E3 2008: Atari

There was no way I'd go to E3 and not stalk Atari to talk to someone from CD Projekt Red. After all, this has turned out to be my most favorite game ever, and this only on the first day of playing it. I even waited patiently for 20 minutes (even if I did have a meeting scheduled) to be able to sit with assistant producer Thomasz Gop. And was it ever worth the visit, because not only I got the details I came for, but I also left with my copy of the game signed!

The Witcher Enhanced Edition

Since I already know the game like the back of my hand, we just talked about the knew features. Starting with voice acting. If you remember the Prologue, you will remember Leo's jumpy and excited somewhat boyish personality. Well, Leo got a more manly voice-over and a toned down attitude now, which seems to fit him a lot better.

The game will feature over 5000 new dialog lines, and a lot of the existing dialogs have been re-written and re-recorded too. The German version is getting the biggest overhaul though, since it was re-recorded in it's entirety. But that's not all. With the voice-overs in 9 languages and subtitles in 10 languages, you can mix and match to have the game playing in a certain language and the subtitles in another.

The character animations are much more natural, and even while I was waiting for my turn to see the game up close, I noticed a few things in Vesemir I didn't see before, like a pointing gesture and looking up. There are no more static characters just standing there either. About 200 new gestures have been motion-captured, not just for the cutscenes, but for background animations too.

The villagers won't look like exact clones of each other anymore. The color palettes for their clothes have expanded, and new faces and hairstyles have been added. Monsters also have different colors/textures now, and that was exemplified by a group of drowners with different skin tones.

The original game is all there, plus The Price of Neutrality and another adventure (name not disclosed at the time), adding up to about 5 hours of new gameplay.

One of the things that would sometimes make me lose track of what I was doing was the loading. In fact, there were even moments where the loading would crash my game or just stay there playing the music without actually loading. Well, no more of that. Seriously, I don't know how they did it, but it takes seconds to load a game save now. Wow.

Another very cool feature can be found in Geralt's inventory, which is oddly enough very similar to the configuration I used for my games. The top portion is the satchel, the bottom portion is the alchemy sack. This means all ingredients will be in your bottom tabs, everything else at the top. You can sort your inventory and organize it to better see how much space you have left (it will also arrange items by type), and in the alchemy sack you can filter items to find a specific ingredient.

In the Alchemy menu you will now have indicators that tell you specifically which ingredients you are missing for certain potions (they appear with an X over them). How handy is that?

Oh, and I couldn't forget to mention the very handy auto-loot feature. Yes, there is that "take all" option, but you don't even have to click it. Press control while clicking any remains to pick everything up at once!

And by now you're probably wondering, "ok, enough features, what else is in the box?" Here's the checklist:

  • multi-language game DVD
  • making of DVD with behind the scenes footage
  • official game soundtrack CD
  • music inspired by The Witcher CD
  • Djinni Editor and two adventures (localized and with voice-overs)
  • game guide and manual
  • The Witcher short story
  • a cool map

And the great news is that all this collector's edition kind of goodies will be sold at regular game price. But if you already own The Witcher, the extra content will be available for download if you have registered your game. Rumor has it that The Witcher might be heading to the Xbox 360 in Q4 2009... but you really didn't hear that, ok?

In Tom's words, "we wanted it to be as close to the perfect game as possible", and I like to think they have actually achieved perfection. I can't wait for September!