Why You Should Play The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt On Easy

You spend a lot of time in combat in The Witcher 3. Trouble is, the combat isn't that good. Youtuber Joab Gilroy (best known as The Gentleman Bandit in DayZ) goes through the details of why the combat is the way it is, and follows that logic through with the conclusion that playing on Easy is the best option, core gamer or not.

I wouldn't be surprised if others had the same dilemma as me when reviewing this game. The combat needs to be critiqued. It's flawed. But the space it would take to properly critique it would take up too heavy a chunk of a review's wordcount. All things considered, it's an amazing game, and a 9.5 score doesn't gel well with three paragraphs of detailed takedown. So I'm happy articles and videos like this exist, to go into a bit more detail.

Gilroy goes into the two main schools of thought in modern combat systems, and why The Witcher 3 can't really decide which one it is. The result is a game that locks you into long swing animations against your will. Geralt comes from the school of twirling his sword around like a helicopter while running at the enemy. Mind you, this comes after the beginning scene when he criticises Ciri for being too showy.

The system doesn't give you the tools you need to solve combat problems like an enemy lunging at you. I see the enemy coming, I know what I'd like to do, but I also know if I press that button, my attack will be interrupted. You can't take control from a player, and stuff things up on their behalf. It's like driving a car and the passenger saying "I'll take the wheel for a second", and then promptly turning you into oncoming traffic.

Raising the difficulty level won't make the combat any more in-depth, it'll just increase frustration. So, seeing as this is one of the extremely rare games in which story carries its other elements, no matter how core a gamer you fancy yourself, Easy might be the best path.


Comments

    Really? Most reviews I've read suggested playing on harder modes, not easier.

    I'm no hardcore combat fighter and have only had minor difficulty playing through on the second hardest mode.

      Exactly. Seems like a lot of whinging to me. The combat is realistic - you can't just instantly interrupt or dodge enemy attacks when you are attacking yourself. Unless you are going Japanese style swordplay you can't just do quick cuts to attack. Medieval combat was all about the big wind-up and swing, mainly because the swords weren't that good at cutting through armor. You had to rely on either stabbing or swinging really really hard.

        Clearly you have no idea how European sword fighting worked. No idea why half the people on the planet seem to think Japan somehow has magically different methods of swinging a sharpened metal stick.

        With that said, I do agree that most people are whinging when it comes to TW3 combat difficulty even if I do think the twirly dance moves have no place in a gritty down-to-earth fantasy setting.

          OK, look at this medieval sword fighting competition video https://youtu.be/FHIhMBCOc1A These guys are not really trying to break the armor but they are still swinging a hell of a lot.

          I imagine that people not wearing armor might lead to less swinging and more cutting, but there is no way a longsword is going to cut plate (or even leather) without being swung quite hard.

          Japanese kendo, which I've trained in, teaches cutting rather than slicing. The cut is performed by straightening the arm holding the base of the hilt followed by stiffening the arm holding the hilt near the blade, meaning that the cut is performed by the blade nearest the tip of the sword.

          I'm not saying that Japanese sword fighting is magically better than European sword fighting, just that medieval sword fighting needed to either find a weak spot in the armor (what the narrow tip of the blade was for) or to hack hard enough to break some bones through the armor. Japanese sword fighting relied a lot more on the cutting power of the blade (as seen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDkoj932YFo although the dude swinging the blades is doing it pretty poorly).

            LOL @Birdy
            Looks like this guy actually did know something about sword fighting

            I love how everybody on the internet just assumes that they are more intelligent than everyone else in every field. "You clearly have no idea how European sword fighting worked"
            Okay then, why don't you provide any links to support your claim, nope. Any information on your behalf, nope. Any substantial point that could be used to support your version, nope. Then why the hell should I listen to you?

            See, I don't know anything about swordplay. So I won't go running my mouth. I don't if what Zambayoshi is saying is right but he has provided links and information to back it up.

            I remember for Witcher 1 they made a point of having European medieval combat specialists to teach the stuntmen that fighting style for mo-cap. Obviously continued it up into W3. Just added more flourish for style ...

            Also, those armoured fighting league dudes are CRAY CRAY!!

              Yeah, that's what I'm trying to say - Witcher 3 fighting is largely medieval fighting with extra flamboyant spins and stuff.

            @zambayoshi

            Meanwhile, in the real world:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZNoBTDR9kY
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avnjDouvuRc
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syoCLDujNts
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZR9k23U-P10

            Now, regarding the suggestion that Europeans failed t discover the draw cut, there's good evidence that the "schnitt", as mentioned in the HS.3227a, is in fact a draw cut, and that the English term "Rake" is similarly thought to refer to the draw cut.

            Unlike the Katana, however, European swords could cut (or "hack", if you prefer) well enough without the push or pull of a draw cut, while the blade geometry of the Katana is less conducive to being used in this manner. I'll leave it up to you to as to which sword and martial art style was the more versatile.

              I wasn't doing a whole Japan v Europe sword fighting critique, I was pointing out that Witcher 3 combat is inspired more by the European medieval style. Metal armor meant you had to use a sword to either search for a weak point (difficult) or bash the hell out of it (easier). Bashing generally means a bigger wind-up.

                Medieval European sword fighting was about killing your opponent, whether he was in armour or out of it. More often than not, if a knight or student of one of the masters was facing an opponent in a life or death situation, their opponent would be without armour, or else would only have padded or quilted armour. As such, they trained to both be able to fight opponents who were in armour and out of it.

                Further, bashing doesn't necessarily mean a bigger wind up. Half swording and using the pommel as a mace means that you need to be in closer, rather than further away, and this was probably a preferred technique if they couldn't grapple with their opponent or couldn't find any weak spots.

                It's adorable that you think that doing something that is basically impossible is "easier". Swinging a sword at an enemy in plate armor will get you killed 100% of the time... unless your enemy is equally stupid and is also swinging a sword at you in plate armor.

                You may have some training in Japanese swordsmanship. Stay in your realm of knowledge, because it is very clearly not even novice-level European swordsmanship.

