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One nice thing about digital sales is that no one ends up injured, arrested, or killed. If you want The Witcher 3 half-price, hey, don’t sweat it: GOG’s Thanksgiving-y sale lives entirely inside computers, so all shall be well as long as you don’t accidentally sit on your laptop. I’m not sure why it’s named the ‘Only On GOG.com’ sale when TW3 is the fanciest bargain there and is definitely not, you know, only on GOG, but hey! Also on sale: old Star Trek, Dungeons & Dragons, and Warhammer games.
GOG is throwing a sale on the GOG-exclusive games in in their library, which happens to include a rather popular roleplaying game called The Witcher 3. The huge RPG is half-price, just in time for the holidays. If you already have The Witcher 3 and liked it enough to play more, the Hearts of Stone expansion is a little bit cheaper. If you want to catch up with the series, The Witcher 2 is 85% off.
The sale is also discounting a bunch of the good old games the shop first became known for. The D&D pack is 80% off, and includes Baldur's Gate 1 and 2, Icewind Dale, Planescape Torment, Neverwinter Nights and more. There's plenty more nostalgia to enjoy in the Warhammer and Star Trek bundles. The sale will run until 5:59am PST / 1:59pm GMT on Sunday.
There are also discounts on games that aren't exclusively sold on GOG. You might want to check out Galactic Civilizations 3, which is also currently half-price.
On this week's Mod Roundup, a better way to conduct conversations in Fallout 4, followers that level with you in Skyrim, a complete—and we do mean complete—overhaul of The Witcher 3, and a big update for a Game of Thrones mod for Mount & Blade: Warband.
Here are the most promising mods we've seen this week.
Fallout 4's conversation UI leaves a lot to be desired. For example, instead of a list of full responses, you only get a brief idea of the tone of what you might say. It can lead to some misunderstandings. And, since this is your character, it makes sense that you'd know what you were actually going to say before you say it. This mod reverts the system to one more similar to Fallout 3 and New Vegas. Find it here.
As you climb the ladder of power in Skyrim, you followers join you... up to a point. Most followers have a level cap of 20, and you may have noticed that when you reach level 40 or 50 your lackeys are comparatively weak against your enemies (to the point that they're getting their lights knocked out immediately). This mod, available on the Steam workshop, means they'll level right alongside you. The Skyrim's the limit.
Modders are hard at work on changes—major ones—to The Witcher 3. The School of the Roach mod just entered open beta, and it comes with a huge list of changes, starting with increases to the game's difficulty. It also aims to improve combat, rework the economy, provide a more realistic encumbrance system, and make changes to the leveling system. Alchemy, armor, weapons, skills, menus... it sounds like nothing is being overlooked. Read more about it, and help test the beta, right here.
This mod for Mount & Blade: Warband, which transforms the game into Westeros from Game of Thrones, first arrived in 2013, but it's still being improved and added to. It's just entered it's 8th beta version and with it arrives a whole host of changes, additions, and improvements. The list of changes is too long to tackle here, but you can read more about it, and download it, it at Mod DB.
It's Halloween digital game store sale day I guess, so here's one more, from GOG.com. Their Halloween Monster Hunt discounts loadsa vaguely spooky games over the course of five days, from now until Monday November 2. Today's offerings include The Witcher 3 for a bit less, plus moderately whopping savings on Stasis, Deadly Premonition, the Amnesias, both Alan Wakes and more.
35.09 seems like a lot for The Witcher 3, particularly when I just picked it up on PS4 for 10 less from Amazon, but if you've not played Amnesia, the bonkers Deadly Premonition, and the well-regarded The Last Door and The Cat Lady, you can now pick them up for the price of a bag of seasonal sweets.
In our mod roundup this week, smash GTA 5's Los Santos as the Hulk, enjoy more random monster encounters in The Witcher 3, revisit Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl in a sandbox map-pack for Call of Pripyat, and more. Here's the best of what we've seen this week.
Maker of many superhero mods for the GTA series, JulioNIB has now brought the Hulk to GTA 5. String together super-jumps that let you sail across the map, landing with an earth-shattering and car-scattering crash. Pick up and throw objects, including trains, send soldiers and citizens flying with the patented Hulk-clap, and yank lampposts out of the ground to use as giant clubs. Check out the video above. You can download the mod, find links to the Hulk skin, and see the installation instructions here.
As if there weren't enough monsters haunting the landscape in The Witcher 3, you can add a few more using the sliders that come with this mod. Up the chances you'll run into flying or ground-based creatures, mobs of monsters, and even human opponents. You can tailor the random monster list so it spawns your favorites, and you can tweak their level of difficulty as well. You can find it here at Nexus Mods.
Import the earlier Stalker games into Call of Pripyat with this freeplay map pack, and bring all your favorite post-apocalyptic haunts into one place. While there's no story, there are a dozen repeatable missions to enjoy as you rediscover all your favorite locations from the games. Available here at Mod DB.
