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Witchin' for Witchers

A few weeks ago (I think. Time has gotten increasingly difficult to keep track of as we enter the tenth year of 2018) I decided that my launch Xbox One had inexplicably desynced with my controller for the last fucking time and so would pay the price of being resigned to the dustbin of history (at least until I replace my tv and move the old one to the bedroom, and hook it back up to serve as a way to watch movies in bed). So I left work a little early and went down to the local Media Markt, spent €420 (BLAZE IT) and walked out with a brand new Xbox One X (or, as my brother and I refer to it, an Xbonx). Most of my games were installed on an external hard drive, so it didn't especially matter that I had a bunch of games to re-install on what is a decadent 1TB internal hard drive - and so while setting the old standbys to download, I looked over the assorted titles available to me and booted up Dark Souls III to see if the load times and framerate were better - even though, of course, it is not among the Xbox One X Enhanced titles.

Turns out that yeah, the framerate is a lot more stable! So that was nice. I ran around a bit and then decided to check out some other games which did have the Enhanced tag (Monster Hunter World being one of the first games I was concerned with - let me tell you, the faster load times and smoother frame rate is a delight). It was then that I saw the Witcher 3 was also included among the enhanced titles, and, because it happened to be installed on my external drive (and I had some time before Forza Horizon 4 downloaded), I figured I'd check it out.

I have yet to boot up Forza Horizon 4 (before you get worried that I've wasted money on it, I have Game Pass, which has probably saved me like at least €180 by this point).

A Brief History

Seriously, it's not taking home any prizes for its good looks, although I think I've come around on it recently
Seriously, it's not taking home any prizes for its good looks, although I think I've come around on it recently

Way back in 2007 (or thereabouts), I picked up a copy of the Witcher for what was, I assume, not much money because I clearly grabbed it on a whim. Doubtless I'd seen some scuttlebutt praising it as being surprisingly cool, and as someone who couldn't help but be interested in surprisingly cool fantasy RPGs, I picked it up. Later, GoG ran a deal which upgraded it to the Enhanced Edition and also bundled together the Enhanced Edition of the Witcher 2 (I think this was in 2013, because that's when my earliest save is from). Because my mind is broken, and I have to play things in order, I started a game of The Witcher, and then got promptly distracted by.... well, something or other, clearly. Or maybe the fact that even in 2013 the Witcher was not exactly taking home any prizes for graphics turned me off it? Who can say? When the Witcher 3 released in 2015, I went back to the Witcher, probably because I was still sort of determined to run the series in order. That didn't last long, as I also bought a copy of the Witcher 3 for the Xbox One. I then almost immediately bounced off the Witcher 3 - the framerate was less stable than I'd like, and for whatever reason I just... wasn't into it. It doesn't help that dying meant losing a solid like, minute and a half while it loaded up again. I beefed it on the initial fight with the Bloody Baron's men at the crossroads enough that I appear to have just given up.

Later, there was a sale for it on the PC, and I grabbed it because it was cheap, but my computer was a bit old and it didn't quite work as well as I hoped it would - still an improvement over the Xbox version, but not enough to get me to really settle down with it. So I bounced off again. Later I got out of the jam with the Baron's men I was in on the Xbox by just loading an earlier save, but bounced off yet again to play... again, I don't remember. I just remember kind of resigning myself to the games not being for me (and so of course, the books probably weren't for me either). I carried some regret, as I'd definitely spent way too much on a series I couldn't get into, but there you go. My game library is full of games I wanted to like but didn't (I'm looking at you, Ruiner), so one more corpse in the graveyard wasn't gonna kill me. Eventually, I figured, I would delete Witcher 3 off my xbox to make space for something else. I'm glad I didn't!

All-in on Witchering

Hello gorgeous
Hello gorgeous

I don't know exactly what's happened this time around, but popping into the Witcher 3 this time (this is, for those keeping score, my fourth attempt at getting into the game/series) hooked me in the way that I remember Dragon Age Origins hooking me way back when. Suddenly I was getting to bed late because I kept wanting to see one more twist in its surprisingly twisty side-quests, to say nothing of the main plot itself, which has got me wanting to see where things go. More to the point, the few oblique references to the events of the last two games got me to sit down with the goal of getting through the first two games - and, much like with Witcher 3, I've gotten pretty into the first Witcher now, and just hit the halfway point. So now I'm just kind of bouncing between 1 and 3 - my eventual goal is to play the series in order on the PC (my old PC was replaced with one that can actually handle Witcher 3's vistas) while dicking around on the Xbox with the current 3 - the advantage being, of course, that I can see myself doing a second run of the Witcher 3 just to see how things turn out if I do them differently. For example, I definitely got the Baron's wife killed (and then he hanged himself), and I want to find out whether or not I can get a different outcome. At the very least I reckon I ought to be able to keep the wife alive. There's other, larger-scale choices to make too, of course, but time will inevitably tell how everything shakes out. Also, because when I go all-in on something I tend to go all-in, I've been working my way through the books (which hey, those are good books! Certainly they've not worn their welcome out for me the way Game of Thrones did), and I fell down a serious Gwent hole, and uh... I guess I'm actually curious to see how the whole Netflix series shakes out now?

The point is, I can't remember the last time I suddenly found myself so suddenly in love with a series that I'd bounced off of multiple times. Indeed, I'm not actually sure it's ever happened before - and if not for the idle decision to just check out the enhanced features of my new console, I might have never gotten back into it at all! Obviously, destiny is at work here, right?

I probably should check out Forza Horizon 4 though.

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