                  Well, I've certainly been put in my place... *snicker*

              So if we combine the European and Japanese sword fighting techniques we get: Hack n slash!

            Kendo does not teach cutting or slicing, it teaches striking.

            Regardless of school, no style would promote attempting a spinning lunge when you and your opponent are well within striking range of each other.
            Witcher 3 has some great features in its combat such as foot work and constantly changing stance, but it's flaws such as the mentioned spinning lunge don't take an expert to spot and are the kind of issues that stands out.

            The combat isn't as intuitive as it could be, especially when other aspects are.

            Last edited 31/05/15 11:03 pm

              Read the Book of Five Rings - "To cut and to slash are two different things. Cutting, whatever form of cutting it is, is decisive, with a resolute spirit. Slashing is nothing more than touching the enemy." My kendo training was of a similar philosophy.

              I didn't mean to imply that Witcher 3 combat is in any way like kendo. I was contrasting the two styles and saying that Witcher 3 combat is more medieval. Flourishes and spins I grant you are generally a bad idea whatever form of combat you practise.

                I've read most variations. Great read and all, but too diluted by publishing bias to absorb too literally. (There's a reason none of the translations are backed by any of the branches)

                Which school of Kendo do you practise, if I can be so curious?

                  Not sure what you'd call it, but I trained at the University of Newcastle Kendo Club in the late-1990s. We did all the standard techniques as well as some sword kata with bokken. I've still got my armor and shinai but haven't trained actively for about 13 years now. I occasionally practise some of the movements though.

          "I do think the twirly dance moves have no place in a gritty down-to-earth fantasy setting."

          So you haven't even read the book and complain about the lore? Great, just great.

      I haven't got TW3 yet, but I played TW2 on console and PC, and both times played on Hard because normal was boring button-mashing gameplay with no skill needed. I can only imagine what easy is like.

      Hard forces you to evaluate every encounter and be thoughtful about your actions. I don't understand people who don't like video games that expect them to think before acting.

      I'm guessing Jung doesn't like Dark Souls either...

        "I'm guessing Jung doesn't like Dark Souls either..."

        Might wanna fact-check that one lol

          Oh I know, was satirical: "..."

            I personally find the Witcher to be boring on hard, as it requires you to exploit skills/mechanics & AI to win effectively rather then master. The Witcher series (huge fan) has failed to make a truly challenging game yet, they rely on cliche methods to increase difficulty... Higher HP for monsters, less damage for the player...

            Dark souls is a unfair comparison because it sacrificed so much to bring such a mechanically sound game to the player, when not talking about combat there are a ton of short falls with the souls series which I am also a fan of.

            The Witcher is a harsh cruel world, were combat is always present, but that does not mean its the focus, it addressing everything around that, such as motivations: lust, political, betrayal. The morals involved with taking a life and how that effects the world around. Even with monster hunting it is not always clear cut, do you just kill the monster? Try and save the person effected if possible? What happens if you decide to save the person and they relapse and kill more people? Do you also Kill those who may have caused it through evil deeds? were does the obligations of the Witcher stop?

            Combat can be improved on, but I would never expect such a sound experience as dark souls from the Witcher, It would be unfair to ask that of any Dev. Just like it would be crazy to expect the types of choices given in the Witcher to appear in the Soul series.

            Last edited 31/05/15 1:05 pm

      Tell me about it, I'm playing on the second hardest difficulty and I'm not struggling with combat at all (albeit I'm not that far in, and I have the advantage of having played the Witcher 1 & 2, as well as all souls games, so I'm pretty familiar with these kinds of combat systems).
      I'm so sick of hearing about how you can't attack a charging enemy from these Kotaku critics. It's like "the combat is shit because I can't do this one technique/strategy that I employ in other games which have wholly different combat systems and mechanics".
      I keep saying, this is realistic combat; enemy runs at you, side step and follow up attack - bonus, you will get a good chance at critical damage when you do this.

        The Witcher has realistic combat in that actually being in combat sucks. And so does the Witcher's combat system.

          Says the guy who maybe played the first one, didn't play the second because he decided the character models look like wax statues, and is now so invested in his baseless dislike for the Witcher series he can't relent and actually give it a try because he's scared he'll actually like it and look like a putz for decrying it for so long.

            The Waxer 3: Rubber Forest Hunt.

      The wrong way to do difficulty is through increasing hp bars and decreasing player damage, it makes a game tedious. A reason so many player I feel shy away from harder difficulties. It's this type of mentality that has lead to a slew of games having a challenge yourself style of difficulty. Rather then make the game hard, or take the time to create a harder difficulty a lot of triple A games build in a rating system now like complete the missions under X:XX, perform 6 etc, Never get hit. They are aware people hate difficulties that just involve ridiculous hp bars and Nerf damage so shy away from it all together.

      If gaming companies started to really work on AI a department sorely lacking in modern games It could make a challenge really dynamic and enjoyable for everyone, while also ensuring the player has a easy to understand well balanced tool set to tackle the situations presented to him/her. The odd glitch aside Dark souls is a perfect example as the controller often becomes a extension of the player so easy to use, keys are often not even thought of but instead block, parry, strike.

      The Witcher is a great game, I personally like the difficultly but it also could improve in a number of ways.

      Last edited 28/05/15 4:38 pm

      He addresses this explicitly, though I'm not sure I agree with his argument. I do agree with some of what he says.

      His argument is essentially that the usual reason given for playing on hard is so that the game doesn't transition to easy later on. By starting on easy, you don't get that transition, and the focus on looting everything that isn't nailed down goes away. You get to enjoy the story more.

      Personally I'm playing on Normal and still losing the occasional fight. IMO that's a good place to balance difficulty. If you win everything, there's no challenge. If you lose too often, you wind up playing the same encounters repeatedly. I've played games at both extremes, and usually wind up giving up early unless a game hits the right balance.

    Eh, I only get annoyed when I have a group of nekkers or drowners all jump at me at the same time.

      There's a pack of four Alghouls that attack from a mineshaft.. Lost my shit after third attempt.

