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The original Witcher was a unique game in many ways and was praised for the emphasis that it placed on your choices and their consequences. Developer, CD Projekt Red are aiming to use The Witcher 2 to push the series out of its cult following status and into a more mainstream success so as to compete with other big RPG developers like Bioware and Bethesda.
The Witcher games are based on a fantasy book series of the same title by Andrzeg Sapkowski. The first game cast players as the amnesiac Witcher, Geralt, who was on a quest to avenge the death of another Witcher, while regaining the prized Witcher mutagens that had been stolen. Along the way, players could choose to either crush or support an uprising against the King. Without going into spoilers, the ending of The Witcher really left the impression that Geralt’s story was far from over. The sequel looks set to surpass everything that the original game accomplished and continue the story of Geralt.
The most striking advancement that The Witcher 2 has over its predecessor is the huge overhaul to the game’s engine. The original game ran on a modified version of the Neverwinter Nights and while Geralt and the other characters in the game looked quite good, the world itself was a bit graphically bland. The Witcher 2 is going to run on its own custom engine which looks to really push your PC to its limits and bring the cynical dark world of Sapkowski's novels to life.
While The Witcher is set in its own unique dark fantasy universe, it does share an always-welcomed feature with Bioware’s Mass Effect games in that The Witcher 2 will let you import your savegame from the original, and CD Projekt have said that this will have far more of an effect than importing your save in Mass Effect 2 does.
In The original Witcher, you had very little say over whether Geralt was a warrior, wizard or rogue and this was because Geralt was a Witcher which allowed you to use the best elements of each. In The Witcher 2 combat has received a major overhaul for better or worse. You still have to prioritize targets and switch between your silver sword for monsters and steel sword for humanoid foes but you no longer have control over fighting styles nor can you drink potions in the midst of combat. You now left click to use a light attack and right click for a heavy attack and you no longer pause the combat but instead slow it down immensely. Lots of little changes like these are accompanied by more noticeable changes like the promise of more powerful magic which Geralt will be able to use both in and out of combat.
The Witcher 2 looks to be following on from the original by continuing its excellent story and polishing its good but at times repetitive gameplay and at the same time looks to be changing things up by changing around the combat systems of the first games. The Witcher 2 is set to be released for the PC on May 17th, check back here after launch for our review.