The Witcher 2 Extended Edition Hands-on

Developer: CD Projeckt RED / Publisher: WB Interactive / Platform: Xbox 360 / ESRB: Mature [Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs] / Release Date: April 17 2012

Radovid

Say to yourself the words ‘Enhanced Edition’ and ‘PC to console’ and, odds are, you’re not thinking pleasant thoughts. They might sound like “Oh great, I’m paying for bumped-up visuals, a refugged control-scheme and not much else,” or they might sound like “Oh man, are they going to have to rock-stupid this sucker down!”…but either way, they’re not pleasant thoughts. Well, just this once, the ‘Enhanced Edition’ of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings might make you believe in Good Magic again.

So, back-to-front: We got not merely our eyes but our filthy corpse-looting mitts on The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings just the other day, and at least one thing seems clear: Despite the developer’s faintly amusing claims to the effect that players new to the Witcher ‘verse can just jump right in, there is nothing dumbed-down here—and if the news alarms you, well, that’s just a shame. Beyond a brief animated movie (in the game’s Extras section) offering a broad-strokes overview of what a Witcher is, there isn’t any thematic baby-sitting here, and you’re likely to soon find yourself desperately dog-paddling in the sprawling ocean of Andrzej Sapkowski‘s Witcher lore, clinging to the lifeboat of one of the game’s numerous exhaustively expository cutscenes. It’s all Thorny Political Intrigue here and Wars and Rumors of Wars In The North there, and it’s on you to be quick and perceptive enough to sponge up the inforbarrage (it helps if you played the original Witcher. A little).

The_World

Much more importantly, the control doesn’t feel dumbed-down, which it something of a piece of wizardry in and of itself. A full mouse-and-keyboard scheme down to an Xbox 360 controller is a rough transition, and The Witcher 2 by-gods makes damned sure you’re going to be using every last one of those controller inputs (that includes ‘clicking’ both analog-sticks and relying on the Back button). From what we’ve experienced, the designers have determined to optimize the game for controller-based gameplay without compromising on the complexities of a game experience designed for the PC. And of course, all the while, there’s more than enough violence, profanity, sexual content, cynicism and overall, general nastiness (human, Witcher, and otherwise) to give The Witcher 2 a respectably large patch of ESRB warning-label real estate, too.

Peasants

There’s just no nice way to put it: Even the most experienced, determined, ambidextrous, and visionary hack-and-slash veteran button-masher is going to die numerous terrible, pitiful deaths here, if he/she tries to fall back on that skill-set. The Witcher 2 obliges you—right from the tutorial—to master a reel of precision, canniness, and timing in combat quite beyond the typical high-fantasy outing, console or PC-based. The combat scheme is a surprisingly complex—and every bit as surprisingly elegant—Witcher’s-brew of constant critical or mandatory dodging, parrying, counter-attacking, bomb-chucking, sword-swinging (and it has to be the right sword of the two you’re packing, or your attacks will achieve approximately squat), trap-laying, magic-casting, potion-chugging and, occasionally, abject ass-hauling when necessary. Many games, particularly high-fantasy ones, claim to require such a variety of combative change-ups—but The Witcher 2 is totally serious; you can easily find yourself laying three or four distinct brands of magic on the same enemy just to wear him down to the point where you can actually start wailing on him.

Challenging_Combat

Is there any point, you ask, in venturing back into the sprawling world of Geralt of Rivia if you’ve already plowed your way through the original PC version released earlier? In a word, yes: Beyond the enhanced visuals (including some new and truly spectacular lengthy cinematics), you’ll find all the DLC content added to the original PC version, Arena combat, and the ‘Dark’ difficulty-mode. If you make your way to the game’s third Act you’ll also explore two entirely new quest-branches, totaling an estimated four additional hours of gameplay (two new locations, three new characters) in the game’s final Act. The aforementioned updated tutorial is also technically a new asset…although, frankly, one that probably should have been part of the original release.

Arena

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition comes to Xbox 360 on April 17, ready or not; and if you’ve somehow managed to largely button-mash your way through your high-fantasy adventures all these years, you are NOT ready.

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  1. I loved the Witcher 2 but my computer could bearly run it, even on Low settings. It was mostly a CPU problem, so the game was very jerky all the time, however I still managed to play all the way through 4 times, so I can’t wait to play a more stable version.

  2. I have been excited about this release ever since the rumors began and the reviews for the PC version were out. This game looks and sounds amazing to play. April cannot come soon enough.

    • Oh don’t worry, it is an amazing game. Just make sure you play through it a few times to see all the ways you can complete it. Also, I do suggest you play the first game, it’s very good, or you may not understand some things.

  3. What? New Quests?! I hope those get added to PC. Or I will be so pissed.

  4. As much as I am a PC fan, I couldn’t run this game. Pleased to know it will be on the console.

  5. If you are gonna downgrade the game for xbox, why not also for the ps3. Its got better hardware and could run the game with better graphics then the xbox. im not a fanboy since i played it on the PC like 9 times. Im just sayin. They complained that it got so much pirated. why not reasese it to another platform for even more sales.

    • transitions from pc to xbox are easier then from pc to ps3

    • The PS3 has less memory and is harder to port from PC to console than Xbox. PLus your statement about the PS3 having better hardware isn’t really accurate. Check this link out, it details the PS3 and Xbox 360 GPU specs and what kind of performance you can get. The Xbox is clearly the stronger system.

      http://www.pvcmuseum.com/games/vs/ps3-vs-xbox-360-gpu-specs.htm

    • Aside from what the other two guys have already said, this isn’t a downgrade, they actually enhanced a lot of the textures, so it will look just as if not exactly the same as Witcher 2 on High specs. Considering my pc can only run somewhere in between medium and high specs for witcher 2, this is an upgrade.

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