The Witcher 3 - Wild Hunt - 15

It’s only day one, and I’ve already found one of the biggest standouts for my week at E3. I was fortunate enough to sit in on a private presentation of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt from CD Projekt RED.

Fan of the old games? Good. Things have changed. Over the span of nearly an hour’s worth of live and uncut pre-alpha gameplay, I immediately learned that The Withcer 3 is almost wildly different from The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings and The Witcher. This is an open world title. Completely open world, and that greatly affects the game’s immersive capabilities.

Within an hour of play, we saw Geralt start a main quest, hop on a small boat and sail his way through the sea to a nearby port of call. From there, Geralt had a random encounter with a massive monster, saved a village from a “lesher” (which was awesome) and watched an NPC make a tough moral choice.

It was all seamless and engrossing. Aside from minor technical blips and a crash, which the developers assured us was due to this being a pre-alpha build, the world of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is stunning.

At one point, Geralt sat by a campfire in order to pass time. Rather than popping into a loading screen, the camera spun around a meditating witcher while the world advanced through cycles of day and night and weather. The environment went from partly cloudy to raining and severely windy. That wind rushing through the forest and grass looked amazing.

We were also told that the weather will affect the way players play. A storm isn’t just a pretty set of effects; instead, sailing during a storm, for instance, is a big mistake. Your ship will be demolished beneath the waves.

The monster hunting and quasi-detective work that made the previous Witcher titles so fun are, of course, present. The seamlessness of the world, though, pushes them to even greater heights. I got wonderful vibes of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Red Dead Redemption while watching the CD Projekt RED developer play through this chunk of his team’s game.

The vibe of two amazingly engrossing and immersive titles with the spin of slaying insane beasts in The Witcher‘s world? Yep, sign me up.

Oh, and I got a sweet t-shirt and a 1,500 piece puzzle. I assume CD Projekt RED thinks I’ll do nothing but wear this new shirt and assemble this puzzle between now and when The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt drops. It’s set to hit the PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 next year.