The Witcher 3: Pretty Pictures, Part 4

Here’s a gallery of 12 HUD-less screenshots I saved while playing Blood and Wine – the last expansion pack for The Witcher 3. They are all from the new zone called Toussaint.

There should be virtually no spoilers in these screenshots – it’s mostly just Geralt and nature.

I’ve used a Jetpack plug-in for WordPress to show the gallery in a nicely tiled manner. If you’re reading this in an RSS feed, open the blog post in a new tab in order to browse the screenshots in a viewer.

The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine

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Developer: CD Projekt RED | Released: 2016 | Genre: RPG, Third Person

I had a vacation between Christmas and New Year and I managed to complete the main story of the second and last expansion pack. I was invited to a new zone by a couple of noble knights in shining armor. The new zone had a different color palette, more vibrant and saturated, and the buildings looked like something from the southern part of Europe. But to be honest it didn’t really feel all that different. The dungeons, the caves and even the big town felt like it could just as easily have been part of the main game.

At least the people there were much friendlier towards Geralt. No more spitting as I passed by.

Screenshot

The second expansion followed the trend of a harder difficulty that the first expansion introduced. I was particularly miffed at the spewing plant monsters that spawned around a monster area, confusing me with bubbling pods and forcing me to run around all over the place. Sometimes I avoided a spot in the distance because I could see those pesky plants warming up for a fight. Some of the vampire enemies, especially the naked ladies, were also a bit too tough for my liking.

The Witcher 3: Pretty Pictures, Part 3

Here’s a gallery of 14 HUD-less screenshots I saved while playing Hearts of Stone – the first expansion pack for The Witcher 3. Most of them are from the upper right corner of Velen as well as Oxenfurt.

There should be virtually no spoilers in these screenshots – it’s mostly just Geralt and nature.

I’ve used a Jetpack plug-in for WordPress to show the gallery in a nicely tiled manner. If you’re reading this in an RSS feed, open the blog post in a new tab in order to browse the screenshots in a viewer.

The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone

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Developer: CD Projekt RED | Released: 2015 | Genre: RPG, Third Person

It took me almost 17 hours to get through the first expansion pack – main quest, secondary quests, treasure hunts, question marks and all. Again the writing of the story and quests was of a very high quality, and there was a lot of both awe and humor to behold. If anything, some of the tasks fulfilling the three wishes of Olgierd von Everec were quite arduous and that actually held me back a few times.

“Should I play some more today? Urggh, that wedding/heist… I think I’ll watch some Netflix instead.”

I was also slightly disappointed at the generally higher difficulty. The last half of the vanilla game had lulled me into a great feeling of superiority, defeating monsters with ease, but in this expansion pack I constantly had to be on my toes. I reckon most players like that, but I’ve always liked having it a little easier. And it was not just the bosses. A giant toad and a mage with crazy tornado skills were tough, but as bosses that was kind of expected. The new enemies like boars and spiders ran all over the place and it was hard to get close to them without using freezing bombs. Even old vanilla enemies were not easily defeated.

Screenshot
Geralt of Rivia, Gaunter O’Dimm and Olgierd von Everec – the three main characters of the expansion.

There was also a new “temporary” love interest in the expansion in the form of the red-headed medic Shani, which unfortunately I couldn’t remember at all from the previous games. She reminded me a whole lot of a younger version of Catherine Willows in CSI.

The Witcher 3: Pretty Pictures, Part 2

Check out the this gallery with the second half of more than 50 HUD-less screenshots from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. This part contains screenshots from Kaer Morhen, Velen, and various islands in Skellige.

There should be virtually no spoilers in these screenshots – it’s mostly just Geralt and nature.

I’ve used a Jetpack plug-in for WordPress to show the gallery in a nicely tiled manner. If you’re reading this in an RSS feed, open the blog post in a new tab in order to browse the screenshots in a viewer.

Check out part 1 for the first half of the gallery.

The Witcher 3: Pretty Pictures, Part 1

Check out the this gallery with the first half of more than 50 HUD-less screenshots from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Most here are from various mountain tops in Skellige.

There should be virtually no spoilers in these screenshots – it’s mostly just Geralt and nature.

I’ve used a Jetpack plug-in for WordPress to show the gallery in a nicely tiled manner. If you’re reading this in an RSS feed, open the blog post in a new tab in order to browse the screenshots in a viewer.

UPDATE: Since the creation of this blog post I’ve saved a few more HUD-less screenshots. Rather than just add to this one and make it bloated, I’ve decided to split it up into two posts with 26 screenshots in each.