      Which in itself tends to be fairly rare if you are using dodge
      But yeah - two or three of them is almost instant death and then a lot of jumping around them trying not to absorb one more hit point because that will surely mean death

      Yea, it's kind of like souls games, combat get's exponentially harder as you get outnumbered. Do NOT get outnumbered, divide and conquer.
      Your best bet with a group of enemies is to draw them out to the edge of their agro range so you can try and single them out a little. You might also find using signs a bit more to be helpful, if you aren't already. Signs = AoE damage, plus drowners are pretty weak to Igni. Check the bestiary to see what each enemy is weak against.

      I like to use the ole: QUEN > IGNI > slash, slash, block, slash QUEN > IGNI run

    I haven't had any issues with the combat yet and really enjoying it, really nice to have to time your dodge yourself and not just press a 'counter' button.

    Don't play on easy, play it at normal to experience the basics of the game and go higher difficulty to go reach the advanced of the game which rely on potions and oils. Once you think normal is too easy then up the difficulty and its like a brand new game.

    Playing second hardest difficulty and health recovery is disabled on meditation and rely on food and potion to survive. Combat are much more skilled that require multiple sign usage. Dodge and parry become a compulsory. Much more fun and engaging.

      i was doing everything you mentioned in your second paragraph on normal, and have started a new game on my new PC and now going through on Blood and Broken Bones. just gotta be smart and make sure your back is never facing an enemy

        Much more fun on Blood and Broken Bones :P I went straight on to Blood and Broken Bones and so far I've only died to Drowner Mobs and Ghoul Mobs. Sometimes 1v5/6 is not a good idea.....

        Remember to learn arrow parry. Works like wonder.

          definately, its so awesome to send them back at double damage

            Early game I was getting hit so hard by blind arrows while killing bandits. It was hard to see where the arrow is coming from with all the trees and just dies when I'm killing bandits haha. Bloody pissed off and get arrow parry and kill all the archers first.

              I don;t arrow parry yet, but I learnt pretty quick to take out the archers first.
              I usually run around the bandit camps in cirlces making the melee characters chase me while I work out how many and where the archers are; then I just charge in to one on one of my passes and take one out, rinse and repeat. Then it's just standard fare for the melee bandits.

      I'm playing on Death March and am loving it. It feels a lot like Bloodborne as you really have to respect the enemy (even the lowest level enemy) and approach combat like it is life and death, not just something that you have to blunder your way through. My only frustration is that when you are fighting four or five wolves, for example, two or three will circle around behind you and you then either quickly fight forwards to get a kill or madly dodge backwards. At least at my level, I lack the means to bait one or two enemies out of a group as I would do in Bloodborne. I got owned by a pack of wolves last night. They killed me in a matter of seconds - maybe three hits in total after my Quen went down. I then reloaded and played more aggressively and burned them with Agni in between dodging and swinging. I think Witcher 3 gives you a lot of different tools and you really need to remember to use them.

        Yeap definitely. Back in Witcher 2 if you play on higher difficulty, the game forces you to use your spells and potions accordingly or the combat will be incredibly hard. I actually liked how they forces you to use Yrden against spectral enemy now. I used to totally ignore that spell and only use Quen, Igni, Axii and very rare Aard on shield enemies. Axii on conversation is best :P.

        I had drowner pack surrounding me and one leap broke my Quen and the rest continue leaping while I have nowhere to dodge and died.

          Ha ha, yeah, I like that retreat is often mandatory before re-approaching a fight from a different angle or in a different manner. I'm dreading situations like you describe where retreat isn't possible.

          Two/Three quick slashes and the drowner will jump backwards, that's when you do the same or side step as it will lunge at you. Then continue or follow up with an Igni. Once you learn the patterns they are pretty easy to down.

            I have no problem dealing up to 3 drowner, when it reaches 5/6.... it's a different story. Gotta ick them off one by one. I don't really have problem anymore but sometimes I get a little impatient wanting to kill them all in one go.

              Yeah drowner packs did suck especially in the Valen swamps. For me now it's damn wraiths when they do that disappearing act and appear behind you 2,3 at a time. Fortunately I found the ward sign (forget the name) keeps them pretty slow and enough so to be able to get them flinching from quick attacks.

                heheh you must have missed the first noonwraith mission and skipped reading beastiary. All spectrals require Yrden to make them go physical form and hittable inside.

        Definitely interested in giving it a go on Death March once I finish on the difficulty below. I can definitely see how this can be a lot like Bloodborne in terms of tactics.

    I read a lot of reviews that suggested playing a difficulty above your regular level. So I started my game on the second highest setting rather than Normal, and apart from a fair few deaths, I've found it all to be great. It is tough at times, and the loading screen between deaths is a little Bloodborne-ish, but Infind it very rewarding.

    I prefer this combat to the "WARNING YOU ARE ABOUT TO GET HIT" stuff Assassin's Creed and Shadows of Mordor does. Feels good to land a combo or dodge a nasty attack at the right time.

    Different strokes (or swings).

    Last edited 28/05/15 1:21 pm

      Yeah I don't have too many problems with the combat.
      Also a lot of people noting that you cant time attacks when someone is lunging at you but I tend to interrupt their attacks more than they interrupt mine! And that's sitting up at the same difficulty as you.

      I wouldnt enjoy this on easy... that would just be a pointless button mash fest with cutscenes... May as well watch a movie and mash my controller every time there's a fight scene...

        For sure. If I wanted to watch a 30+ hour fantasy story I'd watch Game of Thrones.

        I think a lot would be lost in terms of the fun of taking down the huge beasts or killing characters who you strongly dislike if all it took was a couple of hits.

        I did have a customer at my work trade in Witcher 3 yesterday claiming it was too hard. Maybe he didn't realise you can change the difficulty at any point?

          hahaha! I always find it funny when people say it's too hard... Is it just that you didnt want to take the time to invest in a different control scheme and different mechanics?!
          I think gameplay mechanics are half the fun tbh - Going back to The Evil Within the clunky controls actually added to the suspense for me - yes frustration sometimes but the fact he couldnt jump on a ladder from an angle just added the anxiety of being chased and not being a superhero!

