The Witcher 2’s Compact Size Has Made It My Most Played In The Series

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is widely regarded as the pinnacle of CD Projekt Red’s action-RPG series, and for good reason. The game’s monumental success in 2015 quickly overshadowed its predecessors, with many believing there was no need to explore them to enjoy the latest installment. While there’s truth to that, I’ve always felt sorry for The Witcher 2, which was somewhat overlooked.



In contrast to its ambitious successor, the second entry’s smaller scope with tightly packed, dense areas, combined with the unique atmosphere that CDPR totally nailed, makes it one of my favorite RPGs to revisit. Certain aspects of Assassins of Kings are simply more captivating, and the ability to complete the entire game in 25 to 30 hours is a huge advantage. Sure, one can just play The Witcher 3 in short bursts whenever the mood strikes, but The Witcher 2 just feels more intimate.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love The Witcher 3. With its stunning world, unmatched atmosphere, and perfect score, it is an unforgettable adventure that feels almost never-ending. I’ve completed the third game twice, investing over 300 hours. Surprisingly, I’ve spent even more time with the series’ second entry. To put it simply, The Witcher 3 is brilliant, but I just think The Witcher 2 is better.

Witcher 2’s Focused Narrative Creates An Exciting Flow

Right off the bat, The Witcher 2’s story feels more self-contained and focused, with a direct story and flow that doesn’t get bogged down by too many side quests or distractions like collecting Gwent cards. The game is more on the rails, but this works to its benefit. Despite a somewhat convoluted introduction, featuring multiple prologues (there are flashbacks within flashbacks, interrogation and escape missions, and sudden sections narrated by Dandelion), The Witcher 2 immediately grabs your attention and sustains engagement through a deep, twist-filled story full of morally ambiguous choices.

I absolutely loved the creative decision to briefly let players step into the shoes of various characters pivotal to the plot. While this may feel unconventional for some, I enjoyed the cinematic touch that added layers to the political narrative. Not to mention the lead antagonist, Letho The Kingslayer, who is as complex and compelling a character as one could hope for. Letho’s motivations are both understandable and intriguing, with his morally ambiguous nature and past connections with Geralt making him hard to label as a true villain. It’s a shame that Letho had limited screen time in The Witcher 3, yet he remains one of its most memorable faces.

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The progression systems are another thing that the second game arguably did better than its follow-up. I can’t say I’m a fan of CDPR’s approach to skill trees in general (even in Cyberpunk 2077 2.0), but at least The Witcher 2’s skills always feel more impactful than most unlocks in its successor. The same applies to high-level gear, with each sword and armor piece offering unique bonuses, rather than just boosting damage or resistance percentages. As a result, the sense of becoming stronger as you progress is much more noticeable, even in the early stages.

Familiar Vibe With A Vastly Different Approach

The Witcher 2 Final Confrontation With Leto

The Witcher 2 and 3 share similar aesthetics, graphics, and musical choices, but their world designs differ significantly. With the current trend of oversized sandboxes, many believe that smaller worlds are actually better than massive environments with gradual transitions between regions. The Witcher 3 partially solves this problem by introducing separate large locations with their own mood and landscapes instead of one seamless environment. The Witcher 2, however, excels in creating a compact yet diverse world. Each location is uniquely crafted, offering memorable experiences with their own challenges and monsters to slay.

The Witcher 2 Geralt Using Aard in Combat

Its massive scope also meant that The Witcher 3 had to account for a ton of choices that players made and reflect them meaningfully. To its credit, the game does a pretty admirable job here, yet due to its smaller scope, The Witcher 2’s choice-driven role-playing is simply superior. The sequel’s choices feel more impactful, with far-reaching consequences and fully incompatible branches. For instance, players can not only spare the final boss but also encounter an impressive fork in the story prior to the second act, altering the next 10 to 15 hours significantly. The decision between siding with Vernon Roche and the Blue Stripes or the elven Scoia’tael commander, Iorweth, is one of the most impactful choices I have ever seen in an RPG, providing a solid reason to replay the story at least twice.

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With its compact, handcrafted world and meaningful choices, The Witcher 2 is shorter and encourages multiple playthroughs. While some prefer epic, never-ending adventures, returning to The Witcher 3 after a long break can be challenging, leading many players to never finish the game.

As one of the oldest titles in the series, The Witcher 2 may soon be overshadowed by newer entries, including the upcoming remake of the first Witcher game. It’s a bit sad to think about, as this great chapter deserves attention from any Witcher enthusiast.

The Witcher 2 Signs Combat

CD Projekt Red’s dedication to Andrzej Sapkowski’s universe is truly admirable, and each game holds a special place in my heart. However, The Witcher 2’s presentation, story, characters, and choices have particularly resonated with me. Its leaner and more straightforward structure makes it the perfect RPG for when I’m in the mood for Slavic fantasy with Geralt. Actually, I might be in the mood for it right now.

Next Baldur’s Gate 3’s Uneven Pacing Has Me Struggling To Get Invested Baldur’s Gate 3 is fantastic to look at, but maybe the rest of it just isn’t for me.

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