Check out part 2 for the second half of the gallery.

The Witcher 3: Part 2

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Developer: CD Projekt RED | Released: 2015 | Genre: RPG, Third Person

So I finally completed the main story of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, including most of the question marks on all maps and the free DLC with side quests. It took me almost 99 hours and I reached level 35. Save games are available – see the top menu bar.

This is one of the best games I’ve ever played and I would recommend it to anyone interested in an open world RPG, regardless of whether you liked the first two games or not. Fantastic atmosphere, groundbreaking facial animations in cutscenes, a lot of great quest stories all over the places, and I also liked how I could get a lot better at fighting as time went by and I got used to dodging instead of rolling.

I remember wondering about the claims that The Witcher 3 made Fallout 4 look completely lacklustre in comparison, but now that I’ve completed it, I can certainly see it.

Screenshot

Boy am I glad that I played Fallout 4 before this one.

The Witcher 3: Part 1

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Developer: CD Projekt RED | Released: 2015 | Genre: RPG, Third Person

This may very well be the prettiest game I’ve ever played so far. The texture detail is really out of this world. The faces of the 3D models are extremely detailed, with stubble, pimples and birthmarks accompanied by realistic facial animation that fits the lines of dialog well. The clothes really look like clothes, whether it’s dry or wet from rain – it’s almost like I can feel its volume at times.

Graphically, this game sure is a feast for your eyes.

Screenshot

But as is typically me with big and complicated RPG these years, it didn’t actually grab me until the third session or so. It felt too overwhelming to begin with. Tons of screens, skills, inventory tabs, a tutorial that frequently paused the action, and words on the internet about enormous maps with a never-ending amount of question marks to find and reveal. I persevered because I knew it would be like this for me in the beginning and it turned out to be the wise thing to do.

Eventually it finally managed to grab me because of how meticulously it was designed. Although I didn’t agree with all of the gameplay mechanics, it was clear that the developers really tried to do their very best in many areas. If one part of the gameplay made me frown a bit, five other things made me grin like a child being offered an ice cream that needs to be held with two hands.

Especially the side quests have been really impressive so far. So many RPG pile this up with quests about acquiring ten bear asses, but in The Witcher 3 they are almost all interesting and varied, with lots of dialog and often a bit of detective work. Borrowing from games such as Rocksteady’s Batman series, I can turn on my Witcher senses (a fish eye effect then occurs) to spot evidence in red, examine it with comments, then perhaps following a red trail of footprints or a thread of smell meandering through the air. Surprisingly many side quests have this part built into them and it’s a nice digression from smacking monsters.

Comparing the Three Risen Games

While playing through the three Risen games, back to back, I took about 700 screenshots for each of the first two games and more than 1200 for the third. I thought it would be interesting to gather this together and compare similar things across all three of the games, to see how things evolved or changed.

I’ve wrapped the screenshots inside spoiler tags that you have to open up (unless you’re using an RSS reader). I’ve indicated in the spoiler title how severe the spoiler is. Open a section and click a thumbnail to open the media carousel. Game titles are shown in the bottom of it.

You can also just hover the mouse pointer on a thumbnail to see the game title.

Spoiler: Admiral Alvarez (Mild)

Admiral Alvarez

Admiral Alvarez lives in the harbour town of Antigua and was introduced in Risen 2. He didn’t change much in Risen 3. My guess is that the developers merely copied and pasted his model.

Spoiler: Admiring a View (Mild)

Admiring a View

These are mostly panorama screenshots where our hero is looking into the distance, typically from higher ground. You can see how the details, lighting and view distance changed across all three games.

Spoiler: Beach (Mild)

Beach

Just walking along the beach in each game.

Spoiler: Boat (Mild)

Boat

In Risen 2 and 3 you can use a small boat on the beach to either reach your ship or fast travel to a different beach on the same island or peninsula.

Spoiler: Bones (Mild)

Bones

Bones was introduced in Risen 2 as a crazy voodoo doctor in a camp of natives. In Risen 3 he appears after the tutorial and even has his own sloop. He joins the crew as a potential companion in both games.

They changed his model between both games (or maybe he just grew more hair).

Spoiler: Camp of Natives (Mild)

Camp of Natives

In one island or peninsula in both games (it differs) there’s a camp of natives with huts. This too was first introduced along with the pirate theme in Risen 2.

As you can see, the circular staircase arena was reused.

