A general guide to the trilogy of the Witcher, the masterpiece created by CD Project RED. Bringing a guidance to not only those who are new to this trilogy but also those who'd like to return to this timeless creation.
The original Witcher game has been released over a decade ago but, despite its old school combat mechanics, still holds a very important place among the rest of RPGs. The Witcher games always came about in just the right time when a good RPG was needed.
I've always only heard about this trilogy but never gotten to playing it until the end of 2017; I bought the trilogy on GoG to try it out add was left speechless. The story delivered by this whole franchise is truly remarkable, an exceptionally well written characters, plot, unique alchemy system with very folklore-related monster appearances with a tad bit of paganism to it.
These games are based on the Witcher books written by Andrzej Sapkowski, that laid foundations to what these games are today, while CD Project RED, in my opinion, elevated the uniqueness of this genre into nothing too far from an art.
The Witcher's story begins some time after the last written novel. That is evidential according to the fact that Geralt seems to encounter a lot of friends that he has established relationships with a while back but due to his amnesia, he can't seem to remember.
It is also a great tool to slowly unroll the story - the main character doesn't remember anything, just like we don't know anything or anybody but slowly begin to understand, just like the player.
Geralt's journey begins in Kaer Morhen, a witcher fort that used to house dozens of its kind but witcher are slowly becoming a relic of the past. You will embark on a marvelous journey split into a prologue, 5 chapters and an epilogue. Once each chapter is finished, it is no longer accessible, with the exception of the second and third, that both leave two major regions opened and you can traverse between them at any point.
The world of The Witcher carries a unique trait to it; being an RPG, there are decisions and consequences, naturally. Those choices, however, do not come as black & white or good & evil, not always at least. These decisions that you have to make during the storyline are more akin to choosing between the lesser evil.
Along the path, you will get the chance to develop a relationship with one of the more major female characters, if you do that or not, is up to you. Keep in mind that some major decisions carry over to the following games.
As for my opinion on this, you should not bother yourself with the decisions and their outcomes on your first playthrough as much. Simply do what you feel is right, ideally, make an "agenda", realize what type of decisions will you stick to. Personally, I went with sparing as many as possible, always sticking to the neutral path and not taking any sides when it involved politics and always be nice to other characters. That was on my first playthrough, the second one, but more witcher-friendly and also more familiar to my own ideology, included killing off and/or punishing the evil characters as well.
Often being a bit snarky and witty.
Whatever decisions you choose, there will be consequences.
The prologue teaches you the basics on its own fairly well, but there are some things you won't be told and have to discover on your own. Other things are definitely worth knowing, especially playing on a hard difficulty.
When selecting difficulty, my first playthrough was on 'hard' difficulty and despite lacking any knowledge on the game, it was fairly doable. Some initial boss and monster fights proved tough and alchemy is truly significant here. If you're an experienced player, I wholeheartedly suggest the hard difficulty. If you're in just for the story, play on medium.
During the prologue and onward, make sure to loot everything you come across, from dead bodies to cabinets. Everything comes in handy.
Running with your sword unsheathed while having selected the "group" or "fast" fighting style makes you run slightly faster than with your sword on the back.
All the necessary information you will need to guide you through the game is located in your journal. Two most important tabs you'll find vital information in are the monsters and ingredients. Always read about the monster you are about to hunt and prepare potions for whatever may come.
Always carry, whatever the difficulty, at least one or two Swallow potions, one Tawny Owl and a Blizzard or Thunderbolt. Cat isn't that necessary but definitely worth carrying around one.
You'll soon realize your inventory is filling faster than you're able to clear it. Make sure to store all the things you don't necessarily need such as Barghest skulls, too many foods (one or two slots of foods are enough for you at a time), valuable rings and other miscellaneous items such as the shawl or flowers and especially books and scrolls which you can sell once you've read them.