          I agree on the satisfaction element too. If I put it down to easy I just wouldnt enjoy seeing what loot I just got out of that hard arse battle that took me three deaths before I change up my style and get the bastard!

            Exactly!! And that's something that's really important in the Witcher! No one else wants to kill these monsters because they are scary and tough. A witcher wouldn't have a job if all it took was a stab or two. Plus, you're supposed to do research on these beasts and plan your fights with the right bombs, oils, etc. I imagine playing on Easy would take away SO much fun.

            People need to learn to adapt to a game. I suppose that's harder nowadays when so many games are coming out all of the time, but still. If you're paying good money for the experience of a AAA game, especially one that is as huge as The Witcher 3, then you should learn and be patient. Not give up.

              Oh definitely! I have two kids under the age of 18 months now so I dont get new games very often anymore - even then I struggle to find the time to get into one.

              But the witcher came out and i told the misses - It's a new game for me I need a few hours uninterrupted to get used to the controls, the world, the mechanics... That first session is always a big thing for me because you learn the way the devs wanted you to play this adventure and go from there. Without that time I might be as frustrated as some others but to enjoy the game you gotta respect the game! lol

                For sure, man! I also do that with a lot of games, waiting for the right time to start and get familiar. This is usually when my fiancé is at work and I'm off or when she is asleep. I don't like being interrupted during important quests, so I save those for when I'm alone and can focus, and just side quest and explore when we're hanging out.

                Which system are you playing on?

                  Yeah in that same light I bought Shadow of Mordor when it came out but didnt find time to get into the start of it untill the start of April! Smashed it in that month too haha!
                  I'm a PS4 guy but have an Xbox one as well - gathering dust unfortunately... scarnon on PS4 and scarnonbloke on Xbox one if you wanna say hello

            I agree I played evil within on the hardest difficulty, but put the game down as other shit came out and was preoccupied, then tried going back to it a few months later, and had left off a check point into the second time you fight that spider looking monster girl that is weak to fire.

            The game was frustrating at times when I first played yet still enjoyable; as I agree with you that the clunky controls add to atmosphere. Having a break from the game hurt me in the long run. I picked up where i left off and found it extremely diffulct took me a while to even get comfortable with the layout, and movement . It was detrimental to the experience for me in this situation had I started again on anything but a boss fight I may have gotten back in the swing a little easier, but just became unapproachable and never did play again.

            I watched a you tube video walkthrough checking to see if there was an obvious weakness I'd missed out on but the vid mustve had it on much easier difficulty as there was a shitload more ammo dropping left right and centre

              That was one of my difficulties with that too - It was the only game I played when i was trying to get through it as I didnt want to screw up the controls for myself, but I just couldnt get on every day. After a few days off even,. I noticed the same thing, and go check a youtube vid to see if i missed something, nope! They're all doing it on easy and just running around picking up more ammo!!! It was a terrific game but I understand where people can see flaws

    Admittedly after coming off Bloodborne i found the combat very annoying. But then again, it's a totally different game and i shouldn't judge it based on that.

    Boss/Monster fights in Witcher are great, however there were a few times i was thinking putting it on easier would be better such as traveling from A to B, because some of the encounters were just annoying, especially when fighting more than one monster. Like Justachap said... a group of monsters jumping you, the targeting becomes clunky and even if you don't use a target it doesn't feel as controlled.

      Yeah, coming off Bloodborne Geralt seems to move like he is drunk.

    Yeah I am playing on the hardest difficulty and am thoroughly enjoying it.

    I am a fan of both the Souls and Arkham games and find the Witcher's combat really satisfying. The more difficult encounters require me to play as a Witcher, using all the tools at my disposal. Swords, Crossbow, Signs, Oils, Potions and bombs.

    I find the Arkham games can get a little boring when you are essentially just responding to the different prompts... counter... jump... stun... attack. In many fights you can play them one handed like a music rhythm game.

    I find myself planning a few steps ahead all the time in the Witcher. Constantly watching the distance between Geralt and all the other opponents, managing my resources (potions, bombs, stamina). It also has a bit of the souls games, where you have to study and learn different monsters attack patterns, which will dramatically change the way that I approach the fight. (which I think is awesome).

    Both the dodge and the roll are more than effective if you time them correctly. This is part of learning the monsters attack patterns.

    I always feel like I am in control and find it really satisfying.

    I regularly get sidetracked from completing missions just going out of my way to get into fights with monsters.

    Lastly, the game feels fair. When I get hit I know it was because I was greedy and went for an extra swing or should have been keeping an eye on the archer in the back. Things that I can take on board and learn from.

    Last edited 28/05/15 1:29 pm

      Great point! Geralt is a Witcher not a flat out warrior focused on decapitating every head he can see... I find it forces me to use the signs which - to be honest, spells are never something I use a lot even when available...
      Skyrim forced me to a bit but this really forces you to take a step back from battle and think about what the heck you are doing! Dont just wade in swinging that sword at 5 enemies! Pick one off on the flank, surprise the others with a spell and step back and reassess the action!

        Exactly! Plan-Decide-Check-Act, we already do this a lot in video games. I love when people suddenly think it doesn't apply once something gets too hard. Military version: OODA, also applies.

          This is why I still play games - Sharpen the senses and to be challenged.

          If it's too hard change what you are doing...

          "Did I ever tell you the definition of insanity? Insanity is doing the exact... same fucking thing... over and over again expecting... shit to change... That. Is. Crazy."

      I roll up on enemies with a way lower level than me and hold down R1.

      Turns the game into a third person shooter.

      Doods get rekt.

      I'm playing on the second hardest difficulty, and while there have been a few 'interesting' deaths the difference on the lower difficulties really is too much for my personal taste.

      I think people simply not knowing how to deal with specific enemies, or combat them effectively is really part of the problem. They just think the enemy is too hard, or broken, whatever, so they give up.

      Personally, Wraiths are apparently my kryptonite. I know just how to deal with them but I always seem to simply fuck up more fighting them than anything else.

