The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
|The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings|
|Developer(s)||CD Projekt RED|
|Publisher(s)||POL CD Projekt
NA Atari, Inc
EU Namco Bandai Games
AU Namco Bandai Games
NA Warner Bros. Interactive
EU Namco Bandai Games
AU Namco Bandai Games
JP CyberFront (PC)
JP Spike Chunsoft (X360)
|Engine||REDengine with Havok physics and SpeedTree|
|Genre(s)||Action role-playing, hack and slash|
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (Polish: Wiedźmin 2: Zabójcy Królów) is an action role-playing hack and slash video game developed by Polish studio CD Projekt RED for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360 and OS X. It is a sequel to the 2007 video game The Witcher, and was released internationally on May 17, 2011 for Microsoft Windows, and on April 17, 2012 for Xbox 360. Like its predecessor, the game is based on the book series of the same name by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. The game has been a critical and commercial success selling more than 1.7 million units for the PC and Xbox 360 as of May 2012.
The gameplay of The Witcher 2 on the PC takes a marked departure from that of its predecessor as movement is solely through the keyboard and combat moves from the rhythmic mini-game style of the original game to a more fast paced style. The left mouse button is used for fast but weak attacks and the right mouse button for slower but more damaging ones.
The abilities to lay traps and to aim and throw ranged weapons were added to the combat system. Geralt also has an improved offensive and defensive arsenal, with a wide range of melee and ranged weapons, armor, bombs, traps and secondary weapons such as hatchets and shovels. Upgrades are divided into four distinct paths: Training, which includes generalized upgrades for various abilities and must be invested in before the others can be started; Swordsmanship, which improves Geralt's sword fighting abilities; Alchemy, which includes perks such as reducing the negative effects of potions; and Magic, which improves Witcher Signs.
The Witcher 2 also sees the inclusion of a stealth mode in certain parts of the game, where the player must remain undetected as they make their way to a certain objective. Players have the option of stunning enemies if Geralt manages to get behind them, but the player may choose to take a less subtle approach and simply engage the guards in combat. Several new minigames were introduced including fist fighting, arm wrestling and a modified version of dice poker.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings contains many different paths and storylines, along with multiple endings. As in the first game, the player takes control of Geralt of Rivia, one of the few remaining witchers. Witchers are humans that have been genetically enhanced and trained to fight monsters from a young age. They have special powers, differing for each witcher. These include alchemy, magic, and sword handling.
During the prologue, Geralt is interrogated in a prison in the kingdom of Temeria by Vernon Roche, the commander of a group of Temerian special forces known as the Blue Stripes, regarding the assassination of the king of Temeria, King Foltest. Geralt recounts the events leading up to Foltest's death, during which he acted as Foltest's bodyguard. During an uprising against Foltest by noble families of Temeria, Foltest personally leads the battle in order to recover his illegitimate children, Anais and Boussy, who are being held by the rebels. Once Foltest finds his children, he is killed by an assassin disguised as a blind monk, who escapes before Geralt can react. Geralt is then found by Temerian forces and mistaken for Foltest's killer. After hearing Geralt's confessions, Roche decides that Geralt is innocent and aids him in escaping the prison. The two, along with sorceress Triss Merigold, Geralt's companion and Foltest's royal advisor, then travel to a trading post named Flotsam, in search of the kingslayer.
