The Witcher 3: Skellige, Part 2077

By Bob Case Posted Wednesday Jun 27, 2018

Filed under: Video Games 80 comments

Skellige is too sprawling to be summarized in any kind of wieldy way, so instead I’ll pick out a couple of high-water marks I particularly liked and find instructive.

The Cave of Dreams

I suspect a good chunk of players don’t know this quest even exists. I know I missed it entirely on my first playthrough, and probably would have missed it again on my second, had I not learned about it on the internet in the meantime.

You can start it either by stumbling across “Blueboy” Lugos (son of Clan Drummond Jarl “Madman” Lugos) outside a cave in an out-of-the-way spot most probably won’t go to, or you’re directed towards the quest after completing a Witcher contract to unhaunt the local haunted lighthouse. The wrinkle is that Blueboy Lugos dies in an entirely different questline, so if you do that one before the lighthouse contract (which I would guess is the case for most people) you’ll never see this one.

In fact… I botched my current playthrough, and finished the bear attack quest long before (long enough that I had no saves to reload) remembering I wasn’t supposed to do that. So I had to pull screenshots off the internet.

In any case, Blueboy Lugos and his two friends Uve “Jabberjaw” and Jorulf the Wolverine (Skelligans have the most advanced nicknames of any culture in the Witcher universe) are preparing to explore the “Cave of Dreams,” which in the local folklore is said to be the place where you face your greatest fears. It’s something like a vision quest – you go in the cave, eat a variety of hallucinogenic herbs and mushrooms, and then trip out. And CDPR is up to the task of pulling this off.

No one screenshot can do the place justice, but this one of the giant ghost whale comes the closest.
No one screenshot can do the place justice, but this one of the giant ghost whale comes the closest.

Once inside, Blueboy and his two friends each face their respective greatest fears. Uve Jabberjaw fears insulting the King again (his did it once while drunk and tore his own tongue out to keep his honor), Jorulf the Wolverine faces his guilt over indirectly causing his father’s death by becoming distracted by Sirens, and Blueboy Lugos faces down a ghostly version of his own father. Finally, Geralt faces a ghostly Eredin and confronts his greatest fear – losing Ciri.

This is quite the long and involved sequence for an easily-missed sidequest that has no effect on anything else in the game. It’s a measure of the sheer size of The Witcher 3 that something like this, which would be a major setpiece in almost every other game, is almost an afterthought here.

However there’s something I find oddly frustrating about this. Here you get a trio of friends who are entertaining to be around, and each gets a nice bit of character development, and then one unceremoniously dies later and the other two are barely heard from again.

Is this game TOO big? CDPR has achieved an extraordinary and hitherto unseen combination of size and polish, but for all that part of me wonders if it couldn’t have been cut down a bit. It’s a strange combination of complaints, the inverse of that old joke: “The food is excellent! And the portions are so large!” But by scaling down some of the make-work tasks (treasures, monster nests), taking it a little bit easy on the map size, and maybe cutting, say, the weakest third of Witcher contracts, I wonder if they couldn’t have realized the potential of this sequence a bit better, integrated it a bit more smoothly into everything else.

This is a criticism that could frankly be directed at other RPGs moreso than it could this one. Somehow we’ve collectively decided that RPGs should be long. Like, “completionist playthroughs bump up against or exceed 100 hours” long. But one of my most satisfying roleplaying experiences recently has been Obsidian’s Tyranny. I enjoyed that game and played it several times, not feeling cheated at all by a game that you could knock out in 25 hours without rushing anything. Many of the classics of the genre (Deux Ex and the original Fallout come to mind) would be considered short games by today’s standards.

Overall, the game is strong enough that even criticisms of it exist in a speculative state half the time. But I do wish RPGs as a genre would relieve themselves of the belief that they have to be Baldur’s-Gate-2-long.

Cerys an Craite

In what amounts to a giant sidequest, Geralt must influence the decision of who is to be Skellige’s next king after the last one died. In the end it comes down to two claimants, Hjalmar and Cerys, the son and daughter of the powerful noble Crach an Craite. Each is trying to make a name for themselves via a great deed – Hjalmar wants to defeat Undvik’s frost giant, and Cerys wants to cure the Jarl of Spikeroog of a mysterious mental affliction.

Amidst all the things the game does well, animation is one you don't always hear talked about. You can get a good sense of Cerys' personality just by the way she stands.
Amidst all the things the game does well, animation is one you don't always hear talked about. You can get a good sense of Cerys' personality just by the way she stands.

Said Jarl, Udalryk, is experiencing terrible nightmares that lead him to both self-harm and a generally miserable existence. He believes the gods are punishing him for a childhood accident that left his brother, Aki, drowned. Cerys initially believes it to be a curse, but she and Geralt eventually determine that it’s the work of a deliciously creepy creature called a Hym, a spirit that attaches itself to guilty souls and feeds off of them.

The Hym can be beaten in a conventional boss fight, or Cerys can engineer a trick that sees Geralt toss an infant into a furnace – this causes the Hym to detach itself from Udalryk onto Geralt, who’s feeling guilty about his new status as a baby murderer. Fortunately, Cerys secretly spirits the (thankfully unmurdered) baby out of the back of the furnace as soon as it’s thrown in, relieving Geralt of his guilt and the Hym’s company along with it.

The whole thing is cleverly and evocatively done, well enough that it makes me wonder how CDPR would do if they ever made a horror game. My personal horror preferences eschew jumpscares and gore in favor of the sticky, heavy feeling that comes of the right balance of regret, shame, helplessness, and the uncanny invading the mundane. Not that CDPR has no jumpscare chops – there were moments in this quest, “A Towerful of Mice,” and others that gave me a good startle – but this is where I was most frightened, even though they never lean all the way into the horror aspect (which would not be entirely appropriate for the genre anyway).

It also helps characterize Cerys in opposition to her brother Hjalmar. Both here and in her later investigation of the massacre at Kaer Trolde, Cerys shows initiative, cunning, and an even keel. By contrast, Hjalmar (though he’s not without his admirable qualities) tends to run headfirst into every obstacle and let others clean up for him afterwards. So when it came time to pick the isles’ next monarch, I chose Cerys again, even though I had initially planned to pick Hjalmar this time for the sake of variety. This often happens to me in RPGs – I plan to make different choices on a second/third playthrough, only to find myself making the same ones again because I can’t bring myself to change them. Oddly, I don’t (usually) find this restricting when it happens. I think it’s a sign of good immersion.

That wraps up Skellige. Next up, the characters convene at Kaer Morhen, starting a sequence of events that sees them finally find Ciri. But first, there’s something I should probably acknowledge.

The Cyberpunk 2077 Trailer

Back when I first started this series, Cyberpunk 2077 was on my mind, and I wanted to use a deep dive into The Witcher 3 to make highly dubious predictions about the quality of CDPR’s upcoming (still no release date, though sometime in 2019 is likely according to the cognoscenti) game. So I’d be remiss not to remark on the first official update we’ve had on that project in years.

As most of you probably already know, CDPR released a new trailer for Cyberpunk 2077 at this year’s E3, and it went like this:

There was also a gameplay demo shown to members of the press behind closed doors. The reactions to the above ran the gamut, but three in particular stood out: the surprising amount of daylight (cyberpunk as a genre tends to favor nighttime, the rainier the better), the fact that the protagonist appears to be yet another stubbly white guy with a strong jawline, and the revelation that the game would be played from the first-person perspective.

