The Witcher 2 is a story-focused role-playing game by CD Projekt RED that follows the adventures of Geralt of Rivia, one of the few remaining Witchers: a select group of mutants, professional monster hunters. The game is set in the same world as Andrzej Sapkowski's short stories. The sequel picks up a couple of months after The Witcher's ending and contains many returning characters. There is a strong emphasis on dialogue choices, with no outright good or evil moral choice; player's decisions lead the non-linear storyline to any of its 16 possible endings.
The Witcher 2 uses a new internally developed RPG engine featuring many graphical, gameplay and narrative improvements over the original. The game went "gold" on April 27 and was released on May 17, 2011 for PC. It was also released on the same day through CD Projekt's own digital distribution service, GOG.com, without any DRM.
CD Project later confirmed there would be an Xbox 360 release, along with an Enhanced Edition (a free patch updating the original release with fixes made for the console port) for the PC, on April 17, 2012.
CD Projekt RED announced during their 2012 Spring Conference that The Witcher 2 sold 1.7 million copies (all versions combined) since it launched.
Citing the limitations of the Aurora Engine (used in the first game), CD Projekt decided to develop a new engine (named Red Engine) to implement their vision for The Witcher 2.
The new engine was built from the ground up to accommodate the branching narrative structure of the game and uses graphical features such as specular lighting and dynamic shadow effects. The Witcher 2 features the same delayed consequences seen in the first game, where player decisions often have far reaching ramifications several hours down the line. The player actions are said to affect every single person within the game world.
The new engine renders large, detailed environments with no need for load times, as players can travel from one zone to another seamlessly. The environments often contain clues and trails that players have to follow to solve mysteries and quests. The game world is also more explorable than its predecessor and allows players to scale walls, hop over fences and ascend rock formations. It also features a full day/night cycle. The art design was inspired by the Slavic culture, with minor influences from Celtic, Germanic and Scandinavian mythos.
The Witcher 2 starts at an unknown time, with Geralt being accused of assassinating the king and being interrogated. Through various dialogue choices, he recounts the events that led to his capture; events that players will play through themselves and serve as the game's primary tutorial. Geralt's recollection picks up a few months after the first game's ending, with him in bed with Triss Merigold.
Since Geralt is still suffering from long term amnesia, the story explores more of his violent past through various quests and flashbacks. The story features many returning characters from the first game and the book, many of whom often have their own motivations & emotions and take diverging paths to Geralt. Players can also import a save game and see how their previous decisions affected these characters and the world. As players make these decisions, Geralt's journal is updated with poetic text as if it was being written by a bard singing his praises.
The first game's controversial card collection mini-game centered around romance has been dropped in favor of a more realistic depiction, instead showing fully animated cutscenes with any partner. The dialogue tree has also been changed to illustrate a more dynamic camera, such as the type that Bioware has begun to use in games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age: Origins. The dialogue choices are also more integrated in the world (simply floating rather than being on a menu background) to help give a better sense of immersion. Certain dialogue options will only give players a limited time to make a decision.
As the game begins, Geralt finds himself imprisoned for the assassination of King Foltest of Temeria and suffering from a severe case of amnesia. He is being interrogated by Vernon Roche, the commander of the Blue Stripes (Temeria's Special Forces). Geralt insists he did not kill the king and recounts the events that lead to his death.
Geralt's begins his story with Foltest's assault against the La Valettes, a conflict which arose from Foltest's denial of bastard children he fathered with Lady La Valette and the desire of Temeria's noblemen to use his children as a 'banner' to usurp his kingdom. Up to the day of the assault, Geralt had followed Foltest in the campaign for he served as the King's supposed lucky charm, having saved him from a previous attempt on his life. Also accompanying them was the Witcher's lover, Triss Merigold, who served as Foltest's personal advisor and court sorceress.