Upon arrival to Flotsam, Geralt, Roche, and Triss are ambushed by Iorveth, with Triss's magic saving them from his archers. Geralt discovers the assassin is a witcher in league with a group of Elven rebels known as the Scoia'tael. The assassin is also revealed to have killed another king: Demavend, the king of neighboring kingdom Aedirn. Upon arrival, Geralt walks upon Zoltan and Dandelion about to be hanged in the city square. After a scrap with the guards, the commandant of Flotsam, Loredo, sets them free under certain conditions, and asks Geralt to meet him in his mansion. After he and Roche disable Loredo's ballista and find him hoarding merchant goods, Loredo tasks Geralt in killing the Kayran, a monster disrupting the town's trade routes. After killing the Kayran with the help of sorceress Síle de Tansarville, Geralt meets a Scoia'tael lieutenant on the prison barge who claims the kingslayer, known as Letho, intends to betray Iorveth, the leader of the Scoia'tael. After telling Iorveth this information, Geralt and Iorveth decide to confront Letho, who reveals his plans to kill Iorveth. Before the two can capture Letho however, Roche arrives with an armed force. The player can make the choice of either assisting Iorveth (which results in the slaughter of nonhumans in Flotsam) or Roche (which results in Iorveth's capture and a feast in Flotsam). Geralt then engages in a duel with Letho. Geralt is defeated, but Letho spares his life after revealing that Geralt once saved the lives of Letho and his band of witchers. Letho then kidnaps Triss and forces her to teleport both of them to Aedirn. The player now again can choose whether to assist Iorveth or Roche, changing the path of the second chapter accordingly.
Chapter 2 (Iorveth)
If Geralt assists Iorveth, the pair commandeer a prison barge and after either killing Loredo or saving the elven women in the prison tower he set fire to, set sail for upper Aedirn. There, a meeting is held between the king of neighboring kingdom Kaedwen, King Henselt, and a unified army of rebels, led by the deceased King Demavend's son, Prince Stennis, and a rebel commander known as Saskia the Dragonslayer. A fight breaks out, but is interrupted when an ancient curse is activated and spectral soldiers attack the humans. Geralt and Iorveth arrive just in time, assisting Saskia and Prince Stennis out of the battlefield, aided by the sorceress Philippa Eilhart, Saskia's advisor. The rebels then hold a meeting. Saskia intends to unite the loyalist forces under Prince Stennis, the dwarven forces of the town of Vergen, and the Scoia'tael, led by Iorveth, into a single fighting force and defeat King Henselt, then declare the formation of a free nation, led by Saskia herself as Queen. As the meeting nears adjournment however, Saskia is poisoned.
Geralt is tasked with two missions: recovering ingredients to formulate an antidote for Saskia, and recovering magical artifacts with which to lift the curse that has descended upon the battlefield. During the process, a mob of peasantry accuse Prince Stennis of poisioning Saskia, in which Geralt caval, and was subsequently found and captured by spies from the empire of Nilfgaard. Before Geralt can recover her, she is taken by the Nilfgaardian forces to Loc Muinne. Geralt then enters the battlefield himself to reenact a historic battle and end the curse. With the curse lifted, King Henselt and his forces attack Vergen, but the rebels defeat the Kaedweni army and Henselt is forced to acknowledge Saskia's terms. During the battle, Geralt discovers Saskia is actually a dragon taking human form. Iorveth notices that Saskia is acting strangely, ordering Dethmold to be executed without trial, but before he and Geralt can react Philippa teleports Saskia and herself to Loc Muinne. Geralt and Iorveth then discover that Philippa had placed a mind domination spell upon Saskia, and the pair has no choice but to follow her to Loc Muinne.
Chapter 2 (Roche)
If Geralt assisted Roche however in Flotsam, Roche has Geralt assassinate Bernard Loredo, the commandant of the town for being a spy for Kaedwen (and in the process Ves helps a captive elf woman raped by Loredo give birth to a son, however she is unable to prevent the shattered woman's suicide). After leaving the elf's son with a caretaker, the Blue Stripes set sail for upper Aedirn. There, a meeting is held between the king of neighboring kingdom Kaedwen, King Henselt, and a unified army of rebels, led by the deceased King Demavend's son, Prince Stennis, and a rebel commander known as Saskia the Dragonslayer. A fight breaks out, but is interrupted when an ancient curse is activated and spectral soldiers attack the humans. Geralt and Roche arrive just in time, assisting King Henselt out of the battlefield, aided by Henselt's two advisors, the mage Dethmold and the sorceress Síle de Tansarville. Geralt is tasked by Henselt to lift the curse from the battlefield so that his forces can march on Vergen, as well as to lift another curse from Henselt himself, placed upon him by another sorceress, Sabrina Glevissig, whom Henselt had executed three years prior.