As far as the protagonist is concerned, it appears that the guy we saw in the trailer is just one possible protagonist, and there’s a full range of character creation options available, which is good news.

As for the unexpected colorfulness, I personally like it. For one because AAA gaming tends towards the excessively washed-out gray/brown spectrum, and for another because cyberpunk, like it’s ancestor-genre noir, is susceptible to monotony of tone. The developers claim there will be a full day/night cycle, and there were a couple nighttime shots in the trailer that passed muster with me personally.

This isn’t an area I’m worried about. There’s no rule that says dystopias can’t have variety. When you consider that the dystopian elements of the current IRL setting we live in now have tacked as close to Aldous Huxley as William Gibson, I think it would be missing a trick not to include a bit of sunlight and glitz.

As for the first-person perspective, you wouldn’t think this would even be news. A half-dozen or more major first-person games come out every year and no one bats an eye. Why so much ruckus over this?

Consider, I guess, that the only games CDPR has ever made are The Witcher, The Witcher 2, and The Witcher 3. (And the Gwent standalone game, but that’s something like a spinoff.) I can’t think of another major developer so associated with a single franchaise. It’s honestly a bit jarring to see them do anything else. Cars? Machine guns? Neon jackets? Even the music was unexpected. Even though it doesn’t make sense, a part of me was expecting this game to have the same “Hans Zimmer meets Bulgarian Folk Choir” style as The Witcher, not the driving, synth-heavy beat we got.

Instead, we got something completely different. Upon reflection it shouldn’t be surprising, but tell that to my confused brain. It’s like walking into your local Chipotle and seeing that the staff are all wearing scuba gear. There’s no particular reason to think it will affect the quality of your burrito, but a part of you is still going to feel off guard.

I personally remain hyped, though also sympathetic to those who have difficulty with the first-person perspective due to motion sickness. One of the things that’s particularly encouraging to me is the presence of Mike Pondsmith. Pondsmith, if you don’t know him, is the creator of the tabletop setting (originally called “Cyberpunk 2020”), and with me he has the credibility of an old-school pen-and-paper guy.

Seeing him so openly involved in the project makes me feel like CD Projekt still retains enough of their original scrappiness to pull this thing off with some soul. Back in the day, they acquired the videogame rights to the Witcher universe for what in retrospect has been a song. I wonder if ten years from now I’ll be writing the same thing about Cyberpunk 2020/2077. They retain that (admirable, in this case) nerdy faith that the world will be rewarded by sharing in their underappreciated obsessions.

Though there’s no gameplay available to the public, those reporting back from CDPR’s demo have been almost universally glowing in their descriptions. Of course, a demo is not a game. (One particularly unsettling report was that this was the best E3 demo since 2012’s Star Wars 1313.)

Who knows if we’ll see anything else soon, or if it’ll be another long stretch of radio silence. Either way I’ll be paying attention. But the next entry will be back to The Witcher 3 – see you then.


From The Archives:

80 thoughts on “The Witcher 3: Skellige, Part 2077

  1. Nick Powell says:

    With regards to the hym quest:

    “The whole thing is cleverly and evocatively done”

    I agree, I really like the concept, the design of the hym itself, the fact that Cerys shows herself to be a very capable problem solver in the process, and everything else about it. Except for one thing, which is the way they trick the hym.

    Cerys all but tells him she’s going away to find a way to trick him into feeling guilty about something so they can draw the hym out. So when she returns and tells him to throw the baby in the fire there are two possible scenarios:

    1. Geralt knows that it’s a trick and puts the baby in the fire because he knows Cerys wouldn’t actually let any harm come to him (the baby, that is, not Geralt)
    2. Geralt does what she says without thinking, puts the baby in the fire and believes he’s actually killed him

    But if the hym relies on the victim feeling true guilt, how could the first scenario work? Geralt knows it’s not real. And if we’re expected to believe he genuinely thinks he killed the baby, that means Geralt just willingly threw a baby in a fire for the greater good, which is way out of character for him.

    This is the one quest in the game that really stood out to me as not making much sense when I finished it. I kept expecting some final reveal to explain away how the hym fell for the obvious trap, but it never came.

    1. Corsair says:

      Knowing and feeling are two different things. Geralt thinks in his head that Cerys must have a plan, but when he does it he can’t deny the evidence of his own eyes of what just happened. Guilt, what the monster feeds off of, is often an irrational feeling.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        This is probably a really dumb thing to ask, but are Hyms psychic? Can it read minds?

        If not, then the trick works: It sees Geralt throw the baby, thinks ‘aha’, and moves over to him, only to then be tricked.

        But if it is, surely it can tell that Big G’s thinking ‘Shit, I hope that was a trick, otherwise I’ve just killed a baby’ or something similar.

        I don’t think there a proper answer to this, ‘cos arguments over the fictional abilities of made-up monsters sounds like a somewhat pointless discussion.

        1. Henson says:

          If I remember correctly, the Hym feeds off of its victim’s feelings of guilt, which would require it to have some psychic ability to sense such feelings.

          1. Soldierhawk says:

            *Pushes up glasses*

            ACKSHULLAY it would require the Hym to be an *empath,* not a telepath.

            I always figured it was like Troi from TNG. It felt Geralt’s GUILT (regardless of whatever feelings of doubt or hope there may have been) and sensed a meal. It doesn’t literally read every thought in his mind, it only knows what he feels–and it only cares about ONE feeling.

    2. Primogenitor says:

      I think it feels strange in a video game because its a rare occasion when the player does not have the initiative – Geralt (and by extension the player) has to trust that this NCPs (and by extension the writers) scheme will work. The writers have already shown in other quests just how willing they are to have things turn out badly, and particularly in the bigger picture I thought it was quite possible to “fail” Cerys election and have one of the other candidates be elected instead. So for me there was no meta-game indication that it would all be fine.

      I was particularly reminded of the botchling from the Red Barron quest-line earlier. I don’t think baby – or baby-like – death would be too much of a stretch for Geralt, as long as it was for the greater good.

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Its a magic trick.Even when you know that theres no such thing as magic,when you see something that you know is physically impossible,theres still that small lingering doubt of “But what if its actual magic,just this one time?”.So even if geralt 100% believes that cerys wouldnt allow a baby to die,theres still that small lingering doubt that either she made a mistake,or that she was just that good of a liar that she tricked geralt.

      1. Nick Powell says:

        But I don’t think that’s likely to cause enough guilt to make the hym jump off its current victim

    4. BlueHorus says:

      Problem for me:
      Cerys’ ‘trick’ route flat out requires you to murder three guards.
      Shockingly, upon seeing you throw a baby into a furnace, the Jarl’s guards attack you and you’re forced to kill them. No, you can’t knock them over with Aard, stun them with Axii or anything like that – you have to kill them before the game will progress.
      (I suppose it’s possible to punch them unconscious, or use a blackjack etc, but Geralt uses his sword in the cutscene and the bodies are still lying there when you’re done.)

      Which sucks. I ended up feeling pretty guilty about that – the Hym would have gotten me. Good thing Geralt didn’t feel bad for those three poor bastards, I guess.

