The Witcher is one of the best-received new RPGs to emerge in recent years.
Having wowed gamers in 2007 on PC with a Metacritic score of 81 and a user score of 90, which was followed up with an 88-rated sequel, the appetite for a console version is massive. The Witcher 2 has sold well over 1m units on PC, and now it the sequel has the chance to replicate that success on Xbox 360.
Fans of other action RPGs such as Dragon Age, Dark Souls and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will be right at home with The Witcher 2. It blends a mature, dark fantasy storyline and setting with third-person combat, luscious locales, impressive voice acting, dialogue choices and a comprehensive levelling system.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings follows the story of mutant monster-slayer, or ‘witcher’, Geralt of Rivia. Having helped quell the rebellion of the order of the Flaming Rose in the first game, he is accused of attempting to assassinate the king. Like Fallout: New Vegas, players will have to choose their sides and their actions carefully, as one decision can harm or increase reputation with certain factions.
Gamers can develop Geralt in three distinct class areas – all with their own strengths and weaknesses – Master Swordsman, Mage or Alchemist.
The Xbox 360 version of The Witcher 2 also includes some console-only extras, including six hours of new gameplay, quests, locations and never-before-seen cinematic sequences. Players will have access to downloadable content and a ‘Dark’ difficulty setting. There’s around 40 hours of gameplay overall.The title’s in-game targeting, camera and control systems have also been revised specifically for Xbox 360 owners, including a new enemy-locking function.
All the 90 per cent-plus PC ratings on 1UP, The New York Times, GamesRader, GamesMaster, GameSpot, IGN and more can’t be wrong – so it won’t be surprising if The Witcher 2 replicates this success in the home console market.
£500k marketing plan
Ads will run in specialist magazines, including four-page inserts running in mid-May. There will also be homepage takeovers and banners on games websites, as well as pre-roll videos on YouTube and video-on-demand services until the end of April. The game’s marketing budget stands at over £500,000.
Namco Bandai’s day-one Enhanced Edition (pictured) features an audio CD, world map and a quest handbook. This SKU is available on day one for the same price as the standard version of the game. A higher-priced Dark Edition that includes a medallion, stickers, special box and a 200-page art book has already sold out.
Namco Bandai invited press to Hever Castle for a game preview event where they could play the title in a medieval environment. The publisher also worked with OXM on a flipper cover and an exclusive first look. It arranged studio visits with the press and will showcase the game at a BAFTA presentation in April.
‘How the witcher 2 is competing with the best’
Namco Bandai’s marketing and PR director Lee Kirton runs through The Witcher 2’s key selling points on 360.
“The Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition is probably the most engrossing, mature action-RPG that has appeared in recent years,” he tells MCV.
“Our expectations are high, obviously with a triple-A action RPG and from our experience with The Witcher franchise. The pre-orders are doing really well.
“It’s easy to say that The Witcher 2 is a competitor for the best in its genre. The non-linear story provides real replay value to the game and fills in the world and story of The Witcher. You do not have to play The Witcher 1 to step into the world of The Witcher 2 on Xbox 360.
“Despite the overall economic context we’ve got a lot of reasons to be optimistic for The Witcher 2. We’re targeting the original fanbase of the franchise who are looking forward to re-playing the game, and a new userbase who’ve never played the game but are fans of RPGs.
“The Witcher 2 on PC requires really high spec computers and most people who wanted to play the game at release were not able to run it properly. All the work that CD Project Red’s done has really allowed the Xbox 360 to run it in all its glory.”