There will be no quick-time events (QTEs) in The Witcher 3!
The news comes from Germany and a round of previews based on an hour with the new open world role-playing game. German website World of Players mined a PC Games preview for the detail (relayed on NeoGAF). Our German colleagues at Eurogamer.de have verified the translation for us.
In The Witcher 3, hero Geralt is more agile and can now jump and climb. There's a new combat mechanic that lets you target specific parts - vulnerabilities - of monsters. Apparently it's a similar system to VATS in Fallout 3. This used Action Points to trigger, via the Pip-Boy tool, targeted slow-mo attacks. And heads did splat.
Geralt can hunt wild animals for their furs and claws in The Witcher 3, and has a sense ability he can use to track colour-coded traces of beasts. This will help him prepare tactics in advance.
Hunting provides materials for crafting, and will be a valuable way of making money. But killing monsters and animals outside of quests won't reward you with XP. That only comes from completing quests, it sounds like.
How much you can sell your looted or crafted items for depends on the dynamic local economy of each settlement.
The world being bigger means Geralt is able to use horses and boats to get around. He can tame horses using an Axii magical sign, or he can buy them. He can borrow boats from the beaches and ports of the world (and probably buy them as well). There's also a fast-travel option to-and-fro from known locations.
There are to be no invisible borders to the world; the three areas of The Witcher 3 - the wind-swept rugged archipeligo of Skellige, the delta of the Pontar and port capital of Novigrad and the war-ravaged No Man's Land - are accessible from the off. Whether The Witcher 3 will break up the open world and load interiors or areas like cities separately remains to be seen. Elder Scrolls games do this, and CD Projekt Red has publicly said it will take many lessons in open world architecture from that series.
The main story will occupy you for 50 hours, it's said. Mopping up all the side-quests will push that time to 100 hours. There are a possible 36 states the world can end up in because of your actions, and there are three possible epilogues to finish your adventure with, each an hour long.
You'll be able to import saved games from previous Witcher titles, which will alter relationships with characters but not affect the main story.
Geralt can reach level 60 in The Witcher 3 and character development will be more complex, allowing for hundreds of customisation possibilities. Monsters won't level with you, so you'd better not bump into the bigger beasties before you're ready. Inversely, if you're much more powerful than your enemy - bandits, say - then they may surrender to you rather than fight.
You won't be able to kill civilians, who'll alert the guards if you pinch from them. If you want to make a bit of extra money, new mini-game betting pursuits axe-throwing and playing cards are open to you.
The Witcher 3 will have a tutorial from the outset. The Witcher 2 didn't, and suffered for it. A tutorial was later added to the Enhanced Edition of the game.
The Witcher 3 is due out on PC and PS4 and probably next Xbox in 2014. Oh, the PC and console versions will have a different UI.