The Witcher Trilogy: A Lesson for WRPG Devs
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt probably doesn't need an introduction. It has received enough acclaim and praise from its release and its accolades haven't ceased singing its virtues even now. And because it has a "3" in the title, it can be assumed nobody needs to be notified that it has two predecessors.
What should be given attention, however, is how remarkably these games have evolved. CD Projekt Red has gone from under-the-radar to having broken the mold for what constitutes a good RPG. Other developers, especially WRPG makers (but Japan needs to take a good, hard look at their sinking JRPG ship and take note as well) really ought to analyze CD Projekt Red's formulae...for games, not witcher mutagens.
The first Witcher game was very ordinary. For fans of the books, it holds a special interest. For all others, the game-play is tolerable, the story very captivating, the graphics and voice acting acceptable for the time that the game was made. The most interesting feature was that Geralt could get drunk in the game and the voice acting would change accordingly, as well as the way people treat him, and even his movements and the players peripherals would change. Essentially a Baldur's Gate clone, but was terrific at world building and setting up a sequel.
The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings improved on every level. The story was rife with political intrique and a cast of characters that make Game of Thrones look like The Princess Bride. The combat, in my opinion, is actually the best of all three: it's very difficult and there's a huge emphasis on preparation. If you don't use the right potions and oils before a fight, you won't last long.
But The Witcher 3 is in a league all its own, not just among the trilogy, but among role-playing games. The graphics are impeccable. The acting rivals a modern film, with none of the dead-eyed weirdness most games suffer from (despite Geralt's spooky cat eyes). It provides over 100 hours of engaging gameplay and a deep plot where numerous morally gray decisions affect the lives of the characters that inhabit the vast, dark fantasy world; these ripple out to influence the whole course of the game in a fashion Mass Effect wanted to do, but failed spectacularly ,where Wild Hunt succeeds with equal splendor.
And lastly, the DLC for Wild Hunt could be, if made by most developers, pass for standalone sequels and retail for 60 USD. Instead, these amazing expansions are practically gifts to the fans of this terrific and immersive series. Not only is Wild Hunt deserving of any RPG fan's attention, it is deserving of the Gaming Industry's attention. If you want to make a roleplaying solo game, you're going to have to use The Witcher as a template for success. Anything short of doing that after Wild Hunt set the bar is a recipe for failure.