      As for Arkham style games...
      I have to say one of my most enjoyable gaming experiences EVER was playing Arkham Asylum on the hardest difficulty, which removes the counter prompts completely. Not only just being able to finish it, but doing remarkably well the entire playthrough was really satisfying.

        Every time I die to a wraith is because I got too greedy and attacked after I had pushed them out of my Yrden circle. I play Death March so a mistake like that costs a lot of vitality.

        The alternate sign for Yrden is handy, every time it hits it staggers them, mitigating their movement a fair bit and opening them up to attack if they are in the basic Yrden trap :)

        PS. Do you watch Excessive Profanity? I recognise your name from a stream yesterday :P

        Last edited 30/05/15 2:30 pm

          I've actually never watched that particular streamer. Though I do have this name on Twitch so I'd say it was someone with a similar name that you saw.

          I actually checked if I'd randomly stumbled onto the stream recently as I tend to do now and then, but never seen his before. Doesn't seem to be a half bad streamer though, so cheers for that.

      Agree. I'm not playing on hardest but I do enjoy the combat. If I just go in swinging, I can occasionally get lucky and win against a handful of mobs but that's an exception to the rule. Even when they are of similar level to me, if I don't fight smart, I usually end up dying or losing a lot of health.. and when you need to rely on food/drink to regen your health, it is costly enough to not want that to happen. When people ask me advice on how to play I will give them advice that is actually contrary to how I fight but they aren't looking for advanced combat tips.. they're looking for easy things they can do to get past a bit of the game they're having trouble with.

      I find rolling to be effective against many mobs if you, as you said, time it right. You can roll out of the way in a particular direction, then roll back again and be behind them for critical hits. And by the time your hit combo runs out, usually your stamina has recharged and you can hit them with a sign. Then hit them up a bit more or move to a different target depending on the sign you used.

      Another tip for people struggling in combat is to not immediately get off your horse. Be careful of the horse fear meter of course but don't get off immediately. In the Shrieker contract with the cockatrice for example, I stayed on my horse at the start of the fight and was able to get its health down at least 30 or 40 percent before my horse bucked me off. That was a lot of damage for a mini-boss fight leaving me with only 60% or so to tackle on my feet! That's why finding blinders for your horse is so important.. you can do a lot of damage when you're in calvary mode (ie. on top of your horse)... winning fights is about using everything you can to your advantage.

      It really is a very enjoyable combat system.. perfect? No.. as good as Mount & Blade? No.. but very enjoyable.

      Last edited 01/06/15 10:22 am

    ive played 70hrs of the witcher 3 and 200+ in the witcher 2 and ive never had a problem with the combat in it. I honestly dont see the issues in that others seem to raise with it. I will also add that i dont rely on quen and never used it the witcher 2 because of how OP it was.

    conversely i have only played 18mins of Dark Souls and only 58mins of Dark Souls 2 and only 30mins with lords of the fallen due to the simple fact that i found the controls to be absolute rubbish using a keyboard and mouse and i myself simply can not play using a controller not because i dont want too but because i just cant use them for anything other than 2d side scrollers.

    However, ive completed the Arkham Series(50hrs combined) and Shadows of Mordor(43hrs played) and loved the combat in them, though not so much with origins as the timing seemed off in that game compared to the rest.

      Quen doesn't feel nearly as OP to me in Witcher 3; it lets you take 1 hit without taking damage, and then it's gone. Can be helpful to use, especially on higher difficulties if you want don't have much food/potions.

      I understand you don't like controllers, but man you can't play souls or lord of the fallen without one (they probably could just program a good control scheme for mouse and keyboard, but they haven't). These games are really worth it (well more so the Souls over Lords of the Fallen). I'd highly recommend you put in the time to get used to it if you can.

        its not that i dont like controllers, its that i just cant use them, im so used to using keyboard and mouse that even in tps like tomb raider, saints row, batman and like, im far and away better using KB&M than a controller even though controllers are the better way to play those games

          I know what you mean, that was me 5 years ago. I personally would say it is worth the effort to get used to a controller, but if not you could always just watch let's plays and play the game vicariously, something I often do due to time constraints.
          I still can't handle FPS games with a controller what so ever (Destiny is forcing me to adapt though), but there is a clearer argument fir mouse and keyboard being superior in FPS that isn't based on personal preference.

        Get medium armour (griffin set especially) get your sign intensity up around 100%, grab the upgrade point that increases stamina regen and drop a few points into quen spec and watch as you can take down things 10-15 levels above you with relative ease even on high difficulty because your shield has a 3 second cooldown :P

        I recently switched to heavy (partly for aesthetic purposes) because I felt I was cheesing so many mobs by abusing quen

          Woohoo, gonna try that myself. The sign intensity upgrade does look intriguing...

            I guarantee you will feel dirty playing that spec :P

    I love the combat. One wrong move can quickly lead to your death, which I imagine is the same in real combat. I like having to plan my battles.

    I haven't had a chance to watch the video but the gist of the summary sounds like its a case of people not being patient. I've watched several people streaming the game and all are playing on the higher difficulties and all of them are using positioning and the environment to ensure that they won't be blindsided by enemies during attack cycles.

    It's just a different way to play, something I'm learning myself at the moment playing MH3U with its long recovery times, varied walking speeds and different ways of avoiding attacks.

      Actually now you mention it, the Witcher really does feel like Monster Hunter.
      You can't just stand in the thick of battle and swing away; you get in position, get a good hit or two off, and then reposition and reassess.
      Also, that first battle with the Griffin in the prologue just felt so MH when it flew away and I had to track it and finish it off (luckily I didn't have to worry about throwing a paintball at it).

      It is very monster huntery for the large targets/contracts, it is when you are against lots of smaller mobs that one wrong move can get you destroyed within a matter of seconds, it is especially painful on console due to bad framerates in some areas resulting in input lag for parry and dodge coupled with a minute load times

    So the combat lacks depth because the guy can't fight properly. That's what I takeaway from this video. I love the combat in this game. I can't imagine the point of it is to be easy, just we wary of your timing. Don't roll into oncoming swords like he does, know your surroundings and just play smart. Don't try and strong attack in a big group of enemies poking at you.
    The combat has a lot more depth. then the video would have you believe.
    For those just starting out, I advise try the 2nd difficulty. If you prefer a bigger challenge but not a total death sentence, then go the 3rd difficulty.