The Witcher introduces a minigame - the dice. This game, while it may seem as a mere distraction or a risky way to make some coin for the start, has its own questline going through the entire game. As it is with all single-player RPGs, a cheesy strategy is to always save before any game and reload the save if you've lost, unless you intend on losing hundreds of coins.
In the first chapter, you'll encounter the Royal Huntsman. He'll be in almost every chapter and always providing you with a special contract - to take down local beasts. I suggest you always seek him out and complete his tasks as there's a reward waiting for you near the end of the game. Knowing you can take these monsters out without a large struggle also proves you are ready to move onto another chapter.
As mentioned above, always loot every single basket, cabinet or a wardrobe you see. One of the most useful items are the books containing information on new monsters. Without the knowledge on these beasts, you won't be able to take their trophies, know their weaknesses and thus not complete some contracts related to you, bringing a proof of slaying these foul monsters.
Depending on your choice in the prologue, you may already there receive a red meteorite ore. Same goes for the first chapter. Just as you begin the second chapter, you may already own three or four meteorite ores that enable you to craft a silver weapon designed to kill beasts. I suggest holding onto these ores once you've gathered more of them and choose which sword would you like forged.
Just like with the potions, apply the same rule to flints. Carry 10 of them with you at all times as you will not always be able to rest at your friends' whereabouts but most of the time will find the need to rest by the fireplace.
As it is with books about monsters, same goes for plants. If you're playing on a hard difficulty, herbs-related books are one of your priorities. Unless you've learned about them, you cannot pick them up. At some point, an antiquary will spawn in the first chapter's inn who will sell books. There's also another one in Vizima, the second chapter.
You can have a dialogue with regular characters like an old townswoman. These, and others, with a little of shown gratitude, will provide you with an information that would otherwise cost you money such as telling you about some monsters or plants - giving you the knowledge on them.
Distributing skill points will soon become a thing needing to be looked into. Skill points are distributed into bronze, silver and gold. Carefully read through the skill tree and understand it. First, you may want to upgrade the steel sword combat style as it you should obtain silver sword in the second chapter anyway. Go for a little bit of each - strong, fast and group steel sword upgrades. Once you obtain silver sword, yet again, allocate points evenly, preferably focusing a little bit more on fast and group style. As for signs, Aard is easily the basic choice to always go for as it may stun your enemies, allowing you to finish one or two of them with a single blow. I rarely used Quen or Yrden on my first playthrough but you may find use for them either way.
You don't need to keep storing or carrying around contracts - you can throw them away outright. Otherwise they will be handed over when the quest has been completed.
Fist fights may seem hard at times but there's a cheap way of getting around them by simply blocking (RMB) right after you land an attack (LMB). That way, you can beat any fighter.
Pressing the Alt key by default shows all objects' names in your proximity. You can choose to turn those 'on' in the settings to always see lootable objects which helps you not overlook any possible valuables.
Meteorite sword forgers will vary depending on your choices and what side you choose to go with. You may be able to craft swords with the Order smiths or the dwarven one. More than once during the second chapter, you may be forced to stop trading with one and go to the other as your reputation will likely shift.
It's mostly unnecessary for you to focus on forging a meteorite sword right in the second chapter as you can find more than equally good sword located in the swamp at the wyverns' nest.
As mentioned above, you can get bestiary entries other ways than from books, usually by simply talking to NPCs or bringing them items they need. But when necessary, you may have to buy a book that might go up to 600g a piece. Make sure to read the book and immediatelly sell it back for 120g (if it cost 600g originally). Doing that with every book or a recipe you've already read slightly helps bring the price down.
When it comes to upgrading your armor, I suggest completely skipping out on that part. Not only it is unreasonably expensive (5000g), but also you'll get the opportunity to get a worthy armor later on in the game during a questline. And the additional quickslot it offers isn't worth the gold either as you can simply open up the inventory and use whatever item you wish from there.
Not really a tip but a worthy mention; in the 4th chapter, there's an inkeeper who shares rather interesting story with you about "fate", which is largely relevant in the Witcher trilogy. Make sure to listen to him.
