5 Reasons You Should Devote Your Life to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt


Apart from Jarrad who’s currently reviewing the game, what can I say about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt that you probably haven’t read or seen about the game is damn beautiful. However it’s not just the games graphics that make it that much more exhilarating to play or want in terms of an RPG, no. It’s the vast richness of the dialogue, the delicate amount of detail given to every character in the world, the environment, the enemies, menu hubs, everything.

I’ve compiled a small list of things I feel made me want to devote hours of my life into this game and enjoy everything that it has to offer.

1. Art Imitates life

Everything about The Witcher 3 reminds me of life. The character personalities met along your journey, be they friends or foes. These characters all live in an eco-system that players can seamlessly move between.

The player’s choices in various missions shape the world around them as they progress through the story and with a dynamic weather system that includes a night and day cycle, there’s surely more to this game than just killing stuff. I found myself spending more time exploring what I could and taking in the sights, following merchants around their respective towns to see their behaviour.

Closely watched reactions from townsfolk when I drew my sword in front of guards only to have them warn me to sheathe it or suffer the consequences. Everything you do in this game will attribute not only to the existing world but to the 36 possible endings you could possibly obtain after completion.

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2. Witcher Hunts Will Be AWESOME!

Griffins, Water Hags, Leshen’s, Werewolves, Wraiths, Noonwraiths, just to name a few of the enemies you’ll encounter early on in the game. Giant stone gargoyles and stone orges. In my short time with the game before needing to hand it off to our reviewer, I managed to fight each of these beasts and I loved the challenge they provided. These beasts did battle with my sword inside of a 20 hours span.

Some had me searching for various items to give to people, killing certain enemies or collecting a specific item to draw out the enemy at various locations, most the time I’d need to use my Witcher sense to find objects of interest that would give me clues as to what to do and where to go to next. These hunts will be broad and have multiple branching smaller quests. The further you get into the game the more complicated they’ll get.

I can’t imagine what the rest of the game has in store for me especially knowing that I can easily go where I want regardless of my level and tackle higher level bosses. Early on in the game once the player beats the Griffin, I managed to pick up a Witcher Quest that was level 33 and I was only level 6.

So the game does have that mentality of true open world.

I didn’t try my luck because Drowners that were a level higher gave me grief, and playing on the hardest difficulty didn’t help either.

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3. No Loading Times During Gameplay, Godsend

For a game that includes such a rich amount of content no loading times when traversing on your trust stead, or just casually taking a stroll through the lush forests make the experience much more enjoyable.  Many houses in the game world can be entered however most are cleverly disguised, and upon entering each house players aren’t met with any load times. This is what you want from an RPG of this magnitude.

The ability to travel where you want how you want and not worry about waiting for 30 seconds at any given time to load the next area only to have to travel back to get something else and then you’re just flooded with load times.

There’s nothing worse and off putting than long load times and CD Projekt Red must be commended for such a technical feat.

Free to go where you want with no load times.
Free to go where you want with no load times.

4. All Hail The Lore

I cannot stress how much effort CD Projekt Red have included in this game. The amount of lore that various characters and monsters have is astounding. Each major monster you hunt has different characteristics and respond differently to the environment and its changes.

In my preview in February I encountered different monsters to what I did in my 20 hours two weeks ago. It seems the game will react to your choices and you just being at the right place at the right time. There’s no telling what you may run into but when you do, you best be doing some research before you tackle them.

Read about them in the Bestiary because chances are they’ll have weakness and they’ll also tell you various traits they may have. Some enemies may onyl appear at dawn or dusk at certain times of the day, they may only respond to a certain action and so forth.

Each beast has a back story, peasants they’ve terrorised, where they originate from, weakness, strengths and so much more. I’ll stress this gaain, don’t speed run this game take your time with it the amount of knowledge you’ll garner by taking your time will be multiplied by 100.

5. Hair and Tree Physics

Seriously, check out them physics. It never gets old seeing the world around you react accordingly to the weather. Trees, bushes and various fauna all sway to the velocity of the wind. NPC’s go back in their homes if a storm approaches and washes away any sunshine, heck even character fear certain actions by the player or enemies lurking about. There’s so much to take in and I’m all for taking my time to appreciate just how much work CD Projekt Red have put into this game. I didn’t get the chance to nab some storm videos to turn into gifs nor most of the good stuff.

Now that review embargo is up there are plenty more gifs you may be able to find and “Let’s Play” videos that will start to surface.

But for now enjoy these beauties.

Evolve’s March Update brings new Hunters, Monster, Maps and Observation Mode


Earlier in the week I got the opportunity to try out Evolve new DLC which will be available March 31. Along with many updates to the game, it will be the first set of new hunters and a new monster to the game, the Behemoth.

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The Behemoth is a huge rock like monster, who can turn into a massive ball for faster movement speed. The Behemoth has more armour and health than the previous three monsters, and can also do the most damage.

