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Serious Discussion: Does The Witcher 3 really have bad combat?

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We see this view constantly. I don't think I've ever seen TW3 mentioned without someone saying the combat is awful, or to a lesser extent, not the focus.

I'm not going to bother discussing this anywhere else because usually these types don't even examine combat mechanics, and are Souls fanboys or trolls.

When I get home I'm going to post some comments I've heard and maybe find some and post them here, then analyze what exactly people think makes the combat so bad.


Some common ones. Feel free to add you own comments on these and any other points you've heard.

Soft lock-on
I can agree with this. I like to be able to attack whoever I want, not being stuck on the nearest enemy. I don't think this makes the combat bad, but it would be better without it.

Why use anything other than the most powerful build?
Irrelevant point. We've seen this with DMC and other action games with players who don't care about mechanics.

Quen breaks the game.
You aren't forced to use it.

No build variety.
I must have been imagining all those builds I saw on YT just now.

Comparisons to Dark Souls games.
Anyone? I don't know enough to say much about Souls since I only ever played with the bow. The games are different though so I'm not sure why they're being compared.

Clunky (dodging and movement in general.
I didn't find it bad. It's not a high speed game and the dodging worked just fine for me.

Becomes too easy.
Okami is easy too, yet the mechanics are fantastic. It would be nice if it had a harder mode though.

Basic sword attack animations vary depending on where the enemy is/distance. The pirouette animations.
I have mixed feelings about this. I didn't bother me that much, but probably because I gut used to it fast and got a feel for how Geralt would move based on the enemy's distance. I don't like the idea though and would never ask for it to be in any game.


I think what's really important to note here is the goal of the combat. The goal in The Witcher 3 (TW3) is to make you feel like you are Gerald from the books. He's a brutal swordsman with a genetics edge on regular humans, but he's no Superman.

The whole game's emphasis on monster hunting and combat with them is - imo - very well done. A generic player will just run at a beast and either die or win, but a good player will use the game's lore-mechanics. They'll read up on its beastiary to get a better understanding of the monster (sometimes doing sidequests to get this information), use the information to learn weaknesses such as potions, oils etc. You'll make those oils, the potions, prepare for the fight, make sure it is the right time of day so you have good visibility, kill off any nearby enemies so you have a clear room of engagement, and then you go in the cave or area and fight the beast.
Technically that's the combat. The fight itself isn't that 'deep' or impressive other than it looks impactful and shiny (good sfx on hit, enemies visibily react well timed to your attacks etc). I also like that there are two dodges (sidestep and roll), gives you plenty of options without messing with weapon styles or directions or lockon things like in Bloodborne and Nioh. Fights against humans are fast, brutal and bloody (lots of screaming). The spells are okay, they are more suplementary. I do feel it could've been done better, as right now you can easily spam it to hell and back.

But that's what I really like about the game, the whole fight before it. As such though, the game shines best under certain handicap runs. Doing things like Deathmarch No-HUD already breathes new life into the game.

To react to some of your points:

> soft lock
Ninja Gaiden did this too, and worse I feel. It is fine here and I never had any issue with it. If you cannot press a direction on the stick, that's your incompetence.

> builds
Some trees are a bit too good (potions), but all in all you're just very powerful. Sure you can use the most imbalanced build around, but again, you can do this too in DMC4 (DRI4), Bayonetta, Nioh, Ninja Gaiden Black (UF-spam).

> Quen
Hardly. It's an extra shield. When upped it can be really good though, but it doesn't make you immortal as most note.

> Dark Souls
Hilarious, just shows how little action games these people play. Dark Souls is the only game in the genre they touched so if it has a sword, it must be Dark Souls. Otherwise it is Bloodborne.

> Clunky
Just a different style of game. It is more slow, but it does suffer (on consoles) from dropped inputs at times.

> Too easy
Most that say that used overpowered builds on Normal, so I don't see that as true. If you play on Deathmarch from the start the game gives plenty of hard fights. It is just easy to ignore those and level up a bit and then just gimp the enemy with your high level gear.
I feel adding stats here was a mistake, at least the whole level-concept.

> Basic sword attack animations vary depending on where the enemy is/distance. The pirouette animations.
That is just incorrect. They vary, yes, but they always do the same thing depending on what you are doing and where you are. Once you know that, you can always predict what type of slash you'll get. Metal Gear Rising had the exact same system and it never got a single complaint about it.

PS: I just know now that I want to write a Stinger article on this game too...fml.


Good points.

Soft lock
It might also depend on the game and how other mechanics work with it. Like NG has a ton more options like movement, attacks, blocking.

The goal in The Witcher 3
Is that why people call it bad though? Sure there's stuff from the books like silver swords and fancy spinning attacks, but not actual game mechanics stuff like i-frames or builds.

There's always something overpowered in any game. Why don't people understand this? I've seen them criticizing a game for this, while in the same paragraph praising a game that does it too.


I believe it was a certain build that was really powerful.

I started on death march and found it quite dangerous if not properly prepared.

I was going to mention MGR but forgot while I was typing. I think again it's a case of the game and what other mechanics you have available.

The pirouette moves are a complaint I've seen often, due to how they have some wind up. I never had an issue with them though. As you said, you get a to know what's going to come out.


People call it bad because they generally seem to see combat in three camps. You're either Dark Souls (slow methodical), you're Devil May Cry (showcase of style) or Batman (braindead, but fun in their eyes). It is a very narrow view.

> overpowered
Same reason why people call reviewers out if a game they hate gets a high score and call them "sell outs" but when those same reviewers praise a game they praise, the suddenly love the reviewer. People don't know why they like what they like, so they just accept it and don't look further.

> Quen
A certain build: exactly. As a standalone ability it was fine. And you could just not use it, as using it limited your other abilities badly.

> animations
It is a beginners complaint and one of action gamers who want full control and style, it can be hard to get into but once you're used to it it is absolutely fine. Batman also does random attacks at times, their animation speeds are always fine. Dante does random taunts in DMC4, is that bad?
Of course not.

> difficulty
Yeah the game can be quite hard if you're unprepared, some fights can see you die in 1 to 3 hits if you're not careful. I think this all comes back to players 'optimizing the fun out of a game'. With so many options in armor and stat combinations, it is easy to just burn the game down.


I barely touched this sign. I hate this type of defensive stuff. I like ranged, debilitation, or traps. So I instantly gravitated towards the cross bow and poison arrows, Yrden, and looked into bombs.

If I can stop lying and procrastinating, I want to start playing this again and do an analysis of the basic melee, as this seems to be what bothers everyone the most.


Quen's biggest fault is that when using it you lose acces to a lot of other magical tools. Yrden is great. I was a big Ard fan myself and the mindcontrol Axii. Loved it.

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