: Was The Witcher 3 Popular Because It Was Easy?

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Was The Witcher 3 Popular Because It Was Easy?

A few days ago, we heard that developer CD Projekt Red was still "amazed" at the widespread popularity of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

When I brought this up to a friend the other day, he just shrugged and said, "Well sure. It's easy."

It's not the first time I've heard gamers accuse the open-world RPG of simply being too easy to breeze through, which got me thinking: While it's certainly true that such a game would normally appeal only to the hardcore crowd, it's arguable that, using the default difficulty, The Witcher 3 is very casual-friendly. I know someone who went through the entire game without ever using bombs or signs, and he didn't really struggle at all. Then I realized that most avid gamers I know played through on a harder difficulty because it just wasn't all that satisfying on the default difficulty setting.

Then, you factor in a pretty hefty marketing campaign that often disguised the game's depth and emphasized the action segments, and you start to wonder...did CD Projekt Red now precisely what they were doing? In order to appeal to the casuals, you can't put up an intimidating front; you have to highlight the "fast and dumb" side, even if the entire game hardly qualifies as "fast and dumb." Basically, just take a page from Hollywood's playbook when it comes to movie trailers. There are quite a few gamers out there who will tell you that they never play RPGs but they did play The Witcher 3. And I bet many of them played it just like the person I cited above. They didn't want to bother with the nuts and bolts and in truth, didn't really have to. Just kill enough stuff and you can kill more stuff.

Then again, micromanagement is still a part of the experience. Buying, crafting and alchemy are big parts of the game, right? Well, they don't necessarily have to be. Really, if you just check what the merchants have to buy and you snag some good equipment that way, I wonder if you ever have to use crafting or alchemy. I'm willing to bet that you don't, provided you play on the default difficulty. Blocking, parrying, and dodging are pretty crucial on the battlefield and if you've got a skilled action veteran, that person can probably still play, enjoy and complete The Witcher 3, without really touching any of the deeper, more intricate parts of the production. Perhaps this factored into the product's popularity as well...

10/16/2015 Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (8 posts)

Saturday, October 17, 2015 @ 4:56:14 AM

I still haven't got round to playing this yet, just don't have enough time. If its like you've stated then its a masterclass of game design from 3D Projekt Red. Designing a game that can be enjoyed by the masses, but also increasing the difficulty in a meaningful way for those interested in more of a challenge - great work!

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Saturday, October 17, 2015 @ 7:44:33 AM

Still haven't gotten around to picking up this gem. Im wait for the more then likely. game of the year edition version for all the DLC and updates on the disc.

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Saturday, October 17, 2015 @ 11:48:11 AM

It wasn't popular because it was easy - it's because you had the option to make it as hard (or easy) as you wanted. This would appeal to the broadest audience - you want a hard game; you've got it! - want something easy; you can have that too!

It makes for broader interest which makes for greater sales (vs. a "niche" game).

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Saturday, October 17, 2015 @ 6:21:17 PM

This, this and this - you can make it hard, you can make it easy, and it's a great game either way. This can only ever be a good thing. People have varying capabilities, and games can only be broadly popular if they are designed to cater to a range of capabilities. Imagine if people were only allowed to play golf if they always averaged one under par, for example? It'd be nuts. And yet a number of games (still!) assume gamers are all equally capable and it's just a matter of putting in effort to get past it - like everyone can swim 1600 metres as fast as an olympic athlete, they just need to get the practice in. Ridonculous.

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Saturday, October 17, 2015 @ 4:28:44 PM

TWitcher 3 isn't what it seems. Everything from combat to magic to skill trees are dumbed down for the 8th grade audience. There aren't even factions.

Risen 3 is on PS4 and while the combat isn't scintillating there is a whole lot more content that belongs on an RPG. It's big but not just vast fields of worthlessness.

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Saturday, October 17, 2015 @ 11:03:19 PM

Never played Risen 3, but you are insinuating that game as even worse combat than Witcher 3?, maybe you are going a bit too far.

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Saturday, October 17, 2015 @ 9:45:55 PM

Just getting into Hearts of Stone. My Geralt is lv 35 with mastercrafted wolf gear, and I still had to move the difficulty down to normal to have a chance at the first boss.
Seems the expansions are already addressing this perceived easiness, but like others have said, it's allowing people to choose their appropriate difficulty that makes for good game design.
Anybody can make a hard game, it's making it just hard enough that people don't quit in frustration that shows talent.

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Saturday, October 17, 2015 @ 10:59:31 PM

Nah, they are amazed with the sales because unlike pc gamers console ones are more prone to actually buy the games xD

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