The Witcher

What am I doing wrong in combat?

TheWitcher5 - What am I doing wrong in combat?
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Played the first Witcher game on release, and had to force myself to finish it. The rhythm-game combat was tedious and unfun, but at least gave me the option from the start for dealing with crowds. Tried the second game, and got so utterly frustrated with the new combat system and horrendous UI that I ended up putting it down for good before getting even halfway through Flotsam. Now I'm honestly trying to enjoy the third game, and feel like I'm hitting a brick wall. Everything I've read says this game has the best combat of the three, and yet I still just can't seem to wrap my head around it.

How the hell are you supposed to initiate combat? Is it possible to successfully get the first hit in? Geralt insists on doing this mind-bogglingly stupid jump and spin, soaking at least a hit or two in the process before his sword even connects. There goes 1/3 to 1/2 of my health. Yay.

What about crowds? If there are more than two enemies, I can't seem to get in more than one, maybe two hits before being stunlocked into the unwilling star of a Brazzers video.

I get that you're supposed to use signs, and picked this up during the tutorial, yet by the time a new sign is ready to cast I'm already up shit creek with no relief in sight. Quen is great for soaking a single hit, but then what? You just run around like a chicken for the 10 seconds before you can cast it again?

Rolling and dodging are obviously important, which is fine I guess, except that half the time I roll away some enemies are either still in my face or running away to burrow into the ground. Dodging makes sense for one-on-one or maybe one-on-two fights, but getting surrounded seems to render it pointless. I appreciate that blocking seems far more effective than the previous two games when it does work, except I can't for the life of me figure out how I'm supposed to tell what can and can't be blocked. Is blocking just worthless outside of fighting non-monsters? I'd love to be able to riposte and counter these drowners, except I get the feeling I'm just SOL because reasons.

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I've read lots on how you need to use all kinds of means to give yourself an edge in combat, like bombs and potions and oils, and I'd love to. Except here I am at the start of the game with hardly any possessions to my name, and just about every single fight sends me to the grave. I did win the fistfight against the three punks outside the tavern, even earning the "don't get hit" achievement, but at least those jerks had the courtesy to only attack me one at a time like some kind of 80s kung fu movie.

I feel like a comparison to Dark Souls is almost inevitable, particularly with the rolling and such, but I'd kill for something as understandable and repeatable in this game. I've aced all three of the Dark Souls games, even doing silly stuff like naked SL1 runs. Yet in this game, I feel like I never know exactly what Geralt is going to do when I click the mouse button (except again for the utterly unhelpful jump and twirl, cool now I'm almost dead). Hell, I'd even take something like Monster Hunter style fighting over what I'm being presented with. Or maybe Morrowind's silly invisible to-hit rolls that see me whiffing for no discernable reason.

This game gets a ton of love, and I'd really like to experience it myself, but I'm beginning to wonder if this series just isn't for me and it's because of my distaste for/inability to understand the combat? Turning the difficulty down isn't really an option for me, because I know that I'll get equally frustrated if I'm some overpowered death bringer that murders things around me without any real risk to my own well being. I genuinely want to experience a challenge and what the game has to offer, but need to know what I'm doing wrong because the game has failed to adequately explain it to me. Unless I've just been spoiled by the Souls series, and need to wash my hands of this.

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