GameTech: Here’s hoping we’re spellbound by The Witcher

There was a time when people cast spells. They didn’t necessarily work, but people cast them.

GameTech: Here’s hoping we’re spellbound by The Witcher

There was a time when people cast spells. They didn’t necessarily work, but people cast them. These days, people cast their phones to TV screens. But it’s all a kind of magic, whatever way you look at it.

Netflix will be hoping to cast a spell of their own later this year, with the release of The Witcher, a TV series based on a series of Polish fantasy novels, but made popular by the hugely successful video game series of the same name. The Witcher 3 is considered one of the greatest role-playing games of the last 20 years.

The TV series follows the events of the first books, rather than the events of the games, but visually the Netflix adaptation certainly takes its cue from the digital version of the world, a point that was made clear by the full trailer, which released at ComicCon 2019.

In the trailer, the anti-hero of the series, Geralt of Rivia, look strikingly similar to the Geralt we know and love from the games, with his silver locks, yellow wolf eyes and stoic demeanour. Played by Henry Cavill, best known as Superman, we’re pretty confident fans can put aside their qualms about the lead role and get excited about that particular casting.

“Geralt has a dichotomy of being very hard on the exterior because that’s how he thinks the world is,” Cavill said at Comic Con, “but deep, deep down there’s this man who has a belief of what the world can be.” Sounds like Geralt could have managed Ireland.

Other characters revealed in the trailer were harder to judge. The various sorceresses, including Yennefer and Ciri, looked more gritty and grim than their gaming counterparts, but that’s certainly befitting of a series that never shied away from the grey aspects of storytelling and the harsh world of medieval fantasy.

If that sounds familiar, then yes, The Witcher is clearly taking some cues from Game of Thrones. Visually, the trailer looked just as

lavish and spectacular, if gritty, as the HBO show in it early days. There were battle scenes, glimpses of the politics and supernatural forces, and a final scene with Geralt facing off against one of the monsters he becomes famous for hunting — a giant spider-like creature.

There was a time when people cast spells — now they cast judgement on TV shows. We’ll reserve our judgment for the release of the show later this year, but we’re hoping to be spellbound.

WIZARDS OF THE WORLD

Meanwhile, Niantic cast a spell on the world a few years back, in the form of Pokemon Go. The Augmented Reality (AR) game is still going strong today and has made billions for the company. So it makes sense that they would go for literal magic in the form of the Harry Potter franchise.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is effectively the exact same blueprint as Pokemon Go, but with JK Rowling’s world painted over it. So players use their mobile phones to explore the world around them and free ‘foundables’ that have been trapped in the environment. These foundables can be anything from the Potterverse, including objects, characters and creatures.

The foundables are trapped by ‘confoundables’, which is where the battle part of Wizards Unites comes in, in much the same way Pokemon were collected in Pokemon Go.

Wizards Unite seems to have some charm, especially in how you can customise your wizardry profile and then chose what path of magic (auror, etc) your wizard can take. But unlike Pokemon Go, the appeal of Wizards Unite is likely to be hardcore Potter fans only and the concept of collecting does seem something of a stretch in this case.

SPARKS FLY

The magic of technology means the Marvel: Avengers gameplay trailer that was shown to audiences at Comic Con was leaked online. While the gameplay footage isn’t due to be officially revealed until next month, someone filmed the gameplay on their phone.

It shows Thor zipping around the place and hitting basic enemies with his hammer, sparks flying as you would expect, plus some lovely-looking scenes of Iron Man flying and in aerial combat.

On the downside, the environment looked extremely linear and uninspired, but the game is still in the earlier stages of development, so that doesn’t spell doom.

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