: The Difficulty In Reviewing The Witcher 3

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The Difficulty In Reviewing The Witcher 3

Some games are easier to review than others. And a few make you scratch your head and go- "What the hell am I supposed to do here?"

I'm afraid the hugely anticipated RPG from CD Projekt Red, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, is one of those games. No matter how often I think about it, I can't seem to come up with a decent review approach.

Those who want to laugh and scoff and say BS malarkey like "it's all just opinion anyway!" can just shut their ignorant yaps. It's just too stupid to respond to. Of course, it's hardly brain surgery; it's not like lives hang in the balance and besides, when it comes to hardcore/niche genres, most fans have already made up their minds concerning a purchase (either yea or nay depending on everything they've seen and heard). And it definitely helps that the developers weren't shy about sharing The Witcher 3 info and media. There's so much, it almost seems redundant to offer a review.

Well, it'd only be "redundant" if all I did was regurgitate the facts, which of course I won't do. My biggest problem is that the game is so massive, it'll be immensely difficult to boil it all down into a regular review. Obviously, the analysis is going to be long but you can't turn it into a novel (you start to lose the reader) and yet, at the same time, you don't want to miss anything critical. How do you write a review for this game without rambling? How do you tackle every major element? Even more importantly, what kind of weight to do you give to each element? Control is clearly critical but what if only one aspect of the gameplay is a little off? What if a player rarely uses that typical mechanic? And what if another player uses it all the time? 'sigh'

I suppose the only consolation I have is that people probably don't care very much. Heading into the launch, I can pretty much guarantee that most people out there have already come to a conclusion: "Yep, I'm buying it," or "nope, not getting it." The review only serves to incite discussion. ;)

4/24/2015 Ben Dutka

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Comments (25 posts)

WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 12:21:46 AM
Reply

This is where I laugh at other sites that have somebody make general comments, cite the story, and say if its good or bad. Large font, short paragraphs.

Ben you do well with the breakdown process which I like to emulate because it is utilitarian and thus the most useful.

Breakdown= hows the graphics? (explain) hows the gameplay? (explain) Hows the sound? (explain) etc. Then tying a bow around it with the overall feel of how everything comes together.

One thing I like to do while also doing that is to find a concise way to iterate whether or not a representative sample of the game's offerings (battle system, menu work, questing, eye popping locations, interacting with NPCs) actually succeed in what the game itself seems to promise by the nature of its own setup. And if it doesn't succeed here and there, why and how much of a problem is it?

On each main front, does it do what the devs clearly wanted it to? Does the massiveness work for or against it? And if there are flaws and aspects aren't working then wrap them into the fold and punch the score a little in the face.

This can be an additional 3 paragraphs after the Breakdown, and then if you like there's always the option of having a highlights list at the very end to give a sense of all those things you couldn't address in the review.

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Oxvial
Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 12:55:41 AM
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Just like Guilty Gear Xrd, Bloodborne and MKX, I know I'm gonna like this, not gonna take reviews into consideration for this day one purchase, looks like you are a bit intimidated with reviewing this game Ben o_O!

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frostface
Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 2:25:57 AM
Reply

Maybe now would be a good time to review your reviewing process, at least in regards to larger games such as this one.

I get you don't have enough time to play 30 plus hours, write articles / news for the site, review other games and have a life away from the site to pursue other interests, so you're going to try get a review for this massive game out after sinking about what 5-10hrs? This is a problem I have with your reviews for games that have long running times. First I need to be clear, I'm not taking a jab at you. Quite frankly it's amazing that you get as much out as you do and that you're doing it alone, well you should get credit for that. Now here's the 'But...'

But, for larger games, I don't think your reviews are based off playing enough of the game. I think you play the first couple of chapters if you're lucky and then score the game. For games with this scope, it probably won't even have gotten going by the time you've written your review and allocated whatever points you deem worthy. So maybe your score won't be reflective enough of the games quality. Had you held off on your Assassins Creed Unity review, I'm sure you would have scored it differently and wouldn't have felt the need to retract your score.

So my suggestion, it's time for a change. Do away with a one off review that won't ever be revisited. Instead do a running diary for the game and maybe don't score it at all. I'm not suggesting you do this with every game (though personally I would like to see the scoring system done away with completely), let yourself take your time with the game, take as long as it takes to soak it all up. Just writing a review based off a few hours at the beginning of the game doesn't do you, the site, or the game justice. Time for a change.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 5:35:16 AM

I got my shields up so don't try to murder me for saying I think Ben adjusts his number of hours played based on the game length. Ya know, sorta... like common sense. A decent person wouldn't want to write this thing until they have a handle on all the game has to offer.

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frostface
Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 6:29:03 AM

I don't disagree with your common sense mate. All the more reason to take a different approach considering the size of this game.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 11:22:37 AM

"But, for larger games, I don't think your reviews are based off playing enough of the game. I think you play the first couple of chapters if you're lucky and then score the game."

And I think... No, wait, I KNOW you're wrong.

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frostface
Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 11:54:37 AM

Well good. It would be nice if your reviews for some of the larger AAA titles reflected this fact.

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FatherSun
Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 4:05:41 PM

I came to comment then read what you stated. My idea is similar in that for large games maybe we can get a full review after a few stages of observations and analysis. Bens review process for most games wouldn't require this due to game length and other factors so I would consider this to be more of a supplement to his current way of doing things.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, April 26, 2015 @ 9:16:50 PM

"Well good. It would be nice if your reviews for some of the larger AAA titles reflected this fact."

They all do. Not my fault if you don't read them or care to believe otherwise.

