May 27, 2016

Finished Witcher 3 & some Smite thoughts

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Basically as the title implies, I thought I could share some of my experiences and thoughts regarding this game- as a player, so don't expect a full review. Also, at the very bottom I'll include a spoiler covering last fights and my ending in case anyone else happened to beat it and was curious about other possibilities. (so I'd suggest not to open it if you're planning on playing it someday)

I know that a year has passed already since its release, yet back then I wouldn't even dream about playing Witcher on my ancient PC with 1GB of RAM and Windows XP (although I miss it severely). Being honest, I was a bit hesitant as I had the occasion to try out the older Witcher games and, well, I wasn't impressed to say the least.

How wrong I was with that one, however. This purchase provided solid 80 hours of gameplay, without artificial fillers like finding 20 crates or killing 50 wolves, and I still have about 20 hours of side quests available when I feel like doing more. In all honesty by the way, side quests are what makes this game so special- almost all of them have an interesting story attached, with different solutions to solve them; at times I found myself involved more in helping random peasants than pursuing the main goals.

Another great asset was the combat system, which is an extremely important aspect, at least for me. It's inseparable from the character development system the game offers, allowing to choose from various perks/talents improving, but also potentially drastically altering many features, like normal attacks, so called "signs" (basically magic/spells), character traits and alchemy as well. Fights have a feel of smoothness, with rolls, dodges, signs, potions and many attack chains available. That's aspecially true when fighting groups of enemies- finding a window of time to strike in between their attacks feels aspecially rewarding.

Talking about satisfaction- there are 4 difficulity levels available, and as a fresh to the series player I'd call them as folowing:

First one- basically an interactive movie, during fights it is the player who is the boss, not the game bosses themselves.

Second one- not much more difficult than the first, just enemies have more HP, and (probably?) deal a bit more damage.

Third one- the most balanced in my opinion, feels realistic. Enemies deal significantly more damage, have more HP and will try to use some "tactics" against the player. At the beginning character is very weak, and battles require good reflexes. As with most RPGs however, after reaching some point the player becomes an unstoppable force as a reward for his hard work.

Fourth one- from what I saw, the only difference from the previous one is the grind factor- diminished experience gain, forcing to do more side quests before progressing the main story, and (probably) less resources on world map/in treasure chests.

The only real "flaw" that struck me at times was an issue associated with the huge world size- the game was told to be really vivid, with NPC's having interesting conversations etc. I can't deny it- yet it sometimes felt as if it was all just for show- aspecially because the irrelevant characters mostly had just one scripted conversation turning on when the player was passing by, providing a deja vu feel. Also, the thing that I missed was the ability to talk to random villagers, citizens or guards even- be it to ask about the current king, their feels or simply where is the nearest shop; can't have everything I guess.

On the other hand, the level of detail put into the game was stunning- aspecially information about seemingly unfinished stories found it books/letters, "plot twists"; such as consequences inadequate to the choices made, and much more.

Last but definitely not least- the game provided some of the most beautiful game soundtracks I've ever heard- ranging from spooky to joyful ones, with my personal absolute favorite being the one played amongst others during horse races.

All in all, Witcher 3 definitely deserves some attention from every fantasy/RPG lover, but it doesn't mean someone else wouldn't enjoy it. I think I covered the most important aspects that came to my head, but if someone would be interested in some more information I'll be more than happy to provide it.

Then comes the part about which I'd like to state a gentle reminder, that it's just my opinion with some thoughts and by no means I intend to raise any arguments over it. (though I'll of course try to further justify it if necessary)

Well then, I'm not sure myself if it's the moment where I should start looking for a new game, or do I just need a break from Smite. A long one. I don't really have that much to say- it no longer provides any enjoyment to me; a process that started a good while ago. It probably consists of several issues, first one being maybe not the balance itself, but the fact of occurance of a magical barrier separating some characters from being viable (and not requiring a great deal of effort just not to go on negative score).

I know many would say that it doesn't matter, and matchmaking is **** anyways, but after achieving a "decent" level of gameplay, and what it means a higher elo/mmr/whatever would one call that I begun to feel that difference which wasn't that perceptible on lower levels- of some gods being significantly more useful than the others. Of course I can't judge every single character as I simply don't get some, but at least I know what to expect from them, and have the general imagination of things/mechanics etc. etc.

That being said, my point is that I found it sad that when I wanted to get some first wins of the day during an event, the solution was very simple- on Arena, play Odin or Ares. As ADC take Skadi, or Hou Yi. The only supports were Khepri and Athena. Exaggeration? Maybe- but I'm sure you can see some tendency here as well. It doesn't mean that other characters wouldn't do well also, but some would require unimaginably more effort in the process.

Other thing, but actually connected with the previous issue are my experiences with my poor Anubis. I can only ensure you, I don't need any tips regarding his gameplay- but I have to admit my defeat; ever since Season 3 started I was trying to experiment with various builds/game styles, and while I won't deny it's absolutely possible to achieve a decent score with him, when I was mastering/learning different gods the thing that hurt me was the question: Why even bother though?

Take a Nox for example, or even Isis or Sol. What does Anubis have that they cannot provide aswell, while being more safe and easier to execute? I'd say a rework would be in order, but the problem are statistics. They are thought to be more viable than some random opinions, but there is a reason Anubis is never, ever picked in the whole "pro league".
Yet on lower leves, aspecially while levelling he is said to be an ultimate pubstomper character, which overstates these statistics.

This matter was also brought up on some feedback forum, what went on like that (quoting):

"Does HiRez intend to rework Anubis and Hel? I was wondering that because I never saw gods being considered weak for so long..."

With the response being:
"Anubis, no. Hel, probably not. I think a lot of this comes down to what does “Weak” mean. Is Anubis weak? No. He is competitively unviable? Yes. Do you rework a god that receives a lot of play, is overall popular, and the general playerbase enjoys simply to bring him into the competitive scene? Debatable. Anubis is all of the things I have listed above."

Because of that I probably won't see any reworks/tweaks in the future, which is painful given that Hi-Rez already started trying to remove the powercreep issues by buffing (although sometimes unnecessarily) some characters, like Kukulkan, Scylla, Poseidon, Nox and so on.

Oh well, I guess I'll stick to the Smitefire itself I guess; nowadays I find it a lot more interesting to hear others' stories and discussions about Smite than to play it. Aspecially because its community is so suprisingly friendly- I am impressesd and love spending some time here.

As a last thing- I was thinking about starting an in-depth guide about Thor as most of them are just builds without much explanation- unless someone else would like to do so of course.

My Witcher 3 ending -- SPOILERS --