If you're used to saving often in RPG games, as you should, at one point, you will find that you have too many unnecessary and old saves that do slow down certain actions in the main menu. Once in a while, go into the saves location in your documents and delete the old ones you won't need. I did that twice during my playthrough.
When playing on a hard difficulty, you will need to pay an extra attention to your alchemical abilities and collecting herbs. As I already mentioned, always keep yourself stocked on potions. On normal difficulty, you really need not carry all sorts of oils and bombs for each occasion but on a hard difficulty, you may have to. Later on, you'll get to a point, where your alchemical basis are simply not good enough for some potions such as the White Raffard's Decoction - you will need either a high quality base (Cordials or Spirits) or straight up create White Gull which serves as a high quality potion base as well and needs basically any of the bases you already are stocked up on and just two vitriols and a singular rebis.
When fighting giant centipedes, unless you time your continuous attacks just right, they will keep going under and especially in larger numbers, eventually overwhelm you. Make sure you always attack as they trigger the burrowing animation.
Maxing out the Igni sign, combined with using the group style attack proves very effective againts multiple enemies, however, if Igni is too high in skill points, enemies will flee, forcing you to chase them. Making it a fairly annoying combat.
Potentional spoilers in this tip: When you arrive back to the old Vizima at Chapter V, keep in mind that after entering the city, you can no longer access any storage anywhere. Dandelion at the lake is your last access to your stored items so suit yourself up. Take any runes with you that you've saved up until now if you intend on crafting a new sword, also some food, all chemical bases and especially consider taking items that you intend to hand over to the dentist such as Alp fangs, Cemetaur Jaws or Fleder fangs. This is what my inventory looked like after sorting it out and heading into the city.
It is possible to swap targeted enemies mid-fight while taking on for example two monsters that are better off dealt with using the heavy style simply by adjusting your camera to the other target. This won't reset your combo but swapping styles will.
The combat in the original Witcher game will nowadays feel unlike any other. If you've played the old-school classic RPG - Gothic, you won't be surprised. Not that it's similiar but but it's different.
Refer to my starter's guide for more specific combat tips.
You'll be introduced to the combat mechanics in the prologue of the game quite well and you can master it fairly easily.
All you need is the correct sword and the correct combat style. If you're completely new to the Witcher universe, you must always keep in mind that since you carry two swords, they have their purpose. Steel and Silver; for humans and for monsters (or as Geralt says, "...both are for monsters..."). Then there are combat styles - heavy, fast, group. It's quite self-explanatory that you would use "heavy" againts armored and bigger targets while fast againts quick opponents. Group works somewhat both ways but it's preferable to use it only if surrounded by 3 or more enemies
And next up; signs.
- Aard (knockback, stun).
- Yrden (trap).
- Quen (barrier).
- Axii (mindcontrol - make enemies fight alongside you).
- Igni (sets enemies ablaze).
You can easily make do with focusing on just two signs. My favorites are Aard but even more so Igni. Altough Quen proves quite effective as well, if cast before the fight, it absorbs one hit, enabling you to eat consumables or drink potion. If Aard is upgraded early on, it can be of help againts stronger opponents who, if stunned, can be finished in one move. Igni with combination of the group style, can defeat hordes of foes within second. The downside of that is that they'll begin to flee if this sign is quite leveled, forcing you to chase them and cancelling most of your attacks. Yrden also proved fairly effective on my first playthrough (hard difficulty) but generally only againts trophy monsters in the early chapters. As for Axii, I've never really found myself to be in a great need for it.
It's also possible to charge the signs by holding the RMB. Note that the meter has to go all the way to the right. You can also increase your signs' intensity (their raw power) or duration (for signs like Yrden or Quen to last longer).
