It would be easy enough to focus on the two big stories that broke in 2014 regarding CD Projekt Red's The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. First the delay that pushed it out of 2014, and then the subsequent delay that saw it pushed from a February release to a release in May. But hopefully that's the last slip we'll have to endure, and by the sounds of it CD Projekt Red have finished the game and the extra months are being put towards ensuring that it's released in the best possible shape.
But in 2014 we also learned a tremendous amount about the game, its structure, the outline of the plot, and more. We were also treated to these hauntingly beautiful opening scene of the game...
At E3 in Los Angeles we once again sat down for a lengthy gameplay presentation, but while last year's presentation focussed on the open world and side content (incredibly engaging side content it should be noted), this presentation gave us a look at some of the early goings on in the main storyline.
As always it is the deep and well-crafted world of the Witcher that really impresses here. There is the sense of a great universe playing backdrop, and while Geralt is at the centre of the action - there's definitely the sense that this is a place with a real history and that we're only just peeling away some of its layers.
The main story of the third Witcher game is rather simple, Geralt is in pursuit of the Wild Hunt, a group of spectres that leave devastation in their path. They in turn are connected to Ciri, an ashen-haired girl with whom Geralt has a past with, and so Geralt is on the hunt.
For more impressions of the E3 demo head over here or simply sit back, relax and enjoy the 35 minute video below...
Following the E3 demo we had a chat with executive producer John Mamais where we talked about the nature of putting together demos for E3 - specifically the short ones for press conferences, and also Novigrad, the largest town in the game.
At Gamescom we cornered the producer Stan Just, who is in charge of supervising the character artist team, to learn more of the work that has gone into that side of the game where "many inspirations comes from the Nordic, Celtic and Slavic mythologies, legends".
"Many of our designs are based from the novels, bits and pieces of data on how the monsters should look," says Just, as we ask him about the creative process in designing the game's monsters, and query how they can make their world distinct from the multitude of other fantasy titles out there.
"We gather some great creativity from our quest designers. When they're creating quests and thinking about the monster that'll fulfil the function of that quest and the story that's told within that part of the game, we fit the design of the monster to it."
Towards the tail end of the year we learned the game is getting a whopping 16 post-launch DLC packs - good news is they're all free. We also learned that in addition to Geralt a second character will be controlled by the player at certain times during the story. That character is Ciri, the ashen-haired girl who is being pursued by the Wild Hunt and is at the centre of the plot of this, the third game in the series.
Fingers crossed CD Projekt Red will stick with their May 19 release date and that the extra development time will ensure an experience that lives up to our extreme expectations.
The most direct competition to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was undoubtedly released in 2014 as Bioware's Dragon Age: Inquisition ticks most of the same boxes when it comes to features and themes. However, there are more Western RPGs coming out in 2015 including the long awaited Pillars of Eternity from Obsidian Entertainment. If you trace back the roots of The Witcher it most definitely harkens back to the great Infinity Engine games, and Pillars of Eternity is an attempt to return to those fundamentals while also incorporating some of the advancements made with games like Dragon Age and The Witcher.
Slightly different in its premise is Lionhead's Fable Legends, but its fantasy and open-world, even if the main focus leading up to its release has been the asymmetric multiplayer. And we need to mention Final Fantasy XV here as well, even if it's perhaps not a straight forward fantasy game.
While The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Cyberpunk 2077 are being developed by separate teams at CD Projekt Red it still seems a tad bit optimistic to think that sci-fi RPG will make it out in 2015. Still we thought we'd mentioned it here as Witcher fans will no doubt want to see what the developer is capable of outside of the fantasy setting.