Witcher 2

Witcher 2

Company:
Release date:
Platform:
Genre:
      CD Projekt Red
May 2011
Xbox 360, PC, Mac, Linux
Linear action RPG

Personal enjoyment: 04/10

      Witcher 2 map
The second game is a real improvement on the first, with beautiful graphics, a more in-depth story and conversational options. The HUD, menu and combat system have had a huge overhaul that.. may or may not be to everyone’s liking. The game is rather short and is still a linear chapter to chapter based game that takes place within a set area. Like in the first game, Geralt is required to make choices; this time these seem to have much more of an impact on the story as a whole. One choice in particular will give Geralt two completely different paths to follow, making it worthwhile to play the game twice.

Gameplay W1 vs W2


Because the gameplay and menu system is very different than that of first game, it might be difficult to make the switch. The second game also does a meager job at teaching the player how to handle fights, which can be quite off-putting. It is advisable to switch to a lower difficulty setting during the prologue and experiment with the altered controls and combat options.

Combat
The combat in the second game has completely changed. Many including myself have experienced huge problem with these changes. Where the first Witcher encourages the player to jump in the thick of a fight, the second actively discourages such actions. And with discourage I mean; if you do, you die. Getting hit from behind means receiving 200% damage and the group attack ability from the first game isn’t available from the start (if at all). Even facing just two enemies can be a real problem when you haven’t quite mastered the ‘parry’ and ‘roll away’ abilities. The Witcher 2 is no longer a hack & slash game. Surviving on any difficulty above easy requires the implementation of multiple skills and abilities.

Character attributes
Like the first Witcher the second doesn’t use the D&D based strength, dexterity, intelligence method of upgrading your character. Besides giving Geralt the best gear available, you can also upgrade his stats via the talent tree, which is very different from the first Witcher game. The talent tree has a four different offshoots, the first being the Training tree. You’ll need to place 6 points in this tree to unlock the others. The Magic tree will strengthen signs and increases availability. The Swordsmanship tree will strengthen your combat skills and reduce damage taken. The Alchemy tree that will enhance your potions, oils, mutagen, bombs and traps.
  • Talent tree - It is advised to focus your skill points in only two of the three main branches.
  • Mutagens - You can use these for alchemy or to upgrade talents (similar to upgrading armor and weapons). Once used you cannot replace mutagens, so never use lesser versions.
  • Abilities - Are hidden character upgrades that Geralt receives as rewards for taking specific actions, similar to achievements.

Armor
Where the first Witcher only had a main armor slot with two possible upgrades, the second game provides a lot more variety. You have an armor slot for chest, trousers, glove and boots. To replace your starter set, you can find, buy and even craft various armor pieces. Some chest armor can also be enhanced, which on higher difficulty levels can make a big difference.

Weapons
You’ll start the game with a silver and steel sword; one for monsters and the other for humans. In addition you’ll also have throwing dagger and traps. Some situations, but mostly on higher difficulties, these extra weapons can be a powerful necessity. Some swords can be upgraded with five different runes. There are also ‘trash’ weapons available, but with no secondary weapon slots like Geralt had in the first game, these aren’t worth picking up beyond the prison section in the prologue.
  • Throwing Dagger - Only one type of throwing dagger can be crafted, others can be bought or found.
  • Traps - Can be crafted, although buying them would be cheaper. Some are required for quests.