Spoiler: Captain Crow (Severe)

Captain Crow

Captain Crow was introduced in Risen 2 as an antagonist the hero has to face in a boss fight where a Titan Lord is also summoned. The hero kills Crow in this fight. In Risen 3, Crow appears as a ghost captain in control of a fleet of enemy ships. Apparently his model wasn’t changed.

In Risen 3, the ghost Crow appears both in the very beginning of the game (before the tutorial) as well as in a short battle that is repeated almost verbatim much later in the game. But for some odd reason, he has a blue tint in the beginning and a green tint in the actual battle.

You can see these before and after colors in the gallery too.

Spoiler: Captain Slayne (Severe)

Captain Slayne

Another captain introduced in Risen 2. The hero meets him for the first time together with Admiral Alvarez on the island of Antigua. Slayne betrays the hero who later kills him in a duel to the death. In Risen 3, he appears as a ghost in one of many dream sequences.

It doesn’t look like his model was changed in Risen 3.

Spoiler: Captain Steelbeard (Severe)

Captain Steelbeard

The mighty Captain Steelbeard, father of both Patty and of the new nameless hero in Risen 3, is actually only referred to in the first Risen. His first appearance is in Risen 2, where he accompanies Patty and the first nameless hero (with the eye patch) on the island of Tacarigua.

After defeating Captain Crow and obtaining his legendary weapon, Steelbeard is killed by the Titan Lord Mara at the beach. Much later in Risen 2 our hero meets the ghost of Steelbeard in the Underworld. In Risen 3, he only appears as a ghost in various dream sequences.

Apparently his model wasn’t changed in Risen 3, apart from now sporting a blue ghost tint.

Spoiler: Caves and Dungeons (Mild)

Caves and Dungeons

A collection of screenshots in various caves and dungeons, across all three games.

Spoiler: Chani (Mild)

Chani

Chani was introduced in Risen 2. She is a native voodoo priestess and can become your companion if you choose her faction in this game. In Risen 3, she is a quest giver and part of an event in the story line.

Spoiler: Character Screen and Inventory (Mild)

Character Screen and Inventory

In the first Risen, the character screen and inventory was mixed together in one encompassing window, although the inventory itself could also be opened in a small window when e.g. looting.

Risen 2 introduced segregated screens with tabs for attributes, inventory, skills, and more. Risen 3 was based on the same style and set of screens, merely tweaking the graphics and attributes available.

The first Risen was also the only game in the series that used levels. The pirate theme of Risen 2 and 3 replaced this with a stream of undivided glory (XP) which could be spent on increasing attributes.

Spoiler: Close Combat (Mild)

Close Combat

All three games start with almost solely close combat using blades or similar melee weapons. The first Risen had a more traditional fantasy system with blades, shield, and magic based on mana.

Firearms were introduced in Risen 2, either as a pistol in one hand activated with a special hotkey or as shotguns or muskets that has to be aimed with an orange ring that fills up to indicate precision.

This section only shows screenshots from close combat.

Spoiler: Commandant Carlos (Mild)

Commandant Carlos

Commandant Carlos is one of the good guys of the Inquisition and can be found in all three games. In the first game he’s in the generic harbour town, in Risen 2 he’s in the Crystal Fortress in Caldera right at the start, and in Risen 3 he can be found on the small Fog Island.

It looks like the model is the same again across Risen 2 and 3.

Spoiler: Cooking Meat (Mild)

Cooking Meat

Risen uses loot and amount windows and shows the cooking in the actual game engine itself. Risen 2 and 3 both uses a segregated screen.

Spoiler: Creek or River (Mild)

Creek or River

Spoiler: Crouse (Mild)

Crouse

Crouse pops up in both Risen 2 and 3 as a parody of the shipwrecked Robinson Crusoe. They changed his head in Risen 3 (clearly an improvement) but he’s still wearing the same trousers.

Spoiler: Dialog Choices (Mild)

Dialog Choices

Here you can see what it looks like when you get a list of dialog choices across all three Risen games.

Spoiler: Drinking Minigame (Mild)

Drinking Minigame

The drinking minigame was introduced in Risen 2 and used again in Risen 3.

Spoiler: Dusk or Dawn (Mild)

Dusk or Dawn

One screenshot for each game in the series.

Spoiler: Eldric the Druid (Moderate)

Eldric the Druid

Eldric is an interesting NPC that has an important role to play in all three games. In the first and third Risen he’s only a quest giver but he actually joins your crew as a companion in Risen 2.

The model for Eldric has changed considerably across all three games. It actually looks like a completely different person in each of them. Personally I really liked the way he looked in Risen 2.

See page 2 for F to N.