      Nah bro, it's not like that. It lacks depth because of the reasons I explained using the other two games with universally renowned combat systems as examples.

        yeah each to his own, I just don't see it.

        Just because those games have a particular fighting experience does not mean others must adhere to it to be successful. Yes Witcher isn't perfect, indoors combat doesn't really work and the archer distance thing is annoying (I usually take the archer out first after baiting the group away).

        Yes there are animations, but in order to be effective one must understand they are determined by your positioning and do not have invulnerability frames. The most important thing is momentum, these swords wouldn't be light and if you need to close a three or four pace gap you can't just stop on a dime if your enemy reacts to your attack. You would need to either carry on the attack or disengage and re assess.

        In the video you created, on Death March you were blinkered by the soldier in front of you, you countered his attack and started to attack in the opening. The problem was the guy with the big stick that you had let get far too close winding up his attack and died. You forgot where you were in relation to others and it is very possible to get greedy, over extend and not every counter is exploitable (something AC and Arkham games seem to teach regardless to any momentum that may be carried). So yes, you countered the attack but forgot that the main threat is the soldier with the lance, which has too much power to block. In saying that I find it is usually possible to cancel an attack mid animation with a dodge in the right direction. I use 90% light attacks, may have a bearing on it.

        Also an obvious lack of signs (and dodge, for that matter) is shown in the video and while they are not the focus of your argument, they are designed to compliment the sword play. You can't 'Mage' in this game, it is Elder Scrolls, you can only increase the effectiveness. Quen would have saved your life in that video, Yrden has a major slowing affect that leaves massive gaps in enemies attacks for you to interrupt. While you can fight without signs you make the experience unnecessarily harder.

        I realise this is a lengthy reply, but you were after a valid argument for the other side and this is simply my experience after 50+hrs in Witcher 3. Did not play Witcher 1 or 2 so no bias from that source.

    I don't find the combat hard but I find it boring. It's a pretty terrible system and has really been hampering my enjoyment of the game. Reminds me of how I felt playing the last of us where the combat was the most mundane and boring part of the whole package. I want to get through the combat to get to the next area/story/dialogue instead of wanting to get through the next area/story/dialogue to get to the combat. Combat feels too slow and plodding for me, it's also pretty buggy in terms of spells not hitting people or the camera locking on to walls/forcing lock ons to some bosses/refusing to lock on to some enemies.

      Sounds like you just don't like these kind of games.

        rpgs are my favourite genre. The witcher 3 just has a bad combat system imo.

          It's a realistic combat, not fantasy combat like DmC that you can combo with no interruption while enemy is stunlocked. Spells always hit unless you mean your used Igni out of range?

            I don't think realism encompasses an AI taking control over which attacks you do based on a context of distance that's a half-second too late.

              ???? How does the AI take control over which attacks you do? From all that I've seen - and experienced in some cases - of say DmC, SoM and Bloodbourne is that the enemy feeds itself to you one at a time, enabling you to do the combo-based combat that the game is DESIGNED for.

              Do you get that with TW3? Fuck no. It's not a combo-based combat system. You have a huge range of tools that you can use to take advantage of. It's realistic in the sense that you have all these number of enemies attacking you at once, not as I said before - coming at you one at a time or 2 at a time.

                Bloodborne never sends enemies one at a time. Bloodborne also has reliable attacks for each button pressed. Your attacks in W3 are governed by the distance to your target, regardless of whether that distance is changing. As a result, it ends up being late, and it ends up being wrong. It takes control, and stuffs it up. That attack can be avoided, but that's not ideal.

                I take your point that everyone attacks at once, and yes that is a good thing, but it's just one aspect. No one is suggesting that W3 is God of War, or should be. No one's saying Geralt should be a God that can i-frame whenever he wants. What's under the microscope is the fact that it's factoring in distance and extending your attack animation, without factoring in what the enemy is doing. Those two systems need to be talking to each other, OR you need to give the player more control.

                  Actually, this is the first well thought out and reasonable point you've made. I think I get what you were saying in your article, but you just never said clearly, using fancy metaphors and whatnot to describe, instead of just saying "the game adjusts your attacks based on how far away an enemy is, but doesn't factor in that the enemy is also moving". I guess this is an area that could be improved on, but if they went with something like Bloodborne where each button does an exact attack animation everytime, it wouldn't be able to represent the Witcher fighting style properly.
                  Maybe they could code in so it accounts for where the enemy will be when the animation finishes, instead of where it is when the animation starts, but I'm guessing that ended up making the game overly easy, and you just magnetically flew directly to the enemy and hit everytime, ala Arkham combat (Arkham combat has it's own complexities, I'm not trying to say combat is too easy in Arkham, just that it wouldn't fit in here; it would make other Witcher tools unnecessary like potions/oils and signs).

                  Yep, I think you've got it. And I agree that a system that auto-connects attacks is too much hand-holding. It's just that if you're going to lock the player into a course of action (ie, an attack animation), it's bad design to then change the environment so that course of action leads to a soft fail. But there are things they could have done, and there was feedback before the game's release about combat. All things considered, it's not the worst thing ever and still enjoyable. But this type of criticism is necessary I think.

                I think what @junglist are meant to say is that regardless it is still a game in 3rd person, Gerald is just an AI following your button presses and it is not in a realistic way that you literally swing your hand for the sword swing,

                You can understand his point of view that controlling a character is not realistic at all which I agree to some point. He had mentioned it a couple of times already regarding this point and I don't think we need to debate about it again :P.

                @junglist have a clear line to distinguish a game is realistic or not, while we don't. Gotta respect a man for his principle.

              I understand where you are coming from :P Quite true the combat is not "click" hit but rather "click" super exaggerated witcher sword technique dancing with the sword not planning to hit until I do a somersault/360 body spin.