Magic
In the Witcher 2 magic works quite similar to that of Witcher 1, with a few but major changes. In the first game magic was very easy to use and in a sense ‘abuse’. The Igni sign for example was a great way to remove any challenge from the game; simply drinking a Tawny Own potion and spamming this ability to kill almost any enemy in seconds. To make gameplay more balanced in the Witcher 2, they limited the use of signs in battle. ‘Endurance’ is now called ‘vigor’ and has a number of charges rather than an energy bar. You start the game with 2 charges which you can increase via the talent tree.
  • Aard - Hasn’t changed much. Allows you to forcefully push enemies and destroy obstacles. Prone enemies are an easy kill.
  • Yrden - Quickly place a trap to keep enemies from moving. Required for a boss fight in the first chapter.
  • Igni - This skill is no longer as important as it was in the first Witcher, having its damage and range limited. I’ve found it works best as a finishing move or when a target is blocking.
  • Quen - In the Witcher 1 you would employ this sign to protect you while taking potions in combat. As the option to take potions in combat has been removed this sign was changed to keep it usefulness. Quen no longer cancels while attacking. I’ve found it mostly useful to cancel out burst damage, when for example an enemy explodes on death.
  • Axii - Hex creatures to fight at your side. Is also an option you can use during conversations to make people more compliant.
  • Heliotrop Creates a time slowing bubble around Geralt. Has to be unlocked via the magic skill tree.

Alchemy
Like in the first game you can create your own potions, oils and bombs. It’s an option that can be critical for survival on higher difficulties. But unlike the first game you no longer require a ‘base’ material (alcohol, animal fat or powder). The alchemical substances required such as ‘Vitriol’ have also changed in number and symbol. Besides herbs, minerals and monster parts you can also use mutagens as an alchemical substances.
  • Potions - have seen a big change. They can no longer be taken while in combat, only during meditation. Their duration has been significantly decreased and some can have almost an equally negative as positive effect. These changes has made potions less desirable.
  • Oils - Unlike potions oils can be applied at any time, making them very useful. Their duration has also been reduced but they can be applied just before engaging the enemy.
  • Bombs - Although perhaps a little tricky to use, they are cheap to craft, with a high damage output, making them a real boon on higher difficulty settings.

Crafting
During the game you’ll find a lot of crafting materials. With these materials you can create traps, armor, weapons and upgrades. To craft items you will also need a crafting diagram and an NPC such as a blacksmith. It’s questionable how useful crafting really is as there are a lot of lootable items available that are practically just as good if not better.


Basic components
Cloth Cloth   Iron ore Iron ore   Silver ore Silver ore   Timber Timber   Twine Twine

Advanced components
Amethyst dust Amethyst dust = 1x Drowner Brain Drowner Brain 2x Nekker Eyes Nekker Eyes
Diamond dust Diamond dust = 1x Necrophage teeth Necrophage teeth 2x Silver ore Silver ore
Elemental stone Elemental stone = 1x Amethyst dust Amethyst dust 2x Gargoyle heart Gargoyle heart
Water essence Water essence = 1x Amethyst dust Amethyst dust 1x Diamond dust Diamond dust
Oil Oil = 1x Necrophage skin Necrophage skin 2x Necrophage blood Necrophage blood
Leather Leather = 1x Cloth Cloth 1x Oil Oil 1x Necrophage skin Necrophage skin
Hardened leather Hardened leather = 3x Leather Leather 2x Oil Oil
Studded leather Studded leather = 2x Hardened leather Hardened leather 1x Oil Oil 1x Twine Twine
Robust cloth Robust cloth = 3x Cloth Cloth 1x Twine Twine 1x Diamond dust Diamond dust
Blue meteorite ore Blue meteorite ore = 2x Silver ore Silver ore 1x Earth rune Earth rune 1x Moon rune Moon rune 1x Diamond dust Diamond dust
Red meteorite ore Red meteorite ore = 2x Silver ore Silver ore 1x Fire rune Fire rune 1x Moon rune Moon rune 1x Diamond dust Diamond dust
Yellow meteorite ore Yellow meteorite ore = 2x Silver ore Silver ore 1x Sun rune Sun rune 1x Moon rune Moon rune 1x Diamond dust Diamond dust


Fist fighting
Is still a side game but has also been implemented during the story and can be a hurdle to cross before you can continue. Being a quick-time event (pushing the right buttons when they flash on screen), It might be a little tricky at first but once you get the hang of it you’ll probably label it as a boring chore.

