The Witcher III: Wild Hunt and Dark Souls III - Xbox One

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The Witcher III: Wild Hunt and Dark Souls III (Xbox One)
Also for: PS4
Viewed: 3D Third-person, over the shoulder Genre:
Adventure: Role Playing
Media: Blu-Ray Arcade origin:No
Developer: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Soft. Co.: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment
Publishers: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment (GB)
Released: 16 Nov 2018 (GB)
Ratings: PEGI 18+
Connectivity: Live online enabled, Online co-op, Online Multiplayer
Accessories: 4K Ultra HD, Xbox One X Enhanced
Features: HDR10


Two critically lauded games, one well-priced box!

The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
The Witcher III: Wild Hunt takes the world of Geralt, the titular witcher of the title, and breathes life into its nooks and crannies, bringing to life an open world that's bigger than that offered up in the first two games.

The Northern Kingdoms are suffering. The Nilfgaardian Empire has struck again and the smoke of burning villages chokes the air. A greater danger even than this lurks just out of sight, however, and an otherworldly force threatens to consume the kingdoms. Despite all this, Geralt has a much more personal goal than in previous games - to save his daughter.

It's this that gives Wild Hunt the room it needs to breathe. As an established character with a grave threat looming, players might have felt compelled to rush around this open world and not take it in. As it is, Geralt is almost as much in the dark as the player. Finding your daughter means chasing down clues and following leads. Hunting, in other words. This structure lets the game breathe and gives the player chance to explore the world's nooks and crannies. Players progress at their own pace, in whatever order they see fit, and the narrative develops with them.

There are, of course, still monsters to be hunted. As in the previous games, this might mean crafting poisons or laying traps. It might also mean entering into the kind of combat made popular by the Batman: Arkham games, which is all about timing and fluidly stringing together counter moves and combos.

The Witcher III offers players a dark, morally ambiguous tale full of tough decisions and even tougher confrontations.

Dark Souls III
At this point developer From Software is a veteran of making brutally hard action RPGs. Having started with Demon's Souls and progressed through two Dark Souls games and Bloodborne, director Hidetaka Miyazaki has coyly said that Dark Souls III is the last game "in this style", meaning that this may come to be seen as a watermark in gaming.

While the Dark Souls III feels instantly familiar, it does much to turn the series on its head. The ruined castle ramparts and monstrous dragons are still present and accounted for, as is the atmosphere of impending doom. But where the games have traditionally seen the player ascending ever higher as the game progresses, here the player begins by sinking ever deeper into the world. The role of non-player characters is subverted, with them initially coming off as kind and friendly but the player coming to realise that all is not as it seems. Similarly, the design of the world begins straightforwardly, before branching out to ever-greater levels of complexity. In short, Dark Souls III is all about lulling the player into a false sense of security...

Another element of this is the boss phase system. Now, just as a player is getting a grasp on the patterns and methods of one of the ever-inventive bosses, something will change and take them back to square one, be it an unexpected resurrection or a brand new health bar to madden you.

That's all part of Dark Souls' appeal, though - it's a game that's all about tough, intense confrontations and that sweet feeling of catharsis that comes from overcoming a challenge. Think of it as a very twisted form of stress relief...