After an arduous battle, Geralt finds a fireplace to rest and meditate. This gives us a chance to see the new day/night and weather cycles. While these look fantastic, they also serve practical uses; for example, when there’s an encroaching storm, you won’t want to use your boat as the waves will destroy it and send Geralt to the depths.
After a quick meditation session to clear the mind, we move on to the village and finally find Bjorn. Bjorn thinks Geralt is just another person wanting to listen to the madman’s tale but Geralt manages to gain a little information and find out that the Wild Hunt is heading east.
Just then, a man runs up saying that Bjorn’s brother has been killed. This launches a new side quest and CD Projekt says that this is a way they are trying to blur the lines between side quests and the main quest. Apparently, there is a creature in the forest that has been killing villagers. The elders think it’s a vengeful woodland spirit that is taking its revenge on the village but the youth of the town believe that it’s nothing more than a creature that needs to be killed.
At this point, Geralt can either just move on from the town or interject in some way; seeing as he is a monster hunter, his skills may be of use here. The leader of the youths offers a price for the beasts head but Geralt says that he needs to look around to find out more about what he’d be up against before he does anything. There’s going to be lot more of monster hunting in The Witcher 3; they’re trying to focus on the fact that Geralt is indeed a monster hunter.
As Geralt heads into the woods and uses his Witcher senses to try and track the monster down, he’s besieged by wolves. After defeating them, he finds claw marks on a tree that offer evidence of what’s been attacking the villagers. Geralt finds out that it’s a creature called a “Leshen.” At this point, they bring up the Bestiary, which offers a lot more depth this time. You can see a description of each monster: strengths and weaknesses, how to find them, particular sounds it may give off. In this case, we find out that – in order to track the Leshen – we should track it down by listening for the particular sound that it gives off. However, we also find out that – to destroy the monster and weaken its abilities – we need to kill one of the people that it has bound itself to.
Geralt enters the village and decides to forego talking to the elders and instead talk to Sven, the leader of the young men of the village. The situation is explained to Sven, and he then assures Geralt that the gold will be there when the beast it killed. As he tells Sven about the marked person, he jumps to the conclusion that it must be one of the elders but Geralt assures him that he will find the mark in his own way; that means Witcher senses.
Using the senses you can see that there’s a huge flock of crows above someone’s house in the village. It turns out that the person who is marked is Sven’s girlfriend, Hilde. We then head back to tell Sven the news, which will be his problem to deal with. As the other youths spout things like “kill the witch,” Sven is forced to make a difficult choice. As is usual of him, Geralt doesn’t involve himself in politics and moral quandaries, staying in that morally grey zone.
Now it’s time to hunt down the Leshen. Heading into the forest and using senses to find it, Geralt is besieged by wolves that the beast sends, as well as great roots sprouting up from the ground to harm him. Making his way through the dangers, Geralt comes upon the beast and another fearsome battle ensues. A tall, thin, skeletal beast with great horns, the Leshen is a sight to behold and is incredibly dangerous. Again, this beast is nothing more than an optional monster hunt and, after slaying it, Geralt collects the trophy and heads back to the village.
Although, when he returns, he finds something entirely unexpected. The youth of the village have murdered all of the elders, killing the “accomplices of the monster.” Once again in this demo, Geralt chooses to not concern himself in the affairs of peasants; although, he does collect his payment.
The demo ends with a short epilogue. Turns out the village only lasted three months after the spirit did, and was raided. The Witcher 3 boasts massive amounts of content, as well as huge, weighty choices. CD Projekt claims the game will have over 100 hours of non-linear gameplay and, based on certain choices and events as well as the survival of some characters, the game culminates in three completely different playable epilogues with twelve different world states. This provides a total of 36 different possible endings.
The Witcher 3 was definitely my game of the show, and I really do think that it showed what a truly “next-gen” title can feel like. It builds a beautiful, open world that feels alive and that offers so much to do. Side quests and main quests now don’t need distinction as all of it compiles into Geralt’s grand journey. I can’t wait to finish Geralt’s tale and, if you haven’t experienced it already, now’s a great time to catch up on the first two games while we wait for the third one. Go ahead and check out the E3 trailer below, and wait to hear more on The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4.
*All quotes are from official information about The Witcher 3 provided by CD Projekt Red.