Games Inbox: Is The Witcher 3 still the best action RPG?

The Tuesday Inbox discusses the difficulties of completing 100% of a game, as one reader asks for PS5 SSD recommendations.

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Damaged reputation
I’d forgotten CD Projekt had said they were doing a next gen version of The Witcher 3, and yet being reminded of that fact in the story about the delay I found myself strangely unmoved. Back when it came out The Witcher 3 seemed like the best thing ever to me. It still is, I suppose, but the stink from Cyberpunk 2077, and CD Projekt’s reveal as anything but the Robin Hood operation they used to pretend, is hard to forget.

I predict that when the new versions are released there will be a similar response from reviews, and that we’ll start to see the game taken down a notch and no longer regarded as a near flawless classic. The question I ask myself is whether that’s fair or not? Despite my own feelings I don’t feel it is, as while I’m upset with how CD Projekt has fallen from grace The Witcher 3 is still, I think, the best action role-player ever.

Yes, the combat isn’t great but the characters, dialogue, and level of interaction and freedom you have is second to none. So much so that I’m not even sure what comes second as, for me it’s miles ahead of things like Mass Effect or Skyrim. I can understand people saying that Dark Souls and Bloodborne are better games but to me they’re barely role-players and don’t have any real character interaction, which is the heart of The Witcher 3.

CD Projekt has no-one but themselves to blame for all this, but I predict people are going to be looking for reasons to attack The Witcher 3 rather than taking the time to acknowledge a true classic.

Price balance
RE: the Nintendo 64 controller for Switch. In Nintendo’s defence. they did have an option to register interest the day after the Direct presentation on the website, and when those email alerts then got triggered there was plenty of stock left.

I’m also not as disappointed at the price point of the Expansion Pack tier as most seem to be. I think it just feels bad due to Nintendo Switch Online being under-priced before. If they launched the whole service today (online play, SNES, NES, N64, etc.) for the new price I believe it would be seen as good value.
Jonathan Foley

GC: That’s a fair point.

Or your money back
On current form I will definitely maintain my Game Pass subscription at full price once my current deal expires. Like all sub services I use I will pay on a monthly basis to have the flexibly to unsub for how many months while I play/watch something not on any given service.

Game Pass is offering up so much great content that I’m interested in at the moment. They’re not all winners like The Good Life but most are hitting the target. Just recently Scarlet Nexus, Visage, Subnautica: Below Zero, AI: The Somnium Files, Unsighted, and Back 4 Blood have arrived on the service. There’s also imminent big hitters Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5. Plus, the day one release of the lovely looking Echo Generation on the 21st of this month, as well as Age Of Empires 4 on PC on the 28th.

Yesterday, after regular Inbox bargain spotter Andrew J made me aware of an Epic Games Store voucher deal of £10 towards a game I picked up The Forgotten City, mainly because of GC’s glowing review, for £9.49 to me. I’ve just read the game is coming to Game Pass PC and console on the 28th of October. Who knows if Microsoft will keep up this frantic pace of quality new additions but right now it’s really good stuff.

Regarding my Epic Games store purchase. Think I’ve lost the voucher but as my game was less than 14 days old and been played for less than two hours, just, it was eligible for a refund. Just went to the transaction tab in my account and clicked refund by the title. Instantly got an email saying refund approved at 16:55, at 16:56 PayPal emailed to say I had been refunded, checked my account on the mobile app and my account had been credited. Took a literal two minutes to apply and get my money back.

Puts the console boys to shame. Took me ages to get my digital Cyberpunk 2077 copy refunded, with no communication during the lengthy process.

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100% satisfied
I’ve currently put 43 hours into Far Cry 6 on the Xbox Series X and I’ve cleared less than a third of the map. It’s a big game and it makes me wonder how GC reviews something like this? Do you 100% it before your review is in or do you just finish the main campaign and some of the extras?

I’ve fully completed Far Cry 3, 4, and 5 and I too didn’t bother with Primal because it looked too much like a reskin of the other games but now I’m trying to find it as cheap as possible to give it a chance. If anyone can point me in the right direction to get it cheap, I’d appreciate that.

I’ve just ordered Far Cry: New Dawn for £6.95 from the Game Collection. It seemed like a bargain and it’s another one that I skipped.

As for someone writing in and saying that nobody seems to care about Far Cry the other day, well I hope they’re wrong. I feel that all us Far Cry fans are probably knee deep in the Yaran sun-drenched beaches tackling another military check point at the moment and are only just coming up for air to comment on the game.

Your review was spot on and it’s a lot of fun. It’s not perfect but I love the setting and, yes, it’s more Far Cry. But as a fan of the games, it’s not something if ever moan about.
Nick The Greek

GC: 100% is almost never possible. It can take hundreds of hours in some games and doing so adds nothing to the review.

Long name
I was wondering if a reader could help me on getting a new SSD for my PlayStation 5? I’ve seen this Sabrent 2TB Rocket 4 PLUS NVMe 4.0 Gen4 PCIe M.2 Internal SSD Extreme Performance SSD which says it’s perfect for the PlayStation 5, but I don’t get a heatsink with it and I don’t get all these numbers and what you need.

I was hoping a reader will be able to send in a link for the right heatsink I need. I’m getting either a 2TB or a 4TB. If someone could help I’d really owe them one.