On those facts alone, one would think the Behemoth is a game breaking monster, and simply a means of ‘pay to win’, but as opposed to the Wraith, the Behemoth moves significantly slower in combat, and his abilities are far more defensive than aggressive.

Lava Bombs can be used in certain closed off areas, that will damage and hunters within the damage radius. In combination with Rock Wall, can either leave the hunter trapped inside with the monster, or allow the monster get increase it’s distance from the hunters when trying to eat and evolve.

The Tongue Grab works similar to the Wraith’s Abduction, where it will extend its tongue in the direction of the hunter being attacked and and bring them into close quarters to apply massive damage.

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Fissure is a wave the Behemoth sends out, that sends a blast of damage along the ground, stunning and hunters caught in it.

But monster loves aren’t the only ones who got some love, with four brand new hunters, Torvald the Assault, Crow the Trapper, Slim the Medic, and Sunny the Support. All of which have their own dialogue options, whether they are partied together or with existing hunters.

The four new hunters bring their own style to the game, and although the obviously have traits similar to other Assaults, Trapper, Medics and Support, they bring their own traits, personality and backstory.

Torald, the Assault is the main damage dealer in the group. With the ability to shoot Mortar Cannons from a long distance, but when in short range, using Shrapnel Grenades to cover the target in weak points, then following up with his Autofire Shotgun.

Crow, the Trapper has brought his pet with him, Gobi, a batray. Unlike Daisy, Gobi is not a party member, but can assist the party by scouting from above to track down the monster and other wildlife. Crow also brings his own arsenal, his Stasis Gun can be used to temporarily slow the monster and can be charged up to prolong the slowed effect. While his Kinetic Long Rifle can be used two different ways, in quick bursts it will deal more damage per second, but when charging a show, it can bypass a monsters armour, doing direct damage to his health.

Slim, the Medic is the most interesting of the new hunters, with his bug-like features, he’s the only non-human hunter, aside from Bucket. Slim main damage dealing weapon is his Leech Gun, when shot at a target, helps speed up the cool down his class ability Heal Burst, which is also much wider than all other medics. His Spore Cloud Launcher, when shot at the monster, stops the monster from smelling and identifying the hunters, making it difficult to tell them apart. Finally, Slim has a bug looking Healing Drone, which he can send to teammates from a distance to heal or revive.

Finally, there is Sunny, the Support. Her main weapon, a Mininuke Grenade Launcher, does more damage in a single projective than any other handheld weapon for any other hunter. Similar to Hank, she can shield other hunters, but it’s done automatically by deploying the Shield Drone. Lastly, Sunny can use her Jetpack Booster, which she can use on other teammates to either shorten the distance between them and the monster, or help them get out of a bad situation.

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Although the new hunters and monster are paid DLC, the first major update brings free content to everyone, including Observation Mode, which is designed to allow a sixth player, giving them the ability to switch between the view of all the hunters and the monster, which also shows an informative HUD that shows players health, survival odds, perks and more.

Lastly, two new maps will be available, Broken Hill Mine and Broken Hill Foundry, which include destructible entryways, which give the monster new shortcuts throughout the map.

The new content will be available on March 31st for all versions of Evolve on Xbox One, PS4 and PC users.

Isolation, Wonder and Terror Await you in Ghost Song. A Dark and Atmospheric Metroid-Inspired Game


An alarming, foreign sound echoed through the dimly lit cavern, alerting me to the presence of something that lurked in the dark around my questionably human cipher. Tentatively, I pushed forward, weapon at the ready; the bullets it fired were weak, but they were the only defence I had. As I moved onward, the sound became louder still, before it’s source revealed itself: a large, bipedal creature lumbered before me. I ran toward it, and vaulted over it’s head, hoping to find a more strategic battlefield. Almost without warning, I was beset by a strange, explosive jellyfish-like animal cutting through the air toward me. It connected, and needless to say, I died.

Ghost Song is a dark, quiet game. It is dripping with the atmospheric tension and hostile map design Metroid fans have been dreaming, begging for and, if the beta is anything to go by, has no problem with letting you fail in order to teach you its language. A language which is influenced heavily by Samus’s earlier adventures, but also by newer titles, Dark Souls in particular, which subscribe to the ‘hard but fair’ style of gameplay.
ss01Set on the moon Lorian V, you are cast as the (seemingly) lone survivor of a crashed starship who, upon regaining consciousness, begins exploring the dangerous tunnels that stretch out beneath the surface. These tunnels are dark, you can regularly see only a few metres either side of you, and are teeming with life; exotic and unearthly flowers which rise from the floor, and strange, glowing orbs which hum from the roof yet offer no safety from the darkness.But, as you find out quickly, they are also infested with hostile creatures who will attack you mercilessly should you invade their vision.The world feels dangerous, partially due to the uneasy atmosphere, but also because you purposely feel weak. The weapon you begin with does little damage, but can fire quick, successive rounds, allowing you to wear an approaching enemy down. Most enemies I faced move quite slowly, shambling toward you in a zombie-like daze, but this simply means that when a quicker enemy appears you must be paying attention.

