Since you play as Geralt of Rivia, don’t expect a huge amount of customization. This being the Enhanced Edition that includes all of the DLC from the PC version, changing your hairstyle is present, but don’t expect anything on Skyrim‘s terms for example. You can also equip different armor, gauntlets, boots and trousers. These aren’t purely cosmetic as expected. Some can be purchased, others will be given to you or can be crafted. One interesting component is Geralt’s ability to equip Trophies, and not like the stupid ones in Fable that you hold up and have NPCs chant your name. If you kill so many of a specific enemy, they have a chance of dropping their Trophy that can alter your stats. The Harpy Trophy, for instance, hangs from your belt and gives you an additional +4 armor. While a trophy given to you, like the Medal of Distinguished Service to Temeria, increases your Vitality (Health) by 15.
Geralt can level up to a maximum of 35 by earning experience, most of this is earned through completing quests. You can always farm enemies, but that’s not the most productive way to level up. Upon reaching each level, Geralt is granted one skill point. Skill points can be applied to four different categories: Training, Swordsmanship, Alchemy, and Magic. These trees span across 51 different abilities, all of which offer two levels. With 102 points needed to max out everything and only 35 can be obtained, different play styles can increase the replay value. A few of these abilities will do simple things like increase Vitality and can be found in each skill tree. Others offer more significant skills. Under Swordsmanship, the Combat Acumen ability unlocks group finishers. Through standard attacks, you’ll gain adrenaline. Once filled, Geralt can unleash a cinematic attack killing multiple foes instantly.
Magic abilities can enhance your signs. The Glyph Enhancement, for example, will allow Yrden traps to join together, preventing foes from moving between glyphs. This is especially helpful when you’re outnumbered. By casting Yrden you can immobilize enemies that walk over it giving you time to take out the more forceful foes. Training will unlock basic abilities like throwing knives, but alchemy can change the whole game. Taster will allow you to drink an additional potion, but more effective abilities such as Impregnation can turn you into a total bad ass. This ability makes the effects of all mutagens increase by +35%. Mutagens can be socketed into much higher abilities in each skill tree. Some mutagens are rare, others are common. These can be used to further upgrade the ability or apply permanent effects.
Smaller mutagens such as Lesser Power Mutagen will permanently add 3-4 damage with every attack. An Epic mutagen like an Enchantment Mutagen will regenerate adrenaline +8% upon hitting a foe. It’s critical you spend as much time exploring and doing side quest to level up Geralt because these abilities and items will significantly help you later on during the game, as they’re permanent. When you’re not fighting for your life, exploring or having deep conversations, Geralt can also participate in a few activities. A QTE fist fighting arena can earn you some petty Orens. Arm wrestling and Poker Dice can pass time, but ultimately aren’t very satisfying. If you’re anything like me, you could always head to the brothel and start “ploughing the local whore,” as they say. Seeing how Orens are hard to come by, most of my time was spent outside the brothel wondering what it’s like on the inside. I’m simply too frugal to waste Orens on Whistling Wendy.
The Witcher 2 also offers an Arena Mode outside the main story. This is a very welcomed edition, as once you complete the story, there’s no going back. It’s over and you must reload a previously saved game, or start from scratch. In the Arena you start off at level 1 and choose a difficulty. You must fight progressively challenging waves of enemies to earn XP and Orens to level up and buy new gear. You can also hire henchmen to help out during battle. Upon your first death, it’s game over. That doesn’t mean you can’t continue, though. CDPR was nice enough to let you keep trying so you’re not stuck at level 1 forever. Instead, you can no longer increase your score for the leaderboards without restarting. This is a great mode for players to practice their combat skills before tackling the insanely challenging Dark difficulty.
All in all, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition is simply a masterpiece. If you’re a fan of challenging games or RPGs, you shouldn’t even hesitate in picking up this title. While it does suffer from a few technical flaws, it’s hard to not overlook them, as the rest of the game is so masterful. Each and every time I pop in The Witcher 2, I think about how much love and dedication was put into the title, and I hope to see more like it. As a huge RPG fan, I am completely satisfied in every way with The Witcher 2. It fulfilled all my expectations and then some. It would be very hard to convince me not to recommend this beautiful title to everyone. Do yourself a favor, and go support CD Projekt. You deserve it as much as they do.