You Don’t Have To Play ‘The Witcher 1’ Before ‘The Witcher 2’ – Here’s Why

Do You Need to Play the Witcher 1 Before The Witcher 2
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Plenty of announcements have been made regarding the Witcher series in the last few months. From the new trilogy following a completely new protagonist to the remake of classic Witcher 1, it seems that we’re going to be entertained by new Witcher content for years to come. At the moment, however, we’re going to set our sights on the past installments once again. With the new next-gen update arriving soon for Witcher 3, plenty of fans have been picking up older installments in the series to experience the whole story once again, Witcher 1 and Witcher 2 are drastically different, and plenty of fans are wondering is it really necessary to play Witcher 1 before Witcher 2?

  • Article Breakdown:
  • You don’t have to play Witcher 1 before playing Witcher 2.
  • The stories are connected but not in a way that it’s essential to replay Witcher 1 before picking up Witcher 2.
  • When it comes to mechanics and gameplay, these aspects of the game were for the most part overhauled with the second installment so it’s not necessary to be familiar with them at the start of the second game.

Differences between Witcher 1 and Witcher 2

While both games belong to the same franchise, they couldn’t be more different. Generally, people avoid Witcher 1 due to the different pacing, combat, world mechanics, and ambiance in general, the game feels outdated when compared with newer installments. This doesn’t necessarily make it a bad game however and plenty of fans stated that they prefer the world of Witcher 1 more than the more polished and updated world of Witcher 2. If you’re not familiar with the two games in the rest of this post we’re going to cover some major differences between the two games.

Witcher 1 and Witcher 2 use completely different engines

Witcher 1 was developed on Aurora Engine, Witcher 2 on the other hand uses REDengine, a custom-made in-house engine that they used for the development of Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt as well. The sudden change of engine affected several aspects of the game, mostly in a positive way. It’s important to mention however that the new upcoming Witcher 1 remake will not be built on REDengine, instead, it will use Unreal Engine 5 which will unlock some additional functionalities that were impossible to implement in the original game.

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The story of the two games is connected but the pacing is different

Witcher 1 continues where the last books in the series left off The Lady of the Lake. Geralt wakes up with Amnesia in Kaer Morhen and has no idea who or what he is. This is a great intro for the series as it explains why you have to learn everything about yourself and the world all over again. You don’t even remember your signs and you need to learn them from scratch. This great intro, however, resulted in much slower pacing, and the story feels somewhat drawn out and filled with inconsequential filler parts.

Witcher 1 story

The story of Witcher 2, on the other hand, is the direct continuation of the first game, you are accused of killing Foltest, King of Temeria whom you’ve met in Witcher 1 and most of the game relies on your previous knowledge of the world. You are able to use signs from the beginning of the game as it wouldn’t make sense for them to be “forgotten”. It might seem like it’s vital to play the first game to understand the second one, but it isn’t really so. Every Witcher game has a codex so you can read the background of the characters, worlds, mechanics, and other aspects of the game as soon as they’re introduced to you.

Witcher 2 story

You can rely on that info to get to know the world and characters and you really won’t miss much story-wise. The second installment in the series is also drastically less linear than the first one. Witcher 1 has choices but they don’t affect the way in which the game ends in any significant way. Choices in Witcher 2 highly impact your story, quests, and further experience in the game.

Witcher 1 and Witcher 2 have drastically different combat

Witcher 1 combat was somewhat simplistic point and click and timing were everything. Even though it was criticized, Witcher 2 combat introduced many aspects that carried on to the third installment.

Bombs, traps, and other things designed to add action and complexity to combat were added but were implemented in a weird way. Hence, the main difference regarding combat between the two games would be the fact that Witcher 2 combat is much more action-oriented.

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The World of Witcher 1 is not as open as the rest of the series

Neither Witcher 1 nor Witcher 2 are full sandbox open-world games like Witcher 3 was. The games were oriented toward zones and hubs and did not allow free roam, Witcher 1 actually allows for more freedom while you’re exploring than Witcher 2 does. However, neither of the two can compare to Wild Hunt when it comes to sandbox elements.

The ambiance is totally different

Witcher 1 has a much darker ambiance and gloomier atmosphere paired with washed-out color palettes which fit the setting of the game and the lore behind it perfectly. On the other hand, Witcher 2 was a vibrant place teeming with color, and I personally disliked that.

Witchers setting

Comparing graphics really doesn’t seem fair since it’s expected that the Witcher 1 one will fare worse in this comparison due to being an older game. If you like the sinister ambiance that comes with exploring ghoul-infested crypts I definitely recommend you give a Witcher 1 try.

Do you need to play Witcher 1 to play Witcher 2?

You don’t have to play Witcher 1 before you play Witcher 2, it’s really not a prerequisite as the game was designed in a way that it’s easy to jump into the world and pick up all the info without relying on the knowledge from the first game. Even though the stories are directly connected with the second game beginning where the first one ended, it’s not necessary to have knowledge of that to enjoy The Witcher 2.

I would still recommend that you give Witcher 1 a try to see how far the franchise has come over the years, Witcher 1 also has fairly unique combat and ambiance that better suits the story when compared to later installments.
If you however don’t want to bother with outdated games and cannot stomach the outdated visuals, you can always wait for the remake and then experience the old story in a completely new rebuilt, and modern setting. Have something to add? Let us know in the comments below!

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