The Witcher 2: Skip the Tutorial

It seems like years ago that I bought The Witcher 1 & 2 in one of those deep-discount Steam sales. I spent about 15 minutes playing The Witcher 1 (enough time to watch the opening movie and then get to where I could feel the intense pain of the combat controls), and then never played it again.

The Witcher has a comet!

Lately I’ve started to see some buzz about The Witcher 3, and I see that it’s now available for pre-order on Steam. To my mild surprise, among the blogs I read, the announcement of a third Witcher game has been roughly akin to an announcement about the return of Firefly to television. People seem to love these games, and they are dying for the next one.

So I decided to take another look at The Witcher series. Since I had such a bad experience with the first one, and knowing that the second one had better controls, I just skipped ahead to The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.

But still, I hated it.

I started with the tutorial, and I tried to play with the mouse and keyboard as I usually do with PC games. It was awful. The interface appeared to be hopelessly complicated. I put it away for a while. Then I tried it another day with an Xbox controller, and found it marginally better, though I still found the tutorial to be awful. I put it away again.

Then I tried it one last time with the controller, but this time I skipped the tutorial.

Suddenly The Witcher 2 turned into a real game!

Despite the ridiculous trope of starting out a prisoner, I found myself drawn into the story almost immediately. And that right there is why I think people love The Witcher: The story. It’s another one of those games where the “game” part kind of gets in the way of the story. I played it on Easy, so I could get through the gaming as fast as possible, because the real meat of the game is in the cut scenes, as far as I’m concerned.

And there are a lot of cut scenes; long, long cut scenes. This is not a game you can play while watching television. It is television. Have a bowl of popcorn handy.

The only down side to The Witcher 2 is that it isn’t long enough. I played for 32 hours and felt like the main story ended rather abruptly.

Anyway, the point is that now I’m a Witcher fanboy too, and anxiously awaiting The Witcher 3 along with everyone else (that trailer is awesome). But if you’re having trouble getting started in The Witcher 2 like I did, I heartily recommend that you skip the tutorial. There is nothing fun about it.

P.S. I went back and tried The Witcher 1 again too. I’ve only made it to Chapter 2, but I’m able to tolerate the horrible interface a little better now that I know there is a good story to see. Also, some of the story in Witcher 2 makes more sense after you play Witcher 1. (Like the whole memory loss thing.)

Assassin’s Creed 3 Story Finished

Taking a small break from MMORPGs for a bit and getting back to Steam. I went back to Assassin’s Creed 3 because I wanted to finish the main story before I considered getting any of the newer installments in Steam sales. (I don’t yet have Black Flag and I see now there is a new one coming out soon.) I resumed the AC3 story about halfway through and powered through to the end, largely ignoring all of the side missions and sandboxy elements.

My impression of the game was much better the second time around than when I first saw it. I think because after the halfway point, the viewpoint of the story doesn’t change. There is somewhat of a bait-and-switch at the beginning of the game, where you start out playing one character and then switch to another. (For myself, I happened to like the first character better than the person who turned out to be the real protagonist of the story. The first character makes a welcome return toward the end of the game, though you don’t get to control him.)

For me, the Assassin’s Creed series has always been more about the story than the game itself. And for me in particular, I have always been more interested in the modern-day story with Desmond than the historical stories, which is why I’ve been disappointed that there was been less emphasis on it in the later installments of the game. The story in this episode wasn’t bad, but I don’t think it matched the quality of Assassin’s Creed 1 & 2. In those early episodes, there was a mystery to the events surrounding Desmond that wasn’t there any more. It felt like it was merely tacked on, and it felt like they may have concluded it so that they don’t have to worry about it in future games, which is a disappointment.

The biggest gameplay problem with Assassin’s Creed continues to be the frustration of having your guy do something you didn’t want him to do. You might want to chase an enemy over open ground, but your avatar decides that you meant to climb up a wall instead, and then you have to convince your avatar to climb back down and resume the chase, but your avatar instead chooses to side-jump to a window, or jump into a pile of hay, or just sit there doing nothing, and by then your quarry is long gone. It doesn’t happen often, but it almost always happens at the exact time that you need it not to happen, and then you feel like flinging your controller away in disgust.

Overall, Assassin’s Creed 3 was a good game, if not great. I’ll be waiting for Assassin’s Creed 4 to go on a deep discount sale, though, before buying it. I didn’t dislike the ship warfare in AC3, but it wasn’t a selling point for me, and I have heard there is a lot more in AC4.

My First Look at Skyrim

I finally got Skyrim in a Steam sale. I’m not sure exactly what I expected but I kind of thought it would be something a bit more … well, different from Oblivion. All of the same annoying things from Oblivion are still there in Skyrim.

The most annoying of which is when five people walk up to you and start talking at the same time. While you’re already talking to someone else. Not to mention the laggy, unresponsive sort of feel to the interface, which is particularly annoying considering you’re supposed to play it like an FPS. I’ve played FPSs, Skyrim, and you, sir, are no FPS.

The story’s cool though. I guess. I don’t really know what it is. I just wander around trying to complete objectives, while simultaneously starting new objectives.