              But I do feel a sense of heaviness in the battle where each swing felt like it had gravity and impact and those I feel are the sense of realism that most games do not have in combat.

                ^ True that. There are some really good parts to it, and it can be very satisfying at times. There are some fights towards the end in which using the quick dodge looks like cinema choreography.

                  :P major spoiler. I'm only 12 hours into the game and at Velen and nowhere close to doing my main quest.

      I disagree, i find the combat really smooth and flowy, if you string things together effectively. Yea it's a lot slower though. It's like the flowy natural motions of the Arkham games, combined with the slowness and realism of a Souls game. Each to their own though, and as long as the other elements of the game are making it enjoyable for you, that's all that matters.

      You lost me at The Last of Us having mundane combat. Love the gritty desperate combat that is The Last of Us.

    I've always found the Witcher games to have clunky game play and because I feel like that (not saying everyone should) I tend to agree with the things he brought up in the video.

      First time I played Dark Souls, I thought "What's so good about this, combat is clunky as all hell". Once you get used to it, it actually feels amazing and smooth.

        Yup, but that's (IMO) because the enemies in Souls games adhere to the same combat 'rules' and 'restrictions' as you do.

        Simply put: In Dark Souls the enemies are clunky too. In the Witcher, they work differently to the player, leaving you at a disadvantage. (Well, I guess technically the player moves differently to the enemies in the Witcher?)

        Gameplay preferences are subjective though, so it's great that you like the Witchers as is :)

    This comes up with every Witcher release. The game rewards dodging and parrying, defense first, offense second. Most games reward a purely offensive strategy, but this will end in deaths and frustration in The Witcher. Also remember potions and your blade coatings are plentiful and should always be used to increase vitality, strength, and effectiveness against enemy type. It's not hard, ramp up the difficulty to force you to play as a Witcher.

      Problem is early game on death march you often don't have access to a lot of the potions/oils you need. Either you don't know the formulae or the ingredients aren't available in the first zone.

      Also when playing on death march you WILL tend to use the cheapest methods to win
      -taking advantage of AI pathing.
      -repeatedly retreating from the same enemies to chip at their heath AND to avoid being blindsided by enemies that hit me when I'm busy telegraphing MY attack (so rude!)
      -save scumming ad nauseum.
      -quen spamming

      I haven't had a lot of fun on this difficulty (killed a gryphon from behind a haystack :-/). I hope you guys enjoy yourselves more then I did.

      For me death march = dull slog

    Second time I've seen Junglist complain about enemies lunging at him. Does he realise you can step back with a quick dodge and then quickly slash the enemies while their guard is down? I haven't played Bloodborne, but I'm guessing it's something to do with that messing with his head.

    i disagree with the notion.

    Going to have to say I am going with the general consensus in the comments. The combat is fine, it is just different from most games where you can just go on the offensive and expect to be fine. Dodging, rolling and parrying are a must in this game, as well as using potions, oils, bombs, etc. I find it more rewarding than most combat systems in other RPG's as you really have to prepare and choose your battles wisely.

    I also think of it like this..you are a witcher, your job is to kill monsters that normal people can't. Sure you have better reflexes and mutations that allow you to drink potions that would kill normal people and you have the knowledge to make oils which give you an edge against the monster. But you aren't a god, just because you have mutations and better reflexes doesn't mean that combat isn't difficult. You are going up against creatures that can kill entire squads of soldiers with ease and you are just one person. The combat is going to be challenging, and that is part of the fun of it.

    After reading all the above comments maybe the heading should be changed to "Why you should take the time to learn to play a game"

      I don't get it. I explain, in painstaking detail and using multiple references to different, better combat systems, what I mean when I say the combat is bad in The Witcher 3.

      Not to mention, what I said amounts to "you should just play it on easy if you're not enjoying the combat"

        "you should just play it on easy if you're not enjoying the combat"

        Exactly. I have plenty of friends who like playing video games, they like the stories and all the other things you can do in games (especially RPGs) outside of combat and they play on easy because they DON'T find combat enjoyable. These are also people who mightn't normally play video games and shell out their hard earned cashy money on games that the rest of us might like to play on a harder difficulty. Personally? I love it, because it gives me more people to talk about my favourite games with and I wouldn't judge them whatever difficulty level they choose.

        People should be able to play on whatever difficulty level gives them the most enjoyment - and if playing on easy does that for them, it doesn't make them any less a gamer than someone who grinds every single game on whatever the hardcore nightmare equivalent is.

        Playing on easy is still "playing the damn game", to quote @hydroleks, even if they don't seem top think so, because what tickles your fancy about a video game is not necessarily what tickles someone else's.

        I was more having a go at the author of this article. Your video puts across your points very well, I just don't agree with them. Batmans combat looks pretty, but gets boring fast. Its basically a series of QTE's.

          I agree, "if your not enjoying the combat you should just play it on easy" is a fine suggestion to make.
          no matter how core a gamer you fancy yourself, Easy might be the best path.
          This is where the problem lies. This Author doesn't really seem to be making a fair statement about the game. He is basically saying "combat is shit, don't bother at all", which is far from it. Fact is, it's just not for everyone.

        Hey man, great video. You clearly put a lot of time and work into it.

        I agree with your main point: "If you're not enjoying the combat maybe you should knock it down to easy". I think you can apply the same sentiment for most games. Every individual player has to find their own sweet spot when playing a game. I play some games on super hard and others on easy. It depends on what difficulty I feel best represents the 'experience' of that game in particular. It also depends on my mood, how much time I have and whether I just want to experience the story or challenge myself. I never lock myself into a difficulty, I trust how I feel when playing a game and determine what difficulty to play from there. It is an extremely personal experience.

        I think your video has a lot of value to it. You raise a bunch of valid points. I agree with some, I disagree with others. As way of example, I don't care one iota for the fight mechanics in the Arkham games, in my opinion once you learn the mechanics they come down to little more than playing a game of DDR or Guitar Hero with me reacting to on screen prompts. The fact that my button presses lock me and my opponent into a move feels like little more than a WWE match. That said I appreciate that heaps of people, probably the overwhelming majority, love the combat of the Arkham series and that's great.

