Spoilers for Witcher 3's story and choices. Also, first time posting, so hope this post fits here.
I've recently finished the Witcher 3. After hearing much hype and multiple lists calling this the best of this decade, etc., finally put in the effort and I was greatly satisfied. It definitely has one of the best side and main quest scripting amongst all the open world games I've ever played.
However one thing that irked me was the choices you needed to make in this narrative to get different endings.
I'm a huge fan of the Mass Effect original trilogy and it was the first time I had really played a game where my choices altered the narrative and world around me. More importantly the choices I made, I did it with CLARITY of what I was doing and therefore the weight of the decisions and subsequent presence and absence of entire storylines and characters made it really personal.
Comparing that to Witcher 3's narrative-changing decisions – well the main difference is – I DON'T KNOW WHAT IS IT I'M CHOOSING. Half the time, you don't even know you are making a game ending choice. The second bit is fine, as long as the decisions are clear.
For example – if I'm asked to choose to save one life over another, while I might not know the full repercussions, I understand what is atleast the immediate impact of the choice I'm making.
In the Witcher 3 however, here are some of the game altering choices: – Play snowfight with Ciri or Calm her down and have a drink – Agree to accompany her to visit someone's grave or don't – Let her speak to sorceresses on her own or go with her
Even these unpredictable happenings are not reflected on the actual dialogue choices that lead to it. For example, for the first decision mentioned above, the actual dialogue choices go something like (not verbatim) – know what will lift your spirits – relax you don't have to be good at everything. This is one of a few decisions that completely changes the ending. Having a snowfight with her over asking to her to relax is one of the choices you make that decides whether she lives or dies.
Ofcourse there are some weightier choices and side quests that also impact the ending, not denying that.
However, if these obscure dialogues lead to different endings, I felt that I actually didn't really impact the ending so much and for me, the conclusions didn't feel personal at all, though I did get an ending I liked.
So, my point here is not to say this is a bad thing. One might enjoy this as these lead to unexpected consequences.
However, I wonder. How do you like a game to deliver choice based endings ? Do you want to feel surprised, want it to be personal, press one of 3 buttons …
What are some games you know that do this really well and what's your opinion on Witcher 3's handling of this?
TL;DR: Witcher 3 gives endings based on seemingly arbitrary dialogue choices where you don't know what's the choice you are making. What are your thoughts on this and how do you like games to handle choice based narratives ?
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