Arm-wrestling
A new mini-game that will also appear during the main quest. To win you have to slide the colored bar all the way to the right. To do this you have to keep the circle with the arm-wrestle symbol within the colored bar. The further to the right the bar gets the smaller it becomes. If the circle moves out of the bar, the bar will start moving to the left.

Dice Poker
The basics haven’t changed much from the first. But in this game you only roll once instead of winning 2 out of 3 games. Other differences are the dice themselves and that the board is no longer viewed from the top but from the side during the roll phase.

Drinking ‘game’
Sadly no longer available.

Tips and Tricks


Quests
  • Try to finish side quests first. Some will fail if you proceed too far into the main quests.
  • Some quests can’t be completed in the same chapter. ‘The Assassins of Kings’ and ‘Where is Triss Merigold?’ for example.
  • The quest ‘Malena’ chapter 2, if you lie for her, you will eventually find her in the hospital ruins (no quest marker to guide you there).
  • In chapter 2, Margot offers you a letter to give to Iorveth. There is no option to do so.
  • The quest ‘A Score to Settle’ chapter 2 and 3 does not complete.
  • The quests ‘The Walls Have Ears’ and ‘Suspect: Thorak’ have to be completed in a specific order or they will fail.
  • There are a few quest items you can buy from vendors.
  •      - Chapter 1: Green mold. If you chose to remove a tattoo in the quest ‘Hung Over’. Can be bought from Anezka.
         - Chapter 1: Diagram: Kayran trap. If you get the ‘iron frame’ for the Kayram trap you’ll be able to buy the diagram from Cedric.
         - Chapter 2: Surgical tools, can be bought from Felicia Cori a female mage in the market place. Needed to examine a dead body.
         - Chapter 3: Anabolic steroids, can be bought from Marcus and is needed to defeat the Mighty Numa at arm wrestling.

Other
  • The keyboard options can be found in the launch menu before starting the game.
  • Rolling away from battle is more effective then blocking.
  • The Penitent Monk, located in the inn (chapter 1) will not provide you his relic, no matter how lucky you are at dice (obsolete promotional character).
  • Reading books is no longer a requirement to learn about herbs or creatures.
  • Herbs have no weight, making them the best option for alchemy.
  • Unlike the first Witcher game, alchemy is no longer a good way to earn Orens.

Character


I’ve tried to play Geralt’s the way he was portrait in the books. He is a no-nonsense, honest and open minded person. Even though a Witcher is tasked to save humans from monsters it sometimes ends up being the other way round.

Why I spared Aryan La Valette
When Geralt walked up that tower he saw an overly proud youngling. Around him were his men, loyal men, willing to follow him into the grave. Aryan was but a fledgling knight, spoon-fed honor, justice and other knightly ideals. Compared to Geralt this kid hadn’t seen enough of life to throw it away so hastily. If at all possible, Geralt always tries to end any conflict without unnecessary bloodshed. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see more of Aryan in the third chapter.

Why I lied for Malena
It wasn’t simply Geralt following his.. male appendage when he decided to lie to the soldiers. After spending some time in the town of Flotsam it was quite apparent there was a negative bias against none-humans. Who’s to say Malena did lure guards to their deaths or was simply being used as a scapegoat for the soldiers own failing to find the real perpetrators? Malena also didn’t seduce Geralt and only offered him a rendezvous after he helped her. If she was indeed working with the squirrels, perhaps she might help him contact them and find out more about the king slayer. Unfortunately Malena decided to pay his kindness with treachery. Once he found her in the hospital ruins, Geralt turned her in to the guards and left her to her fate.

Why I choose for Iorweth
It was clear to Geralt that Vernon Roche believed he hadn’t killed Foltest and would do all in his power to find the real king slayer. He also trusted that Roche knew Geralt would do the same. The only unknown was Iorweth. Geralt would follow the elf, so he could possibly guide him into making decisions that would help and not hinder the investigation. This worked out very well and as expected Roche still offered his assistance in the second chapter.

