Home > Lore, Review, Witcher II > Played Lately: “Witcher 2: Pros and Cons” or “Witcher 2’s Divergent Chapters”

Played Lately: “Witcher 2: Pros and Cons” or “Witcher 2’s Divergent Chapters”

With a severe lack of MMOs in my life, I am finding my guilty gaming pleasures in several multiplayer co-op and single-player titles these days. I wait anxiously for the day new-generation MMOs like Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World come out, but until then, I just can’t bring myself to engage in the same old cyclical redundancy that is the bane of the contemporary MMO experience.

My last post detailed the multiplayer co-op games I have been playing of late. This post details the single-player titles that have kept me occupied

Witcher 2: Pros and Cons

The Witcher 2 is simultaneously one of the most amazing and annoying games ever build in the history of computer gaming.

On the positive side, it is a complete RPG experience, rich with lore, dripping with ambiance and executed with style in a lush, beautifully crafted world. The lore is especially well-planned, originally based off of the books of polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, and details a fantastical kingdom with geopolitical tensions, royal assassinations, political espionage, magic, dragons and civil war in the lands. The game world has perhaps the best-looking environments I have seen to date in a video game. Lush foliage, towering castles, painstakingly detailed ruins and winding dungeons seamlessly blend together to create one of the most visually rewarding experiences I have had in a virtual world. The combat system, though initially baffling, can vary dramatically depending on your specialization, and can prove to be incredibly rewarding and challenging.

The game is not without its flaws. The combat starts very tough, with no clear direction as to what you’re supposed to do or how you are supposed to fight. Over the course of the game you actually become powerful enough to decimate anything in your path regardless of size, health, disposition or strength. Read that again. The combat starts really tough, and gets really easy. That’s dumb. The inventory management was a colossal pain in the ass. You only have 300 units of items you can carry. Given that the game throws cloth and leather and creature parts, and swords, and axes and pikes, and war hammers, and random junk, and herbs, and quest items, and beast trophies, and elemental stones and diamond dust and silver ore and iron ore and timber and the kitchen sink (to name maybe 1% of everything there is to pick up in the world), you run out of inventory space quite quickly. And god help you if you run out of space in the middle of a dungeon crawl, because the game will encumber and slow you down to a crawl. Add to this the fact that you will pick up recipes throughout the game and you never know which materials you might need later to craft that epic silver sword, piece or mail or armor kit, it can result in a very frustrating experience. The upcoming patch 1.3 promises to deal with both these issues, which is a great thing, I just wish they had done this when I was going through it myself.

Yup, that's one of the monsters you get to fight in the game.

Witcher 2’s Divergent Chapters

But Witcher 2’s greatest strength isn’t all of the fantastic gameplay elements, graphics, or mechanics that I listed above. In Witcher 2, one of the coolest things, that I only realized after reading up on it online, is that a binary choice in Chapter One completely changes the way the rest of the game plays out.

This isn’t necessarily a spoiler, but read at your own risk. The game will ask you to choose between Roethe or Iorveth during your first showdown with the Assassin of Kings. Either choice is permitted, but the game divides into two completely separate paths after you make this choice. Allow me to explain. The binary choice results in different NPCs dying, different fate of the town of Floatsam, a completely different Chapter Two and Chapter Three, including missions, NPCs, objectives, story, monsters and side-quests. Allow me to rephrase, playing the game after siding with Iroveth is a completely different lore and storyline experience from that moment onwards, than if you sided with Roethe. For example, Iorveth’s side leads you in Chapter Two to the Dwarven town of Vergen, which is preparing for an invasion by King Henselt’s armies. Whereas if you sided with Roethe, you actually play Chapter Two in King Henselt’s camp, as he prepares his advance against Vergen.

That is true choice, where your decisions matter and effectively change the entire direction and disposition of the game.

If you haven’t yet, you must play The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.

Categories: Lore, Review, Witcher II
  1. July 19, 2011 at 3:29 am

    i would play borderlands on steam with you but i’m so burnt out with that game with 5 lvl 50+ characters
    Great game tho; really hoping for a Borderlands 2 very soon

  2. July 19, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    What is your steam ID dude?!?

  3. July 19, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    This looks like an intriguing and interesting RPG experience, but is the game tough on older systems? One of the reasons I gave up on playing warcraft is because my vid card sucks and I have been too lazy to uprade it.

    • July 20, 2011 at 5:55 pm

      I am not certain how to answer that my friend. See I own a top-of-the-line system. I get 60 FPS at the game’s highest settings. part of me wants to tell you that to not experience the lush beauty of the gorgeous environments that the designers have crafted would be a disservice to the playing experience. But then again, NOT playing the game would be a disservice to yourself, as a serious gamer. The graphical settings are quite broad and have a lot of tiered options, I think you should be able to adjust them to play stutter-free on your PC.

      Hey, it’s always worth a try! If not, befriend someone with a kick-ass system!

  4. July 25, 2011 at 1:39 am

    Thanks for the heads up Bronte. 60 fps is indeed impressive.

  5. Tesh
    July 25, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    Reminds me a bit of the binary choice in Tactics Ogre or Front Mission 3. Early choices between two characters in those games alters the “side” you’re on in the rest of the game. I think it’s a smart game design choice, though it can make for more dev work if you wind up doing a lot of unique things in unique places. Budgeteers are rightfully worried about that sort of design ethos, as it means you’re potentially doubling your work for half the payout on the player’s end. That can kill a game on the practical side. Consequently, you tend to see reused areas and NPCs, just different “stories”.

    So… it sounds like these guys are doing something right. I still won’t play the game as I don’t play M rated games, but it’s good to hear from others who are willing to point out some of the game design. Thanks!

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