“It’s just not for me and besides, I don’t have the time…”. This has been my go to answer for many years when the subject of RPG games come up. I said it when I was told I need to play Skyrim, it was my instant response when questioned why I don’t play Final Fantasy games. It was also my reply when my PS Pod co-host – Javier recommended I play The Witcher 3. Before we crack on, if you dont fancy a read on this lovely day then I have put together an easy to watch video version for you viewing pleasure that you can watch below.
Why the hatred for these giant open world spectacles I hear you cry.. well the truth is that there is no hatred. When I was younger I actually loved RPG games. I can remember rushing home from school to play Baldur’s Gate with my friends and then spending an entire summer holiday playing all four discs of Legend of Dragoon…TWICE! One of the first games I had on my XBox 360 was Elder Scrolls: Oblivion which I sank hours and hours into. Then something happened.. I got a job. That’s right, the soul crushing reality that I had to work 8 hours a day hit me hard. That along with normal adult stuff such as living on my own for the first time and not having mummy around to clean up while I’m busy trying to get my Nordic knight to level 50 meant that RPG games took a backseat in life. Unfortunately they would remain on that backseat for the next 13 years. More linear story driven games would take centre stage along with easy to play sports sims and big AAA action adventures. Don’t get me wrong, these sorts of games were just as prominent in my younger life as the RPG games if not more so but when it came to time management, they were now even higher on the to-play list than ever before. In fairness I did try rekindle my love for them by trying games such as Dragon Age and Mass Effect but for whatever reason it didn’t happen and I was left with the feeling that these games had passed me by.. RPGs had become a thing of the past in my adult life.
You’ll already know by the title of this article that eventually I caved in and decided to play The Witcher 3.. but why this one and not one of the hundreds of RPGs recommended to me before this? What was it about this one that made me dust off my sword and shield? (well just dual swords in this case) The stupidly high praise for a start! ‘Best Game of the Generation” is what I often hear when people talk about this game. Jav told me this on the podcast, friends outside of Respawning told me this, every review I looked at told me this! Now I’m happy missing out on some of the best RPGs around but missing out on the game of the generation? I can’t let that happen.
The following day I had ordered The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. I even went with the special game of the year addition with all the DLC expansion packs and all, I was going in hard. It was a lovely Saturday morning when my jolly old postman knocked on the door to hand me the greatest game of this generation. I excitedly thanked him for what I was hoping to be a life changing game while he looked at me with confusion and moved on to the next house to deliver something surely less exciting. I inserted the disc and decided to have a nose on the PlayStation Store while it installed… oh great there’s the digital version of the game for half the price that I just payed in the weekend sale.. “NO!” I said to myself, I will not let this get me down! I’m about to play the greatest game of this generation don’t you know? And I will not let this revelation ruin this experience! Finally the install was complete and I was good to go. So here we go, my gaming world was about to be changed forever..
I was thirty minutes in when I decided that I don’t like this. That’s right, what was supposed to be a real game changer had me scratching my head wondering what the big deal was. Having only wondered around aimlessly, talking to NPC’s and trying to understand what the hell Gwent is, I got fed up. I don’t know what it was, maybe years away from these sort of games had killed my attention span or something. What followed was shameful and disappointing.. I’m not proud of this but I soon switched it off and played something else. Surely this wasn’t my adventure with the Witcher 3 over with already? I surely didn’t just get bored of the game that every person but me seems to love?
After a few days away from my failed adventure I felt something I hadn’t felt in a while. The itch. The itch to fire up that RPG and find out what that NPC wanted me to do about that damn Griffin that’s been pestering the innocent towns folk. Now my problem with RPGs have often been that I can’t play them for just an hour here and there which is how most of my gaming is done these days. I thought this would also be the case for The Witcher but I found myself taking that odd hour to do a secondary quest or hunt down a spectre that has been haunting some poor dudes home. That hour would quickly turn into two hours because I’d want to end my session on a main story quest or finish whatever crazy task I’ve started, my adult responsibilities were being pushed back as much as possible in exchange for slashing my way through multiple monsters. And just like that the next thing I knew…I was addicted. How did this happen?
If you have played The Witcher 3 then you will know the exact reason why I’m addicted. For those of you who may be still on the fence (assuming I wasn’t the only one left), I recommend you take that leap of faith and try it. Don’t like RPGs? Don’t let that put you off. I feel like this game is so grand and epic that it transcends video game genres. Yes, at its core it is of course an RPG but the stunning visuals, interesting characters and engaging story makes it an instant classic and maybe I can see just why people have been calling the game of this generation.
For those interested in exactly how far in I am, I’m still only in Velen.. the big impression that this game has had on this non RPG player so early on is a testament to how incredible this game really is. The big question though.. has this experience changed my opinions on RPGs? Not exactly. I don’t know for sure but I can see myself being quite tired by the time I finally conquer the Witcher 3, meaning I’m very unlikely to run out and pick up something similar. Also I am very aware that this is a completely different beast to other games like it, I don’t want to go into another RPG with Witcher like expectations only to be let down very early on and potentially miss out on something decent. What this has done is make me more open to trying something outside of my comfort zone. It’s shown me that I can juggle a huge RPG while dealing with everyday adult life, I just needed the right game to help me realise this.
Will I still feel the same come the end of my time with Witcher 3? Maybe I’ll love it even more! Will I brave another RPG afterwards? The same people who have recommended Witcher have also suggested Nier: Automata so maybe that’s the next one I try tackle? Either way, watch this space! Game of Gwent anyone?