One of the biggest surprises of 2007, The Witcher, impressed gamers with its immersive and gorgeous in-game world that allowed players to literally live inside it. Sure, several games provided this before, but The Witcher delivered with a level of polish and maturity that really gave it an edge. What made the game even more remarkable was the story, the varied and diverse RPG battle system and the drop-dead beautiful graphics that held up really well, even today. The Witcher 2 looks to build on the already solid template and take it to new heights.
Players once again play the role of the white haired monster hunter, Geralt. After stopping a rebellion and saving the King in the first game, Geralt is now on a hunt for a group of assassins who have been slaying rulers. In his quest for the assassins and their motives, he soon finds himself caught in an even bigger conflict. The narration is set to be far more non-linear this time around with choices playing a much more significant role as the game will feature several paths, plot lines and endings. It will also have an improved flashback system that establishes a much stronger connection between a players past actions/decisions and the current flow of events. Sexual intercourse was one of the major elements from the first game, and this will return in The Witcher 2 in a more mature and realistic way.
The in-game world will be run by a much more powerful engine and players can expect a deep and engrossing world that evolves and responds to the player. Players will be able to choose their allies and meet all sorts of interesting and unique characters depending on their choices. Apart from the main quest, players will also be able to take on a variety of side missions that are not just simple fetch quests.
The Witcher 2 will retain the diverse battle system of the original and will combine action and tactical RPG combat elements. In terms of character customisation, players will have greater freedom in item creation, weapon upgrades and skill development. Players can choose between 3 specialisations when developing skills: sword, magic and alchemy. They can then mix these up to their liking and also modify them in terms of damage and proximity. Players can now create over 200 items (which includes weapons) and there are also no limits to the number of carried items in this game, which takes away the challenge of item management but can still be convenient. Also worth noting is that there are now more armour parts in The Witcher 2, as players will now be able to customise and upgrade several armour parts such as gloves, knee pads, belts etc. An interesting change in this game is that enemies stay the same level as you level up and get stronger, unlike other Western RPGs (like Oblivion) where enemies progressively get stronger with the player character.
Graphically, the game looks brilliant and once again the environments steal the thunder with their draw distance, variety, lighting effects, textures and attention to detail. Sound wise, the game will feature a symphonic score and be fully voiced, with much improved voice acting over the previous game.
The Witcher 2 is shaping up to be a great Western RPG. The original game was outstanding as a debut title for a new development studio, but even then it was evident that there was a lot of room for improvement. The Witcher 2 looks to feature all the improvements and changes that fans desired.