Why I spared the trolls
Geralt usually prefers not to fight unless attacked first. Finding a peaceful resolution is always preferable. All the trolls he’s encountered were intimidating but nonviolent. Geralt recognizes them as an intelligent race, that.. like the Witchers, are quickly losing their place in this world.

Why I spared Cynthia
She had stolen Triss away, which was unacceptable and were it not for the fact that Triss was still alive Geralt would have killed her outright. It crossed his mind to kill her before uncovering the secrets of Dearhenna (that action would fail the quest), but he decided to play along. At the end of the quest she helped defeat her own colleague and let Geralt use the machine (which he quickly did it to check if Triss was alright). Geralt doesn’t care about politics, he doesn’t care who fights for what country. What Nilfgaard does isn’t worse than any of the other northern countries have been doing for years. So he let Cynthia take the machine. To further thank Geralt for his assistance, she provided some additional information and more. It’s a shame she’s not part of the 3th Witcher.

Why I rescued Philippa Eilhart
Geralt didn’t save her because he felt sorry for the conniving sorceress. Philippa had promised to help release Saskia from her spell and that was of utmost important. Geralt felt partly responsible for Saskia being bewitched in the first place, by blindly believing Philippa and not doing his due diligence. He just hoped that the pain and panic kept her honest enough to take the risk of potentially leaving Triss to her fate.

Why I let Síle de Tansarville perish
While running up the tower It was quite clear to Geralt that she had used him as a pawn, a tool to be discarded when it no longer served her purpose. She had tried to do the same with Letho but he had bested her. By her actions she hurt a lot of people and had now set a dragon rampaging on friend and foe alike. She could have tried to mend the situation, release Saskia from her mind control, but instead choose to burn it all down and flee. She made her choice and Geralt washes his hands of her.

Why I killed Letho
Although Letho had done a lot for him, he still decided to fight. It was wasn’t an easy choice and killing him left a bad taste his mouth. Geralt had once saved his life and in return Letho helped Geralt find and fight the Wild Hunt. Letho took care of Yennefer even though she got them into trouble everywhere they went. He spared Geralt at the elven ruin. He saved Triss from the mob and freely gave Geralt all information he was asked for. Nevertheless, Letho betrayed the Witchers code by murdering and conspiring. Rebuilding the Witcher school of the viper seems a worthy cause, but is ultimately a futile one. By the time these events take place even Geralt can see that the time of ‘the Witcher’ has come to an end. Soon there will be no place for them in this world and with his actions Letho might just have destroyed what little trust folks had in Witchers. People already looked down at them with distrust and revulsion, now they’ll be seen as traitors and murderers. Geralt also didn’t believe that if he had let Letho go that king slayer would just walk off into the sunset, they would surely meet again. Not to forget, Vernon Roche would never have forgiven Geralt for letting Foltest murder walk.


Witcher skills

Game Gripes


I started the game right after the first Witcher and my hopes were very high. The intro movie was amazing, the graphics awesome but that’s where things turned.. The menu system was bad, the combat was bad, the implementation of alchemy and crafting were just bad. Halfway through the first chapter I said F this and put the game on easy. The only thing I really liked about the game were the graphics and conversations.
Oh My GOSH, I did NOT like this game, so If you did then stop reading right now! I’ve played many different games and this is the first time I can honestly say I didn’t enjoy and here are a few reasons why:

Console vs PC
The Witcher 2 feels like it was created for console rather than PC. The way the menus are setup, quick-time events and the mini-game controls. It’s as if the creators took elements they thought were cool in console games and tried to cram it into this one. For me it doesn’t work, it’s unpredictable and unnecessary. Especially the first time you bump into a quick-time event and you don’t know what the game expects you to do.. After a few of these with difficult combat, a badly designed menu system, the frustrations start building up fast.

