‘The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings’ Mouse-And-Keyboard VS. Controller

Surprisingly, a controller actually makes combat a lot more fun in The Witcher 2.

I’ve been reluctant to play CD Projekt RED’s The Witcher 2 on my Xbox 360 for one reason and one reason only: the graphics on the PC version, with all the settings cranked up to the max, are just astoundingly gorgeous.

I’m not usually that much of a graphics snob, but when you place both the PC and Xbox 360 versions of this game next to one another, there’s just no comparison. The updated PC version is one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever seen. Everything from the costumes to the flora and fauna are lovingly rendered – at once real and fantastical, lived in and more colorful than real life all at once.

Then my co-blogger and sometimes Forbes commenter, Ethan Gach, had this to say in my last Witcher 2 post:

I’m basically where you are, and though I was also underwhelmed by the combat at first, it’s starting to grow on me.

I think the controller especially helps. For instance, I would love to play Diablo III, but clicking away is a big turn off for me (and the game doesn’t support a controller unfortunately). something about the combination of buttons, and they weight of it in your hands, definitely does help add some tangibility, at least for me. this is definitely something I’m curious to write about in the future.

But when it comes to combining spells with traps, dodges, rolls, light and strong attackes, etc. the combat feels as realized (minus a good blocking/stamina/fencing mechanism) for me as Dark Souls did.

I had to test this theory, and spent a little while this morning playing through the Prologue on Xbox 36o. and while some of the characters’ eyes look inexplicably bloodshot and hollowed out compared to the PC version, I found myself caring less and less that the graphics were inferior to the PC version. All the attention to detail survived the port, even if the anti-aliasing isn’t quite as sharp.

More importantly, Ethan is right. Combat is better with a controller.

I’m pretty sure the game supports an Xbox 360 controller on PC as well, so I’ll need to give that a shot next. But there is definitely something more tangible and fun about using a controller as opposed to a mouse and keyboard. this is also true of Skyrim actually, though that’s in part thanks to the total bungling of the UI in that game for mouse-and-keyboard users.

In any case, I’m playing the Iorveth path on PC, so I’ll play the Roche path on Xbox concurrently. That way it won’t be quite like playing the same game all over again or, rather, all at the same time.

As Ethan notes, the combat does work quite well. But the lack of a decent “blocking/stamina/fencing mechanism” is painful. I badly want to be able to equip a shield – they seem rather effective for some of my foes at least early on in the game – and I even more badly want that extra level of depth that defensive abilities lend any combat mechanism, and the parry ability in The Witcher 2 is pretty useless for the most part.

Other than that, so far this is a very impressive Xbox 360 rendition of the game, though I think I’m going to need to remap the controls a bit. I keep lobbing bombs by mistake. Right Button really ought to be light attack, and Right Trigger really ought to be heavy attack – right?

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‘The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings’ Mouse-And-Keyboard VS. Controller

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