      1. Bob Case says:

        This part bothered me as well, I wish the guard fight hadn’t been included

      2. GargamelLeNoir says:

        My headcanon is that he only wounded them.

  2. Rack says:

    My biggest concern for Cyberpunk 2077 is Mike Pondsmiths involvement. CD Projekt Red doing a Cyberpunk game? All kinds of yes. But heavily including the designer of a truly terrible RPG system is unsettling, like seeing Lucrezia Borgia behind the counter at the local Chipotle.

    1. Redrock says:

      I think he’s around mostly for worldbuilding advice, not for game systems? That part CDRP will probably do on their own. They seem to have little interest in creating overly complex systems resembling pen-and-paper ones, thank god.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        What,you mean you dont want a translation of vehicle combat from dice to computer?

        1. Redrock says:

          Only if I can get little cars in isometric perspective bobbing up and down awkwardly between “turns”.

    2. Gwydden says:

      I don’t have a lot of experience with tabletop RPGs, and none with Cyberpunk 2020 in particular, so out of curiosity, why is it a terrible system?

      1. Joe Informatico says:

        It’s terrible in the way almost every pen & paper RPG published before the mid-90s was terrible. It was overly complex, had a bunch of systems with completely different mechanics, and it claimed to be about lofty themes and philosophical ideals and dramatic conflict but the supplements ultimately encourage players to seek out the best gear and cybernetic enhancements and grief each other. But CP2020 and the other well-known cyberpunk RPG, Shadowrun, stood out from all the fantasy, space opera, superhero, and other RPGs with their gritty, streetwise tone so we liked it anyway. Back then we were used to playing with (or frequently, around) bad game mechanics.

        In any event, after TTRPGs Pondsmith went on to a career as a video game dev and instructor, so it’s not like he’s unfamiliar with the medium. I definitely don’t think it’s fair to judge him based on his work from 30 years ago which was comparable to anything else in his field at the time.

        1. Niriel says:

          Talking about Shadowrun, there are a couple of turn-based tactical RPGs on sale on steam right now. Great atmosphere, solid story, competent writing and rewarding gameplay. Decently replayable too, with all the different character classes and some branching quests.

          Will we be able to jack into the matrix in Cyberpunk 2077?

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    No talk about the most wanted contract?Its one of the best quests in the game,where you are judged by monsters for your actions.And it actually rewards a peaceful solution more than the violent one.

    1. Will says:

      Isn’t that quest one of the free main-game DLCs? I don’t recall if Bob said anything about using them or not, but that could be why it’s not included.

      1. Lars says:

        No. I completed that quest before “Heart of Stone” came out. Perhaps it’s in one of the 16 free DLC’s? Or, you just missed it. As Bob said: In this Witcher game (and the second one as well) it’s very likely to miss content.

        In this particular quest you are assigned to hunt down a werewolf. When you find him, you realise: the werewolf trapped you. A Godling, a succubus and a troll approach you and held trial over the evil monster slaying witcher.

    2. skeeto says:

      This was one of my favorite quests in the game. I loved the speech about how witchers “know both worlds, protect both.”

  4. Redingold says:

    With regards to Cyberpunk 2077, I believe it’s been confirmed that the game has both character creation, and day/night and weather systems, meaning you don’t have to be a stubbly white guy, and it’s entirely possible for the city to be dark and rainy. I’m very hyped about it, and I have only very minor reservations.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I want to play a fat dude with silver skin and robot arms!

      1. Redingold says:

        Body shape’s one of those things that character creators never seem to include. I imagine that allowing the player to morph the character’s full model like that runs the risk of distorting equipped items and screwing with animations, particularly with how animations are used to interact with the environment. The only games I recall letting you mess with it are the Saint’s Row games.

        1. John says:

          Neverwinter Nights didn’t have a slider, but it did let you choose between two different body models, default and, um, not particularly thin. I’m honestly not sure what word or words to use to describe the second one. Maybe “hefty with a bit of a gut”.

        2. Nessus says:

          There are some MMORPGs that get into it. I don’t know how common it is, as I’ve only played a handful, but some of the ones I’ve tried have been surprisingly good about his.

          Star Trek online has sliders for E V E R Y T H I N G. You can make just about any body type you want, since every part of the body is almost as customizable as the head. Of course, the animations deal with this by not caring at all whether anything lines up. Expect your toon to operate consoles by typing in the air in front of them, no matter what your proportions are. Champions Online is the same, which is not surprising given that they’re made by the same company using the same engine.

          Not that I recommend either of those games, unfortunately, I just think they make a proof-of-concept that this sort of thing is doable, and probably more cheaply than people think.

          Elder Scrolls Online lets you monkey with body proportions a lot. Not as much as the above games, but it’s still decent compared to most others.

          MMORPGs do seem to take an extremely… “relaxed” view of animation syncing in general though. I think it’s just accepted in the MMORPG space that toon animations are more symbolic than literal, and so nobody expects them to realistically sync the way they do in single player games. I suspect this is an extension of the same dissociation implied/enforced by target-and-hotbar based gameplay: MMORPGs are designed and played as symbolic abstractions rather than immersive experiences.

          The modding scene has retroactively added this sort of character creation to Skyrim as well, though it doesn’t get brought up as often because it started out as an extension of nude mods. You don’t have to be into nude mods to want body customization (and these mods have full non-nude mod options when installing), but the kind of people who get bent about nude mods usually aren’t comfortable acknowledging anything even tangentially linked.

          Skyrim dynamically resizes characters during certain animations (like interactions with furniture) to keep the same animations working for everyone. Thats part of the engine, not a mod. There are mods to turn off this dynamic resizing, but that causes all kinds of weirdness like characters sitting above chairs instead of on them, and stuff like that. You just gotta pick whichever feels less jarring to you and deal with it.

          Theoretically it should be possible to have system for dynamically adjusting animations. There kinda already is, in the form of whatever code is used to modify walking/standing animations to fit the ground collision topology, but I’m guessing it’d be a lot of work to extend that to a lot of different kinds of animations.

        3. Echo Tango says:

          You can see in the trailer, that the main voice-over character, and one of the skinnier female characters, both wear the same brand of jacket. So at minimum, those two body types are (probably) going to be accomodated; The theory I’ve seen, is that’s like Shepard and Fem-Shep. Also in the trailer, you see fat, skinny, muscular, etc body types for some men and some women, so they’ll at least be NPCs. I myself am still hoping they’ll be allowed for player-characters too, but you’re right to worry that it might be too expensive to make the clothing models morph to the different bodies properly. On the other hand, this game dev studio seems to be the king of procedurally-generated and -augmented game-content-creation, so I’ve definitely got high hopes for this game. :)

        4. Shen says:

          Try Dragon’s Dogma.
          One of the most fascinating things I learned about myself as a player is just how much I like being inconvenienced and it was because I decided to play a tiny skinny roguish waif for a “street rat” kinda feel. One time I was wading through water with a lantern on my hip and the water got so high it covered it – extinguishing it but not the lantern of my taller companion who was right in there with me. It was a bizarrely satisfying moment that really immersed me in my character (err, no pun intended). Size and shape affect all sorts of small things in the game that crop up every now and then, like vastly differing encumbrance thresholds and ledges just a bit too high for my character or switches I wasn’t heavy enough to push down, that I never minded because it was in reaction to the type of character I wanted to play. Honestly one of my top gaming experiences just for that and something I REALLY wish other, better developers would learn from.

