I am of a generation that used to blow on things to get them to work. Also, of a generation that got their fill with games that were 2-3 hours long, excruciatingly hard and had graphics as if built out of Lego. On the other hand, they also were worth 20$.
Somewhere on the break of a century, when Internet connection because an essential aspect of our lives (like water, air and a Netflix subscription) game developers figured out that they can distribute content via Internet.
It made sense, in theory. The wares they peddled were already entirely digital in their nature. It allowed them to continuously modify and improve on the fly, and it would theoretically drive down the pricing by eliminating physical production and distribution costs. That’s what was supposed to happen in an ideal world.
In the end though, corporate greed did what corporate greed does. It corrupted. Instead of more content, better development cycles and constant improvement we got something else. We got cut down, short versions of the original product. Content withheld so it can be sold later at an additional cost. DLC priced nearly half the cost of the original purchase. It was business as usual.
Now, if a game doesn’t come with at least 15$ worth of DLC it’s a surprise. It could be a preorder bonus to justify why physical distribution still exists. It could be a set of skins. Or it could be an essential chunk of the game, cut out in the name of profit.
This is why it’s so refreshing to see a game like The Witcher 3 come out in 2015. While I only explored what I think is 5% of content I already got more milage out of it than the previous 7 games I played to its entirety.
In many ways, the Witcher 3 is an ode to what gaming is supposed to have become and in many ways about what it used to be. It’s in a weird no – man’s land in today’s context.
It is massive, if you compare the content in the witcher 3 with almost any other AAA release, you wouldn’t be wrong to assume CD Projekt Red could have charged twice the price and easily justified it in the long run.
It is creative and original. Each area feels new, each quest and side-story have their own unique purpose, down to unique cutscenes. The developers have not just copy pasted fetch quests and cut corners to justify a massive world. Everything feels like it belongs, like it was meant to be there. This creates a world we’ve never seen, not even in Skyrim.
It is gorgeous. Even on medium PC settings I have to pause and just be captivated for a few minutes about 5 times per play session. This is really a testament.
And most importantly it is self sustained. There is no invisible DLC walls hiding content. No pay to enter areas. Nothing. What’s more, there is actually free DLC coming out that enhances your ecperience. That’s right. FREE. This is a full product, delivered as it should be, in one piece, not a peace meal offering where you have to keep paying. This is what digital distribution was supposed to be.
Sure, there is a DLC pack coming. Sure, it will be paid, BUT, it’s rumored to bring over 30 hours of additional content. To a game with already over 100 hours of it. For a price that’s one third the price of full games that are 1/10th the length. In many ways, this is another ode to the old school, the era of expansion packs where we got a slew of meaningful content for a price. And once again, even here The Witcher 3 succeeds.
Playing the Witcher 3 is a dual experience. It is a modern gaming jewel. It pushes technical hardware to its edge. It also pushes what we’ve come to expect from storytelling, open world and gaming in general. But it also honors gaming tradition, approaching the process with an old school like view. Everything is meticulously crafted from the start to be enjoyed at no extra cost.
As such, you owe it to yourself to try this.