It is easy to shoot a slow, grounded enemy from across the screen, but what happens when a faster, airborne creature begins soaring toward you? Your character does not have an auto aim function, meaning that you must line up your shots skilfully, or escape harm. I eventually found a good way to deal with these beings was to lure it toward me, and to draw them to hit a platform between it and I where they explode on contact, or if no such shield existed, to simply run. Years of action games initially made me feel guilty about the act of running from battle, but Ghost Song doesn’t judge you on enemies killed or a high score, but on survival.

Set behind the action is the beautifully hollow sound design, which compliments the game’s artistic design perfectly. Menu cues are sounded by an alien murmur, leading to an immediate sense of unease. Enemies barely make any sound, leading to an almost entirely silent experience, broken up by the sounds your character makes; shooting, jumping, dying, and the minimal, muted background music. At least one section I played through subverted this, with an echoed, grinding noise appearing in the distance, but becoming louder as you progressed toward it. The source was, I expect, a ‘boss’ enemy – though there was no fanfare at it’s reveal. It simply shambled onto the screen and promptly killed me.

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Ghost Song succeeds at much of what it is trying to achieve. The lonely, oppressive atmosphere sets up the beginnings of a harrowing but rewarding experience – one I cannot wait to jump back into. The developer, Old Moon Games, is a mostly one man show who have been working on the project for the last 3 years, aiming for the game to be available in late 2015 on Steam for PC, Mac and Linux.

If you want to check out more of the game, head over Ghost Song’s website.

Note: This preview was written due to a beta code supplied by the developer. 

Hands-on with Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin


You awaken in an unfamiliar clearing, the darkness surrounding you as you make your way toward the singular source of light – a large, bright crack in the sky. You reach a small hut, filled with cackling, elderly fire keepers who send you on your way with doubt in your heart, and after backstabbing, slicing and kicking your way through the ranks of fallen adventurers who hollowed out in this same, strange place you have found yourself, you reach the outside world. The kingdom of Drangleic.

This is an opening fans of 2014’s Dark Souls II will be familiar with, but it has never looked as good (on console) as it looks in Scholar of the First Sin, From Software’s ‘master quest’ version of Dark Souls II. The game boasts better graphics, different enemy placement, and a supposedly enhanced narrative through a new NPC – the titular Scholar, and while I didn’t run into the Scholar during my hour or so with the game last week, what I did see left me very exciting for this game – but all things considered, your level of excitement may vary. For me: I never played Dark Souls II, after spending dozens of hours struggling through the original, so this version seems like the perfect place for me to jump in. Conversely, if you’ve logged 200 hours into Dark Souls II already, I’m not sure the changes here will make the game feel brand new again.

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Dark Souls II was mired in criticism upon release, with the game’s graphics seemingly having taken a huge hit between trailers and release, and a lighting system that was to give characters the choice of holding a torch, but forgoing a shield, in order to see in dark areas was all but scrapped, with most of these dark areas not providing enough contrast to pull people away from the safety of their shield. These problems seem all but solved in this version of the game, with the graphics impressing and the darkness unsettling me, making me wonder what was lurking in the room with me. Thanks to the different enemy placement, even long term players may be caught off guard by the enemy types that could end up surrounding them, and so perhaps that torch will finally get some use.

Being that I only had an hour with the game, I took on the two most early areas – Heide’s Tower of Flame, and the Forest of the Fallen Giants. I completed neither, mind you, but I saw some of the changes in these areas already. For example, as soon as you enter Heide’s Tower, you are greeted by a Heide Knight – which makes a lot more sense than where he was found before. The area was still peppered with large, rusted knights, but now the presence of the meditating swordsmen made you think twice about what you wanted to do. Would you rush forward, only killing the large knights? Or would you take on every enemy in order to get your hands on the very useful Heide equipment early on?Similarly, upon entering the Forest, I was greeted with a large, hulking ogre who prompted me to sneak around him. I wasn’t strong enough to fight this thing yet, and decided to push onward instead – it seems like killing this enemy may give you some reward, but I wasn’t game enough to try.

I died many, many times during my time with the game, but none of them felt unfair. I opened a trap chest which pelted me with arrows. I took on an early boss even earlier than I should have, and I forewent a shield in order to two-hand a giant, glowing blue blade and was killed by ranged enemies as a direct result of my choice. The ‘difficulty’ of the game hasn’t let up, and in many ways it actually feels as though it may be harder than the original version – I saw giant, menacing enemies in areas early enough that I didn’t expect them, and this caused me to make stupid mistakes. Rushing in to combat is rarely a viable strategy in the Souls series, and it cost me my life on more than one occasion.