  5. Mattias42 says:

    You know, I know it flies against traditional views on ‘the law of conservation of detail’ and notions of ‘Checkow’s gun,’ but I really enjoyed seeing what’s basically two nobodies you’ll never met again get some character development.

    The quest is optional to begin with, so you’ll not miss THAT much if you don’t do it, and it fleshes out the setting immensely in a way that normally only works in books & TV-series thanks to the time cost.

    It would get dull awfully quick if it happened in every side-quest… but as a tiny treat, now and then? I’d honestly wish to see more games do it, and give at least a few NPCs backstory beyond ‘me give quest! You do!’ as is the standard.

  6. Redrock says:

    The Hym quest was a highlight for me, mainly because it brought back something from the books that largely wasn’t present in the game – a sense of vulnerability and limitations for Geralt. It’s a big problem in most RPGs, including The Witcher: you’ll see other characters describe a monster or villain as some big threat, while you just know that mechanically you can take them on at any time, because you are disgustingly overleveled and/or a master of the dodge roll. Now, in the books Geralt is also a badass, obviously, but that’s mostly in comparison to most humans. When it comes to monsters, the idea is that most normal folks stand zero chance at all, and witchers were heavily trained and genetically altered just so they would have a fighting chance. And that’s just normal monsters and not various underwater civilizations and complicated ancient curses and magicks. Geralt is quite often in over his head and surviving by the skin of his teeth, while his knowledge of curses and the more eldritch creatures is proven to only partly correspond to reality. It’s a very noir thing: despite being a badass, Geralt is rarely in control, often confronting things much bigger than him.

    You rarely get that in games, especially action RPGs. Which is why the Hym quest is so great. That being said, I would have much prefered it if the “fight the Hym” option came with some greater penalty: that would have been much more in the spirit of the novels. Again, that seems like a compromise demanded by gaming culture: you have to be able to fight the monster and win. But the fact that the game always managed to convince me that fighting the Hym head-on would be a very bad idea, despite my experience with those games, is a testament to how impressive the atmosphere in this quest was. Master Mirror’s final challenge was quite similar in this regard, I think, but not many others.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      I would have much prefered it if the “fight the Hym” option came with some greater penalty: that would have been much more in the spirit of the novels.

      Second playthrough in I deliberately went the ‘fight the Hym’ route, and was amazed that Jarl Udalryk survived. It was pretty heavily implied that he would die (or at least be hurt) from the strain of having the Hym removed that way.
      But instead you get exactly the same dialogue/cutscene as if you play along with Cerys’ trick, and he recovers.

      I also found the ‘fight the Hym’ option a bit underwhelming overall. Firstly, you have to balance fighting the Hym with keeping Udalryk from harming himself – in theory.
      But in practice, he just sits in the corner and goes ‘aaargh’ until you cast Axii to shut him up, and then only for the first part of the fight. I only had to do it once ever.

      Meanwhile the Hym just sort of tottered around in a confused way while I wailed on it, occasionally swiping a claw at me. Considering the possibilities I was expecting (the Hym melding into shadows and appearing behind me, taunting me in Ciri’s voice, forcing Udalryk to attack me while it regenerated, cursing Udalryk in Aki’s voice to increase his guilt, etc etc)…it seems like opportunities were missed.

      I get the impression the ‘fight’ option was a bit of an afterthought.

      1. ElementalAlchemist says:

        Consider Mass Effect. If you took a lot of discussion on the internet about ME at face value, you’d think that everyone played as FemShep the way people go on about her. But Bioware’s own metrics indicate that less than 20% of players actually did.

        I think that TW3 is probably in much the same boat, except regarding combat. While people talk up things like alternative non-combat options and narrative elements close to the books, the reality of the situation is probably that the overwhelming majority of TW3’s playerbase skipped as much dialogue as possible and got straight to the combat. So the fight option in the Hym quest is highly unlikely to have been an afterthought. It would have been a requirement to cater to most of their players.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          The thing with those mass effect statistics is that they dont regard the percentage of those playthroughs.I dont know about the rest,but my first was a default male,to get the feel of the game.And in it,I barely reached the citadel.Only after that did I play with femshep,and finished the game three three times in a row(to get all the difficulties and stuff like that).So,would that count as me playing the game once as male and once as female?Or once as male and three times as female?

          Worse,after my initial play,I set the game aside,because it did not appeal to me,and only got back to it much later,after watching spoiler warning.But if I never came back,would the statistics show me as playing just once as male?

          While those statistics have some value,its not much.Its much more valuable to listen to the feedback from the biggest fans,you know people who played through the games a bunch of times,or wrote literal books about them.

          Same with witcher.How many people played once for real,and once for laughs in a “kill everything” style?This is a really common thing to do amongst hard core rpg players.How many people simply played it mindlessly for a bit,then left the game only quarter finished and never came back?Etc.

  7. Darren says:

    The massive amount of quests is, weirdly, probably my biggest complaint about the Witcher 3. They’re all well done, but there are so many side quests that the main quest feels a bit anemic in comparison, particularly when you stop and consider that something as substantial and high-quality as the Bloody Baron disguises the fact that the main quest portion of it boils down to, “Ciri was here, but she’s not anymore, so go look at one of the other main quest locations in your journal,” and that’s about it.

    And after awhile, I just got tired of doing unrelated side content. I still haven’t seen a ton of content in Skellige because after awhile I just wanted to find out what was up with Cirri, and the main quest to side quest ratio is grossly out of whack.

    It doesn’t help that there’s no easy way to get advanced alchemical recipes without doing Witcher contracts, the weakest quests in the game. It makes sense to dole those out as quest rewards, but there are so many and the quests so tedious after awhile that I wished I could just go to any alchemy shop and just buy them. Make their store availability scale with level or something, don’t make me turn to a wiki for the sole purpose of finding the one quest that will give me the top-tier anti-vampire oil or whatever when I’m 40 hours in and already feeling like I’ve reached the limits of meaningful character development.

    1. Gwydden says:

      I had the opposite problem. I found the main quest lackluster, so in my single playthrough I painstakingly went over most of the side content to put off dealing with that awful Ciri plot as long as possible.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        Same here. I’m saving up my criticisms of the main story for next week (which is apparently the Kaer Morhen set-piece), but I think the side-quests are in general a lot more interesting.

        Having finished the main plot, I’m now playing the DLC/side content as a sort of episodic Miscellaneous Adventures of Grumpy Geralt, Travelling Witcher – and I’m enjoying it a lot more than the main story.
        It’s kind of like playing Skyrim, but with better writing.

      2. Trevor says:

        The balance worked really well for me. The main quest IS really tedious, and I wonder if it’s intentionally made to be that way. There is just so many steps in the Ciri quest – most of which amount to some kind of “Our princess is in another castle” that you almost physically can’t marathon the main quest without getting bored.

        So then you pick up a Witcher contract, or explore what the hell is up with that Question Mark over there and do something else for awhile. And after awhile you’re like, I’ve cleansed enough caves of wraiths for now, I should really get back to figuring out what happened to Ciri. And then you go back to main questing.

