the-oft-overlooked-first-witcher-has-one-of-the-best-cities-in-gaming

The Witcher 3’s Novigrad is a defining RPG metropolis: a bustling metropolis getting ready to disaster, threatened each by invaders exterior its borders and spiritual zealotry inside them. But this wasn’t CD Projekt’s first portrait of a metropolis on hearth. 

2007’s The Witcher is usually ignored in favour of its prettier and better-translated sequels, however the game that first introduced CD Projekt to worldwide consideration stays a gem, with a lot of what made these later video games particular already totally or partially realised. Vizima, the town during which you spend about half the game, is brimming with as a lot life and character as Novigrad, and foreshadows CD Projekt’s later success with designing city environments.

(Image credit score: CD Projekt Red)

Local coloration 

My favorite factor about Vizima is its structure and construction: it’s a low, cramped, muddy medieval metropolis with twisting streets and neighbourhoods divided by operate, race, and sophistication, with landmarks like the principle roads intersecting at St Lebioda’s Hospital, the curving path to the Burning Rose barracks, and the massive courtyard in entrance of the New Narakort inn making navigation intuitive. 

It’s not simply the landmarks that stand out both: even the ‘filler’ buildings you possibly can’t enter look totally different from each other. While taking a tour of my outdated save file, I used to be stunned at how each block appeared distinctive. Any reusing of constructing fashions to assemble the town’s structure is effectively hidden.

The shiny seventh console technology graphics are resting on a closely modified model of the Aurora engine BioWare used to create the unique Neverwinter Nights, pushed effectively past what you would possibly count on of it based mostly on that 2001 RPG. The Witcher has a dynamic time of day system, with NPCs continuing by their schedules and even realistically responding to the climate—it by no means will get outdated seeing them scurry for canopy as soon as it begins raining—including to the immersion.

(Image credit score: CD Projekt Red)

About city

When you first arrive in Vizima through the game’s second act, you might be restricted to the Temple Quarter, an impoverished neighbourhood dwelling to the town’s dwarven and elven populations. Proceeding to Act 3, you are allowed to maneuver freely between the Temple Quarter and the ritzier Trade Quarter. The class distinctions are palpable, with higher armed and armoured guard patrols, a extra well-heeled citizenry, and a dearth of non-human inhabitants. It provides to the feel of the town, constructing on The Witcher’s fiction at each stage of the simulation. 

Like The Witcher 3’s Novigrad below siege, Vizima is an metropolis, with a virulent plague and tensions between oppressed nonhumans and a fundamentalist non secular motion threatening to boil over. In Vizima, Novigrad, and even The Witcher 2’s Vergen, CD Projekt has demonstrated a deft hand at making gamers fall in love with a fictional metropolis, then posing an existential menace to it. It captures the concern and nervousness inherent in one of many nice horrors of historical past: how cities may be shockingly fragile within the face of exterior threats. 

Vizima reaches an ignoble finish in The Witcher 3: the Nilfgaardian empire conquers the town, and an early sequence sees you tour the royal palace below new administration, with craftsmen hacking away at marble reliefs It’s a tragic finish to the town you spent a lot time in, however CD Projekt’s loving recreation of the area in a brand new engine eight years later means that the builders recalled Vizima as fondly as I did.