[Apologies in advance; this post was written in a very haphazard manner over a period of several hours and whatever thesis I was trying to make when I started has been completely lost by now.]
I have a friend who can, somehow, read several different books at once; I don’t know how she does it, because I certainly can’t. My reading time is generally on the short side as it is, and it occasionally can be a struggle just to remember where I am if I have to put a book down for a few days. (For whatever it’s worth, I’ve already read 22 of the 30 books in my Goodreads challenge, so at least I’m ahead of the curve in that regard.)
I bring this up because, just as I can’t read more than one novel at a time, I can’t play 2 AAA, story-driven games at once; my brain can’t handle the distraction (nor can it adjust well to different control schemes). I can play one AAA game and also, say, a driving or sports game just to cleanse the palate, but that’s really about the extent of it; if I’m playing a capital-G Game, that’s about all my brain can handle.
So I am desperately trying to finish The Witcher 3 before tomorrow, when the new Batman comes out. I’m almost there, and yet I’m also very much aware that I’m procrastinating a bit. I don’t want it to end. And unlike a book, where you kinda just have to keep turning the page, there is almost always a “?” on the Witcher map that’s somewhat nearby where I’m standing, and so I’ll head over there to see what it is. Or maybe there’s a monster-hunting contract that I’m finally sufficiently leveled up for that’s nearby, and so I’ll do that instead. (At this point, though, I’m level 33 and there’s almost nothing I can’t handle beyond falling off a staircase. It is amazing to me that Geralt can survive a dragon fight but dies instantly when falling off a 10-foot ledge, which is especially annoying when the fall is due to an accidental geometry clipping issue.)
I don’t like this feeling of rushing. I don’t understand why I’m not allowing myself to take as much time as I want or need. I have no professional obligation to finish this game; none of the posts I’ve written about it here have generated more than, say, 20 hits at a time, and it’s doubtful this post will do any better. And the thing is, Batman’s gonna be downloaded and ready to go and I can start it whenever I want. I am a grown-ass man, goddammit! I can play it when I’m good and ready!
Of course, starting tomorrow, people on the internet will be talking about Batman instead of Witcher and I want to be a part of that conversation. This is absurd, because I’ve been playing Witcher for the better part of a month and almost nobody is talking about it; granted, E3 had a lot to do with it, but even so, almost nobody on my PS4 friends list is playing Witcher 3, so if there is a conversation about it, I’m clearly unaware of it.
I suppose it would be premature of me to make some sort of hyperbolic statement regarding how I feel about Witcher 3 without technically having finished it; there’s always the possibility that the story’s conclusion will be an utter trainwreck. I am hopeful that’s not the case.
On the technical side, there’s a more distinct possibility that I’ll run into some sort of bug that breaks the game completely; the game’s already crashed to the PS4’s dashboard more times than I can remember, and I’ve also noticed that towards the end of long sessions (and not even really that long – most of my recent sessions have only been 1-2 hours long) the level geometry will start breaking – last night, I had to restart one particular story mission several times, from a manual save point I’d made right outside a door, and each time I opened the door something bizarre would appear on the screen – the walls wouldn’t be formed, bodies would not have heads (or, more nightmarishly, heads wouldn’t have bodies), etc. So there’s that.
Still, I am prepared to say that Witcher 3 is, for all intents and purposes, the best game I’ve played since 2011’s Portal 2 or 2010’s Red Dead Redemption. And as I would put either of those 2 games in my all-time Top 10, I suppose you can see where I’m going with this. It’s been an absolute joy the whole way through, and it does so many things right that it could very well ruin Fallout 4 for me. Which is fine, honestly; I’d rather a game be that fucking good than not, and it’s been an awful long time since I felt this strongly about anything. To think that, just days before this game arrived, I’d nearly given up on gaming altogether!