Alchemy / Potions
No potions during combat??? I understand why they decided to do this, as the option to do so made combat really easy in the first Witcher game.. BUT, because of cumulative changes, combat has become difficult and frustrating. The creators could have chosen a middle ground. For instance; not all potions have to be available during combat. Maybe give potions more benefits when taken in a meditative state (longer duration, less toxicity). Because of the potion thing I discarded using alchemy at all; I just didn’t bother with it.

Fist fighting
It’s not hard once you understand what the game wants you to do, just not enjoyable. I didn’t feel a sense of accomplishment. All I was doing was pressing the correct buttons like a monkey, not even watching the resulting animation. They could have easily fixed this by simply using the mouse controls. It would have made the fight more interactive and you would be looking at your opponent instead of the location where the buttons will flash. Left for punch, right for block, click for short action, and hold for special moves…

Arm-wrestling
This is so dumb.. the idea of having arm-wrestling in the game sounds fun but the implementation is horrible. How easy or hard the mini-game is on PC seems to depend on how well your mouse performs. I barely had to move the mouse at all to win.. If you can’t implement something properly then don’t put it in the game at all.

Dice Poker
I actually liked this mini-game a lot in the first Witcher. The AI cheats but the music was enjoyable and it was quick & easy. In the Witcher 2 I disliked the game. Having a side view makes it hard to see what you or your opponent rolled. Any dice that leave the board just disappear. The dice themselves have Roman numerals and decorative symbols instead of the standard dots that make it harder to discern what numbers I’m looking at. I’m glad you can cheat in this game because it’s no longer fun.


Drinking ‘game’
This was something I thought was really funny in the first game. Stumbling around drunk was a little annoying but the animation was very well done. It is a shame they cut this.

Some more bitchery
  • The game is not self-explanatory. A good game will teach you how to play while you play. This game tells you squat and then spits in your face when you do it wrong. They actually had to create a separate tutorial section and even that is a failure.
  • The Witcher 2 feels like a mishmash of game mechanics that were sprinkled in because the developers didn't know what they wanted.
  • Prologue: Vernon Roche introduces himself to Geralt.. a few minutes later you get a flashback where they are fighting side by side!?
  • The keyboard options are in the launch menu. You have to quit and restart the game to look/change them.
  • Quick-time events that are very sporadic, are mostly pointless and don’t contribute to the game. Worse yet, they forgot to add them in places where they would have been perfect such as in the dragon fight!
  • Some quests can only be completed if you have items that vendors sell. You are not always told to buy these items nor where and they stay available even when the quest is not.
  • Rolling away from an attack to so much more effective that it makes the block function obsolete. Half your fight can be spend rolling around in the dirt..
  • Just because you can select a target doesn’t mean your Igni sign will reach it.
  • You don’t have to meditate to implement skill points like in the previous game.. even though the option to do so is available via the meditation menu. Found this out at the end of chapter 2.
  • In the first Witcher a ‘base’ was needed to create potions and oils. They should have kept that requirement.
  • Cat potion gives some kind of CSI X-ray vision.. what?.
  • Junk items and weapons? What for? What is the point except inventory clutter of which we already have plenty.
  • The Witcher amulet does what now? Let’s you find loot-able containers and items?
  • Monsters aren’t equal to your character level. You can get quest you simply can’t complete no matter how hard you try because your level isn’t high enough yet.
  • Geralt frequently has the option use mind control in conversation. That’s a betrayal of the character as portrait in the books.
  • Voice volume and clarity doesn’t change even when you walk away or go indoors (I can hear the people outside as if they are standing next to me).
  • Instead of something you turn in for profit, trophies have become a charm you hang of belt? You actually hang a rotting piece of monster on your person to better your character stats.

Unanswered questions
  • Why was Assire var Anahid killed after decompressing Triss?
  • After saving Philippa, Geralt didn’t even attempt to go back to look for Triss?
  • Geralt didn’t stab Saskia through the heart with the magic dagger?
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