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    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

    With under four months to go until release, Wild Hunt the conclusion to gruff sexyman Geralt of Rivia’s adventure is one of the most anticipated games in recent years. Still, despite the delays for more time to polish this hugely ambitious RPG, players are yet to get their hands on it at shows. For a game we’ve heard so much about, we’ve seen precious little of it so far, with glimpses at core mechanics played out in gorgeously crafted cities, muddy swamps and a swathe of wilderness that we're gagging to paint with blood.

    Sitting down with CD Projekt Red’s Michal Platkow-Gilewski, he assures us that avoiding gameplay sessions is a positive thing. “In a hands on, we’d ask you to go away and then we’d have to fight you to get the controller back,” he says. “The problem with a demo for a game of this size is you can't really experience it properly in a 15 minute session, because when you pick up the pad you can’t stop playing.”

    Jeremy Kyle style dev on punter punch ups aside, it’s an interesting dilemma: how to present a game to eager fans? Will a snippet of game be detrimental to the overall experience? CD Projekt Red has laid the foundations of an impressive RPG, but there’s a risk of players forming unfulfillable expectations in the absence of firm details. That couldn’t be more true of Wild Hunt, a game so steeped in hype that curious gamers are flocking from the likes of FIFA and CoD to check out their first fantasy game. Might The Witcher, with its notoriously knotty lore, leave them baffled?

    “We knew that there were going to be a lot of newcomers. Or at least, we kept our fingers crossed for that,” continues Platkow Gilewski. “We created The Witcher 2 on Xbox 360 (ps3), but right now with the new consoles, the target is way bigger. We had to create the game with the idea that a lot of new gamers [might be] trying our adventure for the first time. We had to make it an accessible game for them, so we worked on the learning curve a lot. With the gameplay and the plot, we want you to be able to digest what’s happening around you.”

    The dev learned a lot from Assassins of Kings,and the influx of newbies has given it reason to balance Wild Hunt for a home console audience that is used to being slightly more nannied. Don't see this as concession. Platkow Gilewski assures us that this newfound accessibility doesn’t mean Wild Hunt jeopardises the DNA of the series.

    “We knew that we had a big group of gamers playing the previous instalments our huge fans. We had to avoid creating a game that… I don’t want to say was too dumb for them, but they have their own expectations. Wild Hunt is more about being a Witcher, and in that way it’s more similar to the first game. Assassins of Kings was more about politics and about the story. I think this aspect will appeal to the die hard fans. It’s more Witcher than ever before.”

    Nothing better cements that fact than the focus on hunts. “You’ll meet a lot of monsters.” says Platkow Gilewski, “Some of them are just monsters lurking somewhere in the swamps waiting to drag you underwater and kill you. Sometimes you’ll find more important ones monsters that influence the environments and communities around you. Internally, we call these ‘named monsters’.”

    Named monsters form the backbone of Geralt’s main pursuits, with specific parameters to tick off before you can effectively take down a beast. “You’ll have to check if you have the proper knowledge to face it. Perhaps that monster has some abilities you’re not aware of. If that’s the case, you won’t know how to counteract them without prior research,” he explains. “Once that’s done, you must prepare be it by selecting special potions or brewing them, creating special bombs, or just thinking about what time of day you should approach the monster a fact that has a big effect on them. Then you navigate to the confrontation.”

    Platkow Gilewski is quick to assure us that hunts aren’t split by loading screens into several phases, but at the end of the interview he’s cagey to reveal beasts and sights we might encounter. His answer to what CD Projekt Red is most looking forward to players seeing says it all: “everything”.

    For this writer, previewing The Witcher 3 feels like tracking a strange beast itself: we catch the odd glimpse, research the gaps and prepare for the fight (stocking our cupboards with an exciting selection of crisps). Geralt has long hinted at greatness, only brought low by the awkward fit of a PC shaped peg in a console-shaped hole. If the team can sand those rough edges, this could be Xbox One’s first masterpiece.

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