During the attack, the Witcher faces Aryan La Valette, the lady's eldest son, whilst a dragon flys across the keep, decimating both armies. The Witcher eventually delivers King Foltest to where his children are being held, guarded by a blind monk. Given the Witcher's appearance, Foltest asks him to stand aside, lest he frighten his already frazzled children. With Geralt distracted, the monk drops his hood and blindfold (revealing himself to be a heavily muscled Witcher), and cuts the king's throat from ear to ear. The Witcher pursues but the killer escapes out a nearby window and onto a Scoia'tael (Elven guerilla fighters) ship waiting below.
When Geralt finishes his tale, Roche is intrigued, but skeptical. However, the two deduce that the Scoia'tael's involvement bears investigation. Ultimately, Roche decides to help with Geralt escape the prison. The Witcher escapes that very night, and together with his Triss, Roche and the rest of the Blue Stripes, sets sail for Flotsam, where an infamous elf named Iorveth and his Scoia'tael were known to operate.
Upon arriving in the city's outskirts, they immediately encounter Iorveth who attacks and is later seen conversing with the assassin. Geralt, Triss and Roche flee to Flotsam, where Geralt discovers his friends Dandelion the bard and Zoltan Chivay the dwarf, who are about to be hanged. Roche and the Witcher saves them from their fate, thus making his presence known to Flotsam, and particularly its ruler, the so called Commandant Loredo.
The Commandant informs the Witcher of the difficulties facing Flotsan, including attacks from the Scoia'tael and the Kayran, a beast that has halted traffic along the river. He tells Geralt that if he deals with the latter, he will have his full support in finding Iorveth. Geralt agrees, then kills the monster with the help of a sorceress named Silla, who came to the outpost to claim the contract for the creature.
After defeating the beast, Geralt meets a Scoia'tael lieutenant on a prison barge docked outside town who claims the kingslayer, known as Letho, intends to betray Iorveth. As it turns out, Zoltan was to be hanged for conspiring with the Scoia'tael, because Commandant Loredo was notoriously discriminatory toward non-humans. Thus the dwarf arranges a meeting between Geralt and Iorveth, where the Witcher informs the elf of the kingslayer's intentions. The pair decide to confront Letho, who in turn reveals that he was planning to betray Iorveth. Before the two can capture Letho however, Roche arrives with an armed force. Geralt duels the Kingslayer and is subsequently defeated. However, Letho spares his life, revealing that Geralt once saved the lives of Letho and his own band of witchers. He then kidnaps Triss, forcing her to teleport them to Aedirn.
At this point in the story, Geralt can either continue on with Roche or Iorveth.
Geralt and Iorveth steal the prison barge docked in Flotsam and set sail for Aedirn. Upon their arrival they stumble upon a meeting between King Henselt of Kaedwen and the rebel army of Prince Stennis (the son of the slain King Demavend), and his commander Saskia the Dragonslayer. A battle breaks out only to be interrupted by an ancient curse, activated when blood spatters on an ancient sculpture. Spectral soldiers, the souls of Henselt's soldiers who died in a horrid battle 3 years earlier, attack the group. Iorveth and Geralt, along with the sorceress Philippa Eilhart (now serving as advisor to Saskia), escort Saskia and Prince Stennis across the ghost field battlefield, returning them safely to Vergen. The rebels hold a meeting where Saskia announces her intentions to lead a rebel army against King Henselt. An army comrpised of Vergen's dwarven forces, Iorveth's Scoia'tel, and Stennis' soldiers. The group rallies behind Saskia, declaring her Queen, but as the meeting concludes she falls ill to a powerful and mysterious poison.
Geralt decides to not only track down the ingredients for an antidote, but to gather a series of magical artifacts to lift the curse from the former battlefield.
