Home Gaming E3 2016: Gwent goes over and above with a massive single-player campaign

E3 2016: Gwent goes over and above with a massive single-player campaign

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I was never a fan of Gwent in The Witcher 3. It wasn’t so much that the game’s mechanics of using a single hand to survive three rounds of deception and misdirection didn’t appeal to me, but rather that there was so much else to do within the dense open-world that collecting cards seemed woefully unappealing. Gwent, the standalone card-collecting title from developers CD Projekt Red, is seemingly perfect for me then. But it’s also a much deeper, richer experience than the singular title suggests.

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Gwent was announced just prior to E3, but its presence at the show didn’t go unnoticed. CD Projekt Red was back with a game that, from the outside, was much smaller and tighter in scope than the likes of The Witcher or their upcoming RPG, Cyberpunk 2077. But just as I learned sitting down for a presentation and hands-on with the title, it’s dangerous to rule things as simple when it comes to the famed Polish developers. And surprise me they did.

Gwent as a game is the same. Aside from an utterly gorgeous playing board overhaul and improved visual feedback, the game remains the same. You’re dealt a single hand of cards that you must use throughout three rounds of play. Each card can either add attack to your overall tally, buff existing cards or reduce the effectiveness of opponent’s ones. You’re patience and slyness is tested here, with smart round conceding and clever resource management usually prevailing against headstrong, quick plays.

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In The Witcher 3 this was exclusively played against AI, but there’s a whole different side to Gwent when playing against another human opponent. This is essentially the market the card game is targeting, clearly trying to cut its own slice of the mobile card collecting pie that the likes of Hearthstone has already claimed the majority of. Gwent against another attendee was blissfully fun, with my strategies being tested in a truly real way in quick matches.

I got the chance to try one of the two new classes the game is offering, taking the forces of the Isles of Skellige into battle. These cards focused on abilities that triggered when cards were played from the graveyard, making my reserved play a little less useful. Playing loose and fast with the deck enabled me to wreak havoc in the later rounds, although this sort of strategy was exclusive to the class. The same could be said for the six others that will populate the game at launch, along with a whole host of new cards that come in the standard rarity brackets (the rarest of the lot treat you stunning 3D renders of their character are and special effects).

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But if multiplayer isn’t your calling, Gwent offers a mode that I don’t think most would’ve expected. Akin to the way Hearthstone offers its own single-player adventure modes, Gwent will be doing the same, albeit in a lot more depth. Revealing a 2D, water art render of Geralt and some previously unknown characters, CD Projekt Red revealed that Gwent will offer an extensive Witcher 3 single-player experience – featuring an all new story, exploration and fully voiced cut scenes.

The segment shown involved Geralt and a party of new characters investigating a Princess, who had seemingly been attacked in a dwelling not far from the walled off castle Geralt and co. were meant to escort her to. After a brief conversation, which reintroduced the sultry voice of the white-haired monster hunter, the game transitioned into a beautiful world map. Geralt (or any other character that you are controlling) will be able to explore this space freely, following quest markers or simply going off the beaten path like core Witcher titles before it.

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Exploration, it turns out, is the most suggested course of action, as it is through this that you’ll discover new cards to add to your deck. Aside from revealing more of the stunning cloth map-like world, these new cards increase the effectiveness of your current deck, which came in handy with the closing part of the demo. Geralt’s escorted princess turned out to be possessed by a demon (well, it’s certainly The Witcher), and transitioned then to a Gwent board to play out the combat in a neatly designed, contextualised battle with narratively relevant cards.

This was just a slice of an experience CD Projekt Red is suggesting will take around 10 hours to complete, and is only the first of many new adventures the studio has cooking up. It stands separate to multiplayer Gwent however, where standard, random card packs will need to be earned (or purchased) in order to play online. Gwent will be free-to-play though, and Lead Designer Damien Monnier promised that the studio’s adeptness to fair pricing won’t be lost here either.

All of this combined makes for a Gwent game that had far more of my attention that I previously expected it to take. It’s so traditionally CD Projekt Red in every way possible, with the studio once again aiming to go out of their way to break the mould of tradition and deliver a card game that is everything is can be plus more. It’s going to be interesting to see just how they decide to monetise the extensive amount of content they’re promising, but previous efforts have me inclined to believe this could be a treat for all parties concerned. I’m excited to see where it goes next.

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Last Updated: June 20, 2016

40 Comments

  1. RinceThis

    June 20, 2016 at 10:08

    I love these developers. Destiny can GITFS.

    Reply

    • Ottokie

      June 20, 2016 at 10:18

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        June 20, 2016 at 10:21

        Have you never spoken to him? Welcome to my world.

        Reply

      • Matthew Holliday

        June 20, 2016 at 10:32

        the number of supernatural gifs on this site, cant tell if lazygamer just has a large supernatural fanbase or if its just a really good show for emotive gifs 😛

        Reply

        • AfricanTime

          June 20, 2016 at 10:39

          whats wrong with Supernatural?

          Reply

          • Matthew Holliday

            June 20, 2016 at 10:58

            No idea, never had the inclination to watch it

          • AfricanTime

            June 20, 2016 at 11:04

            you are missing out, Jensen Ackles is the best actor of our generation…

  2. Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

    June 20, 2016 at 10:13

    We’re not making Witcher games anymore, but you can still play the mini game if you love it so much…

    Reply

    • Matthew Holliday

      June 20, 2016 at 11:03

      Im fine with that.
      also fine with no more Witcher games.
      so long as they do something else equally as good.