Geralt also discovers an insurgency within the Kaedweni army of loyalists convinced Henselt is conspiring with Nilfgaard, and continues his search for Triss. He discovers Triss has been taken by Nilfgaardian spies, but they leave for Loc Muinne before he can confront them. After lifting Sabrina's curse from Henselt, an attempt is made on the king's life by two witchers, Serrit and Auckes, in league with Letho. Geralt defends Henselt and kills Auckes. Using necromancy, Dethmold allows Geralt to delve into the dead witcher's memories, and Geralt discovers the kingslayers are in league with Síle de Tansarville, who has already fled to Loc Muinne, mortally wounding Serrit along the way. Geralt then lifts the curse from the battlefield, and Henselt begins his march. Roche turns out to be the leader of the insurgency within the Kaedweni army. Henselt and Dethmold, finding out about this, have every one of Roche's men under his command hanged, except for Ves (who was forced into having sex with Henselt in exchange for her life). Geralt and Roche travel to Vergen looking for Síle de Tansarville and Philippa Eilhart, the ones behind Demavend's assassination. They arrive too late, as the sorceresses escape to Loc Muine, with the entranced Saskia in tow. Geralt defeats Henselt's personal guard in Phillipa's House, and Geralt can either allow Roche to murder Henselt in revenge for the execution of the Blue Stripes and cause a civil war in Kaedwen or convince him to spare the king.
Finally, Geralt arrives at Loc Muinne, with either Iorveth or Roche depending on whom he assisted previously. The mages have called for a meeting at Loc Muinne to establish a new magical ruling body known as the Conclave. All royal leaders are thus meeting at Loc Muinne. Philippa Eilhart and Síle de Tansarville intend to use the meeting to establish their own power, and ordered the assassination of King Demavend to set in forth this chain of events. They intend to use the still-entranced Saskia as leverage at the meeting. Geralt discovers that Nilfgaardian spies are also at Loc Muinne, with Triss as their hostage. If Geralt arrived with Roche, he discovers that Foltest's illegitimate daughter, Princess Anais, has been kidnapped by Dethmold. He is given a choice between rescuing Triss or rescuing Anais. If Geralt arrived with Iorveth, he discovers that Philippa has been captured by the king of Redania, King Radovid, and her eyes put out by him. He is given a choice between rescuing Triss or rescuing the now blinded Philippa, who is the only person capable of lifting the spell from Saskia.
If Geralt rescues Anais with Roche, resulting in Roche brutally killing Dethmold in revenge, Geralt and Roche have a choice to send her either to King Radovid and the Redenians or John Natalis and the Temerians. If Geralt rescues Phillipa, she assists him and Iorveth in getting the dagger but escapes. Triss being rescued, regardless of who Geralt assisted, results in the ambassador of Nilfgaard's death, as well as the revelations of the Lodge's involvement in the plot and Triss's role through Triss after she is rescued.
The meeting between the royal leaders and Síle de Tansarville commences. If Geralt assisted Saskia and Iorveth, Saskia declares her plan to create a free nation with herself as the Queen. If Geralt assisted Roche and chose to rescue Anais, either King Radovid takes her under his protection and declares Temeria a protectorate of Redania, or is put under Natalis's care until she becomes of age to rule. If Geralt did not assist Roche or Iorveth and chose to rescue Triss, Roche will be declared an outlaw wounded and the rule of Temeria will remain unsettled or alternatively Iorveth will be grievously wounded trying to retrieve Phillipa's dagger. However, the meeting is interrupted when Nilfgaardian forces arrive with Letho, who reveals the sorceresses' entire plot, or, if Geralt rescued Triss, the two arrive and then accuse Síle. Radovid then orders Síle's arrest, but she forces Saskia to aid her to escape.
