E3 2016: Gwent Preview
I love card games like Magic the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh but I haven’t had the time or patience to spend hours building decks and devising strategies from my thousands of cards for years. So when I first played Gwent in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt I was impressed by the relative simplicity of it, as well as its faster pace. While what I really want still hasn’t been announced yet, (a series of physical Gwent decks that don’t require buying physical game expansions) the upcming standalone release of Gwent has got me all hot and bothered. I got the chance to try out Gwent at the awesome CD Projekt RED meeting room at E3, as well as interview artist Brad Aury who worked on the game.
When opening the initial tutorial and opening for Gwent, CD Projekt RED were quite clear that Gwent was never in development as a separate game until after they received a massive outpouring of love from fans. While the original version of Gwent was relatively simple, CD Projekt RED wanted to bring their signature flair and work ethic and build Gwent into a massive experience. To do this, they’ve begun by upgrading the playing field, adding extra graphical touches that make it look nicer and a bit more alive. They’ve also added extra animations and effects for card attacks and weather effects which really help to make Gwent look like a premium game. My favourite addition to Gwent is the fully animated premium cards. They look absolutely incredible, and the animations even adjust accordingly if you rotate the cards.
While these additions are excellent, it wouldn’t be a real Witcher game without some story and choices, and this is where Gwent is really set to deliver. Showing the typical CD Projekt RED attention to detail and work ethic, they are bringing story and choices in spades. The campaign that will ship with Gwent is expected to take 10+ hours to complete and is written by the same people that brought you the Bloody Baron quest in The Witcher 3. What we saw of the story mode followed Geralt and 2 new characters as they escort a young girl through a forest. I won’t spoil the story, but needless to say the choice and consequence you would expect to see from CD Projekt RED is there. It’s awesome to see them bringing what they’re best at to the game and not just doing the same thing that other card games have already done.
After the presentation, I had the chance to play a couple of games of Gwent against another attendee and loved it. I used the Brutal Monsters faction deck, which relied on strong monster cards and utilising weather effects to overwhelm your opponents. Unfortunately, I wasn’t particularly good at using the deck and lost 1-2, but the matches were fun and were quick enough that I feel like I could play multiple in quick succession without getting impatient or frustrated.
Between the excellent Gwent gameplay, the promise of some top-notch stories and the production values CD Projekt RED are bringing to the table, I’m looking forward to the future of Gwent. While there is no set release date, a closed beta is set to begin in the back-half of 2016.