The long game
With the news that EA are going to ditch the FIFA name, their 30 year or so plan of getting all their customers to know who made the game is finally going to bear fruit for them. I am, of course, referring to the EA Sports intro.

Someone else’s console
RE: Console repairs. A similar thing happened to me and the Xbox One, which needed to be sent back for repairs after around a year. When I received it back I was far from convinced it was my console, it wasn’t scratched up or anything, I just didn’t feel it was mine.

Now I can understand them having a backlog of consoles to repair and them fixing one and sending it back to the next name on the list, but if your PlayStation 5 was pristine, you’d at least want a pristine one back in return!
big boy bent

Constructive criticism
Great Reader’s Feature at the weekend by David Wonpu, about their wishes for XCOM 3 and the flaws of XCOM 2. I very recently played through XCOM 2 and enjoyed it so much I immediately downloaded its DLC, War Of The Chosen, and played it again.

I agree wholeheartedly with virtually everything David said. The strategy element could do with a complete overhaul. The game is meant to make you feel like the situation is absolutely desperate, and that your very limited resources won’t be enough to do everything you absolutely need to do. And it definitely succeeds! But there is so much going on, particularly in War Of The Chosen, that it bogs down into a confusing mess.

The pop-up missions you’re strongly advised not to skip, the three resistance factions needing your attention, the ship that needs upgrading (with clear advantages for building certain rooms in particular areas, which is not explained), espionage missions to send your soldiers on unsupervised, team-mate bonds to manage, Dark Events to counter, the Avatar project to stop… I could go on. And on!

Unless you know what to focus on in advance it’s possible to completely wreck your playthrough by developing yourself into a corner. I certainly did on my first run. Developing the Shadow Chamber (because it had a big, shiny, unignorable ‘!’ next to it in the objectives) before upgrading contacts and power, and before the quick-healing providing Advanced Warfare Centre, led to a long period of no missions because everyone was injured, with no supplies or intel to buy reinforcements with.

And it’s made worse by the interface being used being so clunky, and the game not explaining itself very well. At one point I had two extra spider armour suits queued up for building, wasting precious time, and resources, because I couldn’t work out how to cancel them.

I actually enjoyed my playthrough of the base game more than the War Of The Chosen. Base XCOM 2 was just overwhelming enough, once you had the hang of it (if that makes sense), with War Of The Chosen going overboard.

As David pointed out, the fog of war/line of sight mechanic could do with a rework. Perhaps with enemies remaining unaware if your soldier is an at least half cover or have a stealth mode where you can move less distance (maybe prone) but unaware enemies won’t see you. The sprint option could still use both moves but actually cover more than double the standard distance (and maybe create noise, as a counterpoint to the stealth mode), in order to make it an actual sprint instead of two jogs.

More mission types would be great. XCOM 2 essentially only had four (protect/obtain the MacGuffin, rescue the VIP, protect the resistance settlement, blow up the MacGuffin). War Of The Chosen offered up a few more variants, however the standout mission for me in both games was the one-off mission when the Avenger came under attack.

Wheeling the wounded out to join the fight (with their health bars only half full), enemy reinforcements arriving every turn, the high risk and desperate strategy of sending one concealed ranger to locate the enemy beacon so your snipers can take it out from afar, then making a mad dash back to the ship – absolute class. More like this please.

One thing I did really enjoy, which most seem to consider a flaw, is the reverse difficulty curve. After spending the first half of the game desperately scrambling around, it gradually becomes manageable, and at the end you’ve got a team of absolutely legendary colonels equipped to take on anything. I found this made the last few missions an incredibly cathartic experience.

I love David’s idea of levelling up soldiers not as a particular class, but completely individually. This feels like the logical next step for the series, seeing as this will only add to the attachment you’re strongly encouraged to feel towards your soldiers anyway.

Reading this back it sounds like I don’t really like the games that much, which isn’t the case at all! The tactics-based combat, whilst it could do with a few tweaks and a bit more variety as set out above, is otherwise sublime. I even enjoyed the controversial clock in most missions, which I found to be a great way of ‘encouraging’ (i.e. forcing) risky manoeuvres and a more tense and exciting playstyle, rather than just creeping the whole squad forward with one action per turn used to move, and the second to go into overwatch. Perhaps it could be switched to reward fast play, instead of punishing slow play, leaving the super-cautious option still a viable option for those who liked playing XCOM 1 that way.

But the higher level strategy element could definitely do with a rethink.

Thanks again to David Wonpu for the feature – just wanted to add my thoughts.

Inbox also-rans
Looking forward to Splinter Cell becoming a straight action game with linear levels and another neo-con fantasy for a storyline. Sam Fisher is better off out of it I reckon.

I would genuinely welcome the blades back for Xbox One/Xbox Series X. Never understood why they got rid of them in the first place.

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Grant, who asks what do you want to see from GTA 6?

Rumours of GTA 6 have been going on for years now and yet the most recent ones suggest the game won’t be out for several years yet and perhaps not until 2025. Given that huge gap from GTA 5 what do you want to see from the new game to make the wait worthwhile?

You can focus on story, characters, setting, graphics, or everything at once but what do you want from the next GTA 6 and its online companion? For example, would you prefer a brand new GTA Online 2 or an extension to the existing game?

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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