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Witcher 3: Wild Hunt hands-on: Four hours with the most anticipated RPG of the year

Hayden Dingman | Jan. 27, 2015
Killed a gryphon. Killed some bandits. Killed a few dozen goblins. Kept the hype for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt alive.

For instance, there's the dwarven blacksmith I helped out. I came upon the blacksmith in White Orchard. He looked pretty despondent, which made sense because someone had torched his forge and burned it to the ground.

Nobody knew who did it. Or, at least, nobody was saying.

Why they did it--well, that was an easier question to answer. White Orchard recently fell to the hated Nilfgaardian army. Looking to replenish its supplies, the army co-opted the blacksmith to make weapons and armor.

Seeing as a witcher's job is mostly to hunt down monsters, this didn't really fall under my jurisdiction. It wasn't a monster that did the burning. Even the blacksmith admitted that. But Temeria's a hard place, especially in wartime, and I felt bad for the guy. I figured I'd find the arsonist--maybe force him to help with repairs.

I found the criminal holed up in a shack near the river, limping from a wound he sustained during his escape. I brought him back to the blacksmith, feeling like I'd done a good deed, and then everything went wrong.

"Guards! Guards!" shouted the blacksmith, drawing the Nilfgaardians down on us. "This is the man who burned down my forge." And the soldiers took the criminal and executed him. Which was not at all what I meant to happen.

The Witcher 's made a name for itself off this sort of stuff--feeling like you're helping, only to find out you've made the wrong decision. Or, at least, that everything's not so black and white as you originally thought. As far as I can tell, that core is still intact. Even the overarching war drama is morally grey. You meet the Nilfgaardians fairly early on, and they seem entirely reasonable. But everyone you meet hates them.

Or there's the gryphon, which you find out...well, I'll just let you discover that one for yourself.

Bottom line
By my estimation, I've played between 1/6 and 1/25 of The Witcher 3. It was fantastic. I try not to get too hyped about games prior to release, but whereas most people were flipping out about how great Dragon Age was last year, this is my RPG series of choice and I can't help feeling that ol' familiar excitement in my stomach.

It met my expectations. It surpassed my expectations. I'm excited. I think you should be excited. Maybe that's irresponsible, but I'll be driving this hype train straight into hell.

All aboard.

 

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