The Witcher 2 was many people’s first introduction to the series, including my own. Developed by Polish team CD Projekt Red, The Witcher 2 originally came out in 2011 for PC. About a year later, The Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition arrived for Xbox 360 and as a free update for PC.
I’m playing The Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition on the Xbox One via backwards compatibility. The enhanced edition added a decent amount of content, containing a couple of new quests and tons of patches and tweaks to the base game.
An Ambitious Sequel
Originally, The Witcher 2 was being developed using Bioware’s Aurora Engine, but the project became too ambitious and hopes of releasing on console quickly died. To counter this, CDPR developed its own REDengine practically alongside the game. This put The Witcher 2 in a unique position, allowing CDPR to experiment and make exactly the game they wanted. If you want to know more detail about how the Witcher 2 came to be, there’s a great article by Eurogamer you can check out here.
This game has some really nice looking comic book-style cutscenes.
As I mentioned in my review of The Witcher, the differences between The Witcher 2 and its predecessor are evident right from the outset. The Witcher had its hands full establishing Andrzej Sapkowski’s world, leaving less room to introduce its own set of stories and characters, which is a big part of why the first game is much easier to appreciate with some knowledge of the novels it’s based on. Now it feels like CDPR is much more confident in picking up where the books left off, with major characters being killed off left right and center, as well as a major shift in the political state of The Nothern Kingdoms. This serves to make for a more intense, emotional, and overall engaging narrative.
Opening With a Bang
The Witcher 2 kicks off with a pretty flashy looking CG cinematic that was added in the Enhanced Edition. The cinematic shows the assassination of King Demavend of Aedirn, the ruler of one of the four major countries that makes up the Northern Kingdoms. I remember watching this cinematic over and over when the game first came out, the level of detail like the archer’s arrows bending in the air and the way the music matches the action was always awesome to me. It’s also a great way to set up the story for newcomers to the series, as the previous game ended with our hero Geralt thwarting an assassination attempt on King Foltest of Temeria.
If it seems like I’m throwing a lot of names around so far, that’s because politics are very important to The Witcher 2’s story. The main goal of our Witcher Geralt of Rivia is to clear his name after being caught with a dead King Foltest at the end of the game’s prologue.
Speaking of the prologue, this one opens with a bang. Now temporary bodyguard to King Foltest, Geralt gets caught up in a battle that sees players getting into a slight tussle with a dragon, among other things. While it’s easy to see why CDPR have opened the sequel with a big battle and …