I will note that during my time with the game I was never killed by a shoddy hitbox – each time I was hit, I was definitely meant to be hit. This may seem like a small improvement, but considering some of the insane invisible hitboxes that existed in the original version, that feature being remedied would go a long way to convince die hard fans to double dip.

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Truthfully, I barely saw any of the game. I explored as much as I could, literally skipped over all cutscenes and dialogue to get me the most amount of gameplay, and saw the results of From’s attempt to polish this diamond in the rough of a game. The slow, steady and weighted combat of the series remains, yet new enemy placement forces new and wildly different strategies than before. New item placement allows for different builds to become viable earlier or later than previously, and a new NPC hopefully will provide some meager amount of closure to some of the game’s more confusing lore. Personally, I’m glad I waited on Dark Souls II. I’m getting a far better version of the title now than I would have at launch, and yet, much of the mystery of a first-time tour of Drangleic will be lost on me. I know the areas, enemies and general story beats of the game, but not religiously. Whatever slight changes have been made to lore or narrative won’t have much of an effect on me, but the change in enemy and item placement give me a completely different adventure to those who have already played.

Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin releases April 2nd, 2015 on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC.

Hands on with Project CARS


Last week I was fortunate enough to spend about half an hour with Slightly Mad Studio’s upcoming racing simulator Project CARS, and while I definitively lost just about every race I attempted, I had a damn good time doing so. The sheer level of polish and customisation on show in Project CARS is staggering, and the attention to detail is nothing short of amazing, even to someone who hasn’t spent more than a few races with a racing title since Need For Speed: Underground. It’s hard not to be impressed when this is what you’re looking at.

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Truthfully, I’m not used to a racing game that can’t be won by simply holding the accelerator and popping the handbrake on for some of the more difficult turns, as sad as that sounds. I’m happy to report that I tried my special kind of racing in Project CARS, was near immediately in last place, skidding off the track with next to no hope of recovery. My first though was, “The handling all messed up, I tried to turn and my car barely moved!”, but I soon realised it wasn’t the game that was messed up. Queue the sad realisation music.

I considered my first race lost, and so spent the remainder of my time trying to learn how to handle the car properly, feeling out when to brake effectively in order to make the turns competently – it was a far cry from the arcade style racers I am used too, but certainly not in a bad way. Learning the ins and outs of a track, and your chosen vehicle, are so much more important than driving faster than your opponents, since one wrong move can easily throw the entire race for you. I will say that in my second race I came second last, so my strategy of controlling my car rather than rocketing it to the finish line must have been a stumble in the right direction.

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So, the game handles great, but how does it look? Well, let me put it this way: Project CARS might be the most beautiful console game I’ve ever laid eyes on. The way the track and sky before you are reflected off of the bonnet of your car. The incredibly detailed interiors shown when racing from a cockpit view. I was fortunate enough to see the game played on a 4K screen, which just about blew my mind, showing me that these next-gen consoles (which are considered mid-range PCs at best) have so much potential in them. I’m not usually a graphics guy; I tend to value gameplay over aesthetics, but when a game gives you both, you know you’re playing something special.

One feature that really caught my eye was the active weather system: basically, provided you are connected to the internet, you can choose a race track – let’s say Bathurst – and the weather at the track will be chosen for you based on the actual weather data from what the weather is like in Bathurst right now. It’s a fantastic use of online features, and was one of the things that really sold me on the level of detail in the game.
Or, alternatively, you can choose from a number of preset weather conditions – sunny, rain, snow, etc – if you want to create a certain race.

Or you can create transitions that will play out during the race, going from sunny to rainy to snowy, and can choose how often the changes occur. The level of customisation astounded me, as a purely console player I’m not used to this kind of freedom, and we haven’t even gotten to the cars yet.

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There are three preset ‘difficulties’, essentially boiling down to Easy, Normal or Hard, but beyond that there are myriad tuning capabilities within the game – for each car. I was astounded by the sheer level of customisation present, and I only wish I had a screenshot to show you guys. The options spilled out further than one screen could show you, needing more room than the real-estate available would allow, promising minute adjustments are available to anything you could want to change about your vehicle of choice. It became clear this game could become an amazing time sink, if you understand what any of it means, and thankfully Slightly Mad have graciously included Help, Glossary and Troubleshooting sections, allowing you to realise the problem your car has, find out how to fix it, and then tune it – essentially allowing the game to function as Edutainment should you wish it to.

I really didn’t know what to expect when I sat down to try out Project CARS. I’m not a racing fan, and hadn’t really been following the title, but what I saw piqued my interest. I’m someone who might buy one racing game per generation, and by the looks of it, I know which one I’ll be buying.

Project CARS releases March 17th, 2015, on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Wii U.

OXCGN’s Dragon Ball XenoVerse Preview


It has been years since I played a Dragon Ball game. Back in my teenage years I frequented Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 – a solid fighting game with a single player mode that followed the entire series, jumping between world exploration and 2.5D battles with iconic enemies. It was, easily, one of my favourite games growing up, and it still holds a special place in my memory.