Roche discovers Commandant Loredo is spying for the Kaeweni and asks Geralt to kill him. Geralt and the Blue Stripes then set sail for Aedirn. Upon their arrival they stumble upon a meeting between King Henselt of Kaedwen and the rebel army of Prince Stennis (the son of the slain King Demavend), and his commander Saskia the Dragonslayer. A battle breaks out only to be interrupted by an ancient curse, activated when blood spatters on an ancient sculpture. Spectral soldiers, the souls of Henselt's soldiers who died in a horrid battle 3 years earlier, attack the group. Geralt and Roche help the group fight off the spectres and with the aide of his two mage advisors, Dethmold and Sile de Tansarville, escort King Henselt across the battlefield. Once the group arrives safely in the Kaeweni camp, Henselt tasks Geralt with not only removing the curse from the battlefield, but one from the king himself. A curse placed on him by another sorceress by the name of Sabrina Glevissig, whom Henselt had burned to death following the battle 3 years earlier.
In the meantime, while Geralt continues his search for Triss and the Kingslayer, he uncovers a plot accusing Henselt of conspiring with the Nilfgaardians. He soon discovers that Triss has been taken by Nilfgaardian spies, who have taken her to the ancient elven city of Loc Muine. After the curse is lifted, two witchers by the name of Auckes and Serrit, in league with Letho, attempt to kill King Henselt. Geralt defends the king, killing Auckes in the battle. Dethmold casts a spell allowing Geralt to look into the now deceased Aucke's memories, revealing that the Kingslayers are in league with Sile de Tansarville. Shortly thereafter, Geralt lifts the curse from the battlefield and Henselt marches on Vergen. It is revealed that Roche has been leading the insurgency and Henselt has all his men hung. Roche and Geralt make way for Vergen, hoping to track down Sile and Phillipa Eilhart, who they now know are behind Demevend's death. They miss the pair, who left for Loc Muine, with Saskia as their prisoner. They then confront Henselt, where Geralt kills the king's bodyguard. Geralt then chooses to either let Roche get his revenge by killing Henselt, sparking a civil war, or convince him to spare the king's life.
Depending on who Geralt assisted in Act 2, he arrives in Loc Muine with either Iorveth or Roche. Mages from the various kingdoms have convened in the city to discuss the formation of a new magical organization called "The Conclave." As a result, many of the realms royal leaders are also in the city and Phillipa Eilhart and Sile de Tansarville plan to use the still spellbound Saskia as leverage. At the same time, Geralt tracks down the Nilfgaardian spies who are holding Triss hostage. If he arrived with Roche, he finds that Dethmold has kidnapped Princess Anais, Foltest's daughter. He then must decide to rescue Triss or Anais. If Geralt sided with Iorveth, he finds that Phillipa has been captured by King Radovid of Redania, who carves her eyes out. Geralt must then choose to rescue Triss or Philippa, who is the only person who can free Saskia from her trance.
If Geralt chooses to save Anais, Roche murders Dethmold out of revenge, and the two can choose to send her to either King Radovid or John Natalis of Temeria. If he rescues Philippa, the Nilfgaardians begin a witch hunt, implicating all the mages, but Saskia establishes a free kingdom in the Pontar Valley. If the player saves Triss, the Nilfgaardian plot is destroyed with the death of Renauld. The mages re-establish themselves, and Temeria is dissolved. Dethmold manages to escape and Roche takes Anais into exile. During the meeting, Letho arrives with the Nilfgaardian forces in tow and reveals the sorceress' plot.
Síle escapes and activates her teleportation device. However, Letho sabotaged the device and it kills her. Geralt can choose to let her die or save her life and allow her to escape. Geralt then battles Saskia in dragon form and ultimately defeats her. If he assisted Saskia and Iorveth and chose to rescue Philippa, he is able to break the spell over Saskia's mind, otherwise he must choose to kill her or let her live on in dragon form.
Geralt then finally confronts Letho, the kingslayer, who frees Triss if Geralt did not save her. Geralt can choose to talk to Letho or kill him outright. If he chooses the former, Letho reveals that he is in fact a witcher from the school of the viper in the south, along with Serrit and Auckes. Geralt once saved them and turned over Yennefer of Vengerberg to their care. They eventually made their way into Nilfgaard, where the Emperor, Emhyr var Emreis, asked them to destabilize the Northern Kingdoms by assassinating kings. In exchange, the Emperor promised to build a new witcher school for them. After the confrontation, Geralt reunites with Triss and either Iorveth or Roche, and sets off to Nilfgaard to find Yennefer.
