The Witcher 2 developer CD Projekt has bigged up its new engine, TSOOD, showcased new action elements and a streamlined dialogue system for its role-playing sequel but reassured fans that non-linear story is still the biggest deal.
During his Eurogamer Expo 2010 developer session today, senior producer Tomasz Gop demoed the game live, showing a prison break and a huge "cursed battlefield" with hundreds of ghost soldiers on screen at once.
But he was keen to remind attendees that non-linear story is what The Witcher 2 is all about.
"If you like the first game we'd just like to assure you that the principles that made us make the first Witcher are still important to us," Gop said.
"It was a story-driven game, and the second one is a story-driven game as well. It's the main feature of the game. The story is the ultimate feature."
In The Witcher 2 you play Geralt, a long-haired warrior who has more battle scars than we could count.
He's also a dead ringer for Tomasz Gop. "No, he's not modelled on me," was Gop's response when the likeness was pointed out during a question and answer session. "I'm ugly."
The Witcher 2 looks lovely because CD Projekt went big on a new engine shortly after the release of the first game.
"Telling a non-linear story was the main reason for us to rewrite the engine. The engine we have is our own. We wrote it ourselves from scratch.
"We were able to gain scale. We've enhanced pretty much everything in the game, from size of location to huge encounters."
After emerging from the prison, Gop unlocked the camera and had a gander at The Witcher 2's huge fantasy world.
"All of these places, even the farthest one, will actually be explorable in the game. This is not like cardboard stands. This is where you will be playing.
"It's a tailor-made RPG engine."
So good is the engine, CD Projeckt said, it may consider licensing it in the future. It's "logical," apparently.
There are nearly a hundred people working on The Witcher 2 as we speak, Gop revealed. Polish and English language work is being conducted "in parallel" so the discrepancies some gamers criticised of the first game are avoided.
There are "20 or 30" camera views, all automatically adjusted for certain situations in exploration, combat and cut-scenes. Player's won't choose the camera angle as they could previously.
Mod tools may be released but only after the game launches. Oh, and the developer is "not making a shorter game" than the 40-80 hour original. "We've ditched a lot of quests that were in Witcher 1 basically running around and fetching stuff from another location. So it's going to be more intense."
Gop failed to narrow the release date of the PC version, but did reconfirm that the developer wants to do PS3 and Xbox 360 versions. There's a trailer of the prison break demoed during the developer session below.