What became pretty much a necessity for me was rebinding the default keys. To draw steel sword - F1, for silver sword - F2, signs on 1, 2, 3 and 4 and equipment slots on Q, E and left CTRL. It's essential for you to be comfortable with settings that are made for you because all the variations of signs, combat styles, potions and swords may become hectic.
Playing undeniably large role in the Witcher universe are the potions. You will be introduced to a large pool of potions that range from simple, over-the-time healing potion like the Swallow to potions that enable you to see invisible foes. But you can also craft bombs and oils to empower your swords.
Personally, I've never found much of a need for bombs or on both of my playthroughs, but found oils quite useful on the hard difficulty. If you're playing on hard mode, you'll want to save up your potions and instead, slowly regenerate your health using food and fireplaces. Always make sure to carry at least 1 Swallow with you at all times, Thunderbolt, possibly Cat potion for completely dark caves and potentionally Tawny Oil for increased endurance regeneration.
More on this topic in the next section.
Throughout the game you'll continuously find new items whether it be alchemical ingredients, sword-empowering oils and grindstones as well as books and other miscellaneous items. Luckily, you get access to a storage very early on so I advise storing all the items you might not have any use for at the moment (or don't know their use) yet. One-time use items like books, recipes or quest scrolls will remain in your inventory after read so you can either drop them off right away or if you'd prefer to milk the game of as much gold as possible, store all the documents and sell them to appropriate merchants, like the Book keeper in chapter 2. Alternatively, quest scrolls will vanish upon handing over the contract.
You won't need to wory about not enough space for your herbs as there is a different pouch for all your alchemical ingredients that you need not worry until several chapters in, where it might start to get fully stacked. You'll encounter plenty of "unknown herbs" around the area and to collect these herbs you'll need to read books or learn about these from local people.
Apart from grindstones, diamond dusts and oils that temporarily enhance your sword's damage output, you'll also encounter runes. These split into "permanent" and "temporary". Temporary runes are Perun, Svarog and Vodon. These imbue your already made sword with additional bonuses while the permanent ones - Earth, Moon and Sun rune imbue your sword permanently.
Personally, I've always only used temporary runestones as they can be switched up.
In this category there are also meteorite ores. These are rare stones that can be used to forge a whole sword (upon owning 3 altogether). Rarest of all is the yellow meteorite ore.
Nevertheless, I only once crafted a meteorite sword but still having Moonblade and G'valchir, both swords that guarantee +100% of constant damage is proving to be superior than having to rely on 25%, 35% and 50% bonuses.
When it comes to your armor, you can certainly make do with your original one until you get the quest "Armor" and obtain the best armor. The only armor worth considering is excellent leather jacket that costs 5k gold but by then, you're mostly likely skilled enough to not be in a need of an upgrade but most importantly, you probably won't want to spent 90% of your pouch on the armor.
As for your other inventory appendices, I strongly recommend reading the monster tab as soon as a new entry has been added to always be up-to-date with all that you can be. Encountering a beast that you won't know what's it weak or immune to, will only cost you more in time, food and health potions. If you're really interested in the story, it's a must to read the characters' backstories. You can also review the romance cards with characters that you've had romance with.
The Witcher game is not really a collector's game, so to speak. From my two playthroughs it's safe for me to assume that the game does not "help" you or tell you which items you should save and put into storage for later chapters.
Most notorious example would be Zahin, the dentist's quest. You are to bring him teeth specimens of various creatures ranging from barghest skulls (only obtainable in Chapter 1) or the Devourer teeth (must keep them in storage from chapter 4 to chapter 5). Frankly, barghest skulls can be apparently bought back from Kalkstein if you sold them to him in the earlier chapters, provided it occurs to you to get them from him.
Luckily, there's the save editor, enabling you to edit your saved file and add the missing item to your inventory to complete the quest, if you do not want to leave it opened and unfinished.
On my first playthrough, I had no knowledge of this situation and therefore used the editor to deliver myself a Devourer teeth to complete the quest. However, on the second playthrough I was more cautious and kept Barghest skulls and a Devourer teeth in my inventory.