The combat from the first game has been overhauled and relies on four major skill trees. Each node on the skill tree has two levels, and some can be further upgraded with mutagens found in the game.
- Training - Increases Geralt's general combat and physical capabilities like his stamina and ability to parry or block in combat. Players must invest a minimum of 6 points in this talent tree to unlock the remaining three.
- Swordmanship - Improves Geralt's sword fighting skills and gives him new moves and abilities. Affects both the normal and silver swords the witcher carries.
- Magic - Improves Geralt's knowledge of "Signs" (which are essentially magic spells he can cast in combat). There are multiple branches which improve the effectiveness of an existing sign by adding extra damage or special effects like a stun.
- Alchemy - Improves effectiveness of potions, oils and bombs made using alchemy. Some talents allow for use of multiple potions or reduce their side-effects.
The multiple stance and rhythmic timing-based system has been dropped in favor of a more fluid, action-oriented approach, inspired by games like Batman: Arkham Asylum and powered by the Havok physics engine. Geralt now has two basic attacks: Quick (Left Mouse) and Strong (Right Mouse), that can be strung together to perform various combos. Players can block incoming attacks and with the right timing, execute a parry and riposte or perform dodge rolls. With good placement, players can trick enemies into causing friendly fire damage on each other. The engine features more gory & brutal kill animations. A series of finishing move or execution style animations can be triggered when attacking a stunned opponent, these instantly kill the target.
Spells, traps and potions can still be used during combat and remain a major component. Geralt can use barrier spells to ward off tougher enemies, telekineses to crowd control and cast offensive spells like fireballs to deal damage. Trap placement has been expanded up to three levels, with increasing benefits based on how many traps Geralt lays down. Players can also slow down time by bringing up a radial menu (by holding down the CTRL key) and change weapons, items and spells on the fly. The game has an optional combat log window that details all the stat calculations going on behind the scenes. One thing players cannot do is drink health giving potions or otherwise heal mid-combat, meaning preparation for big encounters is vital to survival.
With the addition of detailed environment, players can use lighting and shadows to stealth around enemies. The cat potion from the first game has been changed to give Geralt a pseudo-X-ray vision, very much like Batman's detective vision in Arkham Asylum. Players can also engage in hand-to-hand duels that use quick-time events.
There are multiple mini-games involving fist-fighting, arm-wrestling, dueling, poetry, gambling etc. The number of delivery quests has been cut down in favor of more exploration and combat focused quests. There are also detective side-quests where players have to use environmental hints to track down monsters and solve mysteries. Character customization has been expanded to a great degree and players can change almost every aspect of Geralt's weaponry and clothing. In addition, players can also craft their own weapons or upgrade existing ones, further building upon the importance of collecting ingredients and crafting materials from slain enemies, various containers, and vegetation.
Alchemy no longer requires stringent environmental conditions like fire and can be used to create potions anywhere. In order to create potions the player must meditate, but unlike the previous game brewing no longer takes up game time. Alchemy can be used to create three main items:
- Potions - Liquid compounds that grant temporary powers. They are created by adding herbs and monster body parts to a chemical base, like alcohol. They are also the only alchemy product to have side effects associated with their use. This poisonous side effect is measured in terms of "Toxicity".
- Oils - Oils are special chemicals applied to swords and other weapons to increase their damage or effectiveness against certain types of enemies.
- Bombs - Powerful explosives that can be used to stun or outright kill an enemy from a distance. Depending on their type and quality, they can cover considerably large areas.
Geralt starts with the knowledge of some basic alchemy recipes but the rest are learned by shopping in towns, looting corpses or collected as quest rewards. There are 9 natural compounds used in alchemy: Aether, Caelum, Fulgur, Hydragenum, Quebrith, Rebis, Sol, Vermillion and Vitriol. These can be extracted from various sources, like herbs or animal parts.