Last week I got to play Dragon Ball: Xenoverse, and for the first time in years, returned to a world I haven’t set foot in, or thought about, in quite some time. The gameplay is very different to the titles I remember playing, but if anything, Xenoverse brings the anime’s fast paced, potentially world ending battles to life in a way that Budokai never quite managed.In Xenoverse you play as a member of the ‘Time Patrol’, a faction run by Trunks in the future with the sole purpose of returning to pivotal moments in history and ensuring that they play out exactly as they were supposed too. This is complicated when the enemies we grew to love and hate following the series for many years gain a strange boost in power, and are able to defeat the heroes in each time period. You are sent back to each time paradox to aid the heroes in defeated powered up versions of these villains, be they Radditz, Frieza or Buu.

This character you play as is entirely customisable, with the option to choose his or her race, gender, and physical appearance before starting up the game. This allows you to create a character you have always wanted to see in the series, or, create a future version of your favourite character to send back and aid those who came before. It is an interesting idea, and worked pretty well, with your character working more as an aid to help the battle, rather than the pivotal hero who turns up to save the day – at least in what I played. My character never spoke a word, and most of the story seemed to be centred around the other heroes fighting against super powered enemies, with you merely being present to help them fight.

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In the first few minutes of the game you are welcomed to Toki-Toki City, the hub world which the Time Patrol operates out of, by Trunks – who immediately attacks you to measure your worth. It isn’t a hard battle, and within minutes I was exploring the city’s layout, running from district to district to see what I could learn about the place. There were quite a few NPC’s littered around the place, and almost none had anything consequential to say to me, until I ran into Krillin. After fighting him, he agreed to become my master, and as I gain EXP, teach me more of his techniques. I assume, as the game goes on, there will be more characters in the city willing to teach you their techniques, allowing you to customise your move load out.

Soon afterward, I found my way to a giant time gate, with Trunks asking if I wanted to get back to the patrol. Within seconds I was staring down Nappa as he beat the living hell out of Gohan, Krillin and Piccolo,  yet my arrival did a little to keep them safe, with Piccolo still sacrificing himself and Goku still appearing to save the day. The voice acting seemed to the be exact same actors as in the anime, and it was nostalgic to hear Vegeta and Goku trading perspectives while trading blows.

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The fighting style is far more similar to the Tenkaichi brand of games than Budokai, in that you navigate a 3 dimensional battlefield with destructible environments, and use a lock on feature to keep track of your opponent. The actual fighting felt fast, if not a tad hard to follow, with sound clips playing exactly the same as in the anime when your character disappears through your opponents attack, only to reappear behind them and smash them down the earth. Special attacks are powered by your Ki meter, as in most Dragon Ball games, yet I couldn’t find a way to charge my meter, having to instead wait for it to recharge naturally.

This really broke the flow of battle, as one minute I could be shooting a barrage of energy balls at my opponent, and the next have to rely on far weaker physical strikes. I feel this battle system would have trained me, in time, to be more careful with my energy usage, but with only a limited hands on time, and two deaths due to limited energy and healing, I was wishing for a way to pull out those bigger attacks more often.That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy the battle system – it was actually quite solid. Once I had a fight or two under my belt, I was beginning to learn to cancel out of a combo to land a point-blank energy blast for devastating damage, and eventually started getting the hang of dodging my opponents attacks. With more time, I feel like I could start to become pretty proficient, but my limited time led me to go all-aggressive and get my ass kicked more than a few times.

I’m actually far more interested in Xenoverse now that I have had some hands-on time with it, and with it’s February 26th release date, I don’t have to wait long before I can try some more out. The characters are strong, the plot seems interesting (if not another excuse to run through the same climactic battles we have a dozen times before), and the gameplay teases depth. For a short while, I remembered why I loved this series for so long, and I’d be lying if I didn’t walk away thinking about finding a way to watch some of the anime. Instead, I’ll wait, and relive my teenage obsession through Xenoverse.

Dragonball Xenoverse releases on 26th February, 2015 for the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC.

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8 Things When Playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt That Left Me Wanting More


Last week we FINALLY got our hands on The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. After checking it out at E3 multiple times by various writers of the site and myself having a hands off presentation late last year, when I received the email to finally have 3-4 hours of this game in front of me I was super excited. There’s so much content in this game and it’s currently finished, it just has 4 months of refinements to be made to be the best god damn game it can be.

To which I totally agree with, with the way that 2014 ended after multiple games required large downloadable patches to fix various problems, I’m happy to let CD Projekt Red take time to fine out as many bugs as possible. This is a large game and there is a lot to see and do that it would take players at least 100+ hours to explore and do everything. With there being so much that I played in the short 4 hours I thought I’d do a small list of some of the better things that kept me wanting to play more of this game.

