June 24, 2016 by Paul Curtin
One of the things that made The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt one of gamers’ favorite games of 2015 was just the sheer amount of content it offered in its open world. Not only did the world of the Witcher look stunning, but every little design detail seemed to have purpose when telling Geralt’s story.
And while the combat, NPC interactions, and storytelling were all some of the best we’ve ever seen in an RPG, it was the mini-game, Gwent, which developed a cult following that kept players around long after Geralt’s story was over. Putting the primary story aside, players were able to travel from city to city in Pokémon-esque fashion challenging other Gwent masters, completing side-missions, collecting cards, and trying to become the very best Gwent player.
Gwent was so beloved, that fans flooded CDProjektRed with requests for a standalone version of the game that they could play with their friends. And while we thought Geralt’s story might be over after The Witcher 3’s latest Blood & Wine expansion, CDPR announced at E3 this year that Gwent is in fact coming to the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One with brand new adventures for Geralt and friends.
We had a chance to play a couple games of Gwent at E3 and can confirm that it plays even better than the version fans fell in love with in The Witcher 3. CDPR has taken the lovable card game and changed very few aspects or gameplay mechanics. Although all of the cards have been re-balanced with multiplayer in mind, players who loved the original should have no problem jumping right back into the standalone version and new players should have an even easier time learning all the rules.
Gameplay still consists of 1-on-1 card duels where each player selects from a deck of cards that represents a faction. Players then lay their cards down in one of three spots on the Gwent table: Melee, Ranged, and Siege. Each card has a numerical value that gets combined with their other cards’ values and certain cards can combine for bonuses with the objective being to have a single total number that’s greater than the sum of your opponent’s cards on the table. And with each game still being the best of 3 rounds, Gwent still requires players to strategically know when to use which cards and when to pass.
What’s changed most about Gwent seems to be the user interface. While Gwent looked good in The Witcher 3, CDPR has given the interface a much-needed visual overhaul that makes it feel like more of an interactive card game with more vibrant colors, animations, and easier-to-read cards that now can even be shiney and have animated backgrounds that bring the cards to life.
With Gwent now a stand-alone game, you’d think it would just be straight card vs. card combat like Hearthstone, but Gwent actually also has a unique top-down adventure mode that allows the player embark on missions and unlock new cards. While this mode still stars Geralt and the main cast, CDPR explained that there will be more stories focusing on other characters that sometimes even put the Witcher in the background.
There’s still no word on the Gwent‘s official release date, but a closed beta has been announced and is scheduled to begin in September 2016 on Windows and Xbox One.