The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt features a real-time battle system that provides players with a variety of options and strategies for defeating enemies. As a witcher, Geralt of Rivia is equipped with swords, crossbows, magic spells, and other items to defeat all that stand in his way.
There are two types of attacks, fast attacks and strong attacks. Fast attacks are quick strikes that can be strung together easily into long combos. They don't inflict very much damage, but can be important for maintaining your offensive flow. Strong attacks are slow, but powerful attacks that deal significant damage. Weak opponents are not able to parry strong attacks, but relying on them too often could leave Geralt open for punishment.
Geralt has the ability to parry blows. Parrying attacks is an easy defensive maneuver that can help absorb some damage. Geralt can also perform a counterattack by pressing the Parry button right before an enemy's attack strikes him. The counterattack will knock the enemy off balance, allowing a few ripostes.
Geralt can evade attacks by enemies in different ways: Dodging and Rolling. Geralt can perform a swift short-range dodge in a chosen direction. Watch the timing, as if you try to dodge too early or too late, you'll get hit by the blow, however this is a very fast move that can let Geralt rapidly continue attacking. Rolling out of the way allows Geralt to dodge more sweeping blows and increases the distance between him and his target, and are generally more effective at evasion, but it is a slower move and will take longer for Geralt to recover before he can continue attacking.
Various buffs and debuffs can affect the effectiveness of Geralt in combat. Buffs can be gained by drinking potions, drawing on Places of Power, sharpening his weapon on a Grindstone or improving his armor on a Workbench in a village, while debuffs can hinder him with status ailments such as Poison, Bleeding, or Stun.
There is one other key type of combat, and that is on horseback with Roach. Being on horseback changes several things:
- Instead of attack combos you get slow, powerful single strikes that appear to be unblockable, but also might not hit very small targets. Your attacks are changed to slow strikes no matter what, but they gain the high damage and unblockable attributes if you use them while at a gallop.
- You lose access to all of your Signs except Axii which you can only use on Roach.
- Roach gets a Fear bar that gradually goes up as you fight. If the Fear bar gets full Roach will rear up and knock you off, forcing you to continue fighting on foot. Note that the Fear bar fills up very, very fast when fighting Undead enemies, and that using Axii on Roach empties the Fear bar. Another tactic is to equip Roach with horse blinders to slow the Fear bar from increasing.
Given the above, fighting on horseback isn't very suitable for fighting Undead enemies like Ghouls or packs of quick enemies like wild dogs or wolves, or in tight enclosed areas where you don't have much room to move. However, it can be very effective against groups of humans with mixed weapons including archers in a relatively open area where you won't get stuck against obstacles; you can quickly charge in and out of the fight avoiding most of the melee fighter damage (which also keeps your Fear level under control) while picking off key targets first like the archers, and they never seem able to block the attacks. If you find that you really like mounted combat you should try to get the Nekker warrior decoction; not only does this give a 50% boost to the damage you inflict it gives the very noteworthy effect of making Roach completely immune to Fear for its entire duration. This will let you use mounted combat on almost anything, even enemies that would normally have Roach buck you off within seconds.
Geralt's weapon arsenal includes swords, axes, crossbows, bombs, and magical spells. Knowing how and when to use these weapons is key.
Steel swords are best used against non-magical beasts, humans and non-humans.. Silver swords are best used against monsters and magical creatures.
The color of your opponent's Vitality bar will indicate what sword type you should use against them. If the bar is red, use a steel sword. if the bar is silver, use the silver sword.
NOTE: Although the game will have you automatically draw the suitable sword against the given enemies when you first enter combat, you CAN manually switch to the other one or even go unarmed. Using silver swords against non-magical beasts does significantly less damage than their shown rating, less than an equivalent level Steel sword, but has no other obvious drawbacks. However, do NOT use Steel Swords, secondary weapons or unarmed punches against Magical creatures. Not only does their significantly higher health make using lower-damage Steel Swords inefficient, Magical creatures have a heavy tendency to stun Geralt for a couple of seconds if he hits them with anything other than a silver sword, including barehanded punches.
A new tool to Geralt's arsenal is the one-handed crossbow. This crossbow is best used for knocking down flying foes and when attacking from a distance. Additionally, the crossbow is the only weapon available for use while swimming/diving or piloting a boat. It can also be used on horseback. In the Inventory panel, you can choose which bolts to use with your crossbow. Some bolts have special attributes. It's worth noting that the crossbow does not inflict as much damage as swords or signs while on land and serves more as a tool than a weapon. However, this changes drastically while you're underwater (for what are considered somewhat arbitrary reasons) since it is your only possible method of attacking; not only do the standard underwater enemies like Drowners seem to have less health than what they normally do on land, the damage per shot of the Crossbow appears to be multiplied by a factor of 10 allowing for easy one-shot kills. It has even been seen to have the hyper-enhanced damage against a standard land enemy that got stuck underwater and didn't drown (a Wyvern that got knocked out of the air while flying over water and couldn't walk out) and is able to kill the enemy in just a handful of shots when normally it would take close to 50.
Bombs are explosives that can be thrown at enemies from a distance. Various types of bombs can be found or synthesised. Bombs most useful attributes are their various crowd control effects, varying from stuns to slow, blinds to burnings, which are best used as engagement tools for strike-combinations.
Signs are simple, yet powerful, one-handed magic spells that are used commonly by witchers. They aren't as effective as full-powered magic spells, but allow witchers to be more versatile against their opponents and are great to use in the heat of combat. There are a total of 5 signs: Aard, Axii, Igni, Quen, and Yrden.
Abilities and LevelingEdit
Geralt earns experience points (XP) after completing quests or defeating opponents. Once a certain number of experience points is gained, Geralt will level up, earning one Ability Point. These points can then be used to learn a new ability or upgrade an existing one. Ability Points can also be obtained by activating Places of Power.
Achieving the maximum level (70 with base game, 100 with Blood and Wine expansion) and reaching every place of power will not provide enough ability points to max out every available skill, thus the player will have to choose which abilities they want to unlock.
To use an unlocked ability, it must be placed in an Ability slot. You can change your abilities by purchasing a potion of clearance which will refund all of Geralt's invested ability points. (At the start of a New Game +, one of these is automatically added to the inventory). Experimenting with different combinations and builds will help you against any adversity you might face.