      Although, if they had said theyd make one more Witcher game with actual fluid combat and an enticing skill tree, Id have been happy aswell.

      Reply

  3. Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

    June 20, 2016 at 10:14

    Gwent was fun, I spent way too much time playing it and hopefully this can compete with Hearthstone.

    Reply

    • Jeremy Given

      June 20, 2016 at 15:23

      It’s not trying to compete with Hearthstone. Gwent is a classier, cooler game that’s targeted at a wider audience. This is the game I want to play when I get my fireplace going, make some great Thanksgiving food, and want to have a great time with my family. A beautifully made casual game intended for everyone.

      Reply

  4. Alien Emperor Trevor

    June 20, 2016 at 10:20

    GIMME!

    Reply

    • Matthew Holliday

      June 20, 2016 at 11:11

      Im so hoping my beta application works :S

      Reply

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        June 20, 2016 at 11:26

        Yeah me too. I’m super keen.

        Reply

  5. AfricanTime

    June 20, 2016 at 10:21

    only for pc and windows so far

    Reply

    • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

      June 20, 2016 at 10:24

      Is that not the same thing?

      Reply

      • AfricanTime

        June 20, 2016 at 10:26

        lol, yes almost singularity…

        Reply

    • Audrius Kliukas

      June 22, 2016 at 12:05

      Not true, it will be available on PS4 and XBONE too.

      Reply

      • AfricanTime

        June 22, 2016 at 12:17

        “so far” and that’s if you are invited.

        Reply

        • Audrius Kliukas

          June 23, 2016 at 08:40

          I’m puzzled in what context you are using “so far”. Do you mean the beta? Even then, it is not available on any platform as of yet and it will be available for PC and XBONE in September. So yeah, no idea what you mean by “so far”.

          Reply

          • AfricanTime

            June 23, 2016 at 19:42

            “So far” meaning what they said so far. It is also a bit of a joke, as windows and xbox are becoming the same thing.

  6. Kromas GG

    June 20, 2016 at 10:22

    Nothing will ever beat MTG rpg from way back. That was an awsome campaign based card game.

    Reply

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      June 20, 2016 at 10:22

      I had that, was awesome.

      Reply

      • Ottokie

        June 20, 2016 at 10:27

        …I have generation 1 Pokemon cards

        Reply

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          June 20, 2016 at 10:28

          Because you’re a children. ;P

          MTG FTW YOLO #

          Or something.

          Reply

          • Ottokie

            June 20, 2016 at 10:34

            Don’t make me whip out my Blue eyes white dragon!

          • Dresden

            June 20, 2016 at 21:58

        • Matthew Holliday

          June 20, 2016 at 11:01

          unfortunately my pokemons are past tense
          HAD pokemons :<
          May my shiny Machamp from the original starter deck RIP in pepperonis

          Reply

    • Geoffrey Tim

      June 20, 2016 at 10:48

      The microprose one? DAMMIT I LOVED THAT GAME.

      Reply

  7. BakedBagel

    June 20, 2016 at 10:41

    The balance between decks and cards will make or break this game.

    Reply

    • Matthew Holliday

      June 20, 2016 at 11:10

      Well the cards that we can see in the screenshots already show a massive change to the balance.
      cards are also showing a massive change of scale to the game, it looks much bigger, so they have alot more to work with in regards to balancing.
      Optimistic

      Reply

      • BakedBagel

        June 20, 2016 at 14:06

        I fooking loved Gwent in TW3. I felt Monsters where pretty OP.

        I just hope they dont have the Hearthstone approach where you need $$$ to get the really nice cards.

        If they can get that perfect mesh of balance between the different decks and card types it will be a great competetor to Hearthstone

        Reply

        • Matthew Holliday

          June 20, 2016 at 21:59

          monsters draw power is pretty scary
          although a northern realms spy card and resummon deck was pretty much always a guaranteed win

          Reply

        • Audrius Kliukas

          June 22, 2016 at 12:12

          Scorch / Villentretenmerth / Biting frost completely wrecks monsters deck. I don’t think it’s OP at all.

          Reply

          • BakedBagel

            June 22, 2016 at 12:30

            TY FOR TIPS FRIEND 😀

  8. Ottokie

    June 20, 2016 at 11:23

    If they play their cards right, this could be a great TCG

    Reply

    • The Order of the Banana

      June 20, 2016 at 12:35

      I see what you did there… and it was beautiful. 😀

      Reply

  9. Ghost In The Rift

    June 20, 2016 at 12:31

    Gotta give love to these devs, never had any developer surprised me as much as CD RED, this makes the wait for their next games so much worse, and i think a piece of my gaming mentality died with The Witcher thinking i might newer get to play another game again, then again i might just hope that just maybe somewhere in the future lies a remastered version in the works.

    Reply

  10. The Order of the Banana

    June 20, 2016 at 12:34

    CD Projekt Red uber alles! These guys are the best developers out there – please never sell yourself to EA! You’re one of the last beacons of light in gaming.

    Reply

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