1: Horseback riding on your trusty stead, Cockroach (Roach)

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What’s that over there? Let’s go check it out. God no. No! That was a bad idea. Run! RUN! Pretty much any time I rode Roach through the woods and somehow came across a pack of White Wolves or a dormant Bear. This is what players will spend most of their time doing in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Riding around on your trusty stead coming across wild animals and beasts of the wilderness, finding hidden caves, or certain areas of interest with hidden monsters, riding through random towns and swiftly sword-slashing enemies from the comfort of your horse.

The developer were nice enough to check out Ard Skellig on Skellige, and let me tell you it’s beautiful. Easily the largest of the islands there is so much to explore. It’s majestic riding Roach around and witnessing the extremely large draw distance. On the PS4 it is seriously impressive, and almost maxed out on a PC running on a 4K LG TV is simply put, beautiful. I’m in love with this game and honestly don’t know how I’ll wait 4 more months to play it.

Whilst the game still has 4 months of refinement, Roach wasn’t exactly the trusty horse you would expect. He’d randomly pop his head into conversations making for hilarious moments of laughter, he’d handle like a boat sometimes and other times would somehow find himself stuck between objects needing you to lost sight of him to respawn him. He’s got some bugs (No puns intended) still but at the call of a whistle he’ll be by your side. You’ll be spending a lot of time with Roach on your travels and he’ll definitely come in handy in various situation during combat with NPC’s in some areas and overall travel.

2: Wasting even more time on the Quest Board

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Most of your time apart from doing the main storyline and wandering large islands, will be spent completing quests you’ve undertaken from the Quest Board found in most villages/towns. In White Orchard, this particular board contained a Witcher contract as well as a few basic tasks.

The one that I selected was to find a villagers missing brother. After chatting to him he told me that his brother would lay in the aftermath of a small battle with the Black Ones and he’d be recognisable via a small white flower that would be marked on his shield. If his body was charred or missing, his dog would be able to pick up his scent and track where his body may lay. Using Witcher Sense to find these shields, the dog got whiff of his owners scent and I followed him to a small little shack in the middle of the woods where the villagers brother lay barely alive.

Another quest involved a Witcher contract, where a Noonwraith had been terrorizing a well in a near by site. The villager that had put up the contract feared that this Noonwraith would soon kill his daughter and requested the Witcher destroy it. In order to further identify what was keeping this Noonwraith trapped in the world, we needed to use Witcher sense and find any item of relevance that may have belonged to this bride to be. After finding a journal beside a large pool of blood, Geralt found out that this bride had been murdered alongside her husband.

Finding some blood stained hand marks on the door leading to the well, I then checked out the well where I found a body hung by the neck with the rope tied tightly to the well. Pulling the corpse up from the well, Geralt realised that it had been missing an arm, an arm that could potentially house the missing item binding the Noonwraith. Jumping in the well, I recovered the bracelet and begun the ceremony to burn the corpse and release this spirit.

Angered by what I was doing the Noonwraith decided to harm me and a battle entailed.

3: Using Witcher sense to highlight items of interest during quests and random shenanigans

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As outlined during the Noonwraith Witcher contract, Witcher sense isn’t limited to when the game asks you to use it. You can activate it at any time you wish in hopes to find anything worth your while. Looting corpses, chests, finding relevant items during missions, or investigating scenarios like the picture above. It will come in handy and be used heavily when needing to find an item that’s been described to you.

If you’re short on supplies needed for your Alchemy then loot corpses or chests and you might find what you want. Many games have similar character powers that can highlight certain items, but coupled in with the rich backstory that CD Projekt Red have injected into The Witcher 3, I feel that this is the most fun I’ve had using this ability. Learning how one died, or what may have happened whilst listening to Geralt talk is orgasmic to the ears. Seriously, I LOVED listening to that husky voice of his  when he’d come across something of relevance. Players that wish to take their time and explore every little thing in this game will be using Witcher Sense a lot.

4: Monster Hunting legendary Slavic Beasts then claiming their limbs as proof of your victory

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After the opening cinematic and tutorial level, It all started when Vesimir and Geralt were riding to the town of White Orchard when they came across and helped an accurate Stephen Baldwin look-a-like with a horrible Dumb & Dumber Lloyd Christmas hair cut from the claws of a terrifying Griffin chowing on its dead horse. With no active contract on the Griffin yet, Geralt had no choice but to continue to White Orchard and ask around in search of Yennefer. Of course during the natural course of progression, Geralt found out that there indeed WAS a contract on the Griffin.

Whilst this was a quest tied into the main storyline it still involved the same mechanics that you’ll enforce in Monster Hunting quests. You’ll be required to seek out NPC’s who have either seen or encountered the said beast. Investigate various aspects to how it feeds, acts, or where it frequents. In the case of the Griffin, Geralt was required to obtain a certain type of material that would have a strong enough smell to attract the Griffin out into an open area.