Still, should you find yourself in a hopeless situation with unfinished quest, I then recommend the usage of the editor, however, I personally would not use it to enhance myself in any other way. It's a shame and takes away some fun aspects of the game but then again, it's your game; your way.
There are several links to the editor here.
I used the first .zip file uploaded to Dropbox.
When it comes to installing and running the editor itself, there's a Readme.txt file in it to guide you through it but still, I found myself having minor troubles due to different installation directories of my java and the game itself.
- I extracted the file into my The Witcher Enhanced Edition file to keep it at one place.
- Opened the properties of the .exe shortcut found in the downloaded package.
- In my case, the "target" field in the shortcut's properties had to read:
"C:\Program Files (x86)\Java\jre1.8.0_231\bin\javaw.exe" -DTW.language=3 -jar -DTW.install.path="D:\Rein\Steam\SteamApps\common\The Witcher Enhanced Edition" -jar TWEditor.jar -Xmx256m
You can freely copy-paste the aforementioned line, altough, naturally change your directories to where your java is installed and where your game is located as well.
To locate the directory of your java go to: Start/Control Panels/Java/Java/View, double click "Path" tab and copy-paste the route.
If your game is in a different language, replace the -DTW.language=3's number "3" with one that suits your language. There should be a suitable .txt file in the original game's files containing a list of the numbers.
Being a classical RPG, the choices you make matter; whether in later chapters or immediately afterwards. Essentially, you can figure out your path and how you will approach situations so that you can more easily conclude quests that require you to decide.
Should you choose to play as a good-hearted Geralt who inflicts little to no harm upon everyone, even the "evil" humans or non-humans and also spare monsters? Ask for no reward and be kind? Or you can be the absolute polar opposite. Personally, I find the middle ground to be most suitable for the game. In the end, The Witcher isn't a game about 'good vs evil', it's not that easy and as such you might want to approach it.
Speaking of two opposites, you will soon be presented with a decision to either join the Order of the Flaming rose or the Scoia'tael. What comes clear is that the Order is composed of knights who help the poor, ask no reward, slay monsters and protect those in need, altough they detest non-humans for their terroristical activities. Meanwhile the Scoia'tael, being all sorts of non-humans (from elves to dwarfs), fight for a long lost ideal of freedom. The world is changing, non-humans are weakened and the only way they let themselves be heard is through violent acts.
However, you need not join either of those, you may choose to remain neutral and not aid either side. Altough keep in mind that staying neutral will set either of the two sides win certain scenarios by default.
Even though your choices will carry over to the next games, some will not.
For example, if you choose to romance Shani or nobody at all, you will still start with Triss as if the game did not care for your previous game's choices.
Also, if you let Thaler be killed by De Wett, he will nevertheless appear in the upcoming games.
If it's your first playthrough, I'd suggest remaining neutral and merely observe how things develop and should you choose to play a second time, then, perhaps, make a choice and join one of the sides, if you cannot really decide.
Funnily enough, the famous "witcher neutrality" has been joked about in the books, therefore it shouldn't really be taken that seriously in the game.
Witcher is filled with decisions and consequences, however, something I had not noticed myself, only after reading it on dedicated forums, is that the supposed Raymond Maarloeve, that you encounter in chapter 2 to aid him in his investigation, is killed shortly after you meet him and Javed replaces him. Therefore you only get to meet the "real" Raymond a few times. This is proved by your medallion vibrating when you're near Raymond after certain point (signalizing there's an enemy nearby) and also the box of Fisstech on the table.
When it comes to decisions that carry over to the second game, it'd be fairly "minor" relationships that you've had with characters like Shani or how you ended up dealing with Adda. Either they will be merely mentioned or you might get a letter from them. Also, a small amount of earned Orens will transfer to your Witcher 2 save as well as important items you've gotten such as the Moonblade, Aerondight or the Raven's armor.