Geralt chases down Síle, but she manages to activate her teleportation device. However, the device has been tampered with by Letho, and will kill her instead. Geralt can choose to let her die or save her life and allow her to escape. Geralt then battles the dragon and ultimately defeats it, choosing whether to let it live or die. If he assisted Saskia and Iorveth and chose to rescue Philippa, he is able to break the spell over Saskia's mind.
If Geralt rescues Triss, either Iorveth will be seriously wounded by Phillipa when attempting to secure her dagger and can be put into care by Triss or Roche, outlawed by attacking the Kaedwan camp alone, will have Anais and gets her to safety for the future of Temeria. If Triss is chosen, the Conclave is restored and the mages work to seal Loc Muinne. If Triss is not rescued...a bloody pogrom of magic users occurs in Loc Muinne and throughout the Northern Kingdoms.
Geralt then finally confronts Letho, the kingslayer, who frees Triss from the Nilfgaardians if Geralt did not save her. Geralt can choose to talk to Letho, who then reveals a wealth of information. Letho is a witcher from the school of the viper in the south, along with Serrit and Auckes. The group was once saved by Geralt, and Geralt learns he turned over Yennefer of Vengerberg to their care. They eventually made their way into Nilfgaard, where they were given a deal by the Emperor of Nilfgaard, Emhyr var Emreis, to destabilize the Northern Kingdoms by assassinating kings. In exchange, the Emperor promised to build a new witcher school for them. With the witcher schools destroyed and the training techniques and mutagens of old lost, Geralt, Letho, and the remaining witchers are a dying breed, the last of their kind. Letho agreed, and the witchers arrived in Kovir. There, they were hired by Síle de Tansarville and Philippa Eilhart to assassinate King Demavend of Aedirn. Letho then assassinated King Foltest and had the other witchers attempt to assassinate King Henselt, hoping to pin the further murders on the sorceresses as well. After hearing Letho's story, Geralt can either let him go or duel him to the death. Geralt then reunites with Triss and either Iorveth or Roche, and sets off to Nilfgaard to find Yennefer.
A concurrent plot of the game is the amnesiac Geralt's attempts to recover the lost memories of his previous life. After each major magical event, such as lifting the curse from upper Aedirn, Geralt recovers a few of his memories. He eventually remembers that he was slain when attempting to defend nonhumans from a pogrom. Yennefer, his lover, died trying to save him. His body was recovered by Ciri, his adoptive daughter, who brought Geralt and Yennefer back to life and then left them on the Isle of Avallach. However, the two were attacked by riders led by the King of the Wild Hunt, who then kidnapped Yennefer. Geralt chases after the Wild Hunt, whom he learns are an elven cavalry unit from another dimension who travel to his world to capture males for an unknown purpose, encountering Letho and his group along the way and in the process saving them from a monster they were hunting; together they track the Wild Hunt and eventually confront the riders. Geralt proposes a trade, him for Yennefer, which the King of the Wild Hunt agrees to without hesitation. Geralt leaves with the Wild Hunt and Yennefer, who lost her memory as a result of being with the hunt for so long, is left in the care of Letho. At some point after this Geralt escapes from the Wild Hunt and returns to his own world and is then found by the other witchers near Kaer Morhen and is then taken there to recover, thus beginning the events of the first game.
Near the river Yaruga, separating the Northern Kingdoms from Nilfgaard, a large Nilfgaardian invasion army is crossing the river and marching into the Northern Kingdoms.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings was officially announced on September 18, 2009. CD Projekt RED developed their own engine for the game, unlike the first installment which ran on a modified version of BioWare's Aurora Engine. The game also incorporates the Havok physics engine.