On top of that we also checked out a small camp where a group of Nilfgaardian soldiers have been killed by the Griffin. Using Witcher sense to investigate what had happened, I found a trail of blood that led me through the woods to a small cliff where I had found the bodies of the 3 soldiers and a dead Griffin. It added another layer of depth to these random characters and my hunt to kill this elusive Griffin.

Other monster hunter quests will definitely involve this same typoe of structure but they may sprawl hours and require multiple parts to complete. If they’re as satisfying and finally confronting the Griffin and slaying it then I’m all for distractions. After watching multiple videos of the game more than 6 months ago a lot has changed.

5: Using the Beastiary for rich and deep history about encountered monsters

Primarily the inventory menu system for your bag items, equipped items and more.

When it comes to killing various monsters in the world of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, apart from your sword the beastiary will be crucial in your success. In this sub-menu you’ll have the ability to read up on every encountered beasts and learn of it’s rich history as well as the most important items required in dealing the most damage when encountering them. Some monsters will require you to use your alchemy and create various potions or oils that increase attack or do a certain type of damage.

Certain signs will wield better chances of landing a blow and so forth. It’s critical that with a game of this magnitude that combat isn’t the sole part of your enjoyment but learning about characters and enemies alike.

With the battle against the Noonwraith, I had no idea how to physically damage it because it was a physical entity. Once I had throroughly read the Noonwraith entry in the Beastiary, I knew exactly how to damage it and ensure victory. The only way to achieve this was to place a Yrden sign on the ground, lure the Noonwraith into it, and start attacking her when she became physical.

This would only be temporary as once the sign disappeared or she walked out of it she’d revert back to her original form. If you don’t frequently use the beastiary, you’ll find yourself dieing a lot from lack of knowledge. It doesn’t necessarily make the game easier, so don’t fret if you think that.

6: Following random NPC’s and seeing what they do throughout the day

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This is seriously amazing.

For such a large world each NPC you encounter has a pre-determined life cycle (I know, you’r thinking pre-determined, but hear me out). They’ll wake up in the morning do what they do, then at night either socialise with friends or go home and sleep. You’ll see a Shepard herd his sheep across the field or fend away Siren’s trying to eat them one morning, or the next you may not see him at all and just witness the majestic sunrise in front of you.

When it thunderstorms and rains heavily most NPC’s will run inside their homes for safety.

It’s awesome seeing that this is a living and breathing world where most actions have a reaction. You can’t go into a village and slaughter everyone so don’t get that excited for freedom, but during the main storyline you’ll be plagued with some decisions that’ll affect the outcome of a town. As witnessed by the Leshen monster hunt, siding with one group of villagers could result in the town becoming overrun and slaughtered hours into the game. Upon re-visiting the town would be a wasteland of bodies and burnt down houses. Certain NPC’s may now be mourning at their losses during the day, and disappear during the night.

7: Anytime NPC’s like THIS guy picked a fight with Geralt, It’s beautiful

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There are certain characters in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt that don’t like Witcher’s at all. As witnessed in White Orchard, upon entering a local bar to ask around for Yennefer, some NPC’s expressed disgust when approached by Geralt. Players can coerce there minds into playing nice with Geralt if a conversation interaction is available, but it doesn’t change their overall tone.

When I had finished with my questions in the bar and needed to head out to the garrison to further push along the story a few NPC’s had taken it upon themselves to think they could force me to leave, which for Geralt was of course not an option. Cue a short conversation tree where I can initiate the fight and off we were in an good ol’ 3 vs 1 fist fight. What was interesting here was that Roach was tied up on a nearby fence and any time an enemy approached from behind, Roach would swiftly kick them into oblivion and knock them out. Allowing you to easily win the fight with a slight advantage.

I’m not sure how much more intense interactions like this become, but if this were any indication then they would be a lovely distraction from the main quest. It incorporates combat, dialogue that provides some chuckles and conversational trees. Everything that makes this game so appealing and changes things up so that it’s never stale. If you loved the conversational tree in the Mass Effect series and you’ve never played The Witcher you’ll love it.

If you’ve played both then feel safe knowing that in this game anything you say can lead in any direction.

8: Picking fights with multiple enemies resulted in sheer brutality and fun

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This what you’ve all come here to read, how good is the combat. Well let me tell you, it’s DAMN good! Whilst not as difficult as Dark Souls or The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings, it still provides a decent enough difficulty that players will need to carefully enter battles with multiple ghouls, wolves, bears, etc… Whilst being a Witcher does grant you certain powers, do not always rely on them to get you out of sticky situations. Some enemies are more difficult to defeat and the Igni sign won’t really do much for you.

When taking on 4 or 5 Ghouls at once learn to dodge and roll using B/Square. It’s easily the most crucial game mechanic you’ll need to know and saves you most of the time in combat. The one downside to the roll feature is that, instead of a double tap it requires you to hold down the button for a second or two before it registers. When you’re low on health and forget to hold the button down it could result in death and redoing the section again.