        Like I said, the balance worked for me and was a nice antidote to a lot of other games where you pound out the main quest until you get to the point before the point of no return and then sidequest a bunch.

  8. Hal says:

    As for the first-person perspective, you wouldn’t think this would even be news. A half-dozen or more major first-person games come out every year and no one bats an eye. Why so much ruckus over this?

    If I had to guess (and who’s going to stop me?) I’d say that it’s the RPG customization issue.

    It happens in games like Skyrim. You spend a tremendous amount of time creating your character, painstakingly moving every slider and sifting through every option to make the perfect avatar, satisfying down to every last detail.

    Then you shove a helmet on his head and you never see that face again.

    And then you spend the game laboring to find amazing equipment: Legendary armor, one-of-a-kind weapons with very cool models to which the artists clearly devoted much time.

    But since you play in first-person perspective, the only time you’ll ever see it is in the equipment menu.

    Given the rarity of a setting like this for a video game, and how much the visual plays into the immersion in such settings and characters, going first person is probably going to be a little jarring.

    1. Christopher says:

      I think there are a lot of reasons for plain not liking a first-person perspective. I’m one of those people who’d never play with that camera angle willingly – It always feels like I’m playing a ghost hovering 5 feet above the ground, with blinders on the side of where my face should be. It’s murder on melee combat, it’s difficult to get a feel for your surroundings and you can no longer see your own character. It’s the opposite of immersive for me, it makes me very conscious about the whole thing, and it doesn’t feel as good as the alternative.

      I think the devs here have decent reasons for using it – they’re able to create a lot of detail you can stick your nose in, it’s the preffered angle for a lot of players of shooter games and you can have more claustrophobic rooms without the camera clipping through the walls. But I’d never blame anyone that turns around and leaves because the first person perspective is just a bad experience to them, like it is to me.

      1. Agammamon says:

        In a Bethesda game – for all their other faults – you’d be able to adjust the FOV to get rid of the blinder effect of having the game designed for consoles and so expecting people to be playing on the tv across the room. And needing to keep the FOV small to meet framerate targets on that hardware.

        CDProjekt, unfortunately, seems to take ‘designed for consoles’ to an extreme and lock that sort of customizability away from easy access.

        Still, expect a third person camera unlock and the ability to change FOV pretty soon after release

      2. Nessus says:

        You’re not alone. I tend to prefer 3rd person for the same reasons. I’m more connected to my character in 3rd person, as it gives be both a better proprioceptive body map for what I’m doing/experiencing in game, and the field of view and situational awareness is actually much closer to what It’d be IRL (minus camera elevation). As a result, the action is more immersive, and I inhabit the character’s experiences more seamlessly.

        On paper you’d think 1st person would be more immersive, but it’s actually got an uncanney valley-like effect. Everything feels subliminally “off” compared to how my brain knows it should from that POV. The camera doesn’t match the FOV or focal distance of actual human eyes, the character is always the wrong height compared to doors and furniture, and other jarring stuff like that. 3rd person doesn’t have those conflicts, because it’s not trying to convince me I’m looking at the game world through my own eyes.

        The fact that I can see my character’s cool outfit and/or face is tempting to call a bonus.. except it really isn’t, for all the same reasons Hal describes above. I like having that stuff present, I like knowing who I am in the game, and if I’m wearing something I like, I wanna see my character in action with it. It’s not like the NPCs are ever programmed to give a fuck what I look like/what I’m wearing, so why put that stuff in there if not for the player?

        1. Jennifer Snow says:

          Third-person viewpoint actually maps a lot more closely to how we perceive in real life than first-person does–at least on a flat screen. Plus, the way you interact with the environment in a first-person viewpoint is STUPID, (either a disembodied hand comes out of nowhere and paws at it, or you just use magic mind rays and the thing moves on its own) and in an RPG you’d EXPECT there to be lots of talking to people, interacting with stuff, etc.

          I haven’t been able to tolerate a first-person game since the first time I played a proper non-isometric third-person one. For most people, it’d be a minor quibble because they’re excited for the game. For me, aesthetic issues like this are a deal-breaker and I won’t be playing it.

          I played Daggerfall. I will never again play an RPG where I can’t see my character.

    2. Lars says:

      Just Stop. … Kidding.

      I’d like to add:
      – Games with ego perspective like to abandon it as they like: In dialogs, when climbing ladders, opening chests, driving sequences, super area attacks and so on. (Hi Adam Jenson) It just doesn’t feel right. If you can 3rd person: Do so and leave the ego-perspective optional (Hi GTA V).
      – Melee combat doesn’t work well in ego perspective. You just don’t have the feel for movement and the vision of your surroundings. Dark Messiah and Dishonored did good but only “good”.

    3. Droid says:

      If I had to guess (and who’s going to stop me?)

      Stop right there, criminal scum!

    4. Taellosse says:

      That’s a big part of why I’m so disappointed to learn it’ll be in first person. A big reason why I never got into Elder Scrolls until recently – despite trying both Morrowind and Skyrim more than once and bouncing off – is distaste for playing in first person. I’m not really a fan of it in any genre (I like Portal despite, not because of, this interface), but in an RPG it’s especially unfortunate.

      And Cyberpunk? Not only should we be expecting to change clothes, hair, makeup, and tattoos, but actual body parts! Why would I want to play a game where I can get bionic legs, or a robo-eye, but never see them in action?

      It’s only been through the addition of a number of mods (to which I’ve since become kind of addicted) that I was able to mostly play Skyrim in 3rd person, and have, just in the last few months, logged several dozen hours of my first playthrough, despite having owned the game since 2012.

      Though I own all 3 Witcher games, like Shamus I only really got into the 3rd one. The first proved too boring in gameplay, though I did play through maybe half the second act. The second just felt awful to play – I barely got past the tutorial. But the 3rd is tons of fun to play, has lots of really excellent content, and its only major drawback is Geralt himself, who doesn’t grab me at all as a player character. So I was really looking forward to playing a game from the studio that refined its technique to that degree, but with a customizable protagonist. This news about a first person interface is deeply disappointing.

      1. Nessus says:

        Hey, psssstt: you can actually play The Elder Scrolls games (and Fallout games) in third person. It gets awkward in claustrophobic tunnels, but the overworld, and indeed in most indoor spaces, it’s just as good as first person, if not better. And you don’t need to fuss with settings to switch: it’s literally just something you can do on the fly using the in-game camera controls.

        It’s always mystified me why everyone referrers to those games as FPSs. The games are completely open ended: it’s the players that are FPSing it, not the game. Whenever I ask about this, I usually get some snarky handwave about how “nobody plays them that way unless they’re using porn mods” instead of a real answer. I always play them in 3rd person as much as possible, for much the same reasons as Christopher above, and I don’t see how they’re any less playable that way than any exclusively 3rd person game, so I’ve kinda come to the conclusion that this is a case of FPS people projecting. They prefer FPS gameplay, therefore if a game gives them the choice, it’s a 1st person game inherently. 1st person is the default and ground state: 3rd person games are only 3rd person games to the extend that they exclude 1st person.

        Is it a controller thing? I’ve always been a KB&M player (for the lifetime of those games, at least), and that works equally both ways, but I suppose it’s possible the console controls for those games are in some way biased in a way the KB&M isn’t. That would seem weird, as 3rd person is usually perceived as something controllers natively handle better than 1st person. I honestly have no idea.

