delay between when you press the attack button and when your attack actually starts. It makes combat a frustrating chore, even on easy mode.

(Short rant on easy mode: Easy mode is called “Just The Story” and it’s for people who don’t give a fu*k about “challenge” and just want to experience the game. And yet, I’m still losing fights to enemies four levels below me. And since the loading times in this game are atrocious, I’m stuck waiting for at least thirty seconds to see when the damn game last deigned to autosave. Not. Fun.)

Honestly, “not fun” seems to be the theme for this game. It has some great mechanics. The hunts are interesting and well done, the investigation system shows promise, Geralt’s ever growing facial hair is pretty cool, even the story is interesting despite how much I hate Geralt’s character and how “no, really guys, we’re all incredibly heterosexual here” most of the male characters are. But the gameplay sucks any enjoyment I might be able to find right out of it. Aside from the combat, which is terrible, getting around their giant ass open world is tedious as fu*k. And where most open world games get around this with some sort of fast travel system that makes travel easy and convenient, the Witcher 3′s fast travel system just adds to the frustration. Instead of unlocking a fast travel location and then being able to click it on the world map and travel there fastly, you have to first walk or ride your horse to a fast travel marker on the overworld and access fast travel from there. Sometimes this means you end up traveling in the opposite direction of where you need to go, just to find a fast travel marker, just to keep from riding over the same 500 feet of boring overworld three or four times during a questline. And since the menus are so laggy, the whole process of finding a fast travel marker near you by going into the world map, traveling to it, lining Geralt up with the sigh so the prompt to use it pops up, waiting for the world map to load again, clicking on the fast travel point nearest to your destination, waiting for the game to load your new location, and then traveling the last little bit on horse (which is very clunky to control), half the time you don’t even save that much time by “fast” traveling. And even when you do, the whole process is boring and rote.

Geralt’s movement animations are awful too. There’s no fluidity. It feels like I’m controlling a tank without actually using tank controls. Actually, it feels like I’m controlling a GTA4 character, which is not a favorable comparison. Contrast that to Dragon Age: Inquisition–a very similar game–where the character movements are fluid and responsive and don’t make it seem like the character is moving through water when he walks. Hell, contrast it to the Arkham games, where Batman’s walking animations are slow and a bit clunky, but it’s still easier to get him pointed in the right direction and to trigger precision prompts (like “Press A to interact with this small object”). For all the work that went into the writing and the scripting and the dynamic weather and lighting and all that other cool, non-gameplay stuff, it seems like they barely spent any time thinking about how to make experiencing all that cool stuff fun instead of tedious.

Also, and this is more of a personal gripe than anything, I hate how the game tries to railroad me into making Geralt stupid for a pair of boobs. My least favorite trope of all time is the super competent male character that throws all his intelligence and experience out the window the second a hot girl walks by and starts flirting with him. It’s awful writing, and if we’re going to use the definition of the word that so many people seem to like applying to female characters, it’s a bit sexist as well. The game does give me the option to skip what seems like it might be a sex scene, but it puts the choice to me not as “Do you want to have sex with this girl, yes or no” but as “do you want to have sex with this girl, yes or no, if you select no, you’re probably going to skip a quest or stop this sub-plotline and miss out on some experience or an item that might make our awful combat a bit easier to endure”. It’s annoying, especially for someone like me who can’t stand having to sit through conversations filled with heterosexual innuendo.

All in all, Witcher 3 doesn’t deserve all the “OMG GREATEST GAEM EVAR!!!!11! praise that it gets. Is it a terrible game? No. Is it the game of the year? Hell no. Is it a decent game? Yeah, sure. Objectively it has a lot of problems, but a few of my gripes are subjective, and I’ll admit that. Still, on an “out of five” scale, I’d say it only deserves 3/5.


Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Product Release: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (US, 05/19/15)

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