The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt redefines role-playing by separating character growth from killing

The Witcher 3

CD Projekt Red, the intrepid Polish studio behind the ambitious The Witcher series of role-playing, is arguably the most-talked about developer of 2013 so far. While publishers like EA and Konami have released some of the year’s first big titles like Crysis 3 and Metal Gear Rising, it’s CD Projekt Red that’s gotten in front of the industry to discuss games for high-end PCs, the PlayStation 4, and likely the new Xbox in detail. It teased with an animated trailer for Cyberpunk 2077 in January and followed up with the announcement of The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt in February, its first confirmed PlayStation 4 game.

The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt has the potential to be more than just a technology showcase or yet another fantasy video game adventure. CD Projekt is apparently throwing out some of the most basic conventions of role-playing games in its new project.

The most significant of these is the fact that the character you control, the titular witcher Geralt, will only gain experience by completing quests in the game. Killing people, animals, and monsters, the staple of character building in role-playing games all the way back to Dungeons & Dragons, will not build up your character in the game. Hunting animals can earn you materials like furs to make clothing, but that’s it.

The Witcher games are profoundly violent and even the brief trailer for Cyberpunk 2077 involved someone getting shot. The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt will no doubt be a violent game as well. That’s par for the course for a game about a monster hunter that carries around not one but two giant swords. It’s impressive to see a developer whose profile and popularity are in ascendance make such a bold change to its core design. By separating killing and character growth, CD Projekt Red stands to do more for game design than just making a bigger open world with more stuff to do.

The other changes coming to The Witcher 3 revealed by CD Projekt Red are a bit more mundane. When Geralt does get into a fight now, he can target specific areas of enemies not unlike in Fallout 3 or Vagrant Story. Hitting an enemy’s right arm, for example, can disarm them. The larger world also comes with new traversal elements like jumping, climbing, and horse riding.

Source: NeoGAF via Eurogamer

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