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A shorter than usual weekly Steam best-sellers chart this week, primarily because almost everything is explained simply by the words “Steam Summer sale”, but partly because I’ve already spent a chunk of today compiling a big list of Sale recommendations to help our beloved readers’ purchasin’ decisions. You can have a pithy and/or explantory line about each game next week, promise. Meantime: these are the ten best-selling games on Steam last week. Expect next week’s to look wildly different, thanks to the ongoing and regularly changing sale. … [visit site to read more]
The Witcher 3 s second and last expansion, Blood and Wine, does a fantastic job of bringing the series to a close. CD Projekt clearly wanted to finish Geralt s story with a flourish and this is evident in so much of the expansion s design.
It s also a conclusion that brings the series full circle, although it does so in a way that, in typical CD Projekt fashion, is much subtler than you might expect from a game of this ilk. There s no getting the gang back together for a round of drinks and to reminisce about the Good Times (well, there s a little bit of that if you know where to look), and no revisiting of important locations from earlier games. Instead, Blood & Wine looks back at the series as a whole through its enemies.
The Witcher 3 loves to wade through the murk of its magical Middle Ages. Whether Geralt is trudging the forsaken swamps of Velen or topping up his tan in Toussaint, things are always more grim than they seem. A dash of domestic violence here, an avenging spirit there The Witcher s world is complex and muddy.
I m not interested in emotional grime, however. No, every time I play The Witcher 3 I m hit by its actual dirt: the mud, rocks, silt and sand that make up the Northern Kingdoms.
Immersion comes in part from CD Projekt Red s incredible textures and facial rigging, but the real legwork is done by topography. And I don t mean the awesome mountains of Skellige or the great expanse of Crookback Bog. CDPR s artistry is in the small details.
Even amid the gentle farmland of White Orchard there s evidence of geological processes at work. Sheer, sandy banks overhang the river, fringes of grass suggesting ongoing erosion. Where many RPGs would dump a river in a convenient trough in the landscape, The Witcher 3 s ragged, crumbling riverbanks convince me that this stream was flowing eons before Geralt wandered by.
When the heavens open, rain spatters every exposed surface. Decades-old games can simulate rain of course, but as the torrent develops, rivulets start to run down rock faces, explaining how their deep crevices developed. Even throwaway items like a quest-specific frying pan catches raindrops as you hand it to an NPC.
Rocks, clifftops, tree roots and all the imperfections that make nature a pain in the arse each get their time to shine. They never feel like assets studding the landscape for variety s sake, as boulders often do in Skyrim, for example. They are the landscape, born of imagined natural processes. I like to believe The Witcher s NPCs considered the lay of the land before building their hovels. Roads, for example, typically take the easiest route up a hill, skirting ridges though a straight route would be quicker.
Attention to topographical detail comes at a cost. Geralt s movement is often sluggish, and I wonder whether his lack of precision, quite unbefitting a witcher, is a product of the landscape s complexity. Roach, his faithful steed, certainly sees things I can t, stalling on hilly terrain like she s missed a gear change. Thankfully Roach s initial fear of bridges (gephyrophobia, if you re wondering) was patched out.
Nevertheless, the sensation of controlling a drunk man and his intellectually challenged horse is a price I happily pay to wander a world so muddy, rough and crumbling that it s just like the real thing.
The expansions might be over, but CD Projekt Red is still polishing The Witcher 3. Patch 1.22 is here, and it fixes a number of new issues introduced by Blood and Wine, plus some general tweaks for good measure.
Weird and wonderful highlights include:
There are many more fixes, and you can find the full patch notes here (amazingly, the inventory is still being improved).
The Witcher 3 is a wonderful game in a very literal sense. It is full of wonder, from the startling entities that stalk its darkest corners to the stories that echo through the ages, and even the alternately bleak and brilliant weather, which I enjoy on an almost metatextual level, appreciating the techniques that paint storms and rainfall onto the world. I could spend hours just watching the skybox transform. It’s also grounded in reality of a sort though and shot through with an understanding of folklore, superstition and historic belief systems.
When CD Projekt announced that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt would include a Hearthstone-style game-within-a-game called Gwent, two thoughts immediately leapt to my mind: First, that "Gwent is a terrible name for a game, and second, that it would be a quickly-forgettable Witcher mini-game, like dice poker or drunken fistfighting. I was right on the first count, but as to the second part, well, not so much. The game-within-a-game became a hit-within-a-hit, and now it looks like CD Projekt is going to spin it off into a stand-alone release.
As noticed by Nerdleaks, the studio recently filed for two trademarks with the European Union Intellectual Property Office, one for Gwent which appears to be an expansion of a 2015 trademark filing of the same name and the other, more tellingly, for Gwent: The Witcher Card Game. That filing includes a logo and, according to a Google translation, covers computer games and videogames in various formats, online gaming services, and also doodads like jewelry, medallions, key rings, statues, clothing, writing instruments, stationery, and luggage. CDPR really wants to be sure that all the branding bases are covered, I guess.
If this turns out to be true (and I fully expect that it will), it will hardly be a surprising move. Card games are big business these days, and everyone seems to want in on the action: Hearthstone is a runaway hit, Bethesda is working on one based on its Elder Scrolls series, and the only thing left of the once-mighty Fable franchise is a card game Kickstarter. Add to that the fact that Gwent is basically a fully-formed game already, and the real question isn't whether CD Projekt will release a version separate from The Witcher 3, but why it hasn't already.
(Actually, whether is a real question too, and one I've asked. I'll let you know what I hear.)
The PC Gaming Show returns to E3 on Monday June 13, featuring game announcements, updates to existing favourites, and conversation with top developers. You can find out what to expect , and also book free tickets to attend in person at . The PC Gaming Show will be broadcast live through from 11:30 am PT/2:30 pm ET/6:30 pm GMT, but be sure to tune in beforehand to check out , in which one lucky winner will buy as many games as they can in three minutes.
You’ll never guess what Ian Video Games heard down at the trademark and patent office! Oh, yes, of course someone said “This is the daftest idea I’ve ever heard”, you’re right there. His patent does make a certain sort of sense if you think about it, though. Inevitably some Frankenstein will make a perpetual motion machine by strapping buttered toast to a cat and hurling it off a roof – but how will they safely attach the toast to the cat? Cushioned heat-resistant toast straps. Always thinking ahead, that Ian.
Anyway, no, the other thing he heard: someone filing a trademark for a standalone version of Gwent, the card game from The Witcher 3.