        1. Christopher says:

          While I also played Skyrim in 3rd person as much as I could, it’s definitely not ideal. I have a hard time describing precisely how the third person movement/camera/aiming differs – but there’s a pretty marked difference between how you move around say, Breath of the Wild, compared to Skyrim. I guess I’d describe it as first person shooter controls mapped onto a third person interface? Your character always has to be looking at what you’re dealing with. It’s kind of the difference between Luigi’s Mansion, where you’re controling Luigi’s aiming with the vacuum cleaner, as opposed to a 3d Mario game, where you’re controlling the camera. If you’re steering your character in Skyrim, you’re always looking in the direction the camera is pointing, like it’s a reticle. In a third person game made for third person, unless it’s a behind the back tank control-y shooter like Resident Evil 4, your character can run around and attack independently of how the camera is positioned. That’s why Skyrim movement looks so wonky compared to Horizon or Bloodborne or whatever else has a third person camera: the player character has to always look at what it’s attacking, so it just seems like the legs are operating on their own while the torso contorts to look towards the enemy, like it’s some kinda mobile tank platform/mech.

          I still prefer it in Skyrim to the first person perspective for the reasons we talked about above, but it is not a control scheme that fits the perspective. This might entirely be a controller thing.

          1. Jennifer Snow says:

            Nearly all of the third-person games I’ve played have a camera locked to the PC’s viewpoint, pretty much the way Skyrim or Fallout 3 or Fallout 4 does.

            The only ones I’ve played that DIDN’T do this were console ports that were awkward as hell to play (Prince of Persia series).

          2. Nessus says:

            Like Jennifer Snow says, what you’re describing is actual pretty standard for 3rd person games. The field seems to be pretty split between over the shoulder type schemes (which is what the FalloutScrolls games play as in 3rd person, aside from the character being centered), and 3D controls (the PS1-era successor to tank controls). The former tends to be associated with shooters, the latter more with brawlers. Adventure/puzzle and platformers can go either way.

            Shooting in 3rd person in the FalloutScrolls games is less precise than in 1st person, but that’s due to some bad coding that offsets the reticle from the actual aim point, rather than the actual perspective. Fortunately Fallout has VATS, and with Elder Scrolls it only matters to archery-heavy builds.

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          It’s always mystified me why everyone referrers to those games as FPSs.

          Because thats the default perspective,and most people played them like that because the games never tell you that you can switch,unless you wade through the options.

          1. Nessus says:

            That must be a controller thing then, because with M&KB, you discover it instantly the first time your finger grazes the scroll wheel. Also M&KB players are actually pretty likely to look at the control settings anyway, because 1) there’s always something that isn’t explained in-game, and 2) there’s always some random thing the devs bound to a stupid/weird non-standard key that needs to be fixed.

            A surprising number of devs apparently have never played a game using M&KB in their lives, and are kinda clueless as to what the default bindings should be and why, or what functions should or should not be combined.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              I did not discover the third person thing in new vegas for a looooong while.And I did not know about the flashlight until I saw it in spoiler warning.And I play exclusively with keyboard and mouse.And while I did go through the key bindings,I never even noticed those because the things I look for are crouch,walk,use and grenade,because those are the things often bound to stupid things.

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The first person thing:I dont remember them ever stating that thats the only option.What if its like fallout,where you can switch between the two if you wish?It would make sense if they showed just one option as a demo,because tons of options dont get included in a demo.But you cant take anything from the demo as the final state,precisely because of the locked features.

    1. Taellosse says:

      I really hope you’re right – as I go on at length just above, I don’t much care for first person games, and I was really looking forward to this one.

      But I hope, if you are correct, that they implement 3rd-person mode a lot better than Bethesda did in Skyrim. It’s not really playable that way in the vanilla game. I’m not sure if Fallout 3 or 4 improve on it, since I haven’t tried either one. Vanilla Skyrim was a lot better about it than Morrowind, though. In that one, it was basically only there to allow people to take screenshots of their character.

      ETA: It looks like that’s not presently part of the plan:
      This makes me sad.

      1. Baron Tanks says:

        I saw someone offer the other day that a lot of the urban environments might be more cramped with scenery and it could be that they could not get the behind the avatar camera to work properly without it being regularly obstructed or otherwise a pain. I have no idea if that’s why and it doesn’t take any of the first person perspective complaints away, but I did find that the argument made intuitive sense. That said, I rather also play in 3rd person all other things being equal.

      2. Agammamon says:

        I’m not sure why you think ES/FO are not playable in 3rd person.

        I play ES games almost exclusively in 3rd person – only switching to first when shooting.

        FO’s are generally 1st Person – simply because I default to guns and 1st P is easier with guns.

        Are you primarily a ranged weapon/magic user in Skyrim?

      3. Water Rabbit says:

        I also am not sure why you think ES/FO are not playable in 3rd person – or more importantly why one would play exclusively in one or the other. In Skyrim I almost always play with ranged and switch between the two modes as needed. Of course I play with a mouse so switching and adjusting the camera distance on the fly is intuitive.

        I really dislike 3rd person mode that does not allow the ability to zoom in and out on the fly. For FO:NV, it required a camera mod to scroll out to a decent distance and to center the camera, but otherwise it was fine.

  10. BlueHorus says:

    No mention of the way you get given* the Dream Cave quest? That’s the thing that struck me most about that quest: the way Lugos’ father makes a grotesque mockery of Skellige’s laws and traditions in order to force you to accompany his son.
    First he has you arrested after you kill two young men in self-defense/a pub brawl – which doesn’t seem that rare an occurrence in Skellige. Then he declares you guilty in a laughable excuse for a trial and sets your punishment as a ludicrous fine – which he then pays himself.
    After that he informs you that he never gave a shit about the murdered men (in front of their grieving father!) – he just wanted you in his debt. And to pay him off you have to protect his son while he goes to the Cave of Dreams.

    The actual ‘drug trip’ part was all a bit cliched and predictable to me…pretty visuals, but ironically, I think Fallout 3 did a better job of this trope in one of its DLCs.

    …yes, I did just say a Bethesda Fallout did something better than the Witcher 3. Hey, I’m as surprised as you are.

    1. Nessus says:

      Wow, really? Wouldn’t it be way simpler AND cheaper to just, know, hire Geralt to do it? I mean, it is his actual profession and all.

      I suppose if it’s small enough town, and this guy’s the mayor or something, then he could scam it by paying the fine to himself and thus not paying anything (I’m guessing that’s what the situation in the game is), but that’s functionally identical to either forgiving the fine or not paying it off at all. Only reason for the debt farce would be to keep the escort job out of the public eye, I guess? But if you’re powerful and corrupt enough to do that kind of farce, you might as well cut out the rigmarole and just straight have your goons shanghai him.

      I mean, It’s not like Geralt’s going to feel honor bound to a blatantly manufactured “debt” like that, and if it’s meant to be an off the books job, there’s no need for the public show of manufactured criminal proceedings. The whole thing boils down to “do what I want, or I sic my goons on you”, which means you have to send your witcher escort out with a redundant goon escort to make sure he doesn’t just fuck off at he first fork in the road.

