After getting started in White Orchard and being told to ask around at the Nilfgaardian camp on the other side of the map, I did what anyone would do and dutifully ignored the main quest so I could vacuum up all the side content before continuing with the main quest. I have completed the two short scripted side quests that you get from the notice board and have currently explored about half the map and completed about half of the Points of Interest. I just wanted to share some of my initial thoughts.
My main complaint is 2 pieces that sort of overlap. Firstly, I'm having an *exceptionally* hard time understanding where I am at any given moment. Most open world games will generally provide large open vistas and/or central reference points that you can see from much of the map that you can orient yourself around. Between the relatively flat rolling hills, the billion trees blocking your line of sight, and the absolutely infuriatingly fixed camera zoom level it just makes it very hard for me to build a mental map of the area. I hope that this gets better in other sections of the game but in White Orchard it's a big problem, the result of which is me having to check my map constantly just to figure out where I am and what direction I'm facing.
The other half of the equation is the lackluster content provided by the "points of interest" and perhaps more importantly the absolute lack of any content (other than picking flowers) between these points of interest. A camp of deserters, a monster nest, or a place of power might be more fun if I wandered into it by chance as I was exploring on my own terms, but because of what I talked about in the prior paragraph, I can't explore on my own terms because I can't build a mental map of where I have/haven't explored yet. This leaves me with either wandering around aimlessly and hoping I bump into something or (the option I've used thus far) to check my map, make a beeline to the closest point of interest, clear it, and repeat.
This cycle might be acceptable if the stuff I was finding at the points of interest were more interesting, but it feels like 90% of them are places of power, monster nests, small encampments of either monsters or deserters, or literally loot just lying there on the ground. These might be fun adventures to have if you find them by chance while exploring, think like the bokoblin camps, korok seeds, or hidden chests in Breath of the Wild. But imagine that *every* one of those in Breath of the Wild was marked on your map, suddenly it's a lot less fun and becomes more of a checklist or chore.
I feel like the game would be a lot more fun if 1) the terrain was reworked so you could more easily build a mental map and 2) the "place of interest" markers were completely removed from the map or only appeared once you had discovered them. It's just frustrating because the actual scripted content in the game so far is fantastic! But I was really excited for the open world exploration in this game and am disappointed in how difficult the game is making it to enjoy.
If anybody has any solutions, either through mods or a suggestion on how I can change my play-style, I would love to hear it. I'm going to continue playing no matter what (lord knows it was worth pushing through Witcher 1's disastrous opening)., but I would love any recommendations to how I can make my experience better.
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© Post "I’m about halfway through White Orchard, here are my thoughts so far:" for game The Witcher.
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