Being a Witcher, Geralt is a mutant warrior who can use mutagens to enhance his innate abilities even further. When used, these chemical reagents permanently increase the stats for one of his abilities. These can be looted from dead bodies or created as a by-product from alchemy. They are found in three varieties: Lesser, Basic and Greater; each increasing stats by an ascending amount.
Mutagens can be used to gain one of the following effects:
- Critical Effect: Increase Geralt's critical chance in melee combat.
- Range: Increase the range of Signs.
- Power: Increase sword or melee damage
- Strength: Increase damage reduction
- Concentration: Increase damage dealt by Signs.
Released on April 17th 2012 as a free digital update for the PC, as well as a retail release - and included with the Xbox 360 version right from the start - the Enhanced Edition introduced over one hundred enhancements, tweaks, bug fixes and changes to the core game of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, plus hours of new content such as new quests, new locations and new cutscenes.
A pre-loader for the PC version was released several days before the initial release of the Enhanced Edition to try to eliminate traffic on day-one since the update has over ten Gigabytes of new files. It was made clear that the directory should not be moved before the game was successfully updated on April 17th.
Released the 29th of September 2011, this free patch, brings two new game modes to the Witcher 2: Dark Mode, and an Arena mode; along with various tweaks and enhancements, and a tutorial. All of these will be shipped on-disc for the Xbox 360 release.
Dark mode is a new difficulty level designed for people wanting new challenge for their subsequent play-throughs, and it adds an assortment of powerful, new, dark themed items to the game.
An arena mode that allows the player to fight waves upon waves of enemies -- of which get progressively stronger and more difficult to defeat -- to achieve the highest score the player can. Leaderboards have been set up so players can strive to have the highest score of any Witcher 2 player. This mode also introduces a new enemy.
Promotional Video Leak
On Sept 16, 2009, a video was leaked from CD Projekt's offices that was intended as promotion to obtain a publisher. In the video, it is described that the team has worked hard on improving graphics from the original game, and completely revamping the way the world works.
In March 2010 an official trailer for the game was released showing that Atari would once again be publishing for the developer. The trailer depicted story elements of a large man who specifically targets Kings to assassinate, a man with black hair and an eye patch, and Geralt with a pony tail instead of the hairstyle used in the first game. It can be inferred that Geralt must fight the other two aforementioned men as major antagonists of the game.
Thorough fans were able to find a single frame hidden in the trailer with a secret message to dedicated fans about the game from the developer. They promise that the fans will enjoy the sequel as they made it to be very similar to the original, but to creatively enhance and extend the properties of it. They also mention that they feel that claims of PC gaming and PC RPGs being dead are "unagreeable" due to the fact that the first Witcher sold 1.5 million copies on PC alone.
The text of the hidden message (original smilies included) reads:
This message is for our biggest fans. Analyzing our stuff pixel by pixel. It's good to see you again! :-)
BTW: Simple minded people think that nobody is reading these days, dear reader of this, we think that we can agree that is bullshit, huh?
Same as the fact that single player RPGs are dead, or PCs?
We sold 1.5 million units of the game from a dying genre on a dying platform - so we somehow cannot agree ;-)
Before we start talking about TW2 please let us thank you for your great support and appreciation.
It always motivates us and make us happy.
We started working on TW2 right after release of TW. Our goal was to create all the things which made TW so great even better in TW2.
We are very proud of TW but lets be honest, it was our debut. We never made any game before, and we practically learned as we worked.
So there were many things which could be done better, you know it as good as us :-)
But the vision, the main concept, remains the same: a game with a mature, captivating and non linear story, and full of spectacular combat.
A game created by a team of independant thinkers immune to corporate priorities, who don't care what's trendy at the given moment.
The core vision of the game hasn't changed. What has changed is the quality and the maturity we can deliver. That's largely because we're more experienced and also due to the fact that we've created our own technology. Do you remember how we made significant improvements with the Aurora Engine in the original game, but it still had its limitations?
