The Witcher 2 Review and Gameplay: Page 2 of 4

The Witcher 2 Review and Gameplay
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. Yes, there are dragons.

The Witcher 2 Review: Gameplay

The Witcher 2 gameplay introduces a lot of changes compared to the first game. The game mechanics are a little complicated at first, but can be fully mastered before finishing the first act.

Choices and Consequences

RPGs should be based heavily on decision-making, and this game does it right. Player choices affect the chain of events throughout the game: life or death, give or take, dive in or hold ground – choices will appeal to your moral and political stand, so you better be mentally and emotionally prepared. Some quests will make you choose between killing and sparing a person (or monster) and your decision will affect the events and people related to that quest.

It’s highly advisable to save your game often since the in-game choices lead to different paths. You might want to backtrack your save games and choose a different path just to see the other outcomes it might lead to.

Characters

The main cast of The Witcher 2. Some are friends and some are foes.

New faces will appear every now and then, but don't get intimidated. Knowing a handful is enough to understand the whole plot and their roles in the story. Read journals if you’d like to know more about the lore of the game.

Aside from NPCs, you’ll get to meet new and recurring creatures like harpies, nekkers, wraiths, gargoyles, golems, and more. Also, keep your blades sharp and prepare for a dragon encounter. It’s really something to look forward to.

NPCs make the game's mood livelier. You’ll meet drunkards saying funny lines, poker-faced guards who seem to not have a care in the world, mages going amok, fat kings, and hot witches; each has a different personality like Snow White’s seven dwarves. CDPR really spent time making each character count by making their reactions and facial expressions amazingly convincing.

Similar to its RPG predecessors, certain conversations in the game have added options where Geralt can use intimidation or persuasion ability (or even bribe them) to get what he wants. The more often he uses a specific conversation skill, the higher its chance of succeeding in subsequent dialogues.

Skill Tree

Every time Geralt levels up, he gets a talent point that can be spent on a skill. You can use it right away or just save it for later use. The Witcher 2 introduces a new skill tree branching into four distinct areas:

  • Training: Contains basic abilities required of a witcher like energy regeneration, endurance, and parrying abilities. Players need to invest at least 6 talent points in this tree first before they can access the other three.
  • Swordsmanship: For players whose style is getting up close and personal. It increases sword damage in combat, critical hit probability, and blocking.
  • Alchemy: Primarily affects the effectiveness and duration of potions mixed and imbibed.
  • Magic: Improves the players’ ability in using Aard, Axii, Igni, Yrden, and Quen

It takes to be a witcher to be able to walk calmly while everything else is burning and everyone is killing each other.

Talents can be upgraded twice for more powerful effects and bonuses. The most powerful ones can be found at the end of each branch. Be careful how you spend points because they cannot be unlearned.

Each branch also has a talent called Adrenaline Ability that synergizes with your other skills. Sadly, there’s a limit on the amount of talent points that can be acquired all throughout the game. It’s okay that grinding doesn’t work because the story is what’s important.

Combat

Many of those who played the first witcher game complained about the new combat system implemented by CDPR. Creators said they patterned the combat system to that of Dark Souls to make the game more challenging, which in turn really made things difficult in The Witcher 2.

It’s not big – it’s gargantuan. Geralt’s sword looks like a toothpick against the Kayran.

For one, there’s the inability to use potions during combat. Health also does not regenerate while in combat. Before plunging into combat, make sure you’ve drank all the potions and used any weapon stats amplifier you need.

Since you can’t drink health potions when in the brink of death, players should really opt for the smallest chance of getting hit. This leads to the most important thing in combat – rolling. Rolling is really useful to avoid enemy mobs and direct attacks. It gives you the chance to breathe, regroup and cast signs or shields before diving in again.

A new feature worth mentioning is the use of Adrenaline Abilities. Each skill tree has one: Heliotrope under the Magic tree, Mutant for Alchemy, and Combat Acumen for the school of Swordsmanship. Acquiring one of these allows you to make use of adrenaline, which appears as a new bar below the health and vigor on the upper left of the screen. It gains charge by hitting enemies with your sword for the Combat Acumen, casting signs for Heliotrope, and drinking toxic potions for Mutant. Once the meter is full, Geralt can unleash the power of the adrenaline ability by tapping a button indicated on the screen.

Geralt testing if his blade will cut through the heavily-armored Draug boss.

It really takes tons of patience and practice to learn the art of fighting in this game. Yes, it’s really challenging and even frustrating at times, but it’s not enough to make The WItcher 2 a letdown.  It’s just a little experiment to make the overall gameplay more immersive and stimulating.

Other Features

The addition of mutagens in The Witcher 2 gameplay makes skill selection more complex. Mutagens are items triggering skills mutations. They can improve talents by adding bonuses like critical hit improvement, added vitality, armor increase, and damage bonuses. Only a few talents have mutagen slots available. These mutagens can be found as loot from defeated enemies or can be created as byproducts of mixing potions.

One can’t just rely on hacking and slashing to resolve conflicts. The addition of traps and bombs give more diversity and variety on combat tactics.

There are also new mini-games which add more avenues to earn in-game cash.

Buns. You’ll get to see a lot of them in the game.

And last but definitely, definitely not the least, the adult content in The Witcher 2 has been improved. No more fancy romance cards from the previous installment. Apparently, Geralt is not only a professional monster-slayer but also an absolute lady-killer. You can exploit his witcher prowess to dupe girls around town, so expect steamy, daring love scenes. There’s always an option to skip the cut scenes, but really, why would you?

Gamer Since: 1997
Favorite Genre: RPG
Top 3 Favorite Games:The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings, Bioshock Infinite, Fallout 3: Broken Steel
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