Maybe The Witcher 3 Isn't Just For RPG Fanatics
For the most part, role-playing games are for RPG fans. And that's it.
It might be the greatest RPG ever made but no matter how amazing it is, chances are, it will still only appeal to those who are familiar with - and typically adore - the genre in question. It's expressly for the hardcore gamer who wants to get super involved in his or her virtual experience.
Of course, there are many different types of RPGs these days and besides, the very definition has gotten a little hazy. But I think we can all agree that CD Projekt Red's upcoming game, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, is indeed a role-playing game in every sense of the term. That being said, is it also a game that might entice those outside the RPG fold? Sure, it's ridiculously deep and long (which can intimidate the more casual gamers out there), but there's also something universally appealing about it, I think. It goes beyond the amazing landscapes, and it's not just about blending fast, crowd-pleasing combat with an obscene amount of complexity. I think that perhaps the complexity involved isn't quite so overwhelming and in fact, the game might encourage newcomers to give RPGs a try.
It's rare that such games come around. I have friends who swear they'd never touch an RPG, and they've admitted to having an interest in The Witcher 3. When I ask them why, they say it just "looks special," or something to that effect, and they'd be willing to give it a try. If we're talking about immersion, maybe this is the game that offers the most amount of immersion potential for the most amount of people. You don't even have to be a fantasy fan (even if it helps that things like "Game of Thrones" are huge right now). You just have to enjoy video games and if you do, I have the feeling you've already looked at this massively anticipated title with at least some interest.
A crossover title? A game that brings millions more together in praise? Maybe not. An RPG is still an RPG and not for the faint of heart. That being said, don't be surprised to come across people ten years from now who say their very first role-playing game was The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
5/8/2015 Ben Dutka