Want to bring a more eye-pleasing map into Crusader Kings 2? Terrain, borders, fog of war, water, and fonts have all been changed, giving the game a clean and crisp new look. I'd certainly want to wage war all over that map. You can find it in the Steam Workshop.
Dedicated modder Bunny has edited hundreds of audio files to bring the original and enjoyable cheesy dialogue from the original Resident Evil into the HD remake. Enjoy the video above, and find the mod right here.
Until The Witcher 2, I d never played a game where characters actually looked like they were wearing clothing. Of course game characters aren t usually naked; they re drawn or modeled with a stylish everyman hoodie or blinged out power suit. But that clothing never felt like something the character was wearing; it always seemed too form-fitting, like an inseparable part of the character model. When Mario switches from his blue to red overalls with a fire-flower pick-up, it doesn t seem like he s changing his wardrobe. His entire character design is changing in an instant.
Then I played The Witcher 2. The Witcher 2 has real clothing and armor: it looks layered, chunky, with stitching and patterning and fluffy collars. Leather straps crisscross woven fabrics which cover thick chainmail. At the time, I was wowed by the graphical detail, but that was about it. Now, after three months and 85 hours invested in The Witcher 3, I can t stop thinking about how great Geralt s vast, evolving wardrobe is. Geralt s armor is even more detailed and varied than in The Witcher 2, but I came to appreciate it for more than looks.
Geralt s clothing in The Witcher 3 helps sell the authenticity of the world and the epic, months- and miles-spanning story it has to tell. If you d told me three months ago that I d finish The Witcher 3 and reflect more on its armor than its ending, I would ve been skeptical. But here we are.
I used to get a little thrill out of RPGs, mostly Japanese RPGs, that actually showed my character wearing the new armor or wielding the new blade I d found in the last treasure chest. Seeing that new equipment contributed greatly to the sense of progression over dozens of hours, making new armor more significant than a mere stat boost. It was a rare thing: most games stuck with a static character design for the duration, or only changed what the characters were wearing at key narrative moments. Even as modern 3D games made unique armor models less novel, I enjoyed them as symbols of progress: in Oblivion, I switched to the awkward third-person camera for a couple hours each time I crafted a new armor set (the Daedric armor was obviously the best).
The Witcher 3 more thoroughly integrates clothing into its progression arc and its narrative than any other RPG I ve played. As rewards for completing quests, exploring the world, and collecting crafting diagrams, each new piece of armor is lusciously detailed. Witcher 3 s gambesons and brigandines are the big-budget, artists-gone-wild descendents of those little pixelated chestpieces and helms I used to fawn over.
CD Projekt Red s artists show a unique talent for turning real textiles into natural-looking digital textures. Layering is the key, as any hip San Franciscan with a plaid button down, hoodie, coat, and cashmere scarf will tell you. Most games don t do a great job of this. Let s look at Skyrim as an example from a few years ago.
On the left is Skyrim s light leather armor, and on the right is the Stormcloak armor. I think both are cool designs, and Bethesda s artists used some smart texturing to convey the different pieces of cloth meant to make up each piece of armor. But you can see how the layers don t feel very three dimensional. Outside the leather armor s pauldrons, the material mostly looks flat, especially the straps along his thighs. Darker shading around edges can only do so much.
The same goes for the strap along the Stormcloak armor s chest, and the chainmail layered underneath the vest. They look like different materials, but they still look conjoined, not like one is placed atop the other, and the whole thing is skintight on the model.
Image via Dragon Age wiki.
For something a bit more contemporary to the right is some armor from Dragon Age: Inquisition which runs on the much more detailed Frostbite engine.
Inquisition s armor is definitely a big step up over Skyrim s. The creases and light patterning make the fabrics look more realistic, and from the front, the jerkin (I think that s a jerkin? We ll call it a jerkin) looks like it s actually layered over the purple leather. From the side, that depth mostly disappears. The straps don t look like separate objects, and the jerkin, leather and chainmail all look like one form-fitting piece.
There s doubtless armor in Inquisition (like In Death, Sacrifice) with more detail and more prominent layering, but it s hard to beat The Witcher 3. Most of Geralt s armor truly looks like it s made from a collection of real materials woven together by someone within its own world (although most of the blacksmiths in the Northern Kingdoms don t quite look like fine armor artisans).
Still, look at this shit. This is Geralt s starting armor, a Skellige Gambeson, and an Angrenian Cuirass, all equipment you can wear early in the game. The detail is on another level.
