Just under 15 minutes of the early parts of The Witcher 3 has been released to the public. It covers the game's early goings and a side-quest that gives Geralt a bit of something to chew his swords into.
The video comes courtesy of IGN, which you can view below.
So first up, the facial animations in The Witcher 3 are superb. The lip-syncing is some of the best in-engine, in-game lip-syncing I've seen. That's no easy task to accomplish, even with middleware tools like Annosoft or the LipSync SDK, which help automate mouth animations and geometry to certain vocal sounds to get the most out of the vocal performance by an actor. Added to this, the facial animations to match the vocal enunciation and elocution is spot on, showing characters with a range of subtle emoting while speaking. This rings especially true during the scenes with Geralt and his riding partner at the beginning of the video.
Of course, the only thing that really seems a bit grating as far as the sounds and voices go is that Geralt sounds like Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid 4 with an extra bit of gravel in his throat.
The video doesn't offer much in the way of spoilers, so you don't have to worry about having any part of The Witcher 3 thoroughly ruined because some major plot device slipped through the cracks. It's all quite benign as far as the story goes.
We do get to see a bit of how the open-world gameplay works and a little bit of the horseback combat. I think this is maybe the first time I've seen Geralt attacking from riding on horseback, which is pretty cool. This also opens up some huge possibilities for combat sequences... where maybe we'll get to see some chase sequences on horses through the forests? It feels like an underutilized mechanic in many other games, so it's nice to see that it's been implemented to some degree in The Witcher 3 with solid results.
The video also reveals that the gameplay is no walk in the park. Casual gamers may find the combat rather difficult given that the monsters don't give Geralt an inch. Even going against those low-level scrub monsters the player has to exercise a lot of strategy and tactics. Prepping before heading into battle is absolutely necessary in most cases, unless you're going against some thuggish humans, like the ones Geralt dispatches near the end of the video.
Also, I should add that the fights with humans look really good. I like the parry, counter, blocking and dodging when engaged with bipedal enemies who use blockable weapons. They did a nice job making the fights look dynamic and cinematic.
You can tell that CD Projekt RED has put a lot of time and tender care into the development of The Witcher 3, from the perfectly blended nuances of Geralt getting on and off the horse, to the way the foliage moves with the wind and the directional sound is used to convey a sense of atmosphere – such as the woodpecker slightly coming into audible range briefly as Geralt passed by a thicket of trees while traveling along the road. All the little details add up for a truly immersive experience, based on what's been showcased so far.
The Witcher 3 is due for release on May 19th for the Xbox One, PS4 and PC.