CD Projekt boss Marcin Iwinski has revealed The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.
The bread and butter Witcher experience, which went on to sell 1.2m copies (on PC only), returns. Mutant monster-fighter Geralt, therefore, is back and swishing his sword at toothy enemies and toothy harlots. Graphics, combat, magical powers and dialogue will all be overhauled, however.
Game designer Marek Ziemak talks us through the demonstration.
The "incredible graphics" are teased as Geralt overlooks a burning cityscape while a dragon feeds the flames from above. The day-night cycle has been "revamped", and a time-lapsed shot of a medieval encampment shows the sun passing overhead as wind lashes the tents. The scene is tinged with a bluey hue, which lends a cold, harsh-reality feel.
The engine advancements, Ziemak reckons, produce "some of the most realistic environments ever in the history of RPGs".
Dialogue is "completely new", and now has a dynamic camera that puts you "smack in the middle of an interactive movie". A penniless Geralt demonstrates this by swatting away a prostitue, showing a multi-choice response system with answers he fleshes out once picked.
Geralt's actions now affect AI bystanders. He smashes a bunch of barrels with a Force Push-like power and bloke with a bizarre US 'homeboy' accent reacts. AI also goes about its business around you, as if the world were alive. A soldier speaks to recruits as Geralt looks on; one throws up; the rest do push-ups.
Background chatter and encampment noise accompany a dramatic score to set an atmospheric scene.
Combat, finally, and finishing moves are "revamped" to be more dynamic, spectacular and "bloody" - blood splats across the screen as Geralt pulls gruesome moves. Havok physics underpin the action, and power our hero's magical abilities, which look a lot like those from Star Wars.
"Quick-time events will be another innovation," added Ziemak, as Geralt faced-off with an assassin boss, trading slurs in cut-scenes that react to the flow of combat. It works.
There's no date nor mention of platforms. CD Projekt's console adaptation of The Witcher - Rise of the White Wolf - went awry earlier this year, and was put on indefinite hold. We doubt any but PC will see the sequel, at least to begin with.
Also unclear is who the publisher will be. CD Projekt sided with Atari for the original, but Rise of the White Wolf payment disputes may scupper the partnership a second time around.
Have a look at our Witcher review for some background reading.