I’m not sure if it’ll get changed when the game is released, but it’s the only real quarrel I have with combat. Assigning a Sign from the Sign wheel is mapped via the left bumper or L1. In this sub-menu time slows down to hopefully give you enough time to decide what to use and equip it. Enemies will still be able to attack you and the game doesn’t completely pause so in the thick of battle it is crucial you know exactly what to use. Using the right bumper or R1 allows players to use the sign in combat.

These aren’t unlimited uses that can be spammed as once you’ve used a sign you’ll need to wait for your stamina to replenish before throwing down a Yrden trap.

Players have the ability to do normal attacks as well as strong sword attacks, which if timed correctly can give Geralt a flurry of well executed slashes on enemies. They don’t necessarily do more damage but the animations are smooth. Geralt isn’t invincible during these attacks so players need to meticulously decide on how to approach groups of enemies. Players can parry/counter attacks and they have a split second before an enemy lands an attack to parry. There are slight visual cues as to when you can perform these so always be alert during battle.

Health regeneration can be obtained via eating edibles purchased from merchants, whilst the description states that during battle they cannot be consumed and regenerate health, I found myself quickly scoffing down some bread which funnily enough during combat did actually give me health.

Here’s Why Majora’s Mask on the 3DS will be the Best Version Yet


The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is just one of those games. It attracts either love or hate, in a similar fashion to another sequel plagued by the admiration attributed to it’s older brother, Super Mario Sunshine. Both games improved on their immediate predecessors in some ways, though were very different in others, these differences attracting unfavourable attention from many who loved Ocarina of Time and Super Mario 64. Many have been clamouring for a remake of Majora’s Mask, most notably those of Operation: Moonfall, and thankfully Nintendo heard their prayers.

This news is all well and good for those who already love the game, but can this new version win over those who originally wrote it off as a lesser Zelda game? I think so, and I think the handheld platform is going to be the main reason behind that.

Originally released on the Nintendo 64 console, Majora’s Mask forced you to sit in front of your television for hours, trying to work out what to do next on a time limit which threatens you with an imminent apocalypse – a far cry from the usual ‘take-your-time-and-go-fishing’ approach to Zelda games. By looking up near anywhere in the game, one could see the outcome that awaited the world around them – the ominously expressive moon inching ever closer to Termina, seemingly angry and in pain from the black magic that pulled it from it’s orbit, powerless to stop itself from extinguishing all life before it. The sheer gravity (no pun) of the situation, and the time limit imposed on an early sandbox game made for an awkward transition from Ocarina of Time, leaving a lot of returning fans either disappointed or frustrated with the new mechanics.

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But, that was then, and this is now.

The way we consume games has changed drastically in the last decade, with many people only playing games during short bursts – on a bus, train, plane, etc, rather than the traditional way of dropping hours of your life at a time into completing a larger adventure. The advent of MOBAs, swell as many phone and tablet games, has taught many traditional gamers you can have just as much fun playing the same thing over and over, with a few small differences each time, that can take between 5-30 minutes as you can playing something enormous that can take you 80 hours. You can easily drop the same amount of time, but in the end, there is a far larger feeing of growth and skill to what you have achieved. After all, doing the same action 100 times is far more likely to improve skill than performing 10 things 10 times.

It is in this niche that I think Majora’s Mask 3D will thrive. Waiting for class to start? Maybe have another run through a 3 day cycle of Clock Town and try to work out how to finish that side quest, or simply go exploring to see what else you can get access to at this point in the game. What once felt like a burden could become an exciting feature when performed in a handheld environment – you are encouraged to play the game in 1 hour bursts (give or take depending on time dilating songs) where you make an attempt at a specific goal in-game, rather than aimlessly meandering around the world, attempting to luck in to finding where you go next.

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When you fail, run out of time, or simply realise you are too slow, you can reset the world back to the First Day (or to the point you last used an Owl Statue, a sort of quick-save system) and begin anew – with the knowledge and experience of the previous runs at the forefront of your mind. You can realise you are getting better, faster, and when you finally complete a dungeon it won’t feel like an inevitability – it will feel like a victory.

This system reminds me a lot of the Dark Souls and Monster Hunter series, in that each time you die you can return to the same area with knowledge of enemy placement, variety and map layout due to failed attempts and do better every time. Eventually, you climb that bell tower, ring the bell, and feel an enormous sense of accomplishment because, over time, you actually earned the victory. It wasn’t a matter of simply pushing onward until you hit the final boss, you had to think, learn and adapt your play style.

I think that Majora’s time based mechanic will fit perfectly on a hand held device – far better than it ever did on a console – and that the shift in platform is going to reinvigorate the game. Time will tell, but mercifully we do not have long to wait, with a release date set for February 14th.