The Witcher world is a rough, defined by greed, corruption and despair. #Battleworn, ugly world, and in #TheWitcher3WildHunt, this ugliness has never been more beautiful.
IGN has taken on the task of the in-game experience, and of course all views and opinions are a reflection of IGN and not off Linux Game News.
#Graphical prowess is to be expected, of course. It’s been nearly four years since CD Projekt RED released its last Witcher game into the wild, and as much as The Witcher 2 still looks beautiful on PC but functionally, the Linux build has it’s issues, while significant advances in technology have allowed for much grander world building. But on a hefty rig, The Witcher 3 is truly amazing; pores stand out on faces, blades of grass can be counted, curls of hair twist in the breeze.
“Our goal was to make the best looking game ever,” says CD Projekt RED’s Phillipp Weber, who helped design quests in the game. “We wanted to make the best game ever. For everything we did, we went in with that mindset.
“We already made good-looking games. The Witcher 2 was one of the best looking games of its time, and I still think it looks great today. But especially with the release of the new consoles – now was the time where we could go open-world. An open-world where there were no boundaries. Where our artists could do whatever they wanted.”
The Witcher 3 is a true portrait from every angle. As I ride on horseback through a forest in its initial stages, sunlight strobes through the trees, herds of deer balk at my presence, streams trickle between crumbly gorges. Bright flowers pepper emerald-green grass. It is earthy and real with a glimmer of the fantastical – for those who have never been, this is what the more ethereal parts of New Zealand look like.
But in the villages that dot the landscape, there is a grubbiness, a more honest reflection of medieval reality. My first stop is a tavern, where rough men and women sit drinking, ready for a fight or another round. Up close, these NPCs are haggard; I can count the blackheads on their booze-reddened noses and the wrinkles on their mottled necks.
This harshness owes a lot to The Witcher’s Eastern European roots – Poland’s brand of fantasy is a far cry from the anime-loving East’s and the Hollywood-worshipping West’s – but I am still impressed with the ruthlessness of Projekt RED’s artists.
“This is what people were like,” explains Weber, as I gaze into an old woman’s bloodshot eyes. “This is so much closer to what people looked like in a medieval environment, and that’s what makes it much more immersive than a completely sterile environment with shiny armours and magical purple… er, shiny things.”
Certainly, there are no magical shiny purple things to be seen in The Witcher 3. Its beauty lies in the imperfections of its minutiae; the chips on the tankards and the bead of sweat running down an angry forehead. It’s not just technology that impresses here, it’s design. There is a wonderful sense of authenticity in its world, strengthened by curious details clearly drawn from some obscure place in history, a line in a textbook; a splash of multicoloured paint across the wall of the tavern that was in fashion at the time, or the odd little shorts worn by a flower-picking local.
“We wanted to properly root it in medieval history,” says Senior Level Designer Peter Gelenscer, “which you can see in the architecture, the clothing. Our artists really did their research, so there won’t be white marble castles that shine in the sky, because if we have a castle, it has to make sense as a functioning castle. It may be on a mountaintop, or close to a water source.
“Or our people – like those in the Ard Skellig islands. There’s a Nordic influence there. They’re close to the historical vikings. They live and they have clothes that these people would have worn. Or in the little prologue area, or in No Man’s Land, you can see a Slavic influence, like in the little huts you see, that’s the way people really built their huts back then. Or the coloured pants people wear, the little hats.
“For me, it feels like I’m in living breathing world. It’s a world that existed before I started my game, and I am just one of the people inhabiting it.”
The idea of an existing world is no more evident in the Kaer Trolde fortress in the Nordic Ard Skellig territory, where I am transported to a giant hall in the middle of a giant, gluttonous feast. Again, there is an ugliness to this affair; the tables heave with an overabundance of rich food, and the severed head of an ice-giant serves as centrepiece.
But the food isn’t made up of the usual blurry, abstract shapes you see in video games, a token ‘idea of food’ to be rushed past as you continue on your quest; instead, herrings drip in oil, thick-crusted pies appear to cool down slowly, and holes can be counted in giant blocks of cheese. This is food to be looked at and savoured, food that has a history. This skewered pig was alive, once. I could tell.
“Everything in the game design-wise is hand-crafted,” explains Gelenscer. “Almost to the placement of the very last pebble. Everything has been shaped by hand. The only thing procedurally generated are some parts of the grass. Everything else – the placement of trees, food, rocks, mountains, passages, whatever – it’s hand-made. All of it.”
As the feast is disrupted by three bloodthirsty bears, I stand still for just a moment, watching reveler’s blood fan out into air and tables tip over, spilling the embarrassment of food onto the floor. The Witcher 3’s world may be vicious, but it’s so beautiful. It’s just so goddamn beautiful.
From Linux Game News:
We have to admit, the view of The Witcher 3 is shaping up to be a game changer. What we are looking forward to is the overall functionality on Linux. So far Windows PC is the most obvious of choice, but when it comes to big AAA game releases, we expect a great deal more from CD Projekt Red. We have big expectations.
Reblogged from: ign