– Luke Chandler
With the release of the highly anticipated The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in May, CD Projekt Red managed to win over the hearts of gamers everywhere, cementing their status as one of the most beloved video game developers of this generation. Since the launch, players have started to draw comparisons between the aforementioned game and the RPG juggernaut Skyrim. Being compared to Skyrim is a huge honour as it’s considered by many to be the best RPG of all time.
Seeing as I am a big fan of the RPG genre, I wanted to look at the aspects of both games and really ask how does The Witcher 3 compare to Skyrim?
The Witcher 3’s open world is possibly the most vast and detailed world I have ever had the pleasure of exploring. Whether it’s the dense green forests of Velen, or the snowy mountaintops of the Skellige Isles, the beautifully crafted landscapes never cease to amaze me. Speaking of forests, The Witcher has the most realistic looking forests ever seen in a video game. The sheer number of trees, foliage and flora is mind-boggling.
Skyrim has a fantastic world in it’s own right, however, it lacks the photo-realism of The Witcher. I’ve spent many hours traversing the various terrains that Skyrim has to offer, but at no moment did the beauty of the world ever take me aback. The same cannot be said for my time playing The Witcher. I’ve found myself in awe of what I’m seeing more times than I can count. I’ve had multiple moments where I had to stop what I was doing and take a screenshot of my surroundings. The amount of intricate details is astonishing.
Skyrim’s gameplay is based around letting the player do what they want. You can completely ignore the main story if you want to; choosing instead to join guilds, or even mine resources to craft new armour. The game puts a strong emphasis on creating your own story, not following someone else’s.
On the other hand, The Witcher 3 is a character driven game, which is much more restrictive when it comes to player choice. The developers have to be faithful to the lore of The Witcher’s universe. They must take into consideration whether Geralt of Rivia (The character whom the player controls) would partake in certain tasks. It puts a lot of limitations on gameplay aspects such as combat style, conversations, and in-game skills, as they all must stay true to Geralt’s character.
Non-playable Characters (NPCs)
The Witcher 3 has some of the best supporting characters of any game out there today. It feels like almost every character, whether they are a focal point of the story or not, has a carefully constructed back story. Most characters are genuinely intriguing, making it a joy to interact with them. However, The Witcher didn’t quite hit the mark when it comes to common NPCs, such as everyday townsfolk. After hearing townsfolk repeat the same few lines of dialogue over and over again, it starts to become a little immersion breaking. It also doesn’t help when, after a few hours of gameplay, character models start to look strikingly similar.
Interaction with NPCs is where Skyrim really excels. Almost every character you come across can be interacted with in one way or another. Most of them are named, and they all look unique. It really creates a strong feeling that Skyrim is a living, breathing world. One minor gripe I had with Skyrim is that it lacked a sense of emotional attachment to any of the characters; it felt as if a lot of the supporting characters had very little depth. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not as if every game must include overwhelmingly in-depth characters, but when an attachment is made between a character and the player, it creates a special and memorable gaming experience.
Having played both games for many more hours than necessary, it is overwhelmingly apparent that The Witcher 3 and Skyrim are two of the best video games ever created. They are both a testament to video games as an art form. I thoroughly enjoy both games for different reasons. Despite my comments about limited player choice in The Witcher 3, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Character driven games are often thoroughly enjoyable. Sacrificing some aspects of player choice is understandable when you are trying to tell a good story, which The Witcher 3 definitely delivers.
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