On March 25, 2011, CD Projekt RED released the first gameplay video, which showcased a variety of different methods in which a player could complete a given level. Another gameplay video was revealed at Gamescom, displaying the many different characters and settings found in the game. The game features a branching dialogue system with full voice acting which was cast, directed and recorded in London, England. It was also confirmed that the game would have 16 different endings.
On June 2, 2011, an Xbox 360 version was announced, with CD Projekt RED confirming that it would be released by the end of the year. However, on August 1, 2011, the Xbox 360 release date was pushed back to the first quarter of 2012 to give the team "more time expanding and polishing certain elements of the gameplay" and to allow the developers time to deal with legal issues surrounding distribution rights for the game.
On April 14, 2011, CD Projekt RED announced during their CDP Days 2011 Spring Conference that retail copies of the game would feature SecuRom DRM. However, the protection would still allow for infinite installations on an infinite number of PCs, with the ability to play on up to five PCs at any one time. It was also confirmed that the game would feature no censorship between regions. The Witcher 2 was also distributed through several digital distribution services such as Steam and CD Projekt RED's own service GOG.com. The version sold on GOG.com was the only version that did not have any DRM at release.
On May 3, 2011, Namco Bandai confirmed that the Australian release of the game would be modified to meet the MA15+ rating. The edit specifically relates to a side quest in which Geralt is offered sex as a reward for completing the quest. The Australian version will see Geralt decline the offer automatically. Three weeks prior to this announcement, the game was removed from the Australian Steam store, causing outrage amongst the Australian gaming community. Additionally, CD Projekt RED's digital distribution service GOG.com announced that the price of the Australian version would be increased due to licensing issues, but that customers could still pre-order the game for its original price 17 hours before the change.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings was released for PC on May 17, 2011 at retail and for digital distribution services such as GOG and Steam. UK supermarket chain Tesco released the console version of the game on Friday 13 April 2012, 4 days ahead of the scheduled April 17 release date. Tesco were asked to pull the game off the shelves until the original release date.
The May 2011 issue of the Polish version of Playboy featured the half-naked character Triss on the cover. That same month, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk gave American President Barack Obama several gifts after his visit to Poland, including the Collector's Edition of The Witcher 2.
In Russia, publishers 1C Company released a real-life nude calendar with copies of the game, featuring international model Ayya Azanova as Triss. GOG promoted the game by reducing the price of The Witcher a week prior to the release of the sequel, encouraging players to import their save file from the first game to the second. Steam offered three promotional The Witcher 2 items for Team Fortress 2, consisting of a hat of hair, a sword and a necklace, which were limited to the game's Scout class.
At launch, many critics and gamers complained about activation problems, registration issues, and performance on high-end systems with both Nvidia and AMD cards. The 1.1 patch of the game also resolves some of the above noted issues.
Note that patch 1.1 removes the DRM. Tech Spot claimed, based on user reports, that the DRM on the retail version of The Witcher 2 drastically reduced frame rates and increased load times. Patch 1.1 reportedly increased frame rate simply by removing the DRM. The release notes indicated that the "Game now runs 5-30% more efficiently and game loading has been accelerated. Efficiency increases will vary depending on system configuration and game version." The release notes also stated that owners of the boxed versions of the game would notice the most significant improvements.
Players who purchased The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings through Steam have had to download several 9GB patches to update the game to versions 1.1 and 1.2 respectively. In contrast the 1.1 patch for non-Steam purchasers was only 15MB. In an interview with Eurogamer.net, developer CD Projekt RED stated they were aware of the issue and working with Valve to resolve the problem.
- Patch 1.2 brings plenty of fixes for a large number of issues, addressing broken quest lines, eliminating some balancing problems between the main character, Geralt, and his enemies, while improving features like the save game import system, which allowed files from The Witcher 1 to be brought into the new game.
- CD Projekt RED later released new patch 1.3 which includes a plethora of fan-requested improvements, including difficulty adjustments for the game's Prologue, support for a variety of aspect ratios and a host of other gameplay tweaks and fixes. Next to the long list of changes, this update also brings along free DLC — a quest called "A Sackful of Fluff".
