Friday, July 24, 2015

Improving Witcher 3 would be Witchcraft (1): Introduction and Quality of Life

Coming up with constructive feedback for the Witcher 3 is a huge effort. Yes, it is a crazy good game and everything, but pessimists like me will always come up with something to complain. The intimidating part comes from how huge the game is. Spending way more than 100 hours with a game and there will be quite a lot of things swirling through your mind. So grab some food and follow me on a journey of relentless nitpicking.

1. Cheerful opening words

Since this list will consist mainly of criticism and making up ideas for improvements for Witcher 3, the overall tone will gravitate towards the negative side. Which may give the impression that I dislike the game. This is as far away from the truth as possible.
With this in mind, I want to start the list with a positive note and a thing that deeply impressed me during my adventures with Geralt. Every time you stop running and move the camera around for a bit, you are guaranteed to catch a beautiful sight of your surroundings worthy of a postcard picture. Like this:

View on mountainside in Witcher 3.
The mountains on Skellige are a peaceful and tranquil area.

Although a mere picture will do the game no justice as everything is constantly moving and has a very organic feel to it. Especially the trees bending in the wind (the world of the Witcher is pretty windy by the way) and the sun looming over the hills at dusk or dawn create a wonderful atmosphere.Very few games manage to pull off such a feat and instead rely on fixed set pieces and viewpoints to emulate a similar effect. In Witcher 3, it is firmly implanted into the DNA of the game and is found everywhere. For more breathtaking pictures, check out this thread in the official forums.

Geralt from Witcher 3 standing beside his horse.
Geralt and his (mostly) trusted horse. Unfotunately, the effects of rain and wind are hard to see on a still picture.

2. Quality of life improvements

Inventory management and it´s user-friendliness were not the strongest points of Witcher 3. This is painful since you can easily add 100 or more items to your inventory every hour, especially if you can´t resist peeking into every crate and barrel. One function that would help to combat messy inventories would be the ability to mark unwanted items as "trash". They would be moved to a separate tab and no longer clutter the important inventory tabs. Another possible functionality is an option for an auto loot filter. For example, you could specify that only yellow or better quality items are picked up when you use the "take all" command while looting. And now that I talk about "take all", how about a command in the loot window to "directly send to stash"?

Geralt from Witcher 3 is looting bags.
Exploring the world, slaying monsters and looting every bag and barrel are common activities in a Witcher´s life.

Speaking of trash loot, who else thinks that selling it to vendors is more convoluted than it needs to be? Merchants refusing to buy certain item types, merchants running out of gold, merchants that are not willing to trade except during a few hours of an in-game day, the list goes on... It is fine for a few hours but it quickly becomes a big stop sign for stopping to have fun and instead walk back and forth between at least 3 different merchants (if they happen to have enough money to buy your legendary swords).

Geralt behind a market stand, trying to sell vegetables.
Do you want to buy something from me? Please...

Turning every merchant into a 24/7 vendor machine with unlimited money supply would be an obvious solution. But there also seem to be lots of people with a liking of the more complicated system. So let´s try to combine both worlds: there could be one type of merchant who is willing to buy everything but for a reduced price. The other merchants would stay as they are now. It is up to the player whether he wants to pay the price for the added convenience or still go from house to house to sell all the junk and make more profit in return. To counteract the issue that this merchant would be the only one to have a neverending money supply to buy your goods, this particular merchant would only pay you after he sold the goods (no fancy economy involved, just some hidden timers for the sold items). Bonus points if this merchant would display some of the items you sold to him in his shop.

A shady dealer and his display in the big city of Novigrad.
And that is all for today, see you in the next episode where we will talk about the alchemy skill tree.

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>> Continue to the next part

Interesting links: 

Forum with beautiful pictures from the game
Official website of Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Buy the PC version on
Game review on YouTube by AngryJoe

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