      Just hire the man, and pay him whatever you’d otherwise be paying the goons.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        Wouldn’t it be way simpler AND cheaper to just, know, hire Geralt to do it? I mean, it is his actual profession and all…It’s not like Geralt’s going to feel honor bound to a blatantly manufactured “debt” like that

        Ah, but you’re not thinking like a Skelliger.
        Firstly, Family is the most important thing in Isles. It’s up there with Honor, and just slightly behind Family Honor (the holiest of the holy things). And all three of them are far more important than piddling nonsense like ‘human life’ or ‘resolving conflicts’.
        (There’s a hint here as to how Skellige manages to sustain and venerate a perpetual cycle of violence and piracy somewhere here ;)

        In killing those two kids, Geralt has ‘ended the line’ of their father. A massive deal, which needs to be addressed with a hefty punishment – never mind that they started the fight and murdered someone else before that. So the enormous fine is, in a sense, necessary*.
        To a Skelliger (which daddy ‘Madman’ Lugos most definitely is) the debt Geralt now owes is one of Honor, one that no true Son of Skellige could walk away from – they would forfeit said Honor and have to chose between exile or death if they did.

        Sure, one could just PAY Geralt to go, but Lugos saw a chance to – in his mind – force him to. And after all, the Cave of Dreams is dangerous, and Blueboy Lugos is his sole heir and Family – so no expenses spared.
        (Also, you aren’t actually forced to go by the game. You’re free to just ignore the Cave quest. Though I’m not sure what/if anything happens if you do, though.)

        *I got something wrong: Jarl Lugos doesn’t actually admit in front of the father that he doesn’t care about his dead sons. That was an – educated, IMO reasonable – assumption on my part after he reveals the debt he thinks Geralt owes him.

        1. Nessus says:

          That makes a bit more sense. The way you phrased it initially made it read like the killings were something that would ordinarily be beneath notice, making the charges seem transparently manufactured or trumped up.

          If the killings were something that would bring the law down that hard on Geralt regardless*, that makes this more a case of opportunism than manipulation, and doesn’t actually paint Lugos in a bad light by itself IMO. He’s just buying Geralt’s debt and changing it from money to work release.

          While he might be bastard with no regard for life, I think that’d be a wash in terms of sending Geralt on a mission like this. This sort of thing is Geralt’s day job anyway, so even if the debt was purely monetary, Geralt would still be doing equally crazy and dangerous jobs to get that money.

          One could still argue over whether or not forcing Geralt vs hiring him is more justifiable, but that would require more info. Would hiring him actually be cheaper or more expensive than the debt amount? Do witchers (or Geralt in particular) have good reputations or bad when it comes to honoring their work contracts?

          *I mean you could argue that the killings being in self defense should invalidate the crime against family thing, since it ultimately makes the boys responsible for their own deaths rather than Geralt, but the way you frame the situation, that’d be an argument against the justness of the laws rather than Lugos in this case, even if Lugos was the presiding official. It’d certainly be a conflict of interest and a moral hazard for Lugos if he were, but I suppose I’d need to know if the local laws/culture normally consider self defense a legit defense in cases like these to know if he actually acted corruptly.

          1. BlueHorus says:

            Well as I understand it, Skellige’s law/tradition features a lot of Might is Right: it’s the father’s job to avenge his line, and the fact he physically can’t – ‘cos he’s a fisherman or whatever insted of a warrior – makes him weak.

            If someone had killed Lugos’ son, it would have been ground for yet more inter-clan/family warfare. Lugos would have to get revenge, or lose honor otherwise.

            But some old man? He doesn’t matter – partly because he’s a commoner and partly because he’s weak. He’s got the right to appeal to the Jarl to help – but it’s entirely up to said Jarl how much he cares about someone else’s problems.

  11. Vermander says:

    I like that choosing Cerys as the new Queen of Skellige doesn’t mean Hjalmar automatically becomes your enemy. Cerys would definitely make a better leader, but Hjalmar agreeing to support his sister means she has a popular warrior as a field leader for her troops.

    I kept worrying that the game would give us some contrived reason that Cerys would have to kill her brother and/or father to secure the crown.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      I think it also deserves repeating that most of this is a sidequest. While following it does lead Geralt to pick between Hjalmar and Cerys the game takes the third path (whatshisname son of the previous king is crowned) if the player ignores the questline, although I do believe it does imply that is an inferior option.

  12. Redingold says:

    I have to say, one area of Cyberpunk that does worry me is the notion of Humanity and Cyberpsychosis. In Cyberpunk 2020, you had a stat called Humanity, and installing augs lowered this score, and if it fell low enough you got something called Cyberpsychosis where your character just became an uncontrollable killing machine. I’m sure this just started as a balancing mechanic for all the fancy cybertech, and the designers didn’t really think about the implications (which is, y’know, the problem), but this becomes really uncomfortable when placed in the context of actual disabled people receiving prostheses or trans people undergoing medical transition (sex change is listed in one of the books and it costs Humanity too). Later editions of the Cyberpunk system did away with this but I’m worried that it’s still gonna make its presence known in 2077.

    Aside from the unfortunate implications, the idea of Cyberpsychosis or a Humanity score is just plain lazy writing and worldbuilding. Transhumanist technologies do raise interesting philosophical questions about the nature of identity and humanity (the Ship of Theseus problem becomes a lot more in-your-face when you can replace entire bits of your body with ease, and the ability to digitise a brain raises some serious questions about the nature of consciousness and human experience), but going “oooh, robot arms make you go mad” is just facile.

    1. Agammamon says:

      I’d be willing to bet that its gone. It was a TT balancing mechanic – probably cribbed off Shadowrun which had that in early editions too and it didn’t make it into the current vidya versions except to act as a counter for magic use. Humanity prevents you from specializing in both magic and tech abilities and that’s the extent of its effect.

      It might make sense to keep it for genuine augments (rather than just prosthetics).

      Prosthetics replace a lost capability (or bring a baseline human capability to someone who never had it). Augments raise you above baseline humanity and so having them affect how you perceive yourself in relation to the rest of mankind is justified.

      Ie, replacing a lost/bad eye with something that returns approximately human capability shouldn’t affect humanity, replacing one that gives you 4 color sensors, IR, night vision, visual acuity on par with an eagle, and a HUD will.

      OTOH, having a peg-leg – or electric wheelchair (which is closer to an augment than a prosthetic) can certainly affect your self-image in relation to other people.

      1. Redingold says:

        I can see an argument for advanced capabilities breeding an elevated sense of one’s own importance, but that really needs to be a roleplaying decision and not a mechanical fact. I don’t see that there’s anything innate to the idea of replacing your arms with robot arms that would make you go crazy and start slaughtering non-augmented people.

        Like I said, the mechanic is gone in later editions of the game, but those editions weren’t well received and since it seems nostalgia for the Cyberpunk 2020 system is something of a motivating factor in this game’s design, I’m concerned it’ll be there when all it does is drag the experience down.