- On August 10, they released a hotfix 1.35 addressing certain issues that might have been caused by the Patch 1.3. Major problems addressed by this hotfix include: shadows not being displayed correctly in 3D Vision and Steam achievements not being registered.
- On September 27, CD Projekt RED released changelog for the update version 2.0, which was released two days later. Three big features are added by The Witcher 2 2.0, including the new Arena gameplay mode, in which players can fight it out with waves of enemies, a new Tutorial system that slowly introduces all the complex systems used by the RPG, and a special Dark difficulty mode, which offers greater challenge to players as well as unique rewards in the form of Dark items. The patch also brings a variety of improvements and bug fixes, from the overhauled targeting system to enhanced parrying, which is no longer dependent on the amount of Vigor, as well as other things.
- On June 18, 2012, CD Projekt RED released new patch 3.2 for the Enhanced Edition of The Witcher 2 that modifies the user interface (UI) significantly. David Block, who originally created this UI modification, now works at CD Projekt RED and is the author of this patch. The mod adds several enhancements to the game, such as the minimap, alchemy, tooltips, sorting, trading, crafting, and more.
On January 27, 2012, CD Projekt RED announced an "Enhanced Edition" of The Witcher 2 via its sister company GOG.com, which was released on April 17, 2012 on the Xbox 360. The Enhanced Edition added over 10GB of new content, including four hours of gameplay, thirty-six minutes of cinematics including a new intro and outro, and a host of fixes to gameplay and the interface. All existing owners of The Witcher 2 received free upgrades to the Enhanced Edition, and could pre-load the update starting April 11, 2012. All new copies on PC and Xbox 360 shipped with the additional content on board.
|This section requires expansion. (April 2013)|
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings received generally favorable reviews. Critics generally praised combat mechanics, customization, graphics, environments, immersion, and storytelling. PC Gamer felt that combat mechanics and the game's ending were the weaker point of the game. 1UP's Tom Chick gave the game a glowing 'A' rating and cited it's "rich graphics that don't have to be flashy, complex challenging combat, and superlative low-fantasy writing". The game garnered a number of perfect scores, with GamePro saying that "The Witcher 2 embodies everything that's good about PC development, and everything that makes it, in my mind, the best platform out there." Game Informer gave the game a "platinum score" and mentioned that "The Brilliant Dark Fantasy Adventure Is Just As Good On Console" as it was on PC.
A major source of contention about the game is the difficulty of the combat, especially during the game's first few hours. Some sources such as Eurogamer have praised the difficulty of the prologue, explaining "[the game] treats you not as a player...but as an adult, free to make your own mistakes and suffer a plot in which not everyone gets what they deserve".
It has won over 50 awards for best graphics, best adaptation or use of a license, best story, best PC game, best RPG, and Game of the Year.
On August 30, 2011, the Warsaw Business Journal reported that The Witcher 2 had sold more than 940,000 copies. According to Piotr Nielubowicz, a board member of CD Projekt RED, the company had been expecting those sales figures. Of those 940,000 copies sold, 200,000 were online sales (digital sales).
In a separate news article dated November 11, 2011, PC Gamer reported similar statistics for online sales of The Witcher 2. According to PC Gamer, Direct2Drive, Impulse and Gamersgate's combined sales were a total of 10,000. GOG sold 40,000 copies. Within the same time period, 200,000 copies of The Witcher 2 were sold on Steam.
As of May 30, 2012 the game has sold 1.7 million copies.
As of February 6, 2013, the combined sales of the game and its predecessor are over 5 million.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was announced by CD Projekt RED on February 5, 2013, and is slated for a release in 2014 on REDEngine 3 for PC and both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It has been revealed that it is the final The Witcher game centered around Geralt (though not necessarily the last The Witcher title) and that the game world is "35 times bigger than The Witcher 2".
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