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Snaaaake
Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 2:32:44 AM
Reply

Think it's gonna take you long to review this Ben?
Cause it seems like RPG always takes a while to get done, not to mention Witcher 3 is bigger than most RPG out there.

By the way, I love it when reviewers do their job professionally like our Mr Dutka here.
Totally hate reviewers who review a game based on their opinion, they are why the "It's all just opinion" criticism existed in the first place.

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Beamboom
Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 2:45:59 AM
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How about a review in several parts, from different perspectives? One that sees it from the story perspective sticking to following the story (almost like if it was a linear game), one from the complete opposite, fully free-roaming perspective, "live" the Witcher 3 world, and one overall "main" review where the ratings are published?

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 5:43:30 AM

You'd be creating a new genre of modern video game critique. Literally, a review in epic form.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 11:25:48 AM

Very good idea from a creative standpoint.

Terrible idea from a "digitally digest-able" standpoint. :) That's the kind of thing that would work well in a print medium. But when digital editors are hard-pressed these days to get readers - especially in the realm of entertainment - to read more than a few paragraphs, you can't just write like mad. About six people in the world will read it. Sadly, there's a reason BuzzFeed and Gawker tend to rule.

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FatherSun
Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 4:24:35 PM

Begin the multi-article review. Write all the way up to the point where you may give it a score then put a big.. "To be continued" at the end. Sounds crazy but if you can write in a way as to engage to reader to a point where they must know the answer this may work. Write or come up with some form of an incentive to read the next article. Say something like... So what do you think readers.. Will I give this portion of the game an Nay or a Yay!? Or keep it the same way with a 1 to 10. Whichever way you want to structure the scoring if you can invoke the "Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel feeling then it will work.

I do see what you mean when you say you can't write a novel as a review because most people don't have such an attention span. Especially in this day and age. Yet if you were to do a piece by piece review you would have to justify why the reader has to wait for the conclusion. You won't know unless you give it a try. You seem intrigued but skepticle in your response.

I'd say give it a try. Experiment with it. Maybe even post the first part of the article in the morning and the second at night. Have readers vote on it or something like that. This will keep the article fresh all day. I wouldn't consider it gimmicky if done properly. As long as your readers enjoy it then by all means.

Last edited by FatherSun on 4/25/2015 4:29:49 PM

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Beamboom
Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 5:07:48 PM

But Ben, each part could be their own article (that's how I pictured it) and each article didn't have to be longer than a regular review. They didn't even have to be published at the same time.

But of course, it's a lot more work, obviously. Would be cool to do though.


Last edited by Beamboom on 4/25/2015 5:09:10 PM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, April 26, 2015 @ 9:17:49 PM

It would confuse Metacritic and GameRankings (not good for us), and it would also confuse most readers. It's too insular of an idea. It would work just for us, and for people who know what I'm doing; to everyone else, it would just look like a series of editorials. Not a BAD thing, per se, but I'm not sure it qualifies as a review.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 4/26/2015 9:18:32 PM

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Banky A
Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 2:47:48 AM
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You just let it bend you over the kitchen counter, and take it like a man. Take it all.

Buying it is a given.

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FAREEZ
Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 3:11:36 AM
Reply

It's simple, we give it a 10...

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ethird1
Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 3:34:18 AM
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Butkiss!! Take your time and play the game. Enjoy it, young punk. Tell us how it is as you play the game. Infact, take a full week or two and come back and let us know how it is. Do your job, wussyboy!!

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 5:41:31 AM

pahhhahahaha you just made my night with that comment. Good belly laugh. Effin hilarious mofo clownin this thread.

No clue how you meant it, but I heard it in Dave Chappelles voice.

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xenris
Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 10:58:05 AM
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I would say Ben do what you normally do. Give us a breakdown of all the technical elements.

Then I believe you should just play the game how you would play it if you weren't reviewing it. Just go through the game, play it for about 20 hours and let us know if the side quests were fetch questy, let us know how everything comes together etc. Just do a couple of side quests to get a feel for their quality.

Tell us about the story elements you encountered and the delivery etc.

I think you will do fine, just play the game, and give us your thoughts don't think to hard about it :)

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Temjin001
Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 11:06:15 AM
Reply

A real epic role-playing game deserves a role played review!

As I look over the sun drenched valley, winds bustling through the finely detailed trees, I think back to the words Ciri said. "Be brave and be bold Geralt." I clutch at the hilt of my sword and remind myself that I'm more than a "Witcher" doomed to travel as a lone man beyond the years of man slaying beasts for hire.
But something is not right about this valley. The mounds of carcasses that laden the ground before me suggest I risk my life about this path. Confident however in my level of experience and the amulets I carry to give me power beyond my natural strength, including this expertly crafted armor I purchased from that c--- sucker back in town, I feel prepared for any conflict.

There we go. SOmething just like that =p



Last edited by Temjin001 on 4/25/2015 11:10:48 AM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, April 25, 2015 @ 3:29:04 PM

yyyyyeah I like dis^

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ransomink
Sunday, April 26, 2015 @ 3:07:11 PM
Reply

I would attempt to break down the game into categories and talk about each specifically. A paragraph or two at best unless there is need to divulge, ie: Graphics, Gampelay, Audio, Controls, Story, Side Quests, Misc, etc.

Play the game how you would and enjoy a few side quest - to give a segment on - and rack up a typical rpg-ridden experience, say, 30 hours. Then give us the goods!

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Rachet_JC_FTW
Wednesday, April 29, 2015 @ 8:23:00 PM
Reply

yeah no ben fair call i can completely understand where you are coming from so i know its going to be hard for you, so i wish you all the best with this one ben i really do hope you can pull off something special for all

happy gaming

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