The Witcher 3 is a very different game in many respects. CD Project Red haven’t just taken the experience of their previous title and dropped it into a massive open-world. They’ve analyzed every individual element and how it works with their new, broader setting – which has led to changes in nearly every department. But no system is less recognizable than Alchemy.
The Witcher 2 was particularly punishing with potions. You could only craft them – and drink them – during meditation, which obviously couldn’t be initiated during combat. If you didn’t plan ahead, and a fight really required the perceptiveness of a Cat potion or the buff of damage reduction, you were in trouble. It’s not the same in The Witcher 3, and it’s primarily to reduce frustration.
CD Projekt Red recognized that having a living, unpredictable world where enemies could attack you at a moment’s notice didn’t really fit with the slow, methodical nature of their old Alchemy system. Geralt is now able to take potions at any time – even while getting beaten down by a hulking Griffon.
You still have to be prepared and have what you need on you to go attack a specific monster. If you are going in the woods at night you better have the right stuff on you and make sure that you have meditated too of course (preferably in a safe spot).
Learning a thing or two from RPGs last year, The Witcher 3 will also have a far more streamlined way to create potions. When you’re crafting one for the first time, you’ll need all the right ingredients. That means taking a long walk to a distant mountain for that one rare flower, but it’s a journey you’ll only need to make once. If you’ve crafted a potion already, it can easily be refilled if you have some pure alcohol on hand – which erases the needless grind for materials.
Now as far as the system goes, it’s pretty straightforward, once you make the potion it is yours and you can refill it automatically, or any empty potions in your inventory by meditating, assuming you have some alcohol with you (pure…don’t go pour wine in there). There are however different types of alcohol for different potions types. It is automatic and only one bottle of alcohol can refill multiple potions.
One of the reasons behind this is that with the open world it quickly became a pain to go really far to grab that one plant you need for a potion. If it’s a potion you use often there is no challenge in that, it’s just annoying.
Dragon Age: Inquisition was notably guilty of this, forcing you to sacrifice hours on end to gather elfroot just for some health potions. The Witcher 3’s alchemy does sound a lot more accessible, but without coming off as incredibly shallow at the same time. It goes hand in hand with the changes to the Sign system – since both were presumably being grossly underused in the previous game.
Overall the goal was to get rid of pointless repetitions whilst keeping the preparation aspect and even expanding it more (which is why we say that preparation is more important than ever) because by not understanding the monsters you are going up against, will cost you.
During my time with the game a few weeks ago, CD Projekt Red stressed the importance to make players truly feel like a Witcher, which means making use of all the tools and skills available to him. Without the obscurity hindering it, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be crafting more than Cat this time around.
Last Updated: May 5, 2015