For Western RPG fans, it is the best of times… or the worst of times, depending on which camp one finds oneself in.
A curious narrative has emerged with the first half of the year’s two biggest WRPG releases: BioWare’s Dragon Age II and Polish developer CD-Projekt’s The Witcher 2. That is, one may not survive while the other lives.
This is rather disheartening; the games have literally no similarities except that they are big-name Western RPGs released in the first half of 2011. But from this one tenuous connection, gamers are lead to believe that unless The Witcher 2 is the reciprocal of Dragon Age II in every way that they personally find deficient, then The Witcher 2 shares in BioWare’s infamy.
Instead of judging each game on its own merits, gamers have divided themselves into two camps, girded themselves for e-battle, and descended into review comments sections to either defend the honor of the besmirched maiden of BioWare or champion the “AAA-RPG with an indie heart” found in CD-Projekt’s game.
I will not, however, be reviewing the latter, although my views on the former are well-known, and, I think, unimpeachable in their objectivity and correctness. I suspect that my fellow Lusipurr.com writer Julian “SiliconNoob” Taylor Wallaby Fosters Didgeridoo Boomerang New South Wales Mate will wish to review The Witcher 2, and that honor I shall leave to him. Instead, I wish merely to express my exasperation with gamers for allowing themselves to be duped into this binary holy war for no apparent purpose.
As stated earlier, the games are almost entirely dissimilar. The complaints that many people have of Dragon Age II are… repeated… within The Witcher 2. There is no tactical view. Combat is fluid and action-oriented. The UI and control scheme of The Witcher is totally abandoned in favor of a new, faster system. Strange choices in dungeon design were made that reverse the feeling and soul of the first game (never mind that some of them actually improve the game).
But people are heralding the game as if it is somehow the answer to BioWare’s alleged failure, resorting into fanboyish factionalism that recalls the heady, early days of the PlayStation 3’s release. And I fear that, in the ensuing fracas that is sure to result, any sense of reviewing objectivity will be lost, and gamers will suffer. We will not be able to have an honest conversation about Nilfgaard and Temeria without also bringing up Qunari and Kirkwall, when in tone, technique, style, and aim the games could not be more divergent. Which is sad, because then two eminently worthy and respectable entries in the WRPG canon will be set at loggerheads, and those that enjoy one will be put off enjoying the other for fear of upsetting their respective factions.