The starting armor is an amazing combination of chainmail and leather, and there are tons of little touches of three dimensionality. The raised pauldrons. The gloves sticking out at the elbows. The belts curling outward. The other two armor sets aren t nearly as badass—I think most Witcher 3 players remember the amusing moment they put on a Skellige Gambeson and wondered why they d just exchanged chainmail for a puffy sweater—but I still love how much this piece of armor looks like real clothing. The sleeves are loose, demonstrating Geralt s pro layering skills. And with both the gambeson and the cuirass, you can see how the tops are separate articles of clothing that don t connect seamlessly with the trousers, like your typical video game bodysuit.
OK, so that s more nerding out about textiles and fashion than I ve ever done in my life, but there s a point to it all in The Witcher 3, for me. It adds up to something more significant. As I mentioned before, the attention devoted to each piece of armor made them feel especially rewarding to craft or earn as rewards for completing quests. I looked forward to leveling up just to be able to check out a new piece of armor I d been toting around for three hours. But that level of detail also justified the most involved quests in the game: hunting down the Witcher school gear crafting diagrams, which were scattered around Witcher 3 s giant game world.
Completing a perfect set of Witcher armor from one of the schools (Wolf, Cat, Bear, Griffin, Viper) is a serious undertaking, but it pays off with armor that looks cooler than anything else in the game (and has better stats, naturally). The treasure hunt begins with a quest to find individual crafting diagrams for steel and silver swords, gauntlets, armor, trousers, and boots. Once you ve found them all, you can start a new quest for Enhanced Armor. And then Superior Armor. And, finally, Mastercrafted armor, which you ll only be able to craft if you ve gone through a separate pair of lengthy quests.
The stat payoff isn t really worth it unless you re playing on the hardest difficulty—I blasted through the endgame with my Mastercrafted Wolf gear. It s the artistry devoted to the armor that makes each upgrade feel worthwhile. Just look at how the Wolf armor improves with each upgrade.
That is some awesome armor, and I worked hard to earn it.
Over the 85 hours or so I played The Witcher 3, Geralt s progression through weapons and armor felt like a natural extension of the time that passed in-game. I was covering long distances and traversing different cultures, and could see my own armor choices reflected in the people of that region. I felt a little sheepish talking to folks in the Northern Kingdoms wearing my Nilfgaardian Guard Armor with its prissy neck thing. I also felt uncomfortable wearing some great heavy armor I earned when I realized it was the same uniform as the witch hunters who were hounding Triss.
I slaughtered an entire barracks of witch hunters at one point. It was a bad scene.
The point is, all that armor feels real enough to convey something about one of the cultures in The Witcher 3. This was even reinforced by a couple great scenes where Geralt s companions encourage him to dress up for a party. Geralt hates dressing up. But swapping out of a layered suit of armor for a cushy doublet adds so much to the authenticity of Geralt s world as a real place.
It s not that changing outfits makes the game feel more immersive. I don t feel like I m there. But I feel like the characters are; they re people in an intricately realized world with regional accents and decor and fashion, not a two-dimensional film set that falls apart if you peer behind the scenes.
I've mostly focused on Geralt, here, but dozens of other characters in the game have amazingly detailed outfits as well; they just don't benefit from changing clothes the way Geralt does. But look at this lady!
Now that's a dress. And look at this guy! Zoom in on that leather texture. Dang.
The Witcher 3 s clothing may have only played a small part in bringing that world to life, but it s the ingredient that pushed me over the edge into adoration. I spent five hours upgrading the Wolf school gear, just so I d have Geralt in the coolest armor I could for the game s ending cutscenes. It was his big moment, after all. He d want to be prepared.
And yeah, that one time I accidentally got drunk and had my armor stolen? You bet your ass I tracked down the thieves and got it back.
The Witcher 3 got its first major expansion last week in the form of Hearts of Stone, and I thought it was pretty good. Since then CD Projekt RED has acknowledged and promised to address a series of issues ushered in by the new DLC, and that's about to arrive with patch 1.11.
It's a huge list of minor changes and tweaks, so if you want an exhaustive overview you best click over here. Among the highlights are rebalanced boss battles basically, the challenge they present will more closely mirror the difficulty level you're playing at.
The patch applies to the main game too, so even if you don't have the Hearts of Stone DLC you may notice some improvements, and a couple of bugged quests have been patched over as well.
The Witcher 3 Modkit came out a couple months ago, which was nice, but it didn't make everyone entirely happy because it was somewhat limited in scale compared to the Redkit mod tool released for the first two Witcher games. CD Projekt Community Manager Marcin Momot said at the time that the studio was "not planning to release anything else" as far as mod tools go, but today revealed on the CD Projekt forums that an update to the Modkit that will enable users to add new textures to the game is "right around the corner."
The full list of coming changes:
One thing that won't be changing is the interface, or lack thereof. In response to a user who said he'd like the Modkit to support a UI instead of "only CMD coding," Momot wrote, "Doubt this will happen. Sorry."
Unfortunately for those champing at the bit of better modding, a release date more precise than "right around the corner" hasn't been announced.