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Gwent at Gamescom: A Preview Of The Standalone Mini-Game

I have to confess that I’ve never played any game in the Witcher series, and therefore I also haven’t played the Gwent minigame from the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. That changed this week at Gamescom as I had a hands-on demo of the new, standalone Gwent game.

To start off, I listened to a 20-minute presentation about Gwent, wherein the spokesperson explained that CD Projekt Red received thousands of requests to make it a standalone game. From the minigame variant to the standalone version, the cards now have 3D models of the characters in them with live animations, and they also reworked the UI so that it’s easier to understand.

The developers also rebalanced the game, especially in a multiplayer context. In the original version, you could redraw two cards from your deck before a game, and the cards collected throughout the Witcher 3 would be more powerful as you progressed through the storyline. In this new game, the cards you obtain don’t increase in power as you progress, and you are able to redraw three cards from your deck before each match.

To add cards to the deck, you have to go exploring, much like in the original game. You'll do this via a simple (almost 2D) overhead view, where you walk around an environment. There was a blue dotted line that showed the shortest path to follow the main quest, but you can deviate from it and visit different locations to get clues and additional stories to the plot of the Witcher universe. For the purpose of the demo, the exploration wasn't enabled, and I was offered a pre-selected deck of cards.

Having never played the game before, trying to win was a fruitless effort, so I just played cards in order to understand the mechanics. (Admittedly, even after the demo I still don’t fully understand them.) At one point, I couldn’t understand why some cards I played gave more points to my opponent while others would burn the best card on my own playing field. However, as the game progressed, I roughly began to understand what was happening.

I had about 20 minutes of play time, and the spokesperson said it would take about 15 minutes to get the hang of it—which was about right. I couldn’t master it in that time, and I still have a lot left to figure out, but it did intrigue me so much during the demo that I may actually install it when it comes out on PC (or Xbox One). After all, it’s free-to-play, and the developers assured us that the optional paid content won’t be of a “pay-to-win” nature.

NameGwent
TypeStrategy Card Game
DeveloperCD Projekt RED
Release DateTBD
PlatformsPC, Xbox One