        Even smart games can fall for this type of thinking. Deus Ex: Human Revolution had a terrific opportunity to explore the socioeconomic ramifications of this sort of technology (e.g. What happens when the gap between rich and poor widens by making it possible to just buy ability? What happens when companies require their employees to be augmented, especially when that’s coupled with high maintenance and medication costs that an unemployed person is probably unable to afford? Is the tremendous potential of this technology worth the risk of it being exploited by profit-driven companies with no regard for people’s well-being?) but it still spent a lot of time on the Luddite issue of “is changing the human body immoral somehow?”, which is an issue that nobody I know was even remotely concerned about or convinced by when playing the game.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          I’d be wiling to accept it as part of the setting, same way magic is often presented as inherently corrupting (Warhammer, Monastyr), but I get that this may be a case of able privilege and there are some unfortunate implications re: disabilities. Out of sheer curiosity, do you have the same issue with, for example, Shadowrun, where augmentations damage the character’s “essence” making them less connected with magic and spiritual entities but also less, well, (meta)human. Also, the fact that they got rid of it later on shows that they were probably not happy with cyberpsychosis as part of the lore.

          RE Deus Ex: I’m just going to say that I think while Human Revolution at least skimmed these issues (in sidequests mostly) Mankind Divided really dropped the ball on disussing transhumanism.

          1. Redingold says:

            I think Shadowrun’s is a little better, because at least there swapping out your limbs only costs you magical ability and not your actual sanity, but it’s still a bit sketchy to call it “essence” and act like amputees are somehow lesser than other people on a spiritual level. Plus, in Shadowrun, the devs eventually made it so that transition for trans people improved their essence slightly, rather than degrading it, so that’s something.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              But dont essence costs happen only when you use advanced cybernetics?You dont lose it for getting a regular wooden peg leg.The explanation they(and human revolution)gave was about having advanced chips that need to interact with your brain for every piece of cybernetics.In that context,it does make sense that increasing the number of machine parts you have leads to insanity or loss of humanity(depending on the setting).Its definitely not something that happens with actual cybernetic limbs in the real world,but these settings were never real world,so having tech that works differently makes sense.

              Though why youd want cybernetics in order to change your gender,I have no idea.That one is just silly.Getting that one removed from the rules is a good thing.

              I dont like these rules for a different reason.It moves the choice of getting cybered up from “how can I achieve this in universe” to “how can I achieve this using out of universe knowledge of the rules”.I prefer limitations to be something that impacts your character rather than your character sheet.Money you have,the attitude of other characters towards you,etc.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      I remember that VTM:B had a great ‘humanity’ system: losing your humanity (points) meant you had a random chance to lose control and go berserk if you got hurt – and it increased the lower your health, blood reserves and Humanity were.
      While the implementation needed some work…
      (sometimes ‘going berserk’ meant the AI would derp out and your character would just stand around looking dumb while people shot them or similar*)
      …in some ways it was awesome. It made your character’s vampirism feel like a curse, like your roleplay choices had real consequences and there was a serious danger to you in abusing your power.

      Would it work for Cyberpunk? Maybe if it were more subtle. One great feature of VTM:B’s system was that if your Humanity wasn’t high enough, some of the ‘kinder’ dialogue options were just unavailable: your character couldn’t even be bothered to fake interest or compassion for. Something like that’d work well in 2077.

      *One memorable incident was when my vampire immediately leapt through a nearby wall and fell out of the level after I lost control. In her defense, she was Malkavian…

      1. Joe Informatico says:

        It’d be great if CP2077 could make something like that work. My tabletop experience with Humanity/The Beast in Vampire and Humanity/Cyberpsychosis in CP2020 was that either only worked if your Gamemaster was really conscientious about enforcing it and making it feel like a curse/addiction and not just being a killjoy to your desire to rip shit up. Otherwise, it was mainly an excuse for the occasional game session’s plot (this NPC has gone full cyberpsycho/into Wassail and you need to put them down). But if it can be hard-coded into video game mechanics, maybe it will be interesting.

  13. Joe says:

    This is most appropriate in Skellige. I’ve wondered for a while if Geralt’s downhill antics were inspired by Legolas in the Two Towers. If you angle him right, it looks that way. Have the devs ever said anything about it?

    And I’m not bothered by the first-person perspective in Cyberpunk. Fallout New Vegas proved you could do a good RPG that way, and 4 convinced me that third-person gunfights were bloody terrible. My body kept getting in the way of my aim. Eventually I ended up staying in first-person the whole time.

  14. RoboticWater says:

    You know, for all the visual polish that the Cave of Dreams has to offer, I’m disappointed that it wound up being one of those “stab your fears away” quests, which I feel like is too common a trope in videogames. Granted, if you’re going to be stabbing your fears away, it would be in Skellige, though I can’t help but think CDPR could have critiqued this mechanical trope by calling attention to it, and then used the meta-critique to explore the rather violent incarnations of masculinity in the characters. Given that the frame for this quest could have been the bar brawl that ends with two ruffians and a decent man dead, it seems like a missed opportunity to drive that point home.

    As for the length of games; I’ve played very few games in excess of 10 hours that I didn’t think could have been cut down to a more concise package. It’s hardly even about the consolidation of resources, too, though it certainly doesn’t hurt. I just want games to be more concise. Good mechanics are tough to belabor, but if you’re trying to tell a story, the more content you have between beginning and end, the more likely you are to throw the pacing off and dilute the message. I always feel like I get more out of decently-sized book because it’s always on point.

    I feel like games are developed with a “if it can be kept, it should,” whereas the best books usually adhere to the “if I had any more time, I would have made it shorter” mantra. Hell, some movies are made in the edit. I understand that simply making anything happen in a game is so tough that it’s painful to cut out even the weakest of content, but design by subtraction is a kind of philosophy that games need to embrace more.

  15. Pedant says:

    Pondsmith, if you don’t know him, is the creator of the tabletop setting (originally called “Cyberpunk 2020”)

    Cyberpunk 2020 is the second edition of the game. The original release was just called Cyberpunk. Some refer to it as Cyberpunk 2013 for clarity.

  16. BlueBlazeSpear says:

    I’ve made the cave quest such a regular part of my playthrough routine that it never occurred to me how it could be a miss-able event. I like pretty much everything that happens on the Skellige islands. A quest that always sticks in my mind for some reason is the one that’s essentially an obstacle course that involves working your way up a cliffside while fighting harpies, fighting some bandits to get to a cave, then getting through the cave in a way that involves a swimming part that presses Geralt’s breath-holding to the limits. I always enjoy little things like that.

    Being someone who’s watching for everything Cyberpunk 2077 with hope and interest, I’ve spent a disturbing amount of time watching people describe what they saw in the E3 gameplay demos. And it seems like the demos have been universally praised, despite the revelation that it’s all in the first-person perspective.

    Something that multiple people have said in reaction to the “no third-person view” concerns is that what they saw from the gameplay, they don’t even see how a third-person view would even work. Aside from a lot of the fighting happening in tight, enclosed spaces, there seems to be something about the way that some of the powers work that wouldn’t translate well to a third-person view. It’s nice to be able to stand back and look at your character, but the first-person perspective certainly isn’t a deal-breaker for me. I suspect that if we ever get to see some gameplay footage ourselves, some of these fears might be better put to rest.

  17. Zak McKracken says:

    Thanks for bringing up motion sickness — this is the only concern I have about the game so far. I might not be physically able to play it…

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      I dont know if it helps,but the only times when I got motion sick in fps games is when the field of view was too narrow.So,try increasing it to the maximum.Or,if there are hacks,try increasing the view further than that.

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