...And The Horse You Rode In On!

Happy Weekend TAY!

Roll call! Everyone make it to the new year? I enjoyed a refreshingly quiet time last week after what ended up being a busy holiday/birthday schedule.

I’m writing this on (last) Thursday since my son and I are having a “Game Night” on Friday. These marathon gaming sessions occur a few times a year and this time we will be enjoying Halo 2, Knuckles Chaotix, Cuphead and whatever else strikes our fancy at the moment. I’ve had my sleeping schedule majorly messed with due to the holidays, so I’m hoping I will be able to last until Saturday morning.

I played a fair bit of The Witcher 3 last week with the majority of the time spent mopping up all the outstanding quests that were at or below my experience level. (there were a lot). Giant lists of tasks stress me out a little; I hate having all those jobs hanging over my head.

As I crisscrossed the maps I found myself increasingly using Roach (your horse) to speed things along. You know what I discovered? The horse really sucks, more than I had initially thought. Set aside that the horse itself is a clumsy thing to mount and a joyless thing to drive, Roach just makes no sense to me.

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You can call the horse from anywhere which ruins the realism for me. Find yourself on a tiny island? Call your horse and it magically appears with zero pretence on how it could possibly get there. Roach is also your extended inventory, except it really isn’t extended. As you upgrade Roach’s carrying capacity, you are just upgrading Geralt’s inventory space. Even when the horse is not present, the increase in inventory size is still applicable to Geralt. I would have rather Roach be a secondary storage which wasn’t available unless you were actually interacting with your mount.

I think I would prefer that they just didn’t bother with a horse at all. You could have extended Geralt’s inventory without Roach. Not like we are striving for realism with ten swords in your back-pocket anyhow.

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The only benefit to Roach is the increase in your land speed and a small auto-navigation system that is often more frustrating than it is worth. For all the trouble and clumsiness of the horse, I often find myself just running on foot everywhere. I would rather have speed potions and have increased Geralt’s base-speed as a skill. (oh, and the horse racing SUCKS, so let’s not put that in the “plus column” for the mounts).

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If I was the one designing the horse system for The Witcher 3, I would have changed it quite a bit. First off, I would have removed Roach or the notion of a personal horse. I think purchasing different types of horses (combat, speed, etc) would have made for more interesting variety. Of course, the horrible mounted combat system would need to be majorly overhauled. I generally dismount from the horse when met with an encounter because the mounted combat controls so poorly.

Not being constrained by a horse that is a character (I use the term “character” extremely loosely), we could then kill the mounts. This would give the horse’s fear level stats an actual purpose and make the saddlebags a real concern. You could have the horse killed and then have to schlep the saddlebags back to town while making Geralt encumbered. Even better, the horse could flee in fear and you’d have to find it again to retrieve the inventory it was carrying. If a warhorse could help with the combat, I think you could have had some interesting mechanics and gameplay with the mounts. As it stands, Roach is barely worth the effort and feels much more flawed than it should.

If I survive my Game Night, I hope I’ll be able to play some more of The Witcher 3 this weekend along with some Rock Band 4. The newly released track “Hooked On A Feeling” is getting a lot of play in my house.

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So, what are you playing this weekend?