“If you thirst for justice… hire a witcher”.
(Inscription on wall of Oxenfurt university)
On the 17th of April this year, happened what millions of players worldwide waited for. It doesn’t matter whether you have Xbox 360 or a PC, if you are a fan of Polish developer company CD Projekt RED’s video game series The Witcher, then you already have been eagerly waiting this day. Why? Because The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings – Enhanced Edition is released today for the Xbox 360 and at the same time PC version owners get a free(!), huge (10GB) update for their game. There were all sorts of elements added and fixed in the already great game, but this update is not just a bugfix.
First of all, let’s talk about awaited changes. It would be a shame if fans downloaded this 10GB patch and wouldn’t get something that makes the game ripe for a replay. Well, the 2 extra quests that come with this patch provide about 3 extra hour of gameplay to the original quest line as well as new locations. New elements include the transitional cinematics that summarize each chapter upon completion and provide a smooth transition into each subsequent chapter and at the same time also inform players of their geographical position. A well-greeted feature is the final boards at the end of the game, where the cutscenes summarize the player’s in-game choices and show an overall impression of how the player altered the fate of the areas he has been to. A total of twelve different movies will illustrate the achievable different states of the game world. Three new movies are also implemented into the game. A superb 3 and a half minute long rendered (CG) intro depicting the assassination of King Demavend, an event that occurs before the beginning of The Witcher 2 and that has consequences in the story. A new one and a half minute outro rendered with the in-game engine, which serves as a teaser for what’s to come. And a new movie ‘Witchers’, which is designed for players who are new to the witcher franchise, and which uses2D art animated in Flash, in the same style as the ‘Flashbacks’ and ‘Memories’ in The Witcher 2, describing what is a witcher. Additional cutscenes are also put into the game using a new set of motion-captured animations, to enrich in-game events. They have also added several fixes and corrections, such as the option to toggle Downloadable Content on or off, adding critters, randomly dispersed swords and fixing bugs such as incorrect descriptions of skills or targeting bugs, etc. However I have to mention some other new things too, that are not so pleasant. Some players, including me, experienced black screens instead of the new cutscenes, which was caused by some unoptimalized feature causing the videos only to appear in 16:9 resolutions. This was rather disappointing since the main reason I started replaying The Witcher 2 was to see these videos. There are a few texture slips too, but not that visible or disturbing. Even though the original version came out last year, thanks to the marketing of the Xbox 360 game and the update, lots of people bought the new already patched retail PC version even now.
To sum it up CD Projekt RED showed the industry that it is not necessary to charge players for every bit of new content in order to keep up the interest in the game and to achieve that gamers buy it. The free patch not only gives the players the usual corrections, but also lengthens gameplay and it does this in a high-quality manner, not to mention the various cutscenes and videos that enrich the gaming experience. There are some flaws and glitches, but concerning the company’s attitude towards its customers, these will be fixed soon. CD Projekt RED knows that a little kindness goes a long way.