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LTTP: The Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition

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The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition Logo

LTTP or ‘late to the party’ pieces are opportunities for me to catch up and write about games I missed out on the first time around. They may contain spoilers.

“The more it changes, the more it stays the same.”

That phrase is applicable to nearly every sequel but I didn’t think it would apply to The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. The Witcher was an isometric mouse driven role playing game. The sequel was from the third person perspective, running on a completely different graphics engine and was at home with the Xbox 360 controller. But despite their obvious differences, the two CD Projekt RED titles were more alike than I ever imagined.

The same rich universe that I enjoyed in the first game was fleshed out further in Assassins of Kings. More kings were introduced, new lands and Witchers were unveiled. I was loving this overwhelming lore and medieval politics but I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. I felt like a newcomer that happened to catch a new an episode of Game of Thrones midway through.

Thankfully I didn’t need context to make the decisions presented to me. Every conflict and decision was made after gathering the necessary information. It often meant I had to interview, intimidate or influence people into giving the information I wanted. The wealth of information divulged through conversation was mesmerizing. It reminded me of Mass Effect’s method of doling out its lore and backstory.

In the first title, Geralt of Rivia was known for his potions, magic and his twin blades. In the sequel, Geralt learned how to craft traps and throw knives on top of his old tricks. I didn’t spend much time with those traps though. I stuck with Geralt’s old tricks. I rolled, knocked over foes with magic and dealt the appropriate blade in order to overcome Geralt’s enemies.

I heard the original release of The Witcher 2 was a bit cumbersome to get a hold of but the Enhanced Edition’s tutorial did an amicable job showing off the combat system. Still, even with the increased difficulty, I found the combat was easily broken by “cheap” tactics. Enemies were afraid to cross certain invisible barriers and I used that to kill off monsters that I had no business thwarting so early.

The game was divided into three chapters with each chapter housing a unique town and area to explore. I was fine with the separation in the first title but I wished for a seamless world tying all three regions together. Each region felt too isolated by themselves. Given what little I knew about each region, it felt like three separate adventures featuring Geralt of Rivia and friends.

To be fair, I wasn’t looking for a sprawling landscape like Skyrim. I enjoyed the densely packed design of each area. There was just enough running around to make it feel spacious but not too much to make it feel like a slog. I hear The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will feature a Skyrim-esque world, I just hope they maintain the density of each area.

The mark of a great middle chapter is to leave the audience wanting more. The Witcher 2 delivered the cliffhanger that but they could have dedicated another ten hours or so to flesh out the overarching story. I didn’t mind conversing with NPCs but having the antagonist dispense exposition detailing his motives over the course of the entire campaign was an inelegant solution. It felt rushed.

I actually imported my save from the first Witcher game into the sequel and I wish to continue my version of events in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. With some finessing and tweaking, I managed to eke out 1080p and mostly 60FPS in this game. I’m not so confident I can do the same with The Witcher 3 which is why I’m considering finishing this trilogy on Sony’s console.

That sentiment sums up how I feel about The Witcher series: I enjoy the game on a moment to moment basis but I have no attachment to the overarching story. I just love “living” in its world and doing what Witchers do. Consorting with whores, dwarves and kings who deliver their lines convincingly makes me wish CD Projekt RED made a Game of Thrones game. They’re immensely talented and they’re slowly honing their craft with each passing game.

Highly Recommended

Ratings Guide

For more information on The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition, visit the official website.

2010 PC Rev. 1.3 was used to play The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition.

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