        The adverse reaction you're getting from the comments comes from the absolutes you throw out within the video and within your own comments. The combat systems in the other games you mentioned are not objectively better than the combat system in The Wild Hunt. They're just not, videogames (even mechanics) don't work like that. Even a game with 'bad/broken' mechanics may gain a hardcore following of fans who learn to play within the bounds of what other people might shrug off a simply 'bad'.

        A good argument is 'this is why I prefer the systems in game A (present evidence) over the systems in game B (present evidence). Which one do you prefer?' rather than 'game A > game B for these reasons'. In the very subjective world of video game preference the latter just doesn't wash.

    So some guy is trying to quantitatively justify their excuses for not being good at something? That their perspective of a subjective activity is correct? From my perspective, there are answers to the flawed situations suggested, ones I have navigated satisfactorily. The combat isn't perfect but the argument itself is flawed by not being empathetic to individual perspective or holistic in nature. Just more prejudice confirmation. Not really sure why people assume to reach certainty so quickly and without three dimensional information as this is too easily scrutinized it amounts to nothing more than a child flinging dirt in a playground. I could tell you why Dr Strangelove is a terrible movie but if my reasoning is shoddy, people will look at the film and then to me and say: "Wtf are you talking about?"

    Really? Ignore this. The combat is only shit if you play on easier difficulties. It's actually quite fun on hard and hardest. I dont expect this dribble from Kotaku. C'mon.

    Last edited 28/05/15 2:32 pm

      Who do you expect dribble from? The NBA?

        Hehe, sorry mate, my comment reads rather harsh. Play on whatever difficulty gives you the most enjoyment. I do think you're missing out big time by playing on easy though.

        he made a pun! I get puns!

        Last edited 28/05/15 4:48 pm

    I'm keen to get this on PS4, does it live up to the hype?

      No it sucks thats why reviews have given it 9.5 /10 on the scale of shit :P

      Definitely! All I'm saying in the video is that if you find yourself not enjoying the combat, chuck it on easy (you can do it at any time) and play it that way instead, it's awesome.

      I would confidently say yes. However, if you are looking for something with fast paced action and combat that's easy to grasp, and a story that is somewhat secondary to the game, this may not be your thing.
      However, if you like deep immersive worlds, complex stories, and a difficult to learn, let alone master, combat, you will like this.

      most of the hype yes. few framerate issues on PS4 and somewhat stupid horse and pathing AI plus long load times after deaths can be frustrating bout outside of those instances, it is worth every dollar spent.

      Thanks for all your advice, appreciate it.

    I've barely got time to play it as it is, and never found the time to finish the last act of Witcher 2, so I've opted for the "just give me the story" difficulty, and I'm enjoying it immensely. I'm not interested in having prolonged games of tag with a group of bandits, or having to retread an hour of questing because I forgot to F5 every few minutes - I'm interested in helping that dude find his brother's body, or finding out exactly why that wraith is haunting the well, or hunting a beast that has been terrorising a village. Given this game can supposedly take 2.5x as long as it took me to finish Dark Souls 2 back when I had a bunch of free time, I'd rather just focus on enjoying the story.

      Yeh these days "time" is the most valuable thing we have. Especially when you are running family and job. Need to manage it efficiently and effectively for ultimate enjoyment. I seriously should choose this option. I don't really have any friends who care anymore about beating something on the hardest difficulty, and i am getting too old to even praise myself for doing it. Yes there once was a time, getting the big boss badge in MG4 was a thing... but yeeeh... its more about the journey in these games rather than testing my reflexes which is slowly dying year by year.

      ^ This. 100% this.

      I have an 18 month old son and a full time job, i simply don't have much time. I am really enjoying the easy difficulty. I put it down from normal to get past a point i was stuck on and it just stayed there. It is not a matter of good/bad combat, it is simply a matter of enjoyment for me. I am really enjoying the story and side quests now feel like Geralt is a bad ass when he is up against other humans. I would prefer if the monsters were a little more powerful on this setting so i generally put up the difficulty for the big monster fights, but so far this is one of the most enjoyable games i have played in years.

    Oh yeah, well I was hectic core all the way, but then I found the experience just wasn't, I dunno, legit core enough for me, so I took the core option of coring it down a notch. Now it's totes the right amount of awesome sauce core action. Cor!

    If you are playing it on easy, then you are not playing the witcher. either play the damn game or don't play it at all. It's too long for easy and would get boring fast without the challenge. It's good to keep a good mix of story, interaction, and combat. The whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts.

      Seeing how the drawcards for this game are 1) 6 alternate endings, 2) choice and consequence and 3) eye candy, lunging into messed up, defensive minded combat for the sole purpose of getting mobbed is just masochism - 50 Shades style.

      every fight is a boss fight. That sucks. Fair enough, combat shouldn't be total cakewalk, but shouldn't be messy, overtly flashy and philosophically moribund (there is no,"advantage" in using an oil, or even having enhanced weaps/oil, you still step too far on swings and open yourself up to getting flanked just engaging one enemy, and have to rely on defense).

      once I get to a boss fight, okay I'm not the best, but it makes sense to be a harder fight - more rewarding to bring down a griffon, dropping pots when needed to keep up your effort.

      you need that for every fight? Its not combat, its shit

        Eh games like blood born and dark souls, every fight is a boss fight and there is nothing wrong there. I'm playing witcher 3 on hard and not every fight is a boss fight. Figured this stuff out, just know how to use my equipment and resources better. That's what it's about.

        When going in for serious fights that may be boss fights or just difficult in general then planning is required and I find that fun. You just sound like you suck at combat, it's cool thats why the easy difficulty option exists; for people that don't want to think much in action on their feet. If it was about true combat it would be a test of dexterity and experience. A single well oriented strike would kill and that's it or get you killed, but it's a game, a witcher game. Hence potions, bombs, oils, signs, equipment and skill which is all meant to be used in a witcher fight.

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