Now we've created technology designed specifically to create non-linear games with extensive plotlines and a living word...
Well, there's no point in expanding on that too much - you have to check out our tech yourselves!
Nevertheless, we have many reasons to believe that you will like The Witcher 2!
See you soon and stay tuned! :)
On 06.02.2011 during a pre E3 conference in Venice Beach CD Projekt team announced the release of an Xbox 360 version by the end of the year. The Gram.pl - site and shop affiliated with CD Projekt suggested a release date of 11.15.2011. During the presentation a new teaser created by Tomasz Bagiński was shown.
Assassins of Kings will hit the Xbox 360 on April 17, 2012.
In November 2010 it was announced that The Witcher 2 would be available on May 17, 2011. It was available on Good Old Games & Steam with exclusive content. Until that date several editions were available for pre-order:
Digital Premium Edition
- The full in-game soundtrack
- Papercraft figures
- Developer diaries
- Gameplay footage
- Interviews and "making of" exclusive video.
- GOG Exclusives: One Free CRPG & a 200 page digital artbook.
- Game DVD (except when ordering the digital edition)
- Making of movie
- Soundtrack of the game
- Map of the gaming world
- Game guide
- Pamphlet and coin
- Game DVD (except when ordering the digital edition)
- Making of movie
- Etui; box for the game and movie dvd
- Soundtrack of the game
- Map of the gaming world
- Game guide
- Pamphlet and coin
- DLC; varies by vendor
- Artbook; extensive book with 200 pages of artwork
- Gerald head sculpture
- Dice set
- Card deck
- Cards guide
- Stickers; set of three Witcher stickers
- Temerian coin; one temerian oren
- Box; to contain all these goodies
The original score for The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings was composed by Adam Skorupa, with the collaboration of Krzysztof Wierzynkiewicz.
|Track #||Song Title||Running Time|
|01||Assassins of Kings||02.08|
|02||A Nearly Peaceful Place||04.08|
|03||The Path of a Kingslayer||01.28|
|04||Dwarven Stone Upon Dwarven Stone||07.35|
|05||Through the Underworld||03.49|
|06||The Lone Survivor||01.18|
|07||Into the Fields||05.49|
|08||An Army Lying In Wait||03.55|
|09||Easier Said than Killed||01.11|
|10||A Watering Hole In the Harbor||02.38|
|11||Within the Mist||03.04|
|13||The Wild Hunt||01.20|
|14||Vergen by Night||07.31|
|15||For a Higher Cause||01.15|
|16||Souls In Ruin||04.47|
|17||A Quiet Corner||03.16|
|18||The Assassin Looms||01.07|
|19||The Camp of Night||03.19|
|21||Howl of the White Wolf||01.57|
|23||The End Is Never the Same||03.16|
PC System Requirements
- OS: Windows XP SP2 / Windows Vista SP2 / Windows 7 (32/64-bit)
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2 Ghz or AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+
- Memory: 1 GB Windows XP / 2 GB Windows Vista and Windows 7
- Video Card: 512 MB RAM, supporting Pixel Shader 3.0 (Nvidia GeForce 8800 or ATI Radeon HD3850)
- OS: Windows XP SP2 / Windows Vista SP2 / Windows 7 (32/64-bit)
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad or AMD Phenom X4
- Memory: 3 GB Windows XP / 4 GB Windows Vista and Windows 7
- Video Card: 1 GB RAM, supporting Pixel Shader 3.0 (Nvidia GeForce GTX260 or ATI Radeon HD4850)
- Sound Card: compatible with DirectX 9.0c
- HDD: 16 GB of disc space. (The drive must be formatted in NTFS format since one of the files is 9GB, and FAT32 can only handle files up to 4GB)
- Disc Drive: DVD x8, compatible with DVD9
- Installation requires administrator access.
- Game supports Xbox 360 controller for Windows.