Whatever choices you make, remember, there are only choices and consequences. Do not be too troubled if you did the "right" thing. Funnily enough, all the seemingly good choices also have their downside.
Story Conclusion (Spoilers)
The story narrative is, in my opinion, pretty good but most of all it pays homage to this era's RPG games and ones that came before it. Suffice to say it's a story worth every minute invested in as I also highly recommend doing side quests since they add a great value to the overall experience.
Altough, after completing the game, I am sure there are some questions desired to be answered. I know I needed to reassure myself after the ending, so read no further; this section is big on spoilers as they explain the ending of the game as Witcher 3's related segments.
The story is fairly self-explanatory until things take wild turn later on in the 5th chapter and the prologue. Turns out that the Order has been behind the scenes, working in secret while the Salamandra was simply their means. This doesn't necessarily make the Order bad, for the Grand Master had a vision he believed in and he was right. But we didn't know that before Witcher 3 came about. The White Frost is not just an empty prophecy, it is supposed to come, it will inevitably happen. The snow is meant to blanket the whole world and the Grand Master knew this because of his visions.
In the prologue, he takes you into a place of a the future, showing you what is to come... or not, if a certain 'chosen one' succeeds. During your travels in these frozen lands, you will get to encounter characters you've had any important relationship or encounter with. It could be either White Rayla (if sided with the Order) or Abigail (if saved in chapter 1) as well as many other characters depending on which path you took.
The whole story plays with the 'destiny' a lot but whose destiny is it? Geralt's? Someone else's? This inkeeper's dialogue sheds a lot of light into the third Witcher game as well, related to the chosen one and the White Frost.
But that's going too far into the third game of the trilogy.
A lot of the game's views on things are fairly grey, nothing is black or white, the Witcher world does not partake in absolutism. Therefore it is up to you to decide what choices are to your likings.
Altough if you're paying at least a little bit of an attention you'll see a perfect twist in the story.
If you haven't figured it out yet after completing the game, the Grand Master, Jacques de Aldersberg, is in fact Alvin.
When you see him for the last time, he teleports away at the end of chapter 4, transceding time and space and returns back as the Grand Master, whose apparently been present the whole time. He vaguely remembers Geralt's teachings and reflects upon what has Geralt told him over the course of the game. Altough "Jacques" himself does not have any knowledge of him being "Alvin" nor accompanying Geralt or Triss. He comes back into our timeline with a vision to stop the White Frost, thus he creates the Order.
What's a dead giveaway are the moments Jacques tells Geralt the lessons he had taught him, after the battle, Jacques words (should you choose to kill him yourself with the silver sword) "This sword... is for monsters." Referring to knowing about the witcher trade, arguably from Geralt. At the very last, after slain, Geralt notices the protective amulet that Alvin has received in order to fight back the dreams and visions... the amulet looks quite aged.
After the prologue, an ending scene plays with our witcher, Geralt, getting his reward from Foltest, who is shortly after attacked by an assassin. After Geralt takes care of the assassin, it turns out he has witchers' eyes - a good opening for the sequel, Assassin of Kings.
Well-made story, entertaining and meaningful side-quests, impactful choices that enable at least two playthroughs, classic RPG elements and a solid foundation for one of the greatest trilogies I've ever played.
Altough the combat mechanics may seem outdated at this year, it's very well adaptable and at the very least, something new compared to simple button smashing, which, ultimately may very well be as well and yet, not quite.
The alchemy aspect of the game adds a good way to not "cheat" the game's opportunity by simply adding two or three kinds of potions but a large pool of available consumables. Perhaps overwhelming at first sight just as the combat, it turns out to be fun if you take your time to learn things.
It's worth mentioning that I haven't played the Witcher trilogy up until December 2017 and I'm glad I listened to the reviews and excellent talks people were associating with this trilogy. Being fan of games such as Gothic or Risen, this was a must and if you are as well, then I reckon you'd have enjoyed this.