How’s it going, internet? Come sit with me here, right here, and let’s have a little talk about video games as we’re apt to do here at Ability Points. We have something important to discuss. Something you probably won’t want to hear. Let’s just do this like a band-aid and rip it right off. Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, I’m not a fan. (And I should preface this by telling you I never played prequels.)
I can hear your jimmies rustling from across the internet dimension. Let me explain. I found the game to be astonishingly beautiful. The atmosphere was definitely there. Everything you would expect about the world they designed was right on par. On par doesn’t mean exceptional, however. My first big complaint with this game was the world itself. It was lauded as a massive world, but I never really felt like diverging from the story laid out before me. I tried to venture out a few times, but was always drawn back into the town I’d left. The side quests I did partake in were not really worth my time and the whole “adventuring” aspect felt like a chore. Sure, you can make this argument for any adventure game, but it was especially so in this case.
I was put off almost immediately when the game started by the overt and unnecessary nudity. Not that I normally have a problem with it, but it felt so out of place to me. (Also, I’ve seen an ending involving the back of a unicorn and I thought it was stupid. It’s hard to take this game seriously after that.) Once I’d gained control of Geralt, I found that I had never really gained control of him at all. His controls are very slippery and I never know what he’s going to do next. Some people say you get used to it, but come on. I have to “get used to it”? That’s unacceptable to me. He should handle in exactly the manner I expect him to, which is “tight with the controls”.
The gameplay is not much better. There is a bevy of things to learn when it comes to inventory, magic, crafting, and alchemy that the game becomes menu intensive. This really distracts from the beauty of the game overall because I’m constantly looking at menus and trying to sort myself out. Oh and the potion making. For the love of god, why is a monster hunter so dependent on potions? It’s just not a fun aspect of the game.
With all that out of the way, let’s talk about the world this game exists in. I found the story to be interesting, although some knowledge of the lore would have helped a great deal before going into this. The world surrounding that story, though, I found to be stupid. You see, Witchers are kind of hated and they kind of only help people for money. So when townsfolk are telling you how much you suck then begging you to save their lives, it’s stupid. When you, the player, want to behave altruistically by being the hero and helping for no reward, Geralt seems to demand payment for services, which is stupid and makes me kind of hate him. Townsfolk seem to think they have a chance fighting Witchers and will do so anytime someone feels slighted. Again, these are FREAKING MONSTER SLAYERS! These townsfolk are stupid and deserve their imminent deaths. I can suspend my disbelief just as well as the next comic book nerd, but this game is asking A LOT!
So… The slippery controls, tedious gameplay, uninteresting landscape, world of idiots, and my general distaste for all of the characters are the reasons this game is listed for sale on my local garage sale website. This brings me to the next point of this post, because you get more than a review when you come here. Hype is bad for you.
Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was overhyped. People were clamoring for this game. I had no interest in playing it at all and had never even heard of this series prior to this title. I picked it up because, hey, I like adventure games and exploring open worlds and stuff, but was sorely disappointed. There have been a ton of games that were overhyped and turned into letdowns. A recent title that I never played was Destiny. This game had a huge advertising budget so the hype makes sense, but the day after launch people had all but forgotten it. I couldn’t find anyone who could tell me one unique and original reason to buy this game.
Over hyping games is nothing new and while Peter Molyneux gets the brunt of the jokes when it comes to this topic, I like to think he was just a dreamer whose words were taken out of context. Fable, for example, wasn’t a bad game, but it didn’t live up to its hype. This is the first big title I can recall being psyched about and subsequently let down. Many years and blunders later, you might ask why I hadn’t learned my lesson. The reason why I gave Witcher 3 a chance is because of a game called The Order: 1886.
That’s right. Another overhyped game that amounted to a ton of cinematics. I didn’t play this game but I enjoyed the YouTube Let’s Plays on it, just I enjoyed watching Heavy Rain. Critics panned it, but it is a good game! It just may not be the type of game you expected it to be. We have so many different genres these days that people can easily mistake what they are buying. We don’t need critics rating games with preconceived bias. If you’re forte is shooters, I don’t care what you think of Ori and the Blind Forest. What we need are people who can explain what a game is, then give a small review of what they thought of it. Ratings need to go away because a little number can destroy someone’s hard work. The people behind The Order: 1886 did an amazing job and were genuinely excited about the release, but had to listen to critics who have never done anything productive tear their hard work down over a misunderstanding. It’s sad.
I know what you’re thinking. “Didn’t you just do the same thing here to Witcher 3?” No. Witcher 3 is well within my comfort zone. I understand its mechanics and genre. I knew what I was getting into. People who played The Order: 1886 made references to games outside of its genre, like Skyrim. They expected the game to be something it wasn’t. That’s biased. My review clearly explains this games genre and style without resorting to comparisons with other titles. It tells you what to expect rather than telling you what not to expect. This is a subtle difference that paid critics tend to fail in. (Yes, I’m generalizing critics, but they are so often wrong.) And finally, this is my blog about my gaming experiences. I’m not being paid to give you a fair and unbiased review, though I’ll strive for that regardless. In short, I didn’t say “Witcher 3 is bad because it’s not Skyrim, pllllt!” Those are the reviews that hurt the industry.
If you take away anything from this post, let it be this: Don’t trust critics. Don’t trust hype. Read gameplay reviews, sure. Watch Let’s Play videos. And rent the title before you buy it, if you can. You’ll save a lot of money and time. Don’t let others do your thinking for you.