Imagine, if you will — a game is released that is perhaps the best game its genre has seen in many, many years. Imagine that this game, while being an amazing achievement in its own right, was plagued with small issues that built up to bring the game’s overall impact down from where it really should been. Now imagine that the developer actually LISTENED to the issues people were taking with the game, made a big ol’ list of things that needed to be fixed, and then sat down and got back to work. Well that’s exactly what happened with The Witcher. It was perhaps last year’s greatest RPG achievement, and may take home that honor for a second year with the release of The Witcher: Enhanced Edition.
The original Witcher was a remarkable package in its own right. It introduced a fantasy that was unfamiliar to many, a world where elves, dwarfs, humans and the like are anything but cordial. A gritty, dreary fantasy world that few would actually “fantasize” about. Sadly, the stability of the initial release was also somewhat dreary. Gamers who jumped right in on day one were met with numerous crashes, glitches and bugs and the game was promptly patched. However, the patch could only do so much and the title was still met with much criticism for its obvious technical shortcomings. As if that weren’t enough, the load times were less-than-satisfactory as well. This was particularly frustrating as players would be running their virtual errands in and out of certain loading zones which would make even the simplest task an exercise in patience.
If this were any other game, that would be where the story ends. A fine title that was shot in the leg by a grocery list of technical issues that just couldn’t be overcome in time for release. However, CD Projekt wasn’t about to let it end that way, and they got right back to work. The fruit of their labor is the Enhanced Edition. If you’re wondering how much could have POSSIBLY changed in just under a year from the first game’s release, let me just say: “Oh, what a difference a year can make.” I say that because if this game didn’t have the same title strewn over the box, it would be hard to recognize it from gameplay alone. Literally every issue has been attended to. The graphics are vastly improved, with new textures, lighting effects and angles and vastly improved character response and behavior. The audio has also seen a complete overhaul with literally thousands of lines of dialogue that has been completely reworked and comes across much more natural than many of the original recordings. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the glitches and bugs have been run out of town by a mob of angry villagers with pitchforks and the loading times have been sliced down to just a fraction of what they originally were. Bravo!
Now, assuming you’ve already purchased one version of The Witcher, Atari is making it worth your while to pick it up again with a host of added content that will surely make any Witcher fan drool. The new Enhanced Edition packaging contains within it 4 additional discs that contain the following: Music inspired by The Witcher, the official game soundtrack, making-of DVD, and the D’jinni Adventure Editor disc that also contains the new questlines. You’ll also find a short story booklet and a decidedly vintage map enclosed within for your collecting pleasure.
What this all really comes down to is dedication. It’s remarkably refreshing to see a developer like CD Projekt really come through for their fans and spend the extra time and effort to bring out a product that answers all the complaints gamers have been able to muster regarding this truly superior RPG experience. If you’ve been waiting to purchase The Witcher or just never got around to purchasing it the first time, it goes without saying that this is the version to pick up. Not only will you receive one of the best RPGs the PC community has ever seen, but you’ll also be receiving what amounts to a true labor of love by a quality developer.
We’ll be giving away one copy of